The Tucson Metro Chamber doesn’t just see its new home as a place to do business, but as a physical manifestation of its recent drive towards innovation and modernity.
The 125-year-old organization, previously located near West St. Mary’s Road and North Granada Avenue, moved into its new digs in the heart of downtown Tucson at the end of July.
Located at 210 E. Broadway Blvd., the 6,400-square-foot site is more windows than walls. Gone is the giant conference room, offices separated by long hallways and a traditional layout.
With open offices and plenty of room to break out into groups, host a variety of functions or focus on projects and deadlines, the new space has brought the chamber staff closer together, according to director of communications Heather Wuelpern.
It’s been an exciting time at the chamber, Wuelpern said. The organization’s first female president and CEO, Amber Smith, took over more than a year ago, and brought on several new staff members. And while the organization is respectful of its long history, Wuelpern said “a new energy” has found root, bringing about an age of collaboration and partnership.
“There were some adjustments,” she said. “But now, being in this new space, it’s like we’re all starting on this fresh ground together…To have us all together, I feel like it makes us feel like a little bit more of a family.”
A change in locale and leadership aren’t the only new facets to the Metro Chamber, according to Smith, who said that several years ago, some of the board members made a conscientious decision to diversify its membership to better reflect the local community. To that end, the board established a matrix for how many women and persons of color should sit on the board. The change also included representing businesses of all sizes, instead of focusing on larger organizations.
“We truly wanted to reflect what the membership looked like,” Smith said.
While the chamber was busy innovating behind the scenes, Smith proposed the move to a different office about a year ago.
The previous building had served the organization well, Smith said, but the onset of the digital age (and a trend towards downsizing) led the chamber to have less of a need for space. The chamber board spent roughly six months performing due diligence on a move—assessing different options such as renovating the old space—before deciding that a move to a smaller home was the best course of action.
As the story goes, chamber vice president Robert Medler was the first to spot the building, and it wasn’t long before the 27-member board unanimously approved the site as the new home.
Going forward, the chamber and its members will take advantage of conference and multipurpose space and proximity to key development partners like Start Up Tucson and Visit Tucson.