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SUMMER FALL 2012 2020

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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SPECIAL REPORT: Tucson Metro Chamber

SUMMER 2020 • $3.99 • DISPLAY UNTIL 09/30/20

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BizLETTER “The images were haunting, yet in a small way, comforting. America and the world were under siege like never before in our lifetimes from a deadly virus that came to be known as Coronavirus and COVID-19.” Jay Gonzales files a compelling indepth report which includes our region’s swift and coordinated response to COVID-19 with unprecedented collaboration among everyone with a stake – which was essentially everyone in the community. You’ll be inspired after reading about our city’s healthcare heroes. At BizTucson, we’ve always reported on “Why The World is Watching Tucson” and the University of Arizona has recently been in the national news spotlight on CNN, NBC’s Today Show and Meet The Press, MSNBC News, ABC News, CBS News. And the list goes on. The reason for such coverage is that UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins is leading an unprecedented Campus Reentry Task Force, which will bring students and faculty back on campus in the fall. Robbins has enlisted former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona to chair this task force. Vision and expertise help fight a pandemic – and the UArizona’s Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health stepped up with critically needed science and leadership to support frontline healthcare and refocus the region. Monica Surfaro Spigelman files a welltimed report on the college, chronicling its many achievements over the past two decades. Speaking of leadership, just three short months after becoming the first female mayor in Tucson’s history, Regina Romero found herself grappling with troubling issues involving the frightening and deadly virus. David Pittman reports on our new mayor’s response to the crisis and a great chronology of the events of the past few months. At press time, our nation witnessed the horrifying and tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis – which ignited weeks of protests and precipitated rioting and looting across the country. Locally, we were not immune, as this also happened Downtown. The morning after, Mayor Romero volunteered and organized a cleanup and 75 business leaders answered the call. Tara Kirkpatrick reports on this effort.

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Photo: Steven Meckler

The Region’s Healthcare Sector Heroes On The Front Lines

This edition includes an exceptional special report on the Tucson Metro Chamber, titled “Out In Front For Business.” The report leads with an interview with the chamber’s CEO Amber Smith and her team’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Romi Carrell Wittman writes, “While the health crisis enveloped the globe, another threat loomed closer to home. With residents staying away, Tucson restaurants, retail stores and other businesses saw their sales plummet with an uncertain future ahead. Yet, Amber Smith saw a need the chamber could satisfy. She said “it’s hard to look past COVID-19 right now. We immediately became the air traffic controller of information.” This issue, we share some positive news from the region’s aerospace/defense sector regarding the merger of Raytheon and United Technologies and the impact of the newly named Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “Tucson competed very heavily to keep Raytheon Missiles & Defense here and we were proud to lead that effort,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc. “Major strategic decisions and cutting edge technology to support the nation’s front-line defense system will continue to be made right here. The ripple effect of this decision will be felt by our region for years to come,” Snell said. As our business community weathers the crises through these uncertain, chaotic and turbulent times, count on BizTucson to keep you informed and stay connected. We invite you to receive our new e-mail newsletter, The BizTucson News Update. Please register at BizTucson.com/NEWS. Stay safe, take care and be well. Steven E. Rosenberg Publisher & Owner BizTucson

Summer 2020

Volume 12 No. 2

Publisher & Owner

Steven E. Rosenberg Brent G. Mathis

Creative Director Contributing Editors

Donna Kreutz Tara Kirkpatrick Romi Carrell Wittman Elena Acoba Diane Luber

Contributing Technology Director

Mike Serres

Contributing Project Coordinator

Maricela Robles

Contributing Writers

Elena Acoba Kate Breck Calhoun Mary Minor Davis Brent DeRaad Jay Gonzales Tara Kirkpatrick Donna Kreutz Christy Krueger Loni Nannini David Pittman Monica Surfaro Spigelman Valerie Vinyard Romi Carrell Wittman

Contributing Photographers

Mike Christy Brent G. Mathis Chris Mooney Manuel Ruiz

Member:

American Advertising Federation Tucson DM-50 Southern Arizona Leadership Council Sun Corridor Inc. Tucson Metro Chamber Visit Tucson

BizTucson Phone: 520.299.1005 Subscription Information:

www.BizTucson.com subscriptions@BizTucson.com Advertising information:

Steve Rosenberg 520.299.1005 or 520.907.1012 steve@BizTucson.com BizTucson is published quarterly by Rosenberg Media, LLC., Tucson, AZ © 2020 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in columns or articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.

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Please send address changes to: BizTucson, 4729 East Sunrise Drive, #505 Tucson, AZ 85718.

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BizCONTENTS

FEATURES

SUMMER 2020 VOLUME 12 NO. 2

COVER STORY:

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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES

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Swift, Coordinated Response to COVID-19

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Hospitals United to Fight COVID-19

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Hospitals Preserved Patient Safety Amid Pandemic

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Healthcare Heroes: ‘Absolutely Extraordinary’ Commitment

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Test, Trace, Treat: A Tactical Plan to Reopen the University of Arizona

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Pandemic Forces Hospitals to Reflect, Revamp

DEPARTMENTS 4

BizLETTER From the Publisher

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BizAEROSPACE Raytheon, United Technologies Create Aerospace Giant

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BizMILESTONE University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health Celebrates Two Decades

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Mel & Enid Zuckerman: A Life-Changing Legacy of Public Health

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BizVIEWPOINT Brent DeRaad: Tourism Recovery Starts at Home

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WOMEN WHO LEAD BizLEADERSHIP Mayor Regina Romero: Leading During COVID-19

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BizCOMMUNITY T. Van Hook Schuld: Habitat For Humanity Tucson

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BizMILESTONE Mobile Meals at 50: Feeding The Isolated and Homebound Jennifer Tersigni and Leslie Perls

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BizLEADERSHIP Amber Smith: Tucson Metro Chamber CEO

Mural by Camila Ibarra 58 60

BizWORKFORCE Pima Community College: Workforce Training During COVID-19 BizDEVELOPMENT The Bautista: One of Rio Nuevo’s Largest Projects to Date

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BizDOWNTOWN Downtown Tucson’s Path to Recovery

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BizCONSTRUCTION New To Market: Projects in the Region

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BizDEVELOPMENT Harsch Builds City’s First Industrial Spec Project in 10 years BizHONORS Good Scout Awards Honorees Humberto Lopez Jack Clements Bill Lloyd, Brad Lloyd

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BizAWARDS 26th Annual Cornerstone Building Foundation Awards

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BizTRIBUTE Richard Elias

SPECIAL REPORT 65 SPECIAL REPORT 2020

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

TUCSON METRO CHAMBER

Tucson Metro Chamber

OUT IN FRONT FOR BUSINESS

Special Report Corporate Sponsor

ABOUT THE COVER THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES Creative Design by Brent G. Mathis

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PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

BizAEROSPACE

Wesley D. Kremer

President Raytheon Missiles & Defense

Raytheon, United Technologies Create Aerospace Giant Merger Highlights Tucson’s Role as Aerospace Hub By David Pittman Raytheon Technologies has announced the consolidation of Raytheon and United Technologies, a move widely described as a “a merger of equals.” Raytheon Missiles & Defense, one of Pima County’s largest employers and a business unit of the newly formed Raytheon Technologies, specializes in engineering excellence and is poised to play a leading role in the future of aerospace and defense. The newly formed behemoth is one of the largest aerospace and defense companies in the world, with approximately $74 billion in net sales last year and a global team of 195,000 employees that includes 60,000 engineers and scientists. Raytheon Technologies’ corporate headquarters is in 20 BizTucson

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Waltham, Mass. The merger resulted in combining Raytheon’s four divisions into two. In a good-news decision for Tucson, Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems, based near Boston, and its Tucson-based Missile Systems unit have been combined into Raytheon Missiles & Defense, which will be headquartered in Tucson. Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., Southern Arizona’s most prominent economic development organization, said the decision to locate this new headquarters in Tucson will bring longterm economic benefits to the city. “Tucson competed very heavily to keep Raytheon Missiles and Defense here, and we were proud to lead that effort,” www.BizTucson.com


Raytheon Intelligence & Space specializes in developing advanced sensors, training, and cyber and software solutions to deliver the disruptive technologies its customers need to succeed in any domain, against any challenge. The division is headquartered in Arlington, Va.

Collins Aerospace Systems, formerly part of United Technologies, specializes in aero structures, avionics, interiors, mechanical systems, mission systems and power controls that serve customers across commercial, regional and business aviation and military sectors. The segment is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.

Pratt & Whitney, formerly of United Technologies, designs, manufactures and services the world’s most advanced aircraft engines and auxiliary power systems for commercial, military and business aircraft. The unit is headquartered in East Hartford, Conn.

In the merger, the Otis business, which specializes in elevators, and the Carrier business, which manufactures air conditioning units, were spun off from United Technologies and into independent companies. Raytheon Missiles & Defense employs about 13,000 people in Tucson, and 30,000 overall. The division is led by President Wes Kremer, an electrical engineer and U.S. Air Force veteran, who is responsible for a broad portfolio of air and missile defense systems, precision weapons, radar, command and control systems and advance defense technologies. “We see the world through a global lens, and we’ve built a new solid foundation to bring end-to-end solutions to our customers to counter modern emerging threats,” Kremer said. “We want to be the place our customers turn to tackle their most complex challenges and toughest threats. “The merger is about creating a leader in aerospace and defense,” he said. Raytheon Technologies has been hard hit by the COVID-19 disruption and the significant downturn in the global commercial aviation businesses. At a May 7 firstquarter earnings call, top Raytheon officials announced the company would slice $2 billion in costs, halt share buybacks and furlough employees from its Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney divisions. “While our aviation units have been facing significant economic headwinds, the missile and defense segments of the company are on solid ground and experiencing record backlogs,” said Greg Hayes, CEO of Raytheon Technologies, who added that plans are in the works to move some commercial aviation employees into defense work.

6.1.20 Raytheon Missiles & Defense wraps major testing on first SPY-6 radar array

5.19.20 Patriot’s Warfighter Machine Interface completes testing to aid U.S. Army

5.12.20 Raytheon Missiles & Defense Ku-Band radars hit 1.5 million operational hours

5.11.20 Raytheon Missiles & Defense, TNO unveil new ramjet-powered artillery round

4.20.20 U.S. Air Force selects Raytheon Missiles & Defense to develop new long-range weapon

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PHOTOS: COURTESY RAYTHEON MISSILES & DEFENSE

Snell said. “Major strategic decisions and cutting-edge technology to support the nation’s front-line defense system will continue to be made right here. The ripple effect of this decision will be felt in our region for years to come.” Raytheon Technologies’ other units include:


BizPEOPLE

Wendy Marquez Wendy Marquez announced the opening of her new Allstate Insurance Agency on Grant Road east of Silverbell Road. Marquez, a mother of two, has helped her husband, Edmund, with his three Allstate agencies for 10 years. Her agency will specialize in auto, home and life insurance. Marquez was a vice chair of Angel Charity for Children and has served many other Tucson organizations over the past 20 years.

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Col. Jeffrey L. Butler Col. Jeffrey L. Butler has assumed command of the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing, located at Morris Air National Guard Base. Butler replaced Brig. Gen. Andrew J. MacDonald in April. As the 14th commanding officer there since 1956, Butler will oversee more than 1,800 airmen. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Butler is a command F-16 pilot with more than 4900 flying hours.  He served for 10 years with the U.S. Air Force and has since served in several command positions--most recently as the wing’s vice commander.

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Dr. Chad Whelan CEO Banner - University Medicine Tucson

Jennifer Schomburg

CEO Northwest Medical Center

Nancy Johnson, RN CEO El Rio Health

Judy Rich, RN

CEO Tucson Medical Center

Frank Molinaro

CEO Carondelet Health Network

Clinton Kuntz

CEO MHC Healthcare

Kevin Stockton

Regional President & Market CEO Northwest Healthcare

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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES

BizHEALTHCARE

Swift, Coordinated Response to COVID-19 Medical Community Quickly Came Together

PHOTOS: COURTESY BANNER - UNIVERSITY MEDICINE TUCSON, NORTHWEST HOSPITAL, TUCSON MEDICAL CENTER, MHC HEALTHCARE, PIMA COUNTY.GOV, EL RIO, UA ALUMNI ASSOCIATION & MIKE CHRISTY

By Jay Gonzales The images were haunting, yet in a small way, comforting. America and the world were under siege like never before in our lifetimes from a deadly virus that came to be known as coronavirus and COVID-19. But among the political divisiveness, the hoarding of supplies and the frustration of the isolation, there were images of heroes every day on the front lines of the massive efforts to save lives and protect our population. They were everywhere. In the grocery stores. In the restaurants. Delivering the mail. Among the first responders. And they were at the hospitals and medical clinics which, from the images on television and social media, were seemingly outmanned from the outset by the pandemic. However, according to local health officials and medical providers, the response in Tucson was swift and coordinated with unprecedented collaboration among everyone with a stake – which was essentially everyone in the community. “I think the majority of Tucson felt like they owned part of our response.

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I can’t emphasize enough how important that was,” said Dr. Chad Whelan, CEO of Banner-University Medicine Tucson. “We mobilized as a community pretty quickly.” “I think we were as ready as you can possibly be for a pandemic that the world has never seen,” said Jennifer Schomburg, CEO of Northwest Medical Center. ‘A new way of life’

As the crisis of the spring spilled into summer, the consensus is that communities throughout the nation will continue to experience the effects of the pandemic for longer than anyone can pinpoint – and in some aspects of society, for years to come. In the aftermath of the initial wave of the pandemic, the local healthcare community identified and attacked the initial challenges by taking a few days to a few weeks to make decisions and implement processes that normally would take months or even years of study and trial before execution. “This pandemic took us to the deep end of the pool quickly,” said Nancy Johnson, a registered nurse and CEO of El Rio Health, which

has more than 110,000 patients in its healthcare system spread throughout the region. Across the board, hospitals and clinics recognized their first priority was coordination and safety. As the situation escalated into a worldwide health crisis in February and March, emergency response plans were put in motion. Some plans involved physical command centers being set up in meeting rooms and auditoriums or wherever a central gathering of expertise and communication could be established to deal with the onslaught of often-changing information and a potential surge of infected patients. “Establishing our command center allowed us to quickly make sure we were highly organized and that we centralized the decision-making around COVID readiness,” Whelan said, pointing out that, in general, emergency response plans are built for short-term crises. “That’s not the optimal way to manage long-term, but during a time of rapid and massive changes, we needed to make sure that we were highly coordinated. “We quickly framed our COVID continued on page 26 >>> Summer 2020

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BizHEALTHCARE

THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES continued from page 25 response into four guiding principles that kept all of us focused, which were: one, protect our colleagues and patients; two, make sure that we could secure our supplies; three was surge planning and flexibility; and fourth was communicate broadly. We followed these throughout and they served us pretty well.” Judy Rich, a registered nurse and president and CEO at Tucson Medical Center, said the long-term response to COVID-19 has been and will continue to be unlike anything longtime healthcare professionals have seen or will see in their careers. Having worked in hospital systems in Florida, she experienced the impact of dreadful natural disasters like hurricanes. Unlike those, she said, we are in this for the long haul. “When you get ready for a hurricane, you can track it. You can see when it starts, to when it ends,” Rich said. “We don’t know when this is going to end, and we ended up keeping our command center up and running and staffed live for four weeks. “We decided after four weeks that this was a new way of life and that we no longer needed to put everything through the incident command center. We had enough process in place and enough policy written down that we could guide our actions going forward without the incident command center.” Safety and communication

When the gravity of the crisis became apparent and command centers were launched, the initial step was to ensure the safety of anyone who might have to be at a medical facility. “Our first priority was really to keep our staff safe and our patients safe,” Rich said. “Everything we did in the early days was very much around personal protective equipment and working out processes that would keep everybody safe.” There were various aspects to that, both procedural and physical. The hospitals had to limit entry to their buildings. At Tucson Medical Center, a campus spread out with multiple entrances, entry was limited to five doors with staff at each door monitoring every person trying to enter the building. Other facilities made only one entrance available. Everyone who went into the facilities had to be screened for symptoms of the virus, including having their temperature taken. Only those with a verified need to enter the building were allowed inside. Elective surgeries were put on hold. Visitors of patients, including those in grave condition from the virus, were prohibited. Communication within the organizations and among all the providers and government agencies was crucial. Everyone involved was sharing information on everything from the spread of the virus to where to get personal protective equipment. “The whole city was facing the same issue, so we had to really secure communication not only with our entities, but the other healthcare providers so that we could really share information on how to approach this,” said Frank Molinaro, CEO of Carondelet Health Network, which includes St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s hospitals in Tucson and Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales. Information was coming from different directions and changing by the hour. Government agencies at all levels 26 BizTucson

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were providing it. The Pima County Health Department became a conduit of information, locally. One of the challenges, though, was figuring out what was accurate and reliable. “We had a lack of what I call the single source of truth,” Rich said, adding that Pima County became that reliable, central source of information for everyone in the region. “It was fulfilling to see all of us come together through phone calls with Pima County and through just reaching out to each other.” The larger providers used resources within their systems, some of which are spread throughout the nation. “Certain states were impacted before others so we were able to talk to our executives in different states and see what they were seeing, how are they responding, how is this affecting their operations, and how are they making adjustments,” said Kevin Stockton, regional president and market CEO for Northwest Healthcare. Resources sometimes included trusted personal sources. Schomburg, the CEO at Northwest Medical Center, said the hospital has a doctor on staff who had a personal contact at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, which was essentially ground zero for the U.S. effects from the pandemic. The first confirmed COVID-19 case was in the state of Washington. “One of our physicians was able to get his hands on the University of Washington policies and protocols,” Schomburg said. “We began significant education with our staff as well as our providers before Arizona even had cases, based off many of the protocols and policies and the experience that Washington was going through at that time.” Local providers generally agree that adequate supplies of personal protective equipment – or PPE – was a constant concern, but did not reach the crisis level seen in other hardhit areas of the country. Various contingencies were put in place just to make sure, but there was still an emotional toll from all of it. “Our nurses weren’t having to work in garbage bags for PPE, but I will say this – the emotional impact was still there,” Molinaro said. “If you’re a nurse and you’re caring for potential COVID patients and there’s so much misinformation and new information and evolving information, those first days were very scary for all of us. “While the scale (of the pandemic) wasn’t as big and the PPE crisis wasn’t as severe, the emotional impact was there. And we had to be creative. We actually ordered thousands of rain ponchos very, very early on as a backup for the gowns.” A new normal

Faced with a crisis that is showing no definitive end and uncertainty about what the pandemic will look like in a month, six months, a year or even two, the healthcare community is bracing for a “new normal,” a term Whelan uses. Accessing healthcare in the future will turn toward technology and the use of non-traditional methods to ensure that routine care doesn’t become a health crisis because of COVID-19. “The only thing I’m really sure of is, it’s going to be different,” Whelan said. “I think all of the things we’ve talked about in terms of enhanced precautions and more distance and more space, proactive testing protocols – those are all going to be part of our new normal.”

