On Thursday, the Greater Seattle Business Association is hosting its first ever LGBT economic summit, bringing together LGBT business leaders and allies from five different states and Canada too.

Twelve different LGBT chapters will be represented from California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Hawaii.

“We decided we need to come together and invite outside businesses, and actually start talking about and exploring the power that comes when all of us work together,” GSBA President Louise Chernin said. “When you see that there are thousands and thousands of LGBT business owners and allied business owners and that together, we can affect laws, we can work on issues of equality, and we can support our community and non-profits, it will empower us.”

“We are now made up of not only lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender, but allied businesses too,” Chernin added. “There are many businesses now that say they want to be a part of a chamber that is values driven. We are about business, but we are about community.”

Karyn Schwartz is the owner of Sugarpill and a member of the LGBT community. She is a big believer in this economic summit and hopes to build business and relationships for all.

“When I was coming out, there wasn’t a lot of visible, queer businesses. I think you need to be able to see yourself reflected out in the world, I think no matter where you come from you need examples of who you could become, and still be you,” Schwartz said. “Having a variety of people in all different kinds of business who are part of the LGBTQ community, I think is really inspiring to those of us who are already working, but also to younger people, those who are coming up behind us who might think, ‘Well, what can I do? Can I do what I want to do? Can I be who I want to be and be visible in the community?'”

“I think it’s really important that people understand that none of us are going away. We didn’t fight this hard to be visible and successful just to lay down when people decided that it wasn’t ok for us to be here anymore. So I think being in a room with a lot of people who have been successful and are influential in their communities, I think that’s really important,” Schwartz added. “We have worked really hard to be a force to be reckoned with and we have a lot to share in places that maybe don’t have the resources, or the resilience, or the safety that we have here. And we have a huge responsibility to lift other people up.”