Good leaders are often quoted about how important it is to build the right team, put the right people in the right seats, or to hire people with strengths that offset their weaknesses. Along these same lines, I like this quote from H. E. Luccock who said, “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.”
Our orchestra at the Chamber has been conducted by Amber Smith for the past three and a half years and she filled each chair with talented musicians. Our team has accomplished a lot, especially considering the last 18 months have been consumed by a worldwide pandemic. As Amber leaves to start a new chapter in her life, the Board has asked me to step in as Interim President & CEO. I look forward to accomplishing even more with this smart and capable team as we work to elevate the business community in our region.
Many of the pieces that guide our work have been put in place. By selling our old location at St. Mary’s and Granada two years ago, the Chamber is debt free and has built a reserve fund for the first time in decades. Our financial situation is stable and healthy.
Advocacy on behalf of our small businesses has always been the cornerstone of the Chamber’s work and much has been accomplished over the past three years. We worked collaboratively with the City of Tucson Planning and Development Services to help solve their immense permit backlog by recommending a more formal relationship with Pima County DSD and hiring additional staff.
We set up the Tucson Restaurant Advisory Council (TRAC), creating a new group of restaurants and restaurant suppliers that promote and advocate on behalf of an industry important to our region’s culture. We had success in passing a cap on third-party delivery companies in the City of Tucson and successfully lobbying in favor of a bill allowing cocktails to be delivered that was signed into law.
We were also successful in advocating on behalf of keeping businesses thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts included negotiating with Pima County to modify the language in their COVID-19 Proclamation in order to lessen the burden on businesses ordered to limit or cease services, encouraging the expansion of outdoor patios and “streeteries,” and successfully lobbying the City to change the curfew from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Today, we are leading efforts to encourage people to vote NO on Proposition 206. This may seem like a simple increase in the minimum wage, but it has far more detrimental aspects. It allows “interested parties” to file claims and lawsuits on behalf of employees or groups of employees. It establishes an entirely new regulatory authority called the City Department of Labor Standards (CDOLS) proposed to be paid for by levying fees against businesses or increases to existing license taxes, license fees, or other levies. This is a poorly crafted initiative that hurts businesses and we urge you to vote NO.
Shifting to our workforce development priorities, successful companies know how critical it is to hire and develop the right skills they need to be profitable which is why we created and launched our Workforce Blueprint. The five recommendations listed in the Blueprint speak to the need to build innovative industry/education partnerships, increase efforts to attract talent to our region and advance career literacy so our youth know what to expect when choosing their careers.
The Blueprint also points out the need to grow and attract IT and cybersecurity talent. We will soon be announcing an exciting partnership to launch our Move IT Up campaign and a focused effort on producing more IT workers.
This is all culminating in the adoption of our Strategic Plan which sets our goals, initiatives and programs for the next three to five years. In a broad sense, the Plan outlines specific strategies to help the Chamber distinguish itself for superior service, expertise, and strong leadership that deliver value to members, narrowly focus our policy areas with the greatest impact and deliver on our workforce development and talent attraction initiatives. I look forward to finalizing this process with the Board of Directors and carrying out the strategies with our team.
I am personally thankful for the work Amber accomplished with the team that she built. I am honored to help conduct the symphony during this time of transition and am committed to maintaining the Chamber as the connector of leaders and influencers, the catalyst for business growth and a champion for a stronger community. Stay informed about what we are working on by following us on social media.