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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES

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Tucson Hospitals United to Fight COVID -19 Collaboration, Information Sharing Shaped Success By Jay Gonzales The various emergency response plans and playbooks put in motion when the COVID-19 crisis hit Tucson in March were carefully constructed to include all the vital elements to ensure the safety of staff and patients at local medical facilities. Beyond the inventory of items needed – personal protective equipment, beds, ventilators to name a few – another element was just as critical to the response: collaboration. With the deadly virus bearing down on the region, the healthcare community realized from the beginning that this was not a time to compete for market share. Supplies, information and even staff were shared throughout with the goal of having the most efficient response possible. “It was fulfilling to see all of us come together and just reaching out to each other,” said Judy Rich, CEO of Tucson Medical Center. “I had met with Chad Whelan (CEO of Banner-University Medicine Tucson) a short time before that and, not knowing what was ahead, we decided that we would keep in touch.” With information coming in from all different directions – some accurate and some admittedly not – the Pima County Health Department took a lead role in providing much needed data and support, healthcare executives said. “The Pima County Health Department has done an amazing job of pulling together all of the ambulatory care providers like us to work together,” said Clinton Kuntz, CEO of MHC Healthcare, one of the region’s largest integrated, primary care providers. “We’ve all been sharing the same message, using the same playbook, workwww.BizTucson.com

ing together. I think you see that in the response in the community, and you see that Tucson has fared very well.” Dr. Robert England, who until May 30 was interim director of the Pima County Health Department during arguably the most serious crisis ever, knew it was the department’s role to be a conduit of accurate information and support for everything including supplies, personal protective equipment and testing. That was not only for healthcare providers, but also for other businesses that were relying on information to determine whether they could even move forward. “Our role from the beginning was to support partners with communication, with information as fast as we could get it, and turn it around, realizing that we’ve all been drinking from a fire hose in terms of messages that seem to change every day,” England said. For instance, England said, staff was pulled from other duties to be liaisons to long-term healthcare providers, clinics, shelters, first responders and the general business community, such as restaurants. “We’re trying to make sure that information isn’t dying with us, even though we put it on a website and make sure that key people are aware of it,” England said. A pivotal moment in the communitywide collaboration was a March 10 meeting called by the health department before stay-at-home orders were put in place locally. It was an in-person, all-hands-on-deck meeting attended by representatives of the healthcare organizations – and in most cases, their CEOs or directors.

“That was sort of a kickoff. We were trying to get the healthcare community in the same room to be in on some of the planning,” England said. “Way back in March, we didn’t know whether we were going to have a surge that might look like what everybody’s seen in New York. A lot was done at the state level and locally in terms of just planning how we were going to communicate and carry certain things out.” The collaboration went beyond trading ideas and information. Several of the healthcare organizations banded together to produce a community awareness media campaign with the tagline “Coming Together for You.” “We began the concept work independently but quickly realized the message resonated across the community and would be powerful with all of the partners coming together,” said Julia Strange, VP of Community Benefit at TMC. “We had a common purpose and focused message so getting to consensus was pretty easy.” The campaign, produced by the local agency Hilton & Myers Advertising, came together in about two weeks from the time the idea reached the agency until it was launched in late March on television, radio, print, outdoor and social media. The organizations that contributed to the campaign were TMC, Banner, El Rio Health, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and Pima County. “Our goal was to give the community confidence that their local healthcare providers and public health entities were prepared to address the challenges ahead,” Strange said.

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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES

Managing Medicine Hospitals Preserved Patient Safety Amid Pandemic By Jay Gonzales Even though the Tucson region wasn’t experiencing the chaos that COVID-19 brought to other communities, healthcare here was still stressed by the arduous task of preparing for and dealing with the virus while conducting the usual medical business. And it was anything but business as usual. The pandemic’s arrival didn’t put an end to broken bones, heart problems and babies coming into the world. What it did do was make processes related to COVID-19 part of the routine for hospitals to ensure every patient’s safety during treatment and visits to medical facilities where COVID-19 might be present. At the same time, the community had to be prepared for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients. That meant making sure there were enough hospital beds to go around and medical staff available – all while not knowing if they would be needed. The anticipated surge never materialized and there was no shortage of hospital space or medical services. The public, meanwhile, responded by thinking that the last place they wanted 30 BizTucson

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to be was near anyone who might have the virus – therefore people stayed away from medical facilities in droves, resulting in a huge financial impact on the entire healthcare industry. Safety first

The safety issue was first and foremost at every medical facility and hospital. At Tucson Medical Center, CEO Judy Rich said medical care at the hospital was separated into two tracks – dealing with those who might be coming in with coronavirus and dealing with those who weren’t. “Every work stream that we have had to be separated into a virus and a nonvirus work stream,” Rich said. “Patients who were suspected of having the virus were separated from everybody else. “We chose the parts of the hospital that were the farthest away from everything else and made those our COVID-19 units. We separated our two intensive care units into a COVID unit and a non-COVID unit. A lot of things changed very quickly. But once we settled into our understanding of the new processes, things actually worked remarkably well.”

Medical staff working in the COVID-19 units knew the risk they were taking in having direct contact. Everything possible was being done to protect them. However, staff who were working with the more “day-to-day” patients faced a risk just by being in places where COVID-19 might be, said Chad Whelan, CEO at Banner - University Medicine Tucson. “I just can’t emphasize enough that while we were doing this complete redesign of how we deliver care with all the uncertainties, we also had to reassure our colleagues who were placing themselves literally in harm’s way to care for our community that we were doing everything we could to minimize that risk so that they would feel comfortable and confident to keep coming back,” Whelan said. ‘People are fearful’

The perception that the hospitals and clinics were overwhelmed and lacked space was a national perception brought on by the haunting images of patients in tents outside hospitals where the virus surged to epidemic proportions. continued on page 32 >>> www.BizTucson.com

PHOTOS: COURTESY BANNER - UNIVERSITY MEDICINE TUCSON, NORTHWEST HOSPITAL, TUCSON MEDICAL CENTER

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BizHEALTHCARE continued from page 30 In Tucson, medical facilities emptied out except for those staff and patients caught in the pandemic. People weren’t visiting their doctors unless they absolutely had to. There was a moratorium on elective surgeries. Like most other businesses, the medical industry was immediately thrown into financial distress because of a lack of business. For example, on a normal day, 500 patients are seen at TMC. During an April 20 economic impact webinar conducted by Sun Corridor Inc., Rich reported the number of daily patients was down to 300 to 350. The hospital also was seeing about half the normal number of patients in the emergency room. At El Rio Health, a large local primary care provider, the face-to-face patient volume dropped by 50%, said Nancy Johnson, CEO at El Rio Health. “We’re finding people are fearful of coming to the hospital,” TMC’s Rich said at the time. The new way

Out of necessity, the medical industry began developing or, in some cases, accelerating plans for new ways of doing

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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES business to not only generate revenue, but to ensure the patients they had been taking care of were still getting the needed care. At primary care providers El Rio Health and MHC Healthcare, doing what they do during the normal course of business, which is to provide primary care, was actually part of the pandemic response. “We’ve always seen our place as kind of the frontline to keep people out of hospitals, to keep people out of ERs,” said Clinton Kuntz, CEO of MHC Healthcare. “We are the primary contact for most of our patients. When they’re feeling sick or have questions or want testing, we’re the first place they go to. “The more services we provide and the more support to patients we can provide, the less strain it’s going to put on the hospitals on the back end who need to deal with the really sick patients.” Almost immediately, all healthcare companies turned to “telemedicine” or “telehealth” – the practice of conducting doctor visits virtually – on a computer or mobile device from a patient’s home or somewhere other than a doc-

tor’s office. This was something they all had dabbled in and saw as part of their future. However, out of necessity, it was accelerated to become a staple of treatment. “We’re doing about 1,000 telehealth visits a day with patients because we want them to stay home,” Johnson said in early May, during the stay-at-home order issued throughout Arizona. “The first step up is a telehealth visit for someone who is sick. We can determine if they need to come in and be seen. And if they need to come in and be seen, we’re going to keep them safe. “Our health centers don’t have a lot of people in them because they’re staying at home. So we’re able to really protect patients that need to come in because some of them do need to come in and be listened to and have a physical assessment so we can determine how ill they are.” Kuntz said: “We really had to flip our whole model on its head overnight. We did about six month’s worth of work in less than two weeks to change our approach to how we’re taking care of our patients.”

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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES

Facing a New Normal Pandemic Forces Hospitals to Reflect, Revamp

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the one thing that has been certain is that uncertainty rules the day and will for some time to come. As the healthcare industry learned to cope with the pandemic, another certainty has emerged – COVID-19 will impact the industry for years, maybe generations, both physically and financially. Something as simple as a doctor visit will look vastly different than it did a few months ago. Yet, there have been a lot of lessons learned about the state of healthcare, both good and bad, that provide opportunities to reflect, adapt and move forward. “We’ve learned a lot. There are certain things that certainly will change,” said Frank Molinaro, CEO of the Carondelet Health Network, which is made up of St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital and Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales. “As a country, we learned 34 BizTucson

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where we get our supplies from makes a difference.” Clinton Kuntz, CEO of MHC Healthcare, one of the region’s largest primary-care providers, was more blunt about the future supply chain for gowns, masks, gloves and everything else needed in a hospital setting. “We’ve got to be able to buy medical supplies here in the United States because that almost broke our healthcare system in and of itself,” Kuntz said. The physical aspect of going to a medical facility will also see dramatic changes, as practices put in place during the pandemic become the norm. “I think infection prevention and surveillance, as important as they were, are going to be the No. 1 focus for people in hospitals going forward – making sure that people coming in feel safe and have different pathways through the hospital so there’s a separation of the risks,” Molinaro said.

Technology has already had a large impact on the industry, through the growth of telemedicine or telehealth, in which thousands of patients who needed to see doctors for routine visits during the stay-at-home order instead had virtual doctor visits on computers or mobile devices. “I think we’ve been on this path, but it’s been a slower path,” said Nancy Johnson, CEO of El Rio Health, a local primary-care provider with more than 110,000 patients. Johnson pointed out that insurance companies and Medicaid already covered telehealth visits, but with sanitary concerns over medical facilities going forward, those virtual visits will be more common. Still, she expects some pushback. “I think we’re still going to have a population that really wants that faceto-face experience,” she said. “In our health organization, when you come in continued on page 37 >>> www.BizTucson.com

PHOTOS: COURTESY BANNER - UNIVERSITY MEDICINE TUCSON

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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES continued from page 34 for a face-to-face visit, you’re most likely using our pharmacy or using our laboratory or maybe getting your mammogram. Because we have many services embedded under our health centers, I think people will still come in because there’s lots of other needs that we address there.” Going to a medical facility will simply look different going forward, according to healthcare providers. There will be more spacing of patients in waiting rooms. Areas might be sectioned off. Appointments may be spaced further apart to limit the number of patients in a waiting room. Patients must adjust, but what they can’t do is avoid healthcare. “One of the things that we’ve seen across the country is that more and more people are putting off care,” said Kevin Stockton, regional president and market CEO for Northwest Healthcare, which includes Northwest Medical Center and Oro Valley Hospital. “They’re having health issues, they’re calling EMS (emergency medical services). EMS is coming out to the house, then they refuse transport to the hospital because they’re afraid of contracting some disease or COVID. “What we’re rolling out is we want to be able to have our doctors do a telehealth visit for those patients to say, ‘No, this is serious; you need to come in,’ and be able to screen them instead of them just making a decision without the best information. We hope that that will help take care of patients better.” Like most businesses, healthcare will face a long financial recovery at all levels. While the urgency and nature of the pandemic made it seem that the healthcare companies were overwhelmed, they were not. Hospital beds and doctors’ offices were empty and business – except for the COVID-19 crisis – came to a standstill. The financial hit was significant because patients who would normally see a doctor for routine visits or elective surgeries put them on hold. “Every healthcare provider has been hit hard financially by this pandemic,” said Dr. Chad Whelan, CEO of Banner - University Medicine Tucson. “The federal and state funds to offset these hits are essential and welcomed, but they’re not going to come close to covering our losses. “At the same time, we’re rethinking what this new normal looks like and how we safely care for people with COVID in our midst. We’re also going to have to understand the long-term impact and what the forecasts look like for our financial future. It’s just one more time where we’re trying to do two things at once and neither of them are easy. It’s not an easy balancing act.” Recovering financially will depend on how each business has adjusted and planned for a new future. “We’re still dealing with the day-to-day crisis, but we’re also trying to figure out, when this crisis is done, how do we come out of it and what do we want to look like,” Kuntz said. “We have the flexibility right now to make business changes we might not have before. “The businesses that aren’t afraid of change and working in a new model, no matter what that looks like, will be the ones that come out of this stronger. And that goes across the board, not just healthcare. Everybody’s business model will look different when this is over.”

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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES

Healthcare Heroes

‘Absolutely Extraordinary’ Commitment There were heroes in every corner of the community – and that was not lost on those who were on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. Those interviewed by BizTucson took great caution to discuss the heroism they witnessed only through anecdotes, so as not to single out one effort over another. It continues to be a community effort within and outside the walls of the hospitals and clinics where COVID-19 patients are being treated. “It takes thousands of people to make this work,” said Judy Rich, CEO at Tucson Medical Center. “There are hundreds of people here around the clock who are not getting their pictures taken and are not wearing signs that say, ‘I’m a hero.’ They’re cooking food for us and cleaning the rooms and making sure that everything is working.” “I’ll tell you what, those housekeepers charging into those rooms and the bravery that we saw on a daily basis from our staff – every single staff person here has been absolutely extraordinary,” said Northwest Medical Center CEO Jennifer Schomburg. The community response was swift. Restaurants were forced to close their businesses, yet instead of retreating to the sidelines, they stepped up to provide meals for hospital staff and first responders who were working long hours. Churches prepared meals, sewed masks and other forms of personal protective equipment, and offered childcare. “The daycares were closed, the schools were closed, so we were really concerned about making sure our staff could show up and know that their kids were safe,” Schomburg said. “That’s a scary thing.” 38 BizTucson

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Local radio station The Drive Tucson launched a GoFundMe drive that provided a dual benefit. Donations were used to support local restaurants by buying meals that were then delivered to hospital workers and first responders. The drive raised more than $40,000. “Healthcare workers and first responders have put aside their worries for their own families and health to show up for us every day,” organizer Hill Bailey said on the GoFundMe page to encourage donations. Bailey cohosts the morning radio show, Bobby & Bailey on 101.7 FM. Some of the heroism was more personal. A physician from St. Mary’s Hospital lived out of a recreational vehicle closer to St. Joseph’s Hospital for a month so he could take shifts there for doctors who might have families and were needed at home. His expertise was more in need at St. Joseph’s as the hospital became the COVID-19 unit for Carondelet Health Network. “He didn’t have to,” said Frank Molinaro, CEO of Carondelet Health Network, which includes St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s hospitals in Tucson and Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales. “He led by example and showed up every single day, wearing his PPE and going into the unit and not sleeping in home at night through most of this.” Individual customers, prompted by no one, paid for coffee and snacks at a Starbucks near TMC and had them delivered to the hospital, Rich said. The manager showed up at TMC on a Saturday morning. “She said, ‘My customers have been buying coffee and buying food here

and have been asking us to bring it to Tucson Medical Center,’” Rich said. “I cannot tell you the number of local restaurants owned by a single person who, just out of the generosity of their hearts, have brought food for 50 to 100 people – daytime, nighttime and weekends.” “The list of people who have been heroes through all this has been amazing. And the list is long,” said Dr. Chad Whelan, CEO at Banner-University Medicine Tucson. “It’s nearly impossible to single out a person or an organization. “We’ve received tens of thousands of items from our community. It’s incredible – food donations on an almost daily basis for our staff at the hospitals and clinics.” Healthcare leadership also singled out an unsung group of heroes who were also in harm’s way during the COVID-19 response. “We absolutely appreciate our clinicians, our nurses and doctors who are on the front lines of this battle,” Whelan said. “But there’s one group that it’s just too easy to overlook and that’s our environmental service teams. They just deserve so much credit for the work they do. They are truly on the front lines around the clock. “They’re keeping our units and our rooms spotless and sanitized, the trash cans empty, patients fed and supplies stocked. We couldn’t be successful without each of them. And the thing is, I have never seen such pride in that group as I’ve seen over the past several weeks. The pride that they feel providing that safe environment, it’s just really special.”

