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COVID-19 has created insurmountable obstacles that many businesses simply will not be able to get through. For that reason, it is critical that the Chamber is responsive, active and nimble in supporting our members to help them survive. We have stepped up our game better than ever before. We also ask that you do your part to help by making a conscious effort to support local businesses.

 

Strengthening relationships in challenging times

 

As a business ourselves, we have pivoted our own operations in response to the hurdles we are facing. We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges. This shifted mindset has allowed the Chamber to identify and develop new partnerships, services and benefits that otherwise would not have existed in pre-COVID times. Calling every member at the onset of the pandemic allowed us to connect better with our members, and to the challenges they were facing. We held frequent “Knowledge at Noon” webinars for weeks to get valuable information to help guide our members as new information was coming so quickly, and in so many formats, that it was difficult to digest.  This activity revealed some deficits in our programming and allowed us to take a more personalized approach in how we brought members together. Several members learned new ways to use ingredients during our cooking session and some learned happy hour tips and tricks in a mixology Zoom. Overall, these sessions had us asking ourselves, “what else can we do?” We got outside of our box to best reflect our organizational value to be innovative.

As we end the fourth quarter, we are reflecting on this year, and preparing for next. We are often asked, “What do you see for the future of business?” Well, if only we had that crystal ball. Although the future is hazy, our role is to create predictivity. We are doing mass reach outs to our members asking those questions so we can connect them to the resources, funds and experts they need. More importantly, we are working to connect them to clients, customers and partners. 

 

The importance of shopping local businesses

 

As we enter this season of giving, cooking, dining and shopping, we want to remind you of a couple of things. First, shop Chamber. Check out our membership directory as you do your due diligence prior to making a purchase. By being Chamber members, these companies have made the commitment to invest in our community and support our local employers. Collectively, these members employ more than a hundred thousand Tucsonans. 

Especially during this time when unemployment is rising, we must consider the mechanism that provides those jobs. Simply put, sales and revenue. We must shop local. To that end, when you shop local, which includes our national chains, the sales tax stays in our state and in our local community. This is an important point because those taxes collected are what fund our public safety and infrastructure system. While we know that convenience shopping is a new normal—especially when same day arrival is a reality—we do not want to mourn any more store or restaurant closings. 

Did you know that we have several locally owned stores that offer same-day delivery? TruLocal, an online platform, is excited to bring those retailers to you just in time for the holidays. Stay tuned! And of course, when you are prepping for big family gatherings, take the work out of it and order take out or introduce your out of town guests to one of our local eateries. I cannot say it enough—our local businesses are what give our community its flavor. If you want immediate gratification and to see what local businesses are in Tucson, go to our membership directory, or visit our partners at Hownd: promos.myhownd.com/Tucson-pima. In a time when convenience has taken a back seat as we adjust to this new world dominated by safety measures, extend your efforts to our local companies because they need you and we need them.

 

Amber Smith is present of the Tucson Metro Chamber.