Harry Young is a familiar face in the region. The Central PA Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce recently named him executive director. Most recently, he served on the entertainment, food and beverage team at Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, where he managed a staff of over 300 employees and a multi-million-dollar revenue operation.
Young also served as volunteer President and CEO of CPGLCC. Young also serves as Affiliate Chamber Council Chair for the Northeast Region by NGLCC – National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of Messiah College, Young resides in Harrisburg with his husband, Eric Gutshall.
Central Voice: Having an executive director will enable the chamber to…
Harry Young: Having an executive director will enable the chamber to serve its members in new and increasingly impactful ways.
In just over 10 years, our chamber has been a transformative force in local LGBT business, and has been recognized at the national level for our efforts four times, most recently last year, receiving NGLCC’s Excellence in Community Impact Award for the work we’ve done to expand opportunities for Certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs).
We’ve come a long way with an all-volunteer board, but in order to grow, flourish, and enhance service to our members, the board recognized that we would need someone dedicated to the organization full time. The addition of an executive director will allow us to be more active and visible in the community, and forge new connections and opportunities for our members.
We will continue to focus on our members and Corporate Partners and expand our reach to serve the eight counties we represent in a more robust way. We will strengthen our strategic partnerships and advocate for the interests of LGBT businesses and professionals.
CV: Your main goal as the chamber’s new executive director is…
HY: As executive director, it’s my goal to expand the programming our chamber offers, add value to membership, and firmly establish our organization as the authority on LGBT business in our region.
New programs will come in many forms, from advocacy to information sharing and educational opportunities, to in-person events. Regardless the format, our new programming will be aimed to serve our entire geographic footprint, and be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. Fostering a diverse and inclusive business network needs to be at the forefront of what we do. I will work to create an organization that is reflective of the richness and diversity represented in our community in Central PA.
CV: The chamber can help an LGBT or other business by…
HY: Our membership ranges from professionals, to not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, small businesses, and large corporations, each with its own distinct needs and goals. In joining the chamber, a business demonstrates its commitment to LGBT inclusion.
For some businesses, that means finding ways to better serve their employees and offer resources for LGBT and allied team members. For others, it means reaching the important and powerful LGBT consumer segment. LGBT-owned businesses are drawn to our chamber because we connect them to LGBT Business Enterprise Certification.
We are the only organization in the area, and one of only three in the Commonwealth, that is an affiliate of NGLCC and can offer this certification to businesses that can help them leverage contracting opportunities with large corporations seeking to do business with diverse suppliers, as well as government and public entities that recognize LGBTBE Certification, such as the Commonwealth of PA.
For large corporations, membership in the chamber is a direct link to these Certified LGBTBEs. And for many businesses and professionals seeking referrals and networking, our monthly mixer series is a great way to connect and stay in touch with our local business community.
CV: In our July-August 2017 print edition, Central Voice published a story on Keystone Business Services. The series started with a program on access to capital by the Small Business Administration. Were there other programs held? On what topics? Does the series continue into the present?
HY: Last year, we hosted Access to Capital, in partnership with the Small Business Administration, as part of our Keystone Business Series, which encompasses our chamber’s business development programming. The events we host are driven my member demand, as well as market trends and what’s new in business and LGBT inclusion.
Since that initial event, we’ve launched an LGBTBE Certification Cohort Program, which provides business owners interested in or seeking certification support through the process.
We’re also building programming for the remainder of 2018 and into 2019, including a monthly Lancaster Networking Series, to complement our popular Harrisburg-area monthly mixers, as well as an LGBT Business Summit, and programs focused on advocacy. We strive to continually enhance our offerings to remain relevant and to meet the needs of our diverse members.
CV: The chamber currently has how many members?
HY: The chamber currently has about 145 members.