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PHOTOS: COURTESY BANNER - UNIVERSITY MEDICINE TUCSON, MHC HEALTHCARE

By Jay Gonzales


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THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR: HEROES ON THE FRONT LINES

From left

Dr. Robert C. Robbins,

President, University of Arizona

Dr. Richard Carmona Chair, University of Arizona Reentry Task Force

Test, Trace, Treat A Tactical Plan to Reopen the University of Arizona By Jay Gonzales With a medical doctor as president and a solid plan in place, the University of Arizona made national news when it announced the campus planned to reopen this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not only is President Robert C. Robbins a doctor, his practice as a cardiac surgeon has given him vast experience in dealing with potential viruses and infections – expertise that’s in the 40 BizTucson

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room every time he’s part of a discussion on the COVID-19 response. Elsewhere, the doctors and scientists from UArizona Health Sciences and the BIO5 Institute have quickly mobilized to develop an antibody test that is the foundation of the effort to bring students, faculty and staff back for fall classes. Banner Health, which operates Banner-University Medicine Tucson, launched drive-through COVID-19

testing at its hospital on March 23. Finally, selecting former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, a distinguished professor of public health and a professor of surgery and pharmacy, to lead UArizona’s Reentry Task Force of experts was the final stroke of foresight. “We’ve been on this now since midMarch and I think we’re way ahead of most places,” Robbins said following a May task force briefing. “We all saw www.BizTucson.com


this really early on. When I knew this was coming, I said we’ve got to test. And the problem was, we didn’t have any test kits, so we made our own test kits.” In early April, the BIO5 Institute, with lead researchers Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya and Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich, announced the University of Arizona development of an antibody test Campus Reentry Task Force that would be used to test UArizona • Dr. Richard Carmona, Distinguished students, faculty and staff upon reProfessor of Public Health, Clinical turn to campus. Professor of Pharmacy PracticeTwo weeks later, UArizona announced a partnership with the state Science, Professor of Surgery, Mel of Arizona to test 250,000 health& Enid Zuckerman College of Public care workers and first responders. Health; former U.S. Surgeon GenThe state pledged $3.5 million for eral the effort. Then on April 30, Rob• Liesl Folks, Provost and Senior VP bins announced that, with the antifor Academic Affairs body testing capability in place, the university was launching a plan to • Katherine Ellingson, Assistant Profeshold on-campus classes in the fall. sor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, A Reentry Task Force, headed Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of by Carmona, was formed and Public Health launched on May 20. “I’ve asked him to be the com• Kacey Ernst, Associate Professor mander, the aggregator of all of and Program Director, Epidemiology the activities as we think about how and Biostatistics, Mel & Enid this pandemic is affecting our en Zuckerman College of Public Health tire campus, and to be able to look • Dr. Cecilia Rosales, Associate at the data, aggregate it, collate it, Dean, Phoenix Campus; Professor and report it up to me so that we of Public Health; Interim Associate can have a central source of data Dean, Community Engagement and and make informed decisions about Outreach; M.D. in Epidemiology whether to go forward with this reentry plan,” Robbins said. • Joyce Schroeder, Professor and While UArizona’s intention is to Department Head, Molecular and reopen, Robbins stressed that the Cellular Biology objective of the task force is to determine if that’s possible considering all that must be in place to bring everyone back to campus and safely government uses it,” Carmona said. It keep them there. A final decision has gives the task force an organizational not been made to start classes on camstructure where information can be pus pending development of a definitive centralized and focus can remain on the plan by the task force. mission. “The emphasis was always on safety,” Members of the task force held their Carmona said of his early discussions first public briefing on May 27 and outwith Robbins on the reentry plan. “He lined the different areas that must be said, ‘Richard, I want you to give me a researched to satisfy UArizona adminisplan. Tell me how to do this, but we’re tration – and the university community not doing it unless it’s safe.’ ” – that it will be safe to return to campus. With his background as a doctor, as Foremost, those will be testing, tracing the former U.S. surgeon general and in and treating. But they also include comlaw enforcement, Carmona has estabmunication, regular wellness checks for lished a process familiar to him – an ineveryone on campus, safety inside and cident command system. “The civilian outside buildings, proper dorm capacity world uses it. The military uses it. The and the development of a phone app www.BizTucson.com

that will track students potentially exposed to COVID-19. UArizona Provost Liesl Folks said that while data suggests students are less susceptible to COVID-19’s worst complications, faculty and staff in the higher age bracket must have assurances that everyone is taking the necessary precautions. “The risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 is incredibly low among the 20- to 29-year-old age demographic,” Folks said. “In fact, we’re blessed here in Tucson that our population’s median age is 33.3 years, which is wonderful in terms of the risks that we see from COVID-19 in our community. “Our student population tends to skew very young and Tucson skews very young. What that tells us though is that one of our core challenges is making sure that our faculty and staff, who may be in higher risk categories, are able to protect themselves. We’re working through that process now to work out how can we provide maximum flexibility in the ways we deliver instruction on campuses.” Like everything else during the pandemic, new information and data develop daily. What the task force knows today is significantly less than what it will know in a month, two months or by August 24, when UArizona intends to begin classes. A decision on the plan to return to campus must be made at least 30 days ahead of the scheduled start of classes, Folks said. “We want to make sure that if we’re not going to come back to campus and not going to welcome people back to the dorms, that we give people at least a month of notice,” Folks said. “I am constantly reminded we are a large campus. We’re like a small city and all of our decisions have to be informed by what’s going on around us, as well as what we can control and what we can modify to maximize protections on our own campus. We’re not operating in isolation and the decision needs to be made in concert with all of our state and local authorities.”

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BizMILESTONE

Vision, Expertise Help Fight a Pandemic University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health By Monica Surfaro Spigelman Public health. During the coronavirus pandemic, never has one phrase held greater meaning. Right on cue, the University of Arizona’s Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, which has a 20-year presence in Southern Arizona, stepped up with critically needed expertise to support frontline healthcare and refocus the region on leadership in public health. People now recognize that the impact of public health programs is both global and personal, said Dr. Iman Hakim, the college’s dean and Mel & Enid Zuckerman Endowed Chair in Public Health. Hakim established a task force when the pandemic hit and coordinated a science-based rollout of support for the region’s public health infrastructure. Support during the coronavirus crisis translated into a ramped up, multifaceted effort that engaged an army of the college’s faculty, students and staff in handling community hotlines, data collection, contact tracing, community training and resource development. The effort allowed partners like 42 BizTucson

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the Pima County Health Department to remain focused on more urgent COVID-19 issues. Training videos, created for first responders, helped in infection prevention during the outbreak. Webinars for local and international partners shared resources about infection control and toolkits for community and workplace awareness. Other toolkits guided parents and teachers in teaching children about the pandemic. A phone-call campaign provided remote support for Spanish-speaking communities in rural Arizona counties.

MEL & ENID ZUCKERMAN COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH 20TH ANNIVERSARY GALA EVENT Saturday, November 7, 2020 For tickets, sponsorships & additional information: www.gala.publichealth.arizona.edu

Dr. Jeff Burgess, the college’s associate dean for research, chairs the UArizona Campus Reentry Plan Working Group, while Assistant Professor Kate Ellingson led the core team that produced the plan’s first draft. Researcher Dr. Joe Gerald is part of the COVID-19 modeling team convened by the Arizona Department of Health Services to forecast possible outcomes to guide statewide response. Epidemiologist Dr. Kacey Ernst worked with other UArizona researchers to create the AZCOVIDTXT project, a new two-way texting system that gathers vital public health information from Arizonans. “This crisis has helped the community expand its definition and views of public health,“ Hakim said. “And because we’ve led with both cuttingedge science and deep community commitments, I’m confident that there will be remarkable changes on the horizon for the field of public health.” But it didn’t take a pandemic for Hakim and the college to experience the urgency of a public health mandate for the community. The college www.BizTucson.com


PHOTOS: COURTESY THE UNIVERSITY OF THE ARIZONA COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH

From left – Diné College students and Navajo Community Health representative processing samples during a UArizona training (Summer 2018); Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez with Karletta Chief, assistant professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences in the UArizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Paloma Beamer, associate professor in the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; Enid & Mel Zuckerman

has been thinking big for two decades, finding ways to innovate public health preparedness and advocacy for public health policy since its founding in 2000 as the first accredited school of public health in the Southwest. Still the only nationally accredited college of public health in Arizona, with campuses in Tucson and Phoenix, the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health is catalyzing global health activity through domestic and international collaborations aimed at education, research, training and public outreach. Hakim has been at the helm of the college since 2007. She earned her medical degree in Egypt, where she completed both her pediatric residency and her doctorate in nutrition. Hakim’s fascination with population health and her work in family community medicine caught the eye of Dr. Gail Harrison in 1992, who was conducting UArizona research in maternal-fetal health in vulnerable populations. Harrison encour-

Mel & Enid Zuckerman A Life-Changing Legacy of Public Health By Monica Surfaro Spigelman Can reimagining one’s personal lifestyle both ignite a wellness movement and fuel a public health legacy? In the case of Mel & Enid Zuckerman, resoundingly, yes. The founders of Canyon Ranch and namesakes of the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health have built a successful brand based on mind-body-spirit well-being, and played a seminal role in creating what is still Arizona’s only accredited college of public health in the process. As a New Jersey accountant in the 1950s, Mel dreamed of moving west. By 1955, he had convinced his wife, Enid, to settle in Tucson, where he learned the building trade and went into home development. By the 1970s, Zuckerman was creating Tucson subdivisions and had become president of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. Success had come at the cost of his health, however. After his father’s death, Zuckerman was determined to regain his well-being, and he explored outlets to lose weight and reduce stress. The process of embracing a healthy lifestyle and identifying the tools for lasting change were a revelation, and the Zuckermans wanted to help others benefit from their approach. Their vision of a naturalistic health, fitness and wellness resort was realized in Canyon Ranch, which they founded in 1979. From the resort’s early, formative years, the Zuckermans were committed to sharing their unique health and wellness expertise with the community. They supported the University of Arizona’s physiology and nutritional sciences departments and also collaborated with the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

In 1997, the Zuckermans’ enthusiasm for elevating healthy lifestyles led to creating a major endowment, which ultimately built the College of Public Health. At the time, the Zuckerman donation was the largest gift in UArizona history. Since then, the family has committed more than $20 million to the UArizona Foundation, primarily for the college’s benefit. In 2005, the Zuckermans established their family foundation to form a framework of philanthropic commitment to health, wellness and education. The Zuckerman Family Foundation is led by granddaughter Nicole Zuckerman, daughter Amy Zuckerman and longtime friend Kim Bourn. It supports health projects throughout the community. A recent gift challenge from the foundation will result in an additional $4 million for the college. The Zuckerman goal to transform lives through holistic wellness has extended globally. Although Mel and Enid no longer own Canyon Ranch, the resort under Zuckermans’ guidance has expanded its brand to open sister resorts around the world, as well as spa clubs in national hotels and onboard luxury cruise lines. Ironically, as the college began to plan its 20th anniversary celebration in 2020, a global pandemic thrust public health into the spotlight. Immediately, celebration plans were put aside so the college’s research teams, educators and students could join the fight against COVID-19. The resulting projects vividly put into action the Zuckerman principles fostered over decades. As the college continues to help the region manage the COVID-19 crisis, the Zuckermans’ legacy to advance public health has been both inspirational and transformative.

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BizMILESTONE 1993

The Arizona Board of Regents approves the establishment of the Arizona Graduate Program in Public Health.

1997

Mel and Enid Zuckerman commit to donating $10 million over 10 years – the largest gift in University of Arizona history at the time – to help establish the College of Public Health.

2000

The Arizona Board of Regents votes to establish the UArizona College of Public Health.

2002

The college is named the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, to honor their financial support and commitment to UArizona.

2004

The Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion is established as a research center with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2006

The Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health begins holding classes at Roy P. Drachman Hall, its new home.

2009

The Global Health Institute is established within the college.

2010

The college expands its public health academics in Phoenix. A $3.2 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration helps establish the Arizona Public Health Training Center.

2011

A group of 10 medical students from Saudi Arabia participate in the Global Health Institute’s new Undergraduate Research Program. The college collaborates with the UArizona College of Medicine-Phoenix and Biomedical Sciences to introduce the third-year medical students to the U.S. public health system.

2012

The Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center is established, providing expertise in the areas of human exposure science.

2013

The college is re-accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. The National Rural Health Association recognizes the college’s Arizona Center for Rural Health as its Outstanding Rural Health Organization for 2013. A Healthy 2B Me summer camp for children is introduced.

2014

The college receives a $3.6 million, four-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to establish a consortium of public health training centers called the Western Region Public Health Training Center.

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continued from page 43 aged Hakim to come to Tucson to study childhood nutrition and public health. “It wasn’t until I came to Tucson to study public health that I discovered my professional calling,” Hakim recalled. Convinced to stay at UArizona, Hakim was first an assistant professor in the College of Medicine, and later joined the College of Public Health before her appointment as dean. Hakim successfully aligned academic curriculum and research with her singular global vision. The college now holds a distinctive niche in international public health leadership. “We are known for expanding the definition of public health service in the academic setting,” explained Hakim, who was founding director of the college’s Global Health Institute in 2009. The institute helps inform the college’s overall research, education and community efforts through a broader lens that is focused on improving conditions and behaviors of global populations. The institute houses a micro-campus in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, where there is faculty collaboration and student intercultural learning at Gulf Medical University. Another micro-campus with Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico, is set to open in the fall. More than 900 students enrolled each year across dozens of degree options in public health, combined with more than 3,500 alumni, are improving real world issues. “These are the current and future leaders who translate learning and research into practices that impact people every day, everywhere,” Hakim said. “The field of public health is constantly evolving in response to the needs of communities and populations around the world. We have a mandate to use our collective influence to shape the future of public health profoundly.” The college maintains a close working relationship with healthcare agencies, governments and communities as the regional leader in public health research and promotion. It receives grant funding from federal agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Its researchers are studying public health and quality of life in the border region, which will likely inform U.S. health policies for the next decade. Since 2014, the college has coordinated a binational Sonora-Arizona network to present its research and seek new collaborators. In 2016, the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health partnered with the Mexico Border Health Commission to establish the Primary Prevention Mobile Unit, which today has expanded its health services, providing free preventive health screening assessments in underserved Arizona counties. Services include basic screening for chronic disease and health education. Materials, translated into Spanish, are provided on nutrition, obesity, diabetes, mental health and domestic violence. The college also teamed with Northern Arizona University in 2016 and received a $5 million, five-year grant to escontinued on page 46 >>> www.BizTucson.com


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2015

The National Institutes of Health awards a $2.9 million, five-year grant for a diabetes prevention study in Sonora, Mexico. The college also collaborates with the UArizona College of Engineering and the Tucson Fire Department, with a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to lead a study to reduce cancer risks among first responders.

2016

The Phoenix campus partners with the Mexico Border Health Commission to establish the Primary Prevention Mobile Unit, to provide free health screenings. The college collaborates with Northern Arizona University in a $5 million, five-year grant to establish the Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research. The college introduces Kidenga, a free app to report mosquito activity and illness symptoms to detect outbreaks.

2017

The Primary Prevention Mobile Unit expands to Pima County.

2018

A $2.98 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is awarded to determine if interventions can reduce hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace.

2018

The Center for Rural Health receives a $2.2 million Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant to work with the Arizona Department of Health Services to train first responders on the use of naloxone to counter the effects of opioids. The college and the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources receive a $1.6 million federal grant to improve safety among U.S. mine workers. A $1.25 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute is awarded to help train students from underserved areas with an interest in cancer prevention.

2019

The Center for Rural Health receives a $3.5 million, five-year HRSA grant to ensure access to health services for Arizona’s underserved rural communities. The college and the Pima County Health Department launch an Academic Health Department to enhance public health education, training and research.

