“I was pleasantly surprised after attending my first networking event since joining the Chamber. The Chamber staff went above and beyond introducing me to existing members. It was so easy to have a relaxed conversation with other members and exchange information for future contact. I will be attending these events regularly. The event is a great value and huge time saver. Networking made easy, I love it!”—John Klippstein, OOROO Auto.
I’m out and about in the community quite a bit and if I have a pet peeve, it has to be when I hear people I’m talking to say there is nothing to do in Tucson. Thankfully, this does not happen very often. But to those few who feel that way, I encourage you to expand your horizon because there truly is something for everyone. We’re even getting our own indoor football team next year!
I feel the same about the Tucson Metro Chamber since joining the staff in July. Every time I turn around, there is another event, educational session, public policy meeting, ribbon cutting or event connecting members with elected and community leaders. There is something at the Chamber for just about every business owner, whether you like networking, public policy or learning how to become a better business person. And as John with OOROO Auto points out, our environment is “relaxed.”
But there is so much more the Chamber is diligently working on to improve our region’s business community. As I mentioned in my previous column, communities win and lose based on the ability to develop and attract a skilled workforce. Businesses of all sizes need talented employees to succeed, which is why the Tucson Metro Chamber has taken the lead and established the Southern Arizona Veterans Workforce Initiative.
Last month, as reported elsewhere in this issue of Inside Tucson Business, the Chamber held a hiring event where 68 percent of the interviewees were either offered a job or hired soon after the event. We successfully connected skilled veterans with open positions in the aerospace and defense industry providing those companies with workers that possess the hard and soft skills that will make their operations more productive.
The Chamber’s work in developing a more skilled workforce will continue in addition to efforts that futher our ability to attract talented individuals. While I would love to see Raytheon find all 1,900 employees to fill their announced expansion here in Southern Arizona, many of those individuals will need to move here from outside the market. Our partnership with Visit Tucson and others is actively creating a campaign aimed at more effectively enticing those skilled individuals to relocate to Tucson. Every large community is competing for talent and we need to be at the forefront of those attraction methods and activities.
And since we’re talking about skills, similar to Caterpillar needing to find the right engineer with the right competencies, business owners continually need to learn how to build their own skills as business operators. Our Knowledge at Noon allows members to teach fellow members ways to build a better brand, increase sales and how to effectively deal with human resources issues. We plan to expand this area with exciting and beneficial partnerships with Small Business Development Center and StartUp Tucson and the Better Business Bureau.
If making sure our elected officials are voting for ordinances, bills and policies that positively affect business is of interest, we have two full-time lobbyists on staff (yours truly included) that lead discussions with our members. Our Public Affairs Council tackles the issues important to business and reviews all bills at the legislature that have some relation to business and the economy.
Our Issues Over Easy event is not only a great networking venue, but it also provides our members with in-depth information on the big issues affecting our community. The Interface program sits our members down monthly with the decision makers in our region, with Mayor Rothschild and County Administrator Huckelberry as regular attenders, providing our members with direct access to express their experiences in order to help improve business conditions locally.
It was hard for me to believe, but the Tucson Metro Chamber hosts more than 60 events and meetings a year. While there is a great deal of time our very skilled staff spends to execute these events, the effort directly correlates with our mission to “champion and environment where your business thrives and our community prospers.”
I invite you to get involved and take advantage of the Chamber’s many events and programs where you can make valuable connections. Visit TucsonChamber.org for more information.