LGBT Business Group Helps Ft. Lauderdale Clubs

Rainbow Business CoalitionIt’s not too often you find competitive clubs working together in an attempt to attract business to each of their respective venues. But in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a group of LGBT business owners are joining together to promote the city as a gay-friendly destination and also unite the community through leadership and advocacy. Rainbow Business Coalition (RBC) is one of many organizations attempting to promote local businesses, but this one offers a twist, focusing on promoting all areas of LGBT-owned businesses, from bar/beverage to professional services. And nightlife has seen a marked improvement since the organization’s inception, says Ken Kelley, owner of the 5,300-square-foot Scandals Saloon, a gay country/western nightclub.

“Priorities [of RBC] include focusing on communications and networking, promoting new business opportunities, driving sustainable economic growth — a difficult task in these economic times — and expanding our market share,” Kelley, a member of the bar/beverage team on RBC, explains.

As part of the RBC, each of the seven teams, which are created depending on the industry, meets once a month for open discussions related to their businesses, sharing success stories, complaints and strategies. Kelley says that for the nightclub and bar owners, topics have ranged from discussions as simple as recommendations for plumbing repairs to “having a strong, united voice when meeting with our beer, wine and liquor reps, with the intention of securing better pricing on all of the same product we all purchase on a weekly basis.”

Additionally, members post their planned events on RBC’s online events calendar. “By knowing what each of the bars and nightclubs have planned, [it] helps prevent the same type of event happening at multiple locations. The chance of success of that event then becomes even greater because we are not all competing for the same audience that night. Bar owners actually sharing information — what a concept,” he quips.

The bars and nightclubs involved are even putting out a joint advertisement, promoting all of their upcoming Memorial Day events, which appeared last week in HotSpots magazine. “The theme of the ad is Where The Boys Are, celebrating the 50th year anniversary of the movie ‘Where The Boys Are,’ starring Connie Francis — who is a local resident in Ft. Lauderdale,” Kelley explains. “The ad contains logos of all the nightclubs and bars that are members of RBC. The buzz has already started with people noticing, for the first time ever, a joint advertisement among our group.”

The Rainbow Business Coalition, partially modeled after the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., coalition Gaybor, is working to drive business to the Fort Lauderdale area. “The more business and recognition we can bring to Greater Fort Lauderdale on a national and international level will not only foster greater success for the LGBT community but for all businesses, organizations, individuals and local government throughout our region,” Kelley explains. “With so many gay destinations to choose from, the existence of LGBT Greater Fort Lauderdale must be at the forefront in anyone’s mind when planning a visit or vacation or even a permanent move. RBC is making that happen.”

For more information on the Rainbow Business Coalition, visit