2020

The college celebrates 20 years in Southern Arizona.

continued from page 44 tablish the Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research, focusing on the environmental factors that cause health disparities among indigenous communities. “We feel a special commitment to our border and indigenous communities in both Arizona and Sonora,” Hakim said. “We insist on a dynamic interchange between public health research and community outreach, translating research findings into community programs and transforming community needs into basic and applied public health research.” This mandate also is reflected through the college’s Center for Prevention and Health Promotion, which supports other community wellness efforts. For instance, an after-school health promotion and intervention program for girls at Marana’s Estes Elementary School is now in its eighth year. A similar program for boys at the school, promoting positive-thinking skills, self-care and anti-bullying, has been hosted for two years. Broad collaboration is key to the college’s initiatives, inspiring new approaches that drive innovation. Educating the community as well as potential partners is critical to creating healthy nations, Hakim said. One partnership with the Arizona Area Health Education Center has focused on increasing the numbers of public health students who practice in the state’s rural and underserved communities. Another, with Arizona Complete Health, funds mobile health units that provide access for underserved populations to health screening and healthy lifestyle resources. Partnership comes alive in the college’s experiential-based courses, where integration of community service enriches the learning experience of students, faculty and community. Through funding by the Zuckerman Family Foundation, service learning courses, like those that serve children and families in Arizona’s tribal, mining and cotton communities, facilitate teaching strategies that ensure course content meets genuine community need. In the future, Hakim sees the long game in terms of expanding the college’s impact. “In the midst of challenges like COVID-19, we need to find ways to invest in and celebrate the accomplishments of public health,” she said, underscoring how such efforts can save millions of lives. Hakim will celebrate that on Nov. 7, when the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health honors its 20th anniversary. A planned gala will recognize the contributions of individuals and organizations selected as honorees for their impact on community health in the Tucson region and beyond. Several honorees are alumni who have used their expertise in public health to make positive change globally. For example, Dr. Mark Smolinski, Hakim’s classmate in the 1993 Master of Public Health program, is a global leader in disease surveillance. A medical epidemiologist who founded the nonprofit Ending Pandemics, Smolinski was part of the 1990s multidisciplinary team that created tools for early detection and prevention of the hantavirus epidemic. “We believe that everyone has the right to good health,” Hakim said. “The time is right to focus on public health training and research because future generations of public health leadership will inspire individuals to make healthy choices as a society and to then work together to reduce the impact of global epidemics.” Hakim hopes the gala will be a way to reflect on the markers of the college’s success. Best not forgotten, she said, are the people and partners who build community health and provide the narrative of resilience for the future.

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BizVIEWPOINT

Tucson Tourism Recovery Starts at Home By Brent DeRaad First and foremost, we at Visit Tucson wish all of you good health as businesses throughout our region reopen. Visit Tucson is the largest travel marketing organization in Southern Arizona, and tourism, as you can imagine, is being impacted massively by COVID-19. Per the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, 8 million U.S. travel jobs were lost in March and April, while travel industry losses will result in a gross domestic product impact of $1.2 trillion in 2020. Travel is one of Pima County’s largest industries, generating $2.5 billion in direct spending annually from visitors, while employing 25,000. Due to COVID-19 impacts, metro Tucson’s hotel and resort occupancy dropped from 83% in February to 49% in March. Amazingly, our March 2020 lodging occupancy percentage led the western United States despite being 35 points lower than metro Tucson’s 84% occupancy in March 2019. Lodging occupancy and travel spending were trending considerably worse in April, though, and will likely remain far below normal for several months in Tucson and throughout the world. Tucson International Airport’s year-overyear passenger drop in April tells the story. TUS served 339,000 passengers in April 2019, but only 20,000 this April. How do we get out of this hole? The road to recovery begins with you. Supporting local businesses is always vital, but it has never been more important than now. Thousands of Tucsonans have been impacted financially by the pandemic. Their jobs will not return until business begins to flow.

While we would love to simply turn on the visitor faucet, it is not that simple. People need to feel safe before they are willing to step onto an airplane, walk into a store or restaurant, or check into a hotel. Safety protocols are being followed carefully by our tourism-related businesses, but we need local, early adopters to be the first to patronize them and convey the great time they had to friends and family. So, instead of taking the annual summer trip to San Diego, why not enjoy a “staycation” at one or more Tucson resorts or hotels? The enhanced cleaning that is taking place daily at our hotels will provide you with the safest experience possible. Several properties offer swimming pools, spas, gyms and golf courses, all featuring enhanced cleaning protocols. Staycations are an ideal way to treat yourselves this summer, while helping employ more Tucsonans. If you choose to dine in at your favorite restaurant, follow all posted safety guidelines. Many restaurants, however, are continuing to offer takeout service. Please remember that restaurant food is as safe, if not safer, than food you buy at the grocery store. Restaurants are among the most heavily regulated industries in Arizona. Consider visiting local attractions this summer, as well. Several attractions closed temporarily due to COVID-19 impacts, so call or visit their websites to ensure they are open before visiting. Visit Tucson’s and the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance’s websites offer comprehensive attractions listings. Additionally, we are very fortunate

to have top collegiate, along with professional, sports activities and organizations operating in Tucson. Based on group gathering guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and where Arizona is in that spectrum, sports events cannot yet occur with fans present, but University of Arizona athletics, the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, Cologuard Classic, FC Tucson, Tucson Roadrunners and Tucson Sugar Skulls are just some of the entities we as a community will need to support to keep them viable. Numerous arts and cultural organizations and local events fall into this same category. Another way you can help is to keep meetings in Tucson. Think about the conferences to which you travel every year. If the group size is 750 or fewer, there is an excellent chance we have a hotel, resort or other venue capable of accommodating that meeting or event. Please contact us at Visit Tucson – visittucson.org/meetings – with suggestions of meetings that our staff can pursue. While full recovery will take multiple years, Tucson has been identified by multiple media outlets, including Forbes, as being among the 10 U.S. cities best positioned to recover from COVID-19. Our wide-open spaces, lack of urban density, Sonoran Desert setting and strengthening business climate provide an outstanding base upon which to build. But please remember, the road to recovery begins with you.

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Sample of Visit Tucson Staycation Campaign

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BizLEADERSHIP

WOMEN WHO LEAD

Mayor Regina Romero Leading During COVID-19

Just three short months after taking the top leadership role in Tucson city government, Mayor Regina Romero found herself grappling with troubling issues involving a frightening and deadly virus called COVID-19 that spread swiftly from person to person, country to country and continent to continent as it evolved into a global pandemic. During the mayoral election, Romero – the first female mayor in Tucson history – campaigned for bold action on climate change, more affordable housing, increased in50 BizTucson

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frastructure investment and expansion of immigrant and worker rights, but protecting the public health of residents from the spread of the coronavirus wasn’t discussed in the campaign. Nonetheless, Romero is receiving praise for the leadership she showed and the policies she implemented in order to protect the public health of residents as the disease descended here. Mayor Romero declared a local emergency on March

PHOTO: MANUEL RUIZ

By David Pittman


17, announcing a new set of actions the City of Tucson was taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “This morning, after consulting with business stakeholders, the city attorney and city manager, I have made the determination that it is the best interest of maintaining public health to suspend dine-in services in restaurants and food courts, and transition to only delivery/ pickup services,” Romero said. “Bars, gyms and other specific venues stated in the proclamation where groups of people congregate are directed to be closed. At this time, the best thing we can do is come together as a community and take care of each other.” In addition, Romero ordered that:

• All service counters and lobbies with-

in City of Tucson buildings, including ward offices and City Hall, be closed, while the city continued services and operations electronically.

• There would be no interruption in

trash, recycling, land or water services.

• All

evictions on city-owned public housing and all water shutoffs be temporarily suspended.

On March 27, Mayor Romero implemented new orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 and, in the process, broke away from a decision made by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. The Republican governor had proclaimed that businesses he deemed “essential” could continue operating, while those he found “unessential” should be closed temporarily. Romero disagreed with Ducey’s ruling that spas, barbershops, and hair and nail salons were essential and strongly urged that “operations of personal hygiene and other services that conflict with CDC social distancing guidelines and jeopardize public health” should be closed until further notice. Romero said she never makes public policy decisions in a vacuum and always takes a collaborative approach. She said she regularly consults with City Manager Michael Ortega, City Attorney Mike Rankin, Pima County officials, Vice Mayor Paul Cunningham and other City Council members, the Ari-

Mayor, Business Leaders Clean Up Downtown After Protests By Tara Kirkpatrick More than 75 volunteers, organized by Mayor Regina Romero’s office, came out in force to clean up the damage caused in the aftermath of downtown Tucson protests against the recent Minneapolis death of George Floyd. The May 29 protests started out small and peaceful as people marched through downtown, but as the night wore on, crowds swelled to almost 400 people and violence escalated, according to Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus. Some vandals smashed windows of businesses and restaurants, set dumpsters on fire and painted graffiti on multiple homes and buildings. The total damage could exceed $200,000, Magnus said. “It was incredibly distressing this past weekend when the downtown we created to welcome all, became the victim of a few vandals that did not represent the good intentions of peaceful protesters,” Downtown Tucson Partnership posted June 2 on its website. “The vandalism perpetrated on our local, downtown businesses compounded the already deep damage that these businesses have been enduring throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope is one of constructing downtown, not destructing and we are vehemently against the violence that has occurred.” The volunteers, which included Romero, local business owners and civic leaders, arrived early May 31 to help clean up downtown and Fourth Avenue. Also partnering in the effort were Ward One Councilmember Lane Santa Cruz, Sundt Construction, Concord General Contracting, Tofel Dent Construction, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Rio Nuevo District, Tucson Metro Chamber, Tucson Roadrunners, HSL Properties, Swaim Associates Architects, GHLN Architects and Engineers, Visit Tucson and the City of Tucson Environmental & General Services “Thank you to our community leaders and partners who joined us to help in the cleanup and recovery,” said Romero. “Coming together to support small businesses is a shared effort and our community came out to do just that...We Are One | Somos Uno.” “We swept up glass, picked up trash and boarded up windows,” said volunteer Edmund Marquez, who owns the largest Allstate group in Southern Arizona. “The city crew was busy removing graffiti. With all that is going on, it felt good to lend a hand and felt good to support the small businesses and residents of downtown.” Romero’s office donated 50 sheets of plywood to cover broken windows and doors and 13 cases of water to downtown businesses. Meanwhile, DTP also posted resources for damaged businesses on obtaining plywood and how to protect their storefronts. Rio Nuevo agreed to pay for the cost of fixing windows and doors that were broken between May 28-31 with more information on its website, https://rionuevo.org/ property-damage/.  “It’s important to continue to come together as a community to support each other,” said Marquez, who was joined by wife, Wendy. “In the end, we all love Tucson and want our community to be a great place to raise a family.”

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BizLEADERSHIP continued from page 51 zona congressional delegation, as well as, Tucson business and community leaders. “Because of my three terms on the City Council, I know how the city works and the importance of touching all the bases,” she said. “As mayor, I’ve taken a coordinated approach from the beginning and I’ll continue to do so. “Asking people to stay at home and practice social distancing wasn’t easy. It’s been very harmful to businesses and our economy, but we had to do something to reduce the spread of this disease. If we had not responded appropriately, our economy would have suffered more harm over the long term.” Former Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said Romero’s public statements and actions as mayor regarding COVID-19 policy were very appropriate. He also said Romero “has a number of issues she wants to bring to the forefront and she is aware that to make progress in those areas the city must have a friendly business climate and a strong economy in order to produce the revenue needed to adequately provide city services.” Amber Smith, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber, said Romero “was forced to face formidable challenges in dealing with a global pandemic and she did so with grace and courage, and stuck to her convictions in representing the interests of the community.” Allyson Solomon, executive director of Metropolitan Pima Alliance, thanked Romero and the Tucson City Council for addressing “specific and urgent business and development community needs” during a worldwide pandemic. “Under Mayor Romero’s leadership, the council supported the lifting of restrictions on temporary signs that allowed businesses to quickly and lawfully advertise new services,” Solomon said. “In addition, the council proactively reduced development impact fees for the next two years, which will aid in the economic recovery of our city.”

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PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

WOMEN WHO LEAD

T. VanHook Schuld

CEO Habitat for Humanity Tucson

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BizCOMMUNITY

From Volunteer to CEO of Habitat for Humanity Tucson

PHOTOS: COURTESY HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

By Christy Krueger More than 5,000 volunteers a year support Habitat for Humanity Tucson. Some lend their skills short term, others stay for years. Many help by building houses, while a smaller number work in administration and at the HabiStore. One became chief executive officer. After volunteering for 14 years, T. VanHook Schuld accepted the position as Habitat’s leader in 2014, yet it took some convincing from her fellow board members. The selection committee had already offered the CEO job to another person who had to decline due to a family emergency. So they looked to VanHook Schuld. “The head of the selection committee called me multiple times,” she said. “My husband had died and I wasn’t sure I wanted to change.” She was working as the community development director for the Town of Marana at the time. But with her deep roots in Habitat, she realized making the move was the right thing to do. VanHook Schuld’s history with Habitat began with her mother, who was a volunteer. “She was terminally ill with cancer. She asked me and my sister to take over her spot with Habitat.” Since then, VanHook Schuld has become a Habitat expert in every aspect, from homeowner applications to land buying to home building. A potential homeowner’s application and acceptance process for a Habitat for Humanity house is a long one. Applicants, explained VanHook Schuld, must meet income qualifications, be able to repay the loan (Habitat is the mortgage company) and be partners in sweat equity, meaning they must contribute at least 250 hours of work on their home

or other Habitat homes. They are also required to take financial classes. Habitat Tucson generally buys land for the homes and builds the infrastructure. “We build in multiple places. We go into small infill projects in different parts of town,” VanHook Schuld said. In April, Habitat had 26 homes under construction in four locations. Generally, architects handle the home designs, but Pima Community College design students are becoming more involved through a student competition started by VanHook Schuld four years ago. “The great thing is the students get to see their design built,” she said. Another collaboration with the college involves a new center that allows house walls to be built indoors. “PCC students learn to build them and take them out to a site and snap on the wall,” VanHook Schuld said. “Doing it this way allows us to have better training.” In some cases, property is donated. Earlier this year, Tucson Foundations paid for land on the west side of Tucson and funded the building of 19 homes. It also donated an additional amount for families affected by COVID-19. During the shelter-at-home orders, volunteers did not work, and the HabiStore was closed. “The construction team is doing all the work themselves, without volunteers. Some store people are on the building crew. We have only one person per house or one per floor.” Six families were slated to move in on June 30, and VanHook Schuld said at press time that she might have to do some painting herself to get all the homes finished. “People don’t think of nonprofits as a business, but we are,” VanHook Schuld

said. “One-third of our income is from the store, one-third is from mortgages and one-third is from government contracts, fundraising and community outreach.” She explained that Habitat Tucson does not depend on the national organization, Habitat for Humanity, financially. “We’re our own independent organization and make our decisions. We support them financially; they don’t fund us.” The national organization does help through associations with sponsor companies like Whirlpool, which provides a stove, stove vent and refrigerator for each house. Habitat’s A Brush with Kindness program allows the organization to help homeowners who may be unemployed, single parents or elderly residents who need minor property work. “We go in, as long as it just needs a spruce-up, and do painting and yard work if they can’t do it. The program is great for Rotary volunteers, a sorority or neighborhood group. We like having the UA women’s basketball team because they can paint without ladders.” Between her time shopping for land, leading outreach programs with other organizations, talking to donors and visiting design centers, VanHook Schuld’s best days are dedication days. “It’s when the family gets their home,” she said. “You hear little feet running through the house.” Once, she watched a 4-year-old proudly showing her friends her new house along with a refrigerator that her family didn’t have to share with anyone. “That’s my favorite part of the job.”

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Clockwise from top left: T. VanHook Schuld, CEO Habitat Tucson working at the Habitat Tucson build site; Arizona Habitat affiliates and Gov. Doug Ducey at the signing ceremony for the Habitat license plate; T. VanHook Schuld; T. VanHook Schuld and the Howell Family at their Habitat home dedication; T. VanHook Schuld welcoming volunteers at World Habitat Day 2019; Habitat Tucson CEO T. VanHook Schuld and Tucson Metro Chamber CEO Amber Smith at Habitat on the Hill in Washington, DC; T. VanHook Schuld and the Souleymane Family at their Habitat home dedication. www.BizTucson.com

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WOMEN WHO LEAD

From left PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

Leslie Perls

President, Board of Directors Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona

Jennifer Tersigni

Interim Executive Director Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona 56 BizTucson

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BizMILESTONE

Feeding the Isolated and Homebound By Loni Nannini For 50 years, Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona has been delivering health, dignity and independence to isolated seniors and those with disabilities, one meal at a time. The milestone is a testament to more than 280 volunteers who serve as the organization’s driving force and became even more significant amid the coronavirus epidemic. “Our golden anniversary demonstrates that we have a valuable service and strong, sustainable model,” said Leslie Perls, president of Mobile Meals’ board of directors. “It also speaks volumes about the heart and soul of our community. Even though change is inevitable, Mobile Meals has persevered through 50 years of caring for the health and well-being of our community.” It began in 1970 when the Pima County Medical Society Auxiliary stepped in after the Meals on Wheels program that served aging and chronically ill Tucsonans lost federal funding. The auxiliary spearheaded fundraisers, harnessed volunteer delivery drivers and teamed up with local churches, businesses, hospitals and the University of Arizona Food Service to continue meal service. The effort was all-volunteer until 1989. Today, volunteers are the cornerstone of the organization, which has a staff of six and an annual budget of about $750,000. About 68% of funding is provided by individuals and private foundations, while government agencies contribute 9% and the remainder comprises client fees. Mobile Meals offers delivery of two freshly prepared meals daily, Monday through Friday. It provides medically tailored, special-diet and regular-diet meals for 200 adults unable to shop or cook for themselves. The food is prepared at hospitals and healthcare facilities, then delivered throughout Southern Arizona. Partners include Tucson Medical Center, www.BizTucson.com

Banner - University Medical Center Tucson and Banner - UMC South Campus, Fellowship Square retirement community, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Institute of Tucson, Carondelet Health Network, Community Partners Inc. and La Posada. Home isolation took on new significance during the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the closing of congregate meal sites and disruption of other social support systems for seniors. For vulnerable adults practicing social distancing, Mobile Meals presented a cost-effective option to Uber Eats, DoorDash and other web-based delivery services, said Jennifer Tersigni, interim executive director of Mobile Meals. Clients, about 80% of whom qualify as low income, are charged on a sliding-fee scale and pay between $1 and $10 for two meals daily.

SUPPORT MOBILE MEALS OF SOUTHERN ARIZONA AS IT CELEBRATES 50 YEARS Make a donation to assist the nonprofit online at www.mobilemealssoaz.org or by calling 622-1600. Donations can be mailed to: Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona 4803 E. 5th Street, Suite 209 Tucson, AZ 85711

“Our service comes with a wellness check on the health and safety of our clients, which is key to helping them remain independent,” Tersigni said. “We are the eyes and ears for clients and their family members who want someone to check in and make sure they are okay.” During the pandemic, Mobile Meals also implemented new safety measures while providing additional help for clients.

“Because of financial constraints and mobility and transportation issues, many clients don’t have food stored on their shelves or in their refrigerators,” Tersigni said. “When the pandemic started, we assembled and distributed medically specific food boxes. Even if we tell our clients to try to keep a supply of food ... for some of them, the food that we bring in each day is all that they eat.” Mobile Meals has fostered valuable connections for volunteers and clients, said Perls, who became a substitute driver last year. “When you deliver a meal to someone in need, they are so grateful,” Perls said. “You can immediately see that you have an impact. When you arrive at people’s homes, lock eyes with them, ask how they are doing and get to know them, you develop meaningful relationships that give you a profound sense of purpose.” That sense of purpose has been shared by first responders, essential workers, public servants and others who stepped forward when many regular volunteers were forced to self-isolate during the pandemic. Those included U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Kelly and 23 Tucson police officers. “We are so grateful to all of these volunteers. They all come highly trained and their mission is similar to ours in that they sign up to serve,” said Tersigni. Perls views Mobile Meals’ longevity here as validation of the safety net that small nonprofits offer vulnerable adults. “Things are changing and we are working in real time to be proactive about taking care of our ecosystem,” she said. “A silver lining for us is that we have been an effective organization at serving clients and volunteers to ensure the health, dignity and independence of vulnerable adults.”

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PHOTOS: COURTESY PCC WORKFORCE PROGRAM

BizWORKFORCE

PCC workforce program students engaged in career and technical training.

Workforce Training During COVID-19 Pima Community College Offers Skills to Advance By Tara Kirkpatrick In an uncertain economy, Pima Community College’s Workforce Development programs are equipping people with critical skills to do and find the best job possible. The COVID-19 crisis has only expedited the programs’ importance in Southern Arizona. Today’s most lucrative and in-demand jobs are highly skilled and tech-driven. Even before the pandemic, PCC has been part of an aggressive regional response to meet these workforce needs of companies and drive economic development in Southern Arizona. “The college has been responding to the shifts in the labor market that require workers to build up their technical skills,” said David Doré, Pima’s president of campuses and executive vice chancellor for student experience and workforce development. “The current crisis only accelerated what we were 58 BizTucson

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already doing, allowing us to respond quickly with new programs and initiatives.” PCC’s workforce development programs help companies train employees to master new technology and offer dislocated workers the chance to “re-skill” to nab better, higher-paying jobs. Valuable local partnerships make this possible, Doré said. “Pima partners extensively with industry in order to ensure that all our training programs align with their needs.” In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PCC expanded its short-term training programs in transportation, logistics, construction, manufacturing, health sciences and information technology sectors – areas that lead directly to employment, Doré said. “The skills in these areas will become more important as Pima County moves into recovery.” For example, PCC will launch a Google IT Support Profeswww.BizTucson.com


The current crisis only accelerated what we were already doing, allowing us to respond quickly with new programs and initiatives.

– David Doré President of Campuses & Executive Vice Chancellor Pima Community College

sional Certificate program – an online, five-month course that helps students begin an IT career. The course includes fundamentals such as troubleshooting, system administration, customer service and security. “This program and others meet the challenges posed by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and gives dislocated workers virtual access to short-term training that leads to high-wage career paths,” he said. PCC is also developing several short-term certifications in construction and manufacturing, including HVAC, torque multimeter, precision measurement, mechatronics and more for rapid re-training. Logistics and supply chain management, which have emerged as critical factors during the pandemic, are also offered. Students and workers take these classes online. In response to campus closures to reduce the spread of coronavirus, more than 2,000 courses were moved online. “Everything that can be taught online has been moved online, thanks to our innovative and dedicated faculty and staff,” Doré said. “Students will return for hands-on skills training when we are able to safely return to campus.” PCC’s adaptability during the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates the college’s flexible approach to delivering education. “We start with training that delivers skills just in time,” Doré said. “Employers provide input into each program of study, ensuring we are focused on the most valuable skills for a particular industry, making our students more in demand when seeking employment.” “I want to express my gratitude to the Workforce Development team, as well as all of our employees and students for adapting quickly to the circumstances of the pandemic. We know the coming months will be challenging for Tucson,” Doré said. “We will be there for our community and employer partners, addressing their training needs, as well as for displaced workers preparing for new opportunities.” www.BizTucson.com

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BizDEVELOPMENT

The Bautista

One of Rio Nuevo’s Largest Projects to Date In 1775-76, Spanish military commander Juan Bautista de Anza led an expedition through Arizona and California that included travels along the Santa Cruz River in Tucson. Today, the trail that follows the historic journey is named after Bautista, as is a new mixeduse development on the river’s west bank. The Bautista, within the Mercado District west of downtown, is the newest project of The Gadsden Company, a family-owned real estate company founded in 2005. For several years, Gadsden has developed the commercial mixed-use parts of the district, bordered by Cushing Street, Paseo de los Zanjeros, Congress Street and the Santa Cruz River. 60 BizTucson

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“The Mercado District is the flagship transit-oriented development of Menlo Park,” said Adam Weinstein, Gadsden’s president and CEO. The $72.5 million Bautista development includes 253 apartment units and 16,500 square feet of retail/commercial/restaurant space plus underground parking. Construction will begin the first quarter of 2021, with completion expected in 2022. Stefanos Polyzoides of Moule & Polyzoides Architects & Urbanists in Pasadena, Calif., leads the design team. The firm specializes in urban centers and creating residential complexes around courtyards, winning the Congress for the New Urbanism Charter Award numerous times. Weinstein calls

Polyzoides “one of the founding fathers of the new urbanism.” The Bautista will include studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. “It is highly amenitized with a pool, spa, four large courtyards and an enhanced river park element,” Weinstein said. “The demographics will be millennials and boomer move-downs – those who have moved from larger homes and want a more dynamic urban living experience.” Rent, he said, will be at market rate, similar to current downtown apartments. The Paseo Grande, a public walkway that weaves around the Mercado District, will run through The Bautista. There, it forms an open-air plaza lined with ground-level commercial and retail www.BizTucson.com

IMAGE: COURTESY RIO NUEVO

By Christy Krueger


spaces while residential apartments sit above. The plaza will include water features, plantings and furniture groupings. With the expectation of year-round Santa Cruz River water flow, Gadsden will improve the area to create an inviting park-like space. Shade, picnic tables and recreational use, as part of the enhanced Santa Cruz River Park and the 120+-mile Chuck Huckelberry Loop, will be available to the entire community. Investments from Rio Nuevo, which calls The Bautista one of its largest projects to date, and other available funding will allow this project to go forward. The Rio Nuevo board is providing a $2.8 million investment, which includes $1.8 million in cash and $1 million in sales tax rebates. “We’ll give sales tax received from retail business back to them as a sales tax rebate,” explained Brandi Haga-Blackman, Rio Nuevo’s administrative director. Gadsden is also leveraging its private equity along with outside investments through a Qualified Opportunity Zone. “This is a federal designation for certain

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It allows a unique connection between the Mercado District and the Santa Cruz River Park. – Adam Weinstein President & CEO The Gadsden Company

census tracts in each state to spur economic development and job creation,” Weinstein said. “The designated QOZ overlays the entirety of our Mercado District properties. Bautista is in that zone.” This past March, the Rio Nuevo board approved a deal with Gadsden to buy the land, which is valued at $11.8

million. “We’re purchasing the land and giving it back to them and they’ll pay rent to us; they pay the rent all up front,” Haga-Blackman said. Weinstein is enthusiastic about The Bautista’s uniqueness and its expected community offerings. “It’s the first Opportunity Zone-leveraged investment of its kind within the Rio Nuevo District. It allows a unique connection between the Mercado District and the Santa Cruz River Park. And it’s the next phase of expanding the Mercado District with its 16,500 square feet of retail, commercial, restaurant, public plaza and River Park connection.” Rio Nuevo currently has several downtown-area developments in various phases. Approved by voters in 1999, Rio Nuevo is a tax increment finance district and is funded by a share of state sales tax dollars. Its state-appointed board of directors manages and invests these funds to create jobs and long-term growth for Tucson.

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PHOTO:BRENT G. MATHIS

BizDOWNTOWN

Downtown Tucson’s Path to Recovery

Gift Cards, Grants Aim to Keep Businesses Afloat By Mary Minor Davis Faced with a potentially dramatic COVID-19 economic fallout, Downtown Tucson Partnership and Rio Nuevo implemented several innovative programs to support small businesses, especially those important to the success of downtown. At press time, Arizona faced a 12.6% unemployment rate, with more than 600,000 unemployment filings as of late May. Some business reopenings are uncertain, but local efforts are working to preserve the pre-pandemic progress downtown Tucson had achieved.

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Downtown Partnership

When restaurants and businesses closed, Kathleen Ericksen, CEO of Downtown Tucson Partnership, came up with an innovative gift card program that has exceeded expectations and drawn interest from other cities. Under the DTP Gift Card Program, people purchased a gift card to one of more than 60 participating businesses for $25 and received $35 of benefit. A local sponsor covered the $10 difference of $12,500 for 1,000 cards and administrative and postage fees. The program has received $75,000 in sponsorships

since it began. These local sponsorship dollars and the community’s support resulted in raising $300,000 after several rounds, said Ericksen. “Downtown Tucson was one of the first to launch this program, and we’ve talked to a half-dozen other cities asking how the program works,” she said. What’s unique about our program is the success and the profound impact on small businesses.” The cards in the initial sale sold out in just under 24 hours, then sold out in less than 15 minutes in the last five www.BizTucson.com


rounds. “The community response has been incredible,” she said. DTP plans to continue with this type of program after businesses reopen. “I can see this type of promotion working in the future to help businesses through the tougher months of the summer, or as a holiday promotion.” Rio Nuevo Grant Program

As the pandemic set in, the board of directors of the Rio Nuevo tax increment finance district wanted to find a way to assist district businesses. Chair Fletcher McCusker said even with government loans to help with personnel costs, businesses were entering summer. “It wasn’t going to be survivable for a small business,” he said. On April 8, the board voted to allocate up to $2.5 million in small business grants to district businesses. Within two weeks, 103 applicants had grant checks in hand. “I kept thinking about the businesses,” said Mark Irvin, board vice chair and secretary. “They’re the backbone of what we’ve been able to build downtown.” Irvin, who served on the selection committee with McCusker and board

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I kept thinking about the businesses. They’re the backbone of what we’ve been able to build downtown.

– Mark Irvin Vice Chair & Secretary Rio Nuevo Board of Directors

member Jannie Cox, said they wanted a process that got applicants a “yes.” The only requirements were the business had to be within the district boundaries and pay a sales tax. Grants of $5,000 to $50,000 were awarded based on a percentage of annual revenue. All who qualified received a grant. The Rio Nuevo board also considered grants for service businesses and nonprofits in a second round, but later decided the budget wasn’t sustainable. “Rio Nuevo is sales tax-dependent,” McCusker explained. “It became obvious to us that Rio Nuevo’s cash flow could just crash. We decided it wasn’t

prudent for us to distribute any more funds. It was a tough decision.” “We had already committed cash on hand,” Cox added. ”We reserved cash for projects that hadn’t come to fruition yet, so we used those funds to provide the first round of grants.” “Beneath the green clouds and the dark clouds you find silver linings, and I think what the district did falls within the silver linings,” Irvin said. “I’m very proud of how quickly we came together to approve this and how quickly we were able to put the checks in the mail.” Jo Schneider, owner of downtown restaurant La Cocina, received a $10,000 grant to pay her property taxes. Although her restaurant closed, Schneider wanted to help her industry and started the Feed the People Who Feed Us program, providing meals three days a week to laid-off employees in the food and beverage industry. Several of the 70 employees she laid off came back to volunteer. “When the federal government makes you feel like a number, Rio Nuevo put a personal spin on this that humanizes what is happening,” Schneider said. “It has meant so much in our lives.”

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BizVIEWPOINT

Back to Business for Tucson Convention Center By Kate Breck Calhoun Director of Sales and Marketing Tucson Convention Center

Though it’s been a tough time for the Tucson Convention Center, we look forward to welcoming events in the future and have instituted stringent new practices to provide the highest level of safety throughout our facilities. Community collaboration is crucial when we open our doors. We are working with each event independently to ensure best practices for the health of our staff, clients and guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also consulted with the City of Tucson and the Pima County Back to Business Task Force and have reviewed information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Governor’s Office and ASM Global, our management company. We have rescheduled spring 2020 events – most of them to the fall. We are also speaking with meeting planners about events in 2021 and 2022. In moving forward with trade shows, banquets and meetings, TCC has diagrams for our Tucson Arena, Tucson Music Hall and Leo Rich Theater to address three phases of opening: Phase I – strict social distancing at least 6 feet apart, Phase II – moderate social distancing and Phase III – limited social distancing. We will sell tickets today based on Phase I, which means a vast majority of them will be on hold. When we enter Phase II, we will open those seat holds and sell tickets to mirror our Phase II diagram. The same will apply to Phase III. Restroom attendants are now a necessity and will help manage social distancing inside restrooms, as well as thoroughly clean the areas. Our housekeeping department will also sanitize our entire facilities for events. Hygiene practices will include, but are not limited to, team member entrances, personal protective equipment, team health screenings, temperature checks, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, individual work stations, pre-shift briefings and procedures for first aid and first responders. Finally, we are ordering prominent signs for every entrance to remind everyone about social distancing, occupancy and healthcare. In August 2019, Rio Nuevo approved $65 million in TCC renovations and crews are working on Parking Lot A garage and meeting rooms. June 1 began our Grand Ballroom, and July 6 begins Exhibit Hall A, B, C renovations. Construction should be complete by Oct. 1. The garage will open in December and the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton will open in early 2021. We look forward to opening our doors at TCC soon. We miss our community.

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SPECIAL REPORT 2020

THE REGIONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

TUCSON METRO CHAMBER OUT IN FRONT FOR BUSINESS

Special Report Corporate Sponsor


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PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

WOMEN WHO LEAD

Amber Smith

President & CEO Tucson Metro Chamber

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BizLEADERSHIP

Tucson Metro Chamber CEO Amber Smith More Collaboration, Better Community By Romi Carrell Wittman When Amber Smith took the reins of the Tucson Metro Chamber in January 2018, her motto was “better together.” Since then, the president and CEO has built on that concept and greatly expanded it, making the Chamber an integral part of the Southern Arizona community, as well as a resource for businesses big and small. “I really wanted to see the Chamber take on a more collaborative role, communitywide,” Smith said. One thing has stood out over the last two years of several changes. “The most significant thing we’ve done is to innovate an organization that had been stagnant for a number of years,” she said. Smith has overseen a great deal of change. Perhaps the most visible was the move from the Chamber’s old headquarters near St. Mary’s Road to a new location on Broadway in the heart of downtown. Though the move was to address some practical issues – the old building was too big for the Chamber’s needs – it also served to signal that the Chamber was headed in new and exciting directions. Under Smith’s leadership, the Chamber has become a proactive force in many areas, including education, workforce development, talent attraction, and advocacy at the city, state and federal levels. “The Chamber has adapted,” said Tim Medcoff, a managing partner at Farhang & Medcoff law firm and chair of the Chamber’s board of directors. “It’s no longer the good old boys network where deals are done in backrooms with a bunch of guys making all www.BizTucson.com

the decisions. Amber is a good reflection of that change.” Medcoff added that it’s important to have a diversity of voices and Smith, with her laser focus on collaboration and connectedness, has helped to get those voices in the room. “Diversity matters,” Medcoff said. “It helps us make better decisions and takes into account the community in which we live.” Amanda Brockman, assistant VP of Cradle to Career, a workforce development partnership with the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, said Smith has helped bring attention to the needs of communities that are often marginalized. “Amber has a microphone and she’s been willing to use it to support programs,” Brockman said. “She’s been extraordinary to work with.” This multifaceted work makes the Chamber extremely valuable to the community. “The Chamber drives objectives that bolster and support our economy. We’re in the process of meeting with city, county and private sector leaders,” Medcoff said. “We ask what the community actually needs.” Smith has had a long career of public service, including working in the office of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain from Arizona in constituent services and as an intergovernmental relations associate for Racy & Associates, a firm that specializes in policy and government affairs. Prior to joining the Chamber, she was the executive director of Metropolitan Pima Alliance for nine years. Not coincidentally, the MPA’s mission is advocacy, education and relationships.

Smith has worked hard to connect with the various chambers serving communities surrounding Tucson so they can be a strong and unified voice for a business community that comprises small mom-and-pop businesses and multinational firms. She also has strengthened ties between the Chamber and Sun Corridor Inc., the region’s economic development engine. Smith has also embraced education, childcare and housing insecurity – all factors that affect economic success. In April, not long after the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey were put in place, the Chamber unveiled Pipeline AZ, a one-stop shop for job seekers to connect with local employers. It’s a statewide initiative based on technology that the Chamber piloted. But perhaps the biggest achievement under Smith’s leadership has been the sense that the Chamber is a resource for everyone. “There was a perception that the Chamber only focused on bigbusiness needs,” she said. “The Chamber had only been communicating to members, not the community at large.” Smith immediately realized this was not what the community needed. “We changed the way we communicate,” she said. “Our goal is to strengthen all of our partnerships so that we can all advocate together.” When asked what the chamber will look like in five years, Smith didn’t hesitate. “I want the Chamber to be known as 100% the resource for business.”

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BizLEADERSHIP

Q&A with

Tim Medcoff

Diversity, Connection Drive Results By Romi Carrell Wittman

Q. How would you say the Chamber has

evolved over the past two years?

A.

The Chamber today is no longer the good old boys network where deals are done in back rooms. We’ve been very strategic in building a diverse board of directors, and I’m really proud of that. Our board is 50/50 genderwise. Diversity matters. I come from a biracial family and diversity is a big part of who I am. When we have a diverse group of people in the room, we make better decisions. It also takes into account the community in which we live, which is critical because we represent the community.

Q. What are some of the areas the Chamber

is focused on currently?

A.

Obviously, COVID-19 is a huge focus at the moment. But, in general terms, we need to work on our relevance to the business community. There’s a perception that the Chamber focuses on big business and we need to change that. Five to 10 years ago, chambers could rest on their laurels, but we can’t do that today. We need to actively support businesses big and small by connecting them to others and being a catalyst for business growth. Networking opportunities can’t be the only purpose of a chamber.

Tim Medcoff

Chairman of the Board Tucson Metro Chamber Partner, Farhang & Medcoff

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PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

Q.

You mentioned COVID-19, which has upended life for virtually everyone. What has the Chamber been doing to help during this crisis?

A. first and put others’ interests ahead of their own and

The Chamber has been a leader. Leaders lead

that’s exactly what the Chamber has done during this crisis. We’ve been connecting clients to certified public accountants, attorneys and other professionals, and we’ve been working hard to share information. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. www.BizTucson.com


Q.

Amber Smith has been at the helm of the Chamber for more than two years now. What’s changed?

A. only business, but also nonprofit organizations and

We’ve been working very hard to collaborate with not

the community at all levels. Our aim is to be a connector and a collaborator. Along those lines, a goal of mine this year is to meet all the local elected officials. While we may not always agree politically, we can work collaboratively to advance our shared interests. We’re fostering relationships that perhaps were broken down before.

Q.

What value does the Chamber bring to Southern Arizona?

A. port our economy. We advocate for our members, we The Chamber drives objectives that bolster and sup-

share knowledge and information, we innovate and pivot when needed to meet the needs of our members to foster a climate where businesses thrive, and our community prospers. We’re positioning the Chamber so it’s financially stable and relevant now and into the future. The Chamber has been around for 123 years and we want to position it for the next 123 years.

When we have a diverse group of people in the room, we make better decisions.

– Tim Medcoff Chairman of the Board, Tucson Metro Chamber Partner, Farhang & Medcoff

Q.

What does leadership look like to you? How does the Chamber lead?

A. with smart people, many of whom think differently

Leaders have a vision. They surround themselves

than themselves. Leaders are willing to make tough decisions, even if it will subject them to criticism, because the tough decision is the right decision. Leaders also listen to their team and pivot when needed. That’s what the Chamber has done and will continue to do. We’re helping people and making a difference. Take the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chamber is connecting people to resources, while working remotely. I’m proud to be part of an organization that selflessly helps others. Biz www.BizTucson.com

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BizLEADERSHIP

Linda Welter Mayor Regina Romero

Mural by: Victor Ving Lisa Beggs. Rock Martinez contributed his artwork to the letter C Location: 406 N. 6th Ave. On the back wall of Miller’s Surplus.

Tony Penn

COVID-19: Chamber Leads Through Uncertain Times Out in Front for Tucson Businesses By Romi Carrell Wittman When COVID-19 emerged on the world stage, no one was prepared for the developing crisis. In the United States, medical personnel sprang into action while others were issued stay-athome guidelines to prevent the disease‘s spread. While the health crisis enveloped the globe, another threat loomed closer to home. With residents staying away, Tucson restaurants, retail stores and other businesses saw their sales plummet with an uncertain future ahead. 72 BizTucson

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But Amber Smith, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber, saw a need the Chamber could satisfy. “It’s hard to look past COVID-19 right now,” said Smith. “We immediately became the air traffic controller of information.” In practice, that meant providing an information clearinghouse and a means for people to connect to the business resources they critically needed. ”Within 48 hours, we recognized the need and launched a resource page,” Smith said.

That page, COVID-19 Resources, can be easily found on the Chamber’s website. Linda Welter, CEO of The Caliber Group and a Chamber board member, said, “The minute the COVID-19 crisis hit, leaders around the globe were talking about the potential economic impacts to business, especially small business,” Welter said. “The Chamber jumped in immediately and was instrumental in starting dialogues with key continued on page 74 >>> www.BizTucson.com


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BizLEADERSHIP continued from page 72 groups to help our community.” Not only did the Chamber put together an easily accessible resource page on its website to assist both individuals and businesses, it also reached out to local government officials to collaborate on best practices before, during and after the pandemic. City of Tucson Mayor Regina Romero worked with Smith and Chamber stakeholders before declaring a local emergency on March 17. Together, they established new measures to preserve public health, while also considering the effects on small business. That communication and collaboration continue. “The Chamber has been very helpful during my time in office, very helpful,” Romero said. While those discussions with the city were happening, Welter said the Chamber began hosting ”Knowledge

at Noon” Zoom events on a daily basis. These meetings covered a variety of subjects with the goal of helping organizations survive the pandemic. Topics covered legal issues, Paycheck Protection Program loans and marketing, among others. “Information is coming at us from all directions and it’s changing almost daily,” Welter said. “Being able to go to a local resource, someone you can pick up the phone and call, has been very meaningful to the community.” The “Knowledge at Noon” events were recorded and are archived for those who missed the live event. Tony Penn, president and CEO of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and former Chamber board member, said, “[We need] to assist small businesses that could be devastated. The Chamber is providing that assistance. It’s hard to find joy in this really terrible

health crisis around the world ... but, I’m fortunate to be part of the solution.” In addition to providing information and connecting various stakeholders, the Chamber maintained a clear focus on jobs. Robert Medler, the Chamber’s VP of state and federal affairs, said the Chamber is looking ahead to the workforce. “We’re helping business adapt to the new normal and to understand the regulatory requirements,” he said. “The other side is economic relief. The amount of people on unemployment nationwide is staggering. We want to help business and people get back on track.” With a long road ahead, the Chamber will remain focused on its core mission: collaboration, connection and advocacy. As Tim Medcoff, chair of the Chamber board, put it: “Being a good community partner is what you do.”

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The Tucson Metro Chamber maintains an extensive list of COVID-19 resources, including pandemic updates, employer resources, webinars, family resources and a jobs board at https://tucsonchamber.org/covid19/

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100% Business in a Post-COVID-19 World Partnerships, Collaboration Will Help Recovery By Romi Carrell Wittman When asked what she would like the Tucson Metro Chamber to be known for, president and CEO Amber Smith didn’t hesitate: “100% business. Business means jobs and economic growth.” An old-fashioned view of a chamber of commerce is of an organization that holds networking events and ribboncuttings. While there’s certainly a place for that at the Tucson Metro Chamber, there is so very much more. The Chamber offers a multitude of services for businesses large and small. Robert Medler, Chamber VP for state and federal affairs, and Michael Guymon, Chamber VP for local community and government affairs, serve as advocates for business in Southern Arizona on issues affecting commerce. “People say they have a ‘right-hand person,’ ” said Smith. “But I have a right-hand person and a left-hand person and I’m so lucky for that.” 76 BizTucson

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Medler brings 13 years of Chamber experience to the table and is considered an expert in state and federal relationships. Guymon’s focus is all things local, including government relations and workforce development. “I have a vision or ideas or strategies and they implement them all,” Smith said. Medler tracks state legislation as it moves through the legislature, with a particular focus on economic development and fostering a business-friendly climate in Arizona. He summarizes these bills, communicates them with Chamber members and the general community, and provides voting recommendations and guidelines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Medler focused on the impacts of the shutdown on business, as well as looking ahead at the eventual economic recovery. “I foresee more emphasis on in-

vestment in healthcare in the future,” Medler said. “What’s the Goldilocks point of having enough supplies on hand to provide care? The system was caught off-guard, though the response nationwide has been amazing.” Medler’s other focus has been economic relief. “With staggering levels of unemployment nationwide, it’s difficult to predict where that figure will really land once we’re in recovery,” he said. “The Chamber’s role will be on the workforce and helping businesses adapt to a new normal. We will help business owners effectively operate their business and get back to hiring people and opening their doors.” Business closures related to COVID-19 undoubtedly will provide less tax revenue to state coffers and create uncertainty for budget creation. Consumer confidence will be a key factor in that equation, moving forward. “We www.BizTucson.com


BizLEADERSHIP

Robert Medler

Michael Guymon

Tucson is a small-business town and small businesses provide cities their shape, texture and taste. For this reason, it’s important that these businesses are supported, especially now, as we recover from this economic crisis. That’s our job. have to get to the point where the average person feels comfortable going out and resuming daily life,” he said. Guymon was equally busy advising local businesses as they navigated the pandemic, as well as with rolling out Pipeline AZ, a statewide jobs resource roughly three years in the making. “Discussions were happening when the pandemic hit, which actually accelerated things,” Guymon said. “We launched a special site around COVID-19.” The website – covid19.pipelineaz.com – contains a huge repository of employment, education and financial resources for those affected by the pandemic. Guymon is actively involved in several other areas as well, including the Talent Taskforce, which looks at strategies to improve workforce skills so that employers can fill jobs with qualified, skilled candidates; the Healthcare Roundtable, which examines talent needs of the healthcare industry; and the Workforce www.BizTucson.com

Amber Smith, President & CEO, Tucson Metro Chamber

Blueprint, which examines what role the Chamber can play in job training programs and education. A significant achievement in this area is the relationship the Chamber has fostered with Pima Community College. “We’ve now become the catalyst to connect PCC with employers,” Smith said. “We feel this can augment the work of Pima County One-Stop, which has been part of this process from the beginning.” The Chamber also serves as a connector with local organizations, including Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Visit Tucson and Sun Corridor Inc., as well as many smaller chambers of commerce serving various municipalities in the region. Smith negated any perceived duplication of effort across these various groups. “There have always been conversations, but now we are coordinating, leveraging and partnering,” Smith said. “Where one group’s efforts end, the

baton is handed off, giving each of us a longer runway instead of ‘staying in our own lane.’ ” The Chamber also was instrumental in forming the Southern Arizona Chamber of Commerce Association, a group of 14 chambers of commerce located across Southern Arizona. The Chamber was the forming body of the organization and Medler serves as its executive director. The alliance promotes best practices and the strengthening of partnerships so that all chambers and the businesses they serve will benefit. “Tucson is a small-business town and small businesses provide cities their shape, texture and taste,” Smith said. “For this reason, it’s important that these businesses are supported, especially now, as we recover from this economic crisis. That’s our job.“

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Mural by: Joe Pagac Location: The back of Epic Rides, 534 N. Stone Ave.


BizLEADERSHIP

T. VanHook Schuld

Amanda Brockman

Danny Knee

This mural Painted by Joe Pagac – Located The back of Epic Rides, 534 N. Stone Ave., facing Sixth Street

Bridging Business & Nonprofits

Vital Collaboration to Improve Lives By Romi Carrell Wittman People often put nonprofits in a different category from business. One makes money, the other provides much-needed services and relies on fundraising for income. But are they really so different? The Tucson Metro Chamber doesn’t think so. “There is an interconnectedness of the issues,” said Chamber president and CEO Amber Smith. “We’re connecting the dots so people see this, which is a new focus for the Chamber.” In the past, nonprofits were often unintentionally excluded from business 78 BizTucson

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conversations. As the Chamber pointed out, the goals and needs of for-profit and nonprofit organizations overlap – each is concerned with workforce development, economic prosperity and sustainable wages, as well as the betterment of our communities and Southern Arizona as a whole. Reflecting this critical need for collaboration, nonprofits are represented on the Chamber’s board, which contributes to a diversity of perspectives for more effective, robust solutions that work for all members of the community.

Amanda Brockman, associate VP of Cradle to Career, a cross-sector partnership between business and K-16 education, said the Chamber’s support of nonprofits and, more importantly, the understanding of the connectedness between nonprofits and the business community are critically important. “The Chamber has been very supportive and very vocal in that support, especially last year, thanks to Amber’s extraordinary leadership,” she said. “The Chamber has a platform. It’s able continued on page 80 >>> www.BizTucson.com


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BizLEADERSHIP TUCSON METRO CHAMBER 2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Tim Medcoff Ian McDowell Kelle Maslyn Jill Malick Barbi Reuter Amber Smith TUCSON METRO CHAMBER 2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Grant A. Anderson Robert W. Assenmacher Kathi Beranek Danette Bewley Dr. Eric Cornidez J. Felipe Garcia Stephanie Gillmore Stephanie Healy Paula Register Hecht Ben Korn Mike Levin Wendell Long Edmund Marquez Mitch Pisik Ian Roark Joe Salkowski Lea Standridge Carol Stewart Howard Stewart T. VanHook Schuld Lindsay Welch Linda Welter Dr. Robert C. Robbins – ex-officio

continued from page 78 to vocalize and amplify strategies within the community that individual organizations don’t have.” T. VanHook Schuld serves as CEO for Habitat For Humanity. A longtime Tucsonan, VanHook Schuld has been affiliated with the Chamber for many years, but she said she sees a difference under the current Chamber leadership. “Amber is such a connector,” VanHook Schuld said. “She understands the relationship between workforce development, sustainable wages, housing – all the things that people need in their lives to be self-sustaining and self-reliant.” Smith said job training and other changes now will lead to long-term changes that benefit entire families. “We must provide people the job training and education they need to earn a higher wage,“ Smith said. “That leads to housing sustainability, food security and multigenerational changes.” Earlier this year, VanHook Schuld and Smith traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and representatives of Fannie Mae to discuss the need for more affordable housing across the nation and in Tucson. It was a multi-day marathon of meetings focused on the interaction between housing and job stability. “Amber is the first person we thought of when we went to Washington,” VanHook Schuld said. “She understands all aspects of it.” Danny Knee, executive director of Community Investment Corporation, a nonprofit economic development organization, has worked with the Chamber in the past, but most recently has been working with them in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an organization that provides funding for small businesses, Knee knew that his organization’s services would be in high demand as businesses sought resources to stay afloat during the shutdown. “Amber is incredible,” Knee said. “She’s no-nonsense, but also optimistic, and I really appreciate that. We focus on what we can get done, but also within reality.” CIC has been busily helping small businesses obtain micro-loans and raising funds via Tucson Helping Tucson, a weekly live-streaming event spotlighting local events. Visitors to these virtual events are asked to make a small donation for a revolving loan and grant fund to help the city’s local businesses. “Amber has been incredibly supportive,” Knee said. “She lends credibility to what we’re doing. The fact that they’re willing to jump in with something as grassroots as this is great. I’ve worked in the nonprofit world for 20plus years and this isn’t how it’s gone in the past.” Brockman echoed Knee: “Amber has a microphone and she’s been willing to use it to support these programs. She’s been extraordinary to work with.”

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TUCSON METRO CHAMBER HIGH-LEVEL INVESTORS KEYSTONE

Arizona Complete Health Casino Del Sol Resort Caterpillar Surface Mining and Technology Division Desert Diamond Casinos – Sahuarita Diamond Ventures Great Western Bank Hexagon Mining Mortenson Norville Investments Port of Tucson Raytheon Missiles & Defense Tucson Electric Power University of Arizona Business Affairs Walbro Wells Fargo Bank

CHAIRMEN

AAA Landscape AGM Container Controls Alliance Bank of Arizona American Board of Radiology American Family Insurance Arizona Daily Star Arizona Lotus Corp Arizona State University ASARCO Atmosphere Commercial Interiors Bank of America – Commercial Banking Banner-University Medical Center Barker Contracting BBVA Compass BFL Construction BizTucson Magazine Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Burns & McDonnell CAID Industries Caliber Group Canyon Ranch Tucson Carondelet Health Network Casa de la Luz CenturyLink Chase Bank Cigna Citi Commotion Studios CopperPoint Insurance Companies Cox Communications Crest Insurance Group Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR DPR Construction El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort El Rio Health Empire Southwest Encompass Health Rehabilitation Institute of Tucson Film Creations Finley Distributing Flores Concepts Gibson’s Office Solutions Hamstra Heating & Cooling

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HDS Truck Driving Institute Heinfeld Meech & Co. Hensley Beverage Company Holualoa Companies HSL Properties Institute for Better Education Intuit JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa Kyte Enterprises La Paloma Academy Long Realty Company Lovitt & Touche’ Meritage Homes Mister Car Wash Modular Mining National Bank of Arizona Nextrio NüPOINT Marketing Paragon Space Development Corporation Pima Community College Pima Federal Credit Union Psomas Quarles & Brady Rancho Sahuarita Realty Executives Tucson Royal Automotive Group Rusing Lopez & Lizardi Scripps Broadcasting – KGUN9 and The CW Tucson Securaplane Technologies SMG - Tucson Convention Center Sonora Behavioral Health Sonora Quest Laboratories of Tucson South32 Southwest Airlines Southwest Gas Summit Funding Sundt Construction Swaim Associates Architects Texas Instruments The Clements Agency The Downtown Dispensary The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa Tucson Airport Authority Tucson Business RadioX Tucson Convention Center – ASM Global Tucson Roadrunners Tucson Federal Credit Union Tucson Local Media Tucson Medical Center U-Haul Moving & Storage at Automall UnitedHealthcare Universal Wallboard Corporation Univision Communications Vantage West Credit Union Visit Tucson

PREMIER

AAG Realty AC Hotel by Marriott Tucson Downtown ADP Afni

Arizona Correctional Industries Center for Neurosciences Chamberlain Group Chasse Building Team Chef Chic Cintas Tucson Circle K CODAC Health, Recovery & Wellness Coyote Creek Development Dave & Buster’s Farhang & Medcoff Focus Hospitality Management GLHN Architects & Engineers Heartland Hospice HomeGoods Tucson Distribution Center Horizon Moving & Logistics HTG Molecular Diagnostics Hudbay Rosemont Copper Hughes Federal Credit Union Kalil Bottling Co. KB Home KE&G Construction Land Advisors Organization Lasertel dba Leonardo Electronics US Lockton Companies Loews Ventana Canyon Resort M3 Engineering & Technology Corporation Madden Media Mesch Clark Rothschild MW Morrissey Construction Nova Insurance Services Old Pueblo Community Services OOROO Auto Paradigm Laboratories O’Rielly Chevrolet Pacific Premier Bank Pain Institute of Southern Arizona Peter Piper Pizza Pima County Fair Tucson Police Officer’s Association Radiology Ltd. Rain Bird Corporation Republic Services of Arizona Simpleview Southern New Hampshire University Strategy1 Sunbelt Holdings Swire Coca-Cola, USA SynCardia Systems Taylor Street The Lodge at Ventana Canyon Tomlinson Financial Group TruWest Credit Union Tucson Fire Fighters Association, Local 479 Tucson Orthopaedic Institute Tucson Police Officers Association Union Pacific Railroad WaFd Bank Watermark Retirement Communities W.E. O’Neil Construction Company World View Enterprises

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BOARD PERSPECTIVES: Focus on Women & Diversity in Leadership

Barbi Reuter

Danette Bewley

Supporting and Advancing Women in the Workplace Mural by: Rock Martinez with assistance from artist, Cristina Perez. Location: 440 N. 7th Ave. The west side wall of the Benjamin Plumbing Supply building.

By Romi Carrell Wittman Women lead successful businesses throughout Southern Arizona and women account for 47% of the U.S. labor force and 52.5% of the college education workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet, the top corporate echelons still remain out of reach. The Chamber, with its focus on diversity and inclusion, aims to support women and other underrepresented groups in the workplace. Two Chamber board members explain what that means for our community. Barbi Reuter, President & CEO, Cushman & Wakefield I PICOR

The Chamber is led by a dynamic female CEO who understands the value of having diverse perspectives at the table and who is proud to serve concurrently with Tucson’s first female mayor. Gender is one of many diversity metrics we use in working to establish a board that reflects our community. Today, women make up 48% of the Chamber’s board. Diversity isn’t an initiative, it’s an imperative. Diverse teams and leaders drive higher performance and broad84 BizTucson

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er, richer results. In addition to equity, when leadership teams and organizations reflect the communities they serve, constituents and stakeholders can better relate and visualize a path. Our Emerging Leaders Council, a forum for rising stars 40 and under, is also supportive of women, with 50% female representation. Mentoring pairs are matched between ELC members and senior people in the Chamber’s ranks. When Amber and I came into Chamber leadership together as CEO and board chair, the unstated community message was one of a current, progressive organization that was far from the ‘boy’s club’ of many years past. I was heartened to hear many personal comments from Chamber staff and members who were optimistic about the energy and results we worked hard together to bring forward for our membership and the broader business community. Danette Bewley, President & CEO, Tucson Airport Authority

Diversity in leadership means there is opportunity for conversations that may not have happened otherwise. There

can be different viewpoints, disciplines, problem-solving approaches and skill sets. It’s acceptable to have differing perspectives and opinions as long as there is respect and dignity. The Chamber promotes equal representation of both men and women in our community and in leadership positions. When I was named the president and CEO of the Tucson Airport Authority, the Chamber was quick to reach out and make time to meet with me to see how we could best partner with one another. The Chamber has reached out with unique opportunities for both myself and the TAA. This includes the opportunity to sit at the governor’s table at the State of the State luncheon and being asked to serve as a member of the board. There has been open and complete communication between the Chamber and the airport since becoming President/CEO.

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BOARD PERSPECTIVES: Focus on Education & Workforce Development

Kelle Maslyn

Ian Roark

Making K-16 a Powerhouse

Mural by: Joe Pagac. Location: The old Catalina Theater building, 2320 N. Campbell Ave.

By Romi Carrell Wittman In its deep commitment to economic development and workforce development, the Chamber has become a champion of K-16 education in the region. Several Chamber board members talked about their focus on the future of education in Southern Arizona. Kelle Maslyn, Director of Community Relations, Arizona State University

The Tucson Metro Chamber has a long history of working with the school districts, Pima Community College and the University of Arizona to make sure businesses are aware of their strengths in meeting workforce needs. The Chamber’s Talent Attraction and Retention Taskforce has been really focused the last few years on uncovering what Tucson needs to keep the talent that graduates from the University of Arizona. We have been working with 86 BizTucson

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the Eller College of Management and Career Services to understand how students view Tucson and what we need to do to be the community where they want to live. We held a Career Crawl downtown featuring different business sectors so the students could see what careers are available here. Ian Roark, VP, Workforce Development, Pima Community College

The Chamber continues to advocate for a policy environment, specific policies and programs that strengthen K-16 education. The Chamber also serves as the voice of business in metro Tucson – it has tremendous convening power. The Chamber staff members are approachable, and Amber Smith is a great connector. Under her leadership, the Chamber brings education leaders directly into discussions, committees,

and projects related to workforce development, rather than relaying concerns and waiting on action. The Workforce Development Blueprint effort and Pipeline AZ are examples of the level of strategy and connectivity that the Chamber is leading. Through this effort, we will have actionable strategies that maximize the strengths of the workforce development ecosystem partners while eliminating redundancies and communication barriers. Chamber members are on the front lines of challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of Industry 4.0 – automation, cloud computing, mobile technology, AI, the internet of things – on jobs, and changing demographics such as the “birth dearth.” As such, business practices and responses to these things are as diverse as the membership itself. Biz www.BizTucson.com


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BOARD PERSPECTIVES: Focus on Financial Services

Mitch Pisik

Jill Malick

Connector in Chief During a Crisis

Mural by: Joe Pagac. Location: 119 E Toole Ave. behind Borderlands Brewing

By Romi Carrell Wittman The Chamber’s role as a connector has been critical during the COVID-19 crisis. Chamber staff worked overtime to connect businesses with resources to help them survive and to position themselves for the eventual economic recovery. Two Chamber board members highlighted the Chamber’s role in financial services and crisis response. Jill Malick, VP & Senior Relationship Manager, WaFd Commercial Banking

I’ve worked every day since the Small Business Administration portal opened to take Paycheck Protection Program loans. We’ve been busy putting millions of dollars in the hands of local small business in Southern Arizona. When it comes to financial services, sometimes the hardest thing is to figure out where to start. The Chamber can 88 BizTucson

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direct the business to the resource that best fits its needs and they can help the business navigate to the best possible resource versus just a Google search. The team at the Chamber is familiar with resources in Southern Arizona to help small business with financial literacy. For example, we have a great partnership with Startup Tucson, a local nonprofit membership hub for local entrepreneurs. The Chamber also refers businesses to other community organizations such as the Small Business Development Center, SCORE and Business Development Finance Corporation. Mitch Pisik, Founder & CEO Pisik Consulting Group

I’m a business consultant and executive coach, and one of my areas of expertise and experience is in turning

around the fortunes of companies and their owners/executives. This pandemic is tragic. It has, though, substantially increased the number of companies reaching out to me and provided me with the opportunity to be of assistance to them. The Chamber is a voice for the business community to the city, county and state and federal governments. The Chamber is the ‘hub of the wheel’ for business owners and managers to garner advice and informational assistance for their businesses. Tucson will never have the employee base that Phoenix has, but Tucson is authentic and has heart, and those are the things small- to medium-size companies look for when relocating. Sometimes companies want to be a big fish in a small pond, and Tucson is perfect for that. Biz www.BizTucson.com


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BOARD PERSPECTIVES: Focus on Health & Wellness

Kathi Beranek

Edmund Marquez

Connecting People to Resources

Mural by: Joe Pagac Location: The back of Epic Rides, 534 N. Stone Ave.

By Romi Carrell Wittman For the business community, health and wellness means everything from providing health insurance and wellness programs to employees to fostering development of regional healthcare services. No matter what shape they take, health and wellness issues have a strong impact on this region. Two Chamber board members talked about the Chamber’s health and wellness initiatives. Kathi Beranek, Director, Government Relations, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

With healthcare industries represented on its board of directors, the Chamber has demonstrated that health and wellness are critical components to a successful business environment. The Chamber’s specific focus on workforce development in the healthcare space further underscores these beliefs. It’s important for the Chamber, as a leader in the business community, to ensure the environment for healthcare is favorable and strong so that we can 90 BizTucson

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respond to the needs of businesses, large and small, and the community as a whole. I’d like to highlight two programs. The Chamber’s Healthcare Roundtable has been very valuable. It provides a forum for convening members of the healthcare industry to focus on emerging issues and do a deep dive on topics of interest. These roundtables feature speakers from various areas of the Tucson business community. The Chamber is constantly assessing the needs of its members and responding accordingly. The quick development of a comprehensive COVID-19 webpage that contained critical information with updates, resources, financial strategies and employer information during the pandemic is a prime example of the Chamber reacting swiftly and finding ways to help the Tucson business community. There is an abundance of information and the site serves as a one-stop shop for available resources during the pandemic.

Edmund Marquez, Agency Principal, Edmund Marquez Allstate Agencies

I enjoy having a seat at the table and a voice when it comes to the direction and representation of the businesses in our community. It’s important we stand together in an  effort to grow our local economy, prosper as a region, and the Tucson Metro Chamber is at the core of that effort.   A great local company that has been innovative is AGM Container Controls. While growing their company, and being our community’s largest Tesla supplier, they have created a program in which they pay for their employees’ continued education. They can attend one of three major universities, and more specifically Pima Community College, which has programs directly related to the engineering AGM does. Workforce development is tied to good jobs, which ultimately leads to good health and wellness in the community. It’s all connected. Biz www.BizTucson.com


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BOARD PERSPECTIVES: Focus on Helping Businesses Thrive

Howard Stewart

Wendell Long

Robert W. Assenmacher

Joe Salkowski

Carol Stewart

A Strong Voice for Southern Arizona By Romi Carrell Wittman Chambers of commerce are well known for their networking events and ribbon cuttings. But there are myriad ways the Tucson Metro Chamber advocates for, supports and amplifies the needs of businesses throughout the region. Four Chamber board members share their thoughts on the Chamber’s impact on business and our community. Wendell Long, President & CEO ARCpoint Labs of Tucson

The Chamber gives businesses a voice they might not otherwise have – it amplifies their voices. The Chamber has influence where a small, individual business might not. My business is small and we’re the people the Chamber does a good job of looking out for.

Mural by: Joe Pagac. Location: Goodwill location on Fourth Avenue.

Howard Stewart, President & CEO, AGM Container Controls

The Chamber offers business networking events where Chamber members have the opportunity to meet one another to discuss potential business opportunities. In addition, at the time of the Chamber’s annual State of the City event, the Chamber simultaneously runs its annual Chamber Expo, where Chamber members can exhibit their products. The Chamber frequently makes recommendations to our membership, as well as to the public at large, about a particular initiative, based on the given initiative’s potential for helping or hurting the Tucson and/or regional business 92 BizTucson

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community. In addition, the Chamber maintains a legislative scorecard to help members understand how Southern Arizona lawmakers are voting on issues. The biggest issue facing my business today is COVID-19. Our Chamber is providing great leadership on this issue by helping to convene some of our community’s local leaders on how our city should respond to this global threat on a local level. Likewise, I’m sure that our Chamber will be there when it comes to helping such leaders think through the ‘how’ and ‘when’ of safely reopening our city’s and state’s business community. Robert W. Assenmacher President, CAID Industries

The Chamber provides a united/ common platform for communication on a variety of important small-business topics. It also provides tools that most businesses could not get affordable access to otherwise. The Chamber also advocates for the business community to all levels of government. The Chamber needs to continue to lobby government for pro-business policies to increase investments in the areas of mining, processing plants, energy plants, cement plants, manufacturing plants, etc.   Carol Stewart, Associate VP, Tech Parks Arizona

The Chamber has its finger on the pulse of business through a board that represents diverse business perspectives.

As leaders who support innovation and work with companies ranging from tech giants to small startups, we each bring a unique attribute. I like that I can bring my international real-world perspective to a community that is passionate about business and innovation. I was part of an exciting tech innovation boom in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and get to bring the best practice learned here. Joe Salkowski, Director, Communications and Public Affairs, Tucson Electric Power and Unisource Energy Services

The Chamber engages with government representatives at the federal, state and local levels to advocate for policies that support the success of local businesses. For Tucson Electric Power, participating in the Chamber helps us build and maintain strong connections to our local business community. This helps us identify opportunities to improve our service to business customers because any issues that affect one small business are likely impacting others. For example, we’re now providing more information on our website about our electric service requirements, including a series of ”Partners in Success” videos that illustrate our safety and engineering standards.

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BOARD PERSPECTIVES: Focus on Small Business

Grant Anderson

Felipe Garcia

Visibility That Matters

Mural by: Joe Pagac. Location: Goodwill location on Fourth Avenue.

By Romi Carrell Wittman Though small businesses account for the majority of all business in the United States, it can still be difficult to get their voices heard. The Tucson Metro Chamber has worked hard to ensure that small business is represented and has a voice. Chamber board members offered their perspectives on the Chamber’s work for small business in Southern Arizona. Grant Anderson, President & CEO, Paragon Space Development

The Chamber fosters small business through multiple paths. Networking between the business leaders is key and it also provides services like Issues over Easy, a breakfast meeting with a large range of topics and presenters, and, of course, the State of the City and State of the State luncheons, in which some Chamber members get VIP receptions with the governor and mayor. 94 BizTucson

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The Chamber also looks out for and promotes good legislation – and sometimes battles bad legislation vis-à-vis the business community. The Chamber also promotes collaboration between businesses and civic entities – from schools to city and county leaders – to make sure small businesses are heard. Paragon has benefited both in visibility with civic leaders and business leaders and having a place at the table to exchange views and highlight issues in government that unnecessarily restrain or restrict business. The Chamber’s initiatives to promote ex-military hiring is great. Their response to the COVID-19 crisis has been superlative in both giving us a voice, as well as providing resources to help business leaders shape the response of their organizations appropriate to our industry and for the special small business considerations.

Felipe Garcia, Executive VP, Visit Tucson

Working with the Chamber has allowed Visit Tucson to partner in ways to make our community stronger – by fostering economic growth in our community. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Chamber served as a convener of different relevant groups in the community. The Chamber was an important liaison between restaurants and local government to facilitate their operations through carry-out and delivery. I have worked with the Chamber for many years, and I am glad to see more attention and focus being given to the diversity of the community. But most important, I am glad to see that diversity is being recognized as an asset to our community.

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BOARD PERSPECTIVES: Focus on Leadership & Mentorship

Ben Korn

Lindsay Welch

Promoting Leadership Across the Region

Mural by: Ignacio Garcia Location: A Foam and Fabric Place, 246 N. Fourth Ave.

By Romi Carrell Wittman Fostering a healthy business community means grooming the next generation of leaders. The Chamber’s Emerging Leaders Council, a group of young professionals under age 40, and Greater Tucson Leadership are at the center of its efforts to educate future leaders on the region’s most pertinent issues. Each program gives its members a voice in local political, economic and social challenges. Chamber board members Lindsay Welch, ELC president, and Ben Korn, a founding ELC chair and GTL graduate, talk about the Chamber’s commitment to Tucson’s future leaders. Lindsay Welch, VP, Corporate Relations, Tech Parks Arizona and President, Emerging Leaders Council

The Emerging Leaders Council is a diverse team of under-40, upwardly mobile young professionals rooted in the Tucson community whose mission 96 BizTucson

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is to accelerate the growth of Tucson’s business climate along with their own careers. The ELC is comprised of young professionals who are proven top performers representing ‘best in class’ companies across a variety of local organizations, including private, public and nonprofit. Ben Korn, Owner, Safeguard Tucson

I’m extremely proud of the way leaders of tomorrow are developing in the ELC program. Not only does this group of dynamic young professionals learn a great deal from each other, they have guest speakers who provide insight into how Southern Arizona works and how to succeed in our environment. In addition, we developed a mentorship program pairing ELC members with seasoned executives in the community, and the stories of growth and breakthrough have been incredible.

I have engaged with mentors through ELC and also graduated from the GTL program in 2012. GTL hosts an annual leadership class in which class participants expand their knowledge of our region and become strong community leaders.   I believe the exposure to the topics, the leadership of the speakers and mentors, and the class content in GTL have given me perspective and invaluable knowledge about our community. My intent has always been to leverage that knowledge to make Tucson a better place, and I hope my activities and involvement over the last decade are making a positive impact to that end. GTL and ELC have been designed and cultivated to develop future leaders far beyond traditional Chamber functions like networking breakfasts and happy hours. They are focused on making a difference and are energetic about the future.

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BizCONSTRUCTION

Project: Tucson Convention Center Capital Improvements Location: 260 S. Church Ave. Owner: Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facility District Contractor: Sundt Construction Architect: GLHN Completion Date: December 2020 Construction Cost: $65 million Project Description: Upgrades and additions are being made to the main convention complex, the arena, Leo Rich Theater, Tucson Music Hall and Eckbo Plaza.

Project: Benedictine Monastery Location: 800 N. Country Club Road Owner: Tucson Monastery Contractor: Sundt Construction Architect: Poster Mirto McDonald Completion Date: Fall 2021 Construction Cost: N/A Project Description: The project includes 255 new residential apartments, a 260-space parking garage and repurposing the historic monastery building for retail.

Project: The Refinery Location: UA Tech Park at The Bridges Owner: The Boyer Company Contractor: CORE Construction Architect: Swaim Associates Completion Date: Summer 2021 Construction Cost: $25 million Project Description: Anchored by the University of Arizona, the multi-tenant building will provide 120,000 square feet of office space for small-to-midsize tech-focused businesses and organizations. The fourstory building will also serve as an ecosystem center for invention development and product refinement.

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BizDEVELOPMENT

Harsch Builds Tucson’s First Industrial Spec Project in 10+ Years

PHOTOS: COURTESY HARSCH INVESTMENT PROPERTIES

By David Pittman Harsch Investment Properties, a Portland-based firm, has completed a 157,500-square-foot, multi-tenant building near Tucson International Airport (TUS). The building provides greatly needed speculative industrial space for companies looking to relocate or expand here. Located at the Tucson Airport Distribution Center, the building is the first large spec commercial real estate project built in metro Tucson since 2009. With easy access to I-10, I-19, TUS and the Port of Tucson, the site is ideal for companies in the distribution, fulfillment and logistics industries. If the project proves successful, it could bring increased spec commercial real estate investment to Tucson. “We are big believers in Tucson and Southern Arizona as a strategic location to continue to grow our business,” said Jordan Schnitzer, Harsch’s president. “Tucson has great success with attracting new businesses and this speculative building will continue to push the region forward as a leader in distribution and logistics operations.” Harsch owns and operates 26 million square feet of office, industrial, multi-family and retail properties in six western states, but is a relative newcomer to Southern Arizona. Just five years ago, the firm began purchasing property and has already established a strong presence. With the 2019 acquisition of Medina Business Park near Valencia Road and Tucson Boulevard and the 104 BizTucson

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completion of the new spec building, Harsch owns more than 657,200 square feet of commercial real estate in Tucson. Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez called Harsch’s growing influence here “incredibly exciting” and said the company “is in discussions with Pima County” to assist in developing the Aerospace Research Campus south of Raytheon. “Pima County is committed to attracting and fostering high-wage employment, and major industrial real estate investment firms like Harsch are a vital, if not key, component, in that effort,” said Valadez. “I look forward to more announcements from Harsch and congratulate them on their expansion near (Tucson International Airport).” The new building is the second built at Tucson Airport Distribution Center. The first is a 113,000-squarefoot structure constructed by the center’s previous owner, the Rockefeller Group. Harsch Investment Properties executives expect the majority of the building to be occupied soon. “With the exception of our newest building, virtually all of our Tucson industrial sites are leased,” said Bill Rodewald, Harsch’s senior VP and regional manager. “We haven’t leased any space in the new building yet, but we’re negotiating with four different industrial businesses, and if each one becomes a tenant it would fill more than 80% of the property.” After the new building is filled, Rodewald said, Harsch will begin

construction of another industrial spec project on 24 acres near Elvira and Country Club roads. “We already have architects working on the drawings for that project,” he said. Rodewald said Harsch officials have been “extremely impressed” by the collaborative nature exhibited between the Tucson business community, the city, the county and such organizations as Sun Corridor Inc. and Metropolitan Pima Alliance to encourage economic development. “Business and government leaders here have been very encouraging and helpful to us,” he said. In March 2017, the Site Selectors Guild brought its annual conference to Tucson for the first time, which proved to be very favorable for both Tucson and Sun Corridor Inc., Southern Arizona’s go-to economic development organization. However, those site selectors said one of Tucson’s biggest economic development shortcomings was a severe shortage of high-quality industrial space suitable for companies looking to relocate here immediately. David Welch, executive VP of Sun Corridor Inc., described the Harsch spec building as a big first step in addressing that problem. “Leasing interest in the building is strong, which is very encouraging,” Welch said. “If it can get leased quickly, it’s a good indicator that more spec space is warranted and will provide an incentive for other developers to invest in Tucson and Southern Arizona.”

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2020 Lifetime Achievement Award

Boy Scouts Catalina Council Honors

Humberto Lopez

Recognized for 40 Years of Helping the Community By Jay Gonzales

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

When it comes to giving to a community, Humberto Lopez said he’s always had a soft spot in his heart for every place he’s lived. For the last 40 years, the Tucson community has been the beneficiary of Lopez’s generosity as he built a business empire – HSL Properties – that continues to thrive and provide the means to give back millions of dollars. For his decades of giving to a wide range of causes, Lopez is being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Boy Scouts of America, Catalina Council at the 21st annual Good Scout Awards luncheon in September. “We look for people who are influential in development in our community and are part of the growth of our community,” said Christie Lee, this year’s event chair. “Also, people who exemplify Scouts’ qualities and who have given to the community. They don’t have to be a Scout.” Lopez fits all of those qualities. Through his real estate development business, he has been a high-profile figure in the region’s development, building and owning hotels, office buildings and housing while giving back along the way. He was never a Boy Scout, he said, but has provided support to the Scouts over the years. “I think this is more about my community involvement,” Lopez said. “I’ve been involved with just about every nonprofit in Tucson. I’ve served on boards. I’ve been chairman of a number of them. “I’m blessed beyond my dreams,” he said. “I get a good feeling from helping others. It makes me feel good. I’ve always been willing to share my blessings. So it’s not something new. I’ve been doing it all my life.” More recently, Lopez has put millions into what 106 BizTucson

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BizHONORS

I’m blessed beyond my dreams…. I’ve always been willing to share my blessings. I’ve been doing it all my life. –

Humberto Lopez

one might consider his signature community project, the H.S. Lopez Family Foundation Center of Opportunity. The center is an allencompassing facility that provides shelter and various levels of support for homeless citizens trying to work their way back to selfsufficiency. The foundation purchased the former Holiday Inn Holidome on Palo Verde Road and converted the entire 150,000-squarefoot property into a one-stop refuge for the homeless. The hotel tower eventually will be used to provide low-income permanent housing through La Frontera Arizona. The center, which is operated by the Gospel Rescue Mission, opened in the summer of 2019 and Lopez remains active there regularly. To him, it’s an opportunity to see the impact of his philanthropy. “Sometimes I don’t get to see the benefit,” he said. “The Center of Opportunity is something that I’m very involved in. I go there once or twice a week. “I get to see these people. I get to touch them. I get to speak to them. That gives me a lot of pleasure, a lot of satisfaction. I love that. I can see what my money is doing, helping others change their lives and once again become independent and, in a lot of cases, sober from addictions.” That, in essence, is where Lopez said he has put his priorities over the years in a city where he built a business, raised a family and has been rewarded personally and professionally. “This is just a city that has been good to us,” he said. Biz www.BizTucson.com

Good Scout Awards Honor Local Industry Leaders The 2020 Good Scout Awards luncheon, planned for September at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort, will honor a group of men who have not only built successful businesses here, but have also given back to the community that has supported them. Humberto Lopez, board chairman of HSL Properties, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Brothers Bill and Brad Lloyd, owners of Lloyd Construction, will receive the Good Scout Award and Jack Clements, founder and owner of The Clements Agency, will receive the Distinguished Citizen Award. The Good Scout Awards luncheon began as a construction industry event and presented one award each year, the Good Scout Award. Today, other industries are included and the additional awards are handed out. Christie Lee, this year’s event chair, has set a goal of topping attendance of 400, as it is one of the Scouts’ major fundraisers. “The event is completely locally driven. All the money raised stays here,” Lee said. “That’s part of why we want to grow the event.” The luncheon helps support the Catalina Council, which currently serves 6,200 youth in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties and part of Pinal County. The event begins with networking and check-in at 11 a.m., followed by lunch and the program at noon.

2020 GOOD SCOUT AWARDS LUNCHEON Thursday, Sept. 3 Hilton El Conquistador Resort $95 per person, $900 for table of 10 Check in and network – 11 a.m. Lunch and program – noon Sponsorships available through April 5 For information contact: Susan Hicks, (520) 750-0385 susan.hicks@scouting.org www.goodscoutawards.org

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2020 Distinguished Citizen Award

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

BizHONORS

Honoring Jack Clements By Christy Krueger Each year, the Boy Scouts of America, Catalina Council celebrates an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding dedication to the community and support of the Boy Scouts. This year’s honoree is Jack Clements, president of The Clements Agency, a full-service independent insurance agency he founded in 2000. He’ll be honored at the 21st annual Good Scout Awards Luncheon in September. “They ambushed me in the conference room,” Clements said. “I’d been told there was a Boy Scout committee meeting. I was very shocked. I didn’t think I was at that level. I’ve been on a lot of boards and I do things with a lot of organizations, but I generally stay in the background.” CAID Industries CEO Bill Assenmacher, who serves on the Scouts event committee, believes in Clements, as well. “Jack and I are personal friends. Jack and his business have been instrumental in supporting small businesses,” he said. “He’s held positions in the scouting organization. He has been very engaged in fundraising for the Scouts.” Event chair Christie Lee added, 108 BizTucson

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“(Clements is) somebody who has given a lot to the community, and he’s a huge supporter of Boy Scouts.” Clements was active in the Boy Scouts while growing up in Kansas. He achieved the highest rank, Eagle Scout, and eventually phased out of the program. Decades later, with a successful business in Tucson, Clements was reunited with the Scouts. “About six years ago, friends and clients involved in Scouts asked me to be on the board here,” Clements said. “I’m chairman of the nominating committee for new board members and developing leadership for the council. That’s my primary role, plus helping raise funds.” Shortly after accepting his new volunteer role, he became instrumental in an important fundraising campaign allowing the Catalina Council to replace canvas tents with permanent structures at its Mount Lemmon camp. “There were 115 units built. I raised money for 40 of them. Angel Charities donated money for the rest.” Other organizations Clement actively supports include the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the YMCA, the Metropolitan Pima Alliance and the

Tucson Metro Chamber. “The Tucson Symphony Society was one of the most fun organizations to work with,” he said. “I’m a Life Member of Tucson Conquistadores and Centurions – the two primary organizations for me.” Clements was able to turn his knowledge of the insurance business and his fundraising experience into money for San Miguel High School, where he serves on the jobs committee, which works with local employers to hire the school’s students. Insurance companies, he explained, pay taxes on insurance premiums. “We collaborated with Chubb Insurance to direct $300,000 of their premium tax credit to San Miguel High School.” Reflecting on his Distinguished Citizen Award, Clements remembered the Scout laws from his childhood. He selected trustworthy and friendly as two that he encompasses in his life and has tried to pass on. “The culture of scouting becomes embedded in you and that’s how you live your life,” he said. “My kids were not Scouts, but their mother and I tried to teach them those values.” Biz www.BizTucson.com


BizHONORS

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

2020 Good Scout Award

Honoring Bill Lloyd, Brad Lloyd By Christy Krueger When brothers Bill and Brad Lloyd, owners of Lloyd Construction, learned the Boy Scouts Catalina Council had chosen them for the Good Scout Award, they wanted their families and employees to share the recognition. “I was amazed, I was in shock,” said Bill. “It’s just a family business, it’s what we do.” Brad credits his late father and founder of the company, Bill Lloyd Sr., and the people he surrounds himself with every day. “It’s a blessing to have a construction company full of great people who are community servants. Bill and I were raised to do what we do. It’s a mindset,” he said. The brothers fit the profile of a Good Scout honoree: people in the community who exemplify Scout qualities and make giving back to the community a priority. Brad was in Scouts for a short time as a child and later served on the organization’s board of directors. “I was a Cub Scout at a Christian school for a year. I remember the Scout laws – bewww.BizTucson.com

ing kind, loyal and trustworthy. It goes back to the mentality ingrained in us – our founder’s philosophy,” he said. “If we have a question in business, we ask, ‘What would Dad do?’ Conduct yourself with respect. Always be honest. Look out for others’ best interests. We treat employees like family and put their needs first.” Last year, Lloyd Construction celebrated 50 years in business. “We have a passion for schools and churches,” Bill said. “We’ve done 260 school projects in Southern Arizona. It improves infrastructure and gives our children a better future.” Lloyd Construction also holds the designation of being the first general contractor to be invited to join Arizona Construction Trades, a subcontractor-only association at the time. Brad was the 2019 state chair of the Arizona Builders Alliance and is a former board member and Southern Arizona chair for the organization. Both brothers also coach many youth sports, including football, and have donated scholarships to youth football.

Together with the ABA, the Lloyds raise funds annually for the Bill Lloyd Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, a merit-based award that provides money to engineering students at the University of Arizona. Founded in 2007, the scholarship has raised more than $130,000 for outstanding students pursuing careers in construction, helping them achieve their educational goals. “The Lloyds truly believe in giving back to their community,” said Tim Bee, Southern Arizona’s ABA director. “Not only have they given time to serve as leaders of the ABA, they have contributed greatly to the organization’s programs that impact the community.” Bee said the Lloyds personally interview and select scholarship recipients each year, additionally spending time with the students through the local ABA chapter, the Joint Technical Education District Explorer program, Skills USA competition and the ABA Volunteer Day each December. “It is an honor for me to work with such outcontinued on page 111 >>> Summer 2020

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BizHONORS

Conduct yourself with respect. Always be honest. Look out for others’ best interests. We treat employees like family and put their needs first.

– Brad Lloyd, Owner, Lloyd Construction

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standing individuals,” he said. The 4-H Club is another organization that is dear to the brothers’ hearts. They have sponsored kids raising money for school and have bid on animals that 4-H kids have raised. Brad’s own children were heavily involved in 4-H and were coached by their father in raising animals. The Lloyd brothers are involved with the Tucson Botanical Gardens, the Centurions and Reid Park Zoo, among other community organizations. When the zoo needed funding to build a red panda enclosure, the Lloyds lent a hand. “We donated time and materials, and got others to contribute as well,” Bill said. When Lloyd Construction worked on the Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, they made, as well as, secured donations from the community so additional unplanned work could be completed. The Lloyds also advocate for schools and public works programs. They have worked to pass bonds to fund educational facility improvements. They have also advocated for Tucson Parks and Recreation and Proposition 101: Safer City, Better Streets, which supports first responders. Perhaps one of the Lloyds’ best examples of fundraising is the work they do for the Centurions, a charitable organization that focuses on improving the health and well-being of the community, particularly children. Over the last eight years, Lloyd Construction has solicited thousands of dollars in donations—including as much as $32,000 in a single year—for the Centurions. Lloyd Construction has received several awards for being the top fundraiser for the organization’s annual event. Bill Assenmacher, CEO of CAID Industries and a Good Scout Awards committee member and past honoree, said, “We are a construction industry event, and the Lloyds have been heavily involved in construction for many years, and they’ve given back to the community through charitable organizations.”

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BizAWARDS

26th Annual Cornerstone Awards Sundt’s Ian McDowell Receives Jerry Wyatt Community Service Award By Tara Kirkpatrick

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From more than 100 nominees, here are the 2020 Cornerstone Award winners: 1. The Jerry Wyatt Community Service Award Ian McDowell, VP and Tucson regional director, Sundt Construction 2. Subcontractor of the Year Millwork by Design Mark Riggi, Owner

A manufacturer and installer of custom mill-produced woodwork for commercial projects, Millwork by Design also won this award in 2014. The company has grown from having a small customer base in 2002 to multiple commercial contractors. 3. Design Consultant of the Year Martin White & Griffis Structural Engineers Warren White & Thomas Griffis, Principals

With offices in Tucson, Phoenix and numerous U.S. affiliations, Martin White & Griffis has provided structural engineering services throughout the western United States for 50 years. The firm, which also won in 1996, has completed more than 5,000 projects in excess of $20 billion. 4. General Contractor of the Year (Projects less than $2 million) Building Excellence Jamie Olding, Owner

Founded in 2007, Building Excellence has amassed a team of construction professionals with a combined 100 years of experience. The company, which also won in 2014, aims to become one of Tucson’s premier general contractors. 5. General Contractor of the Year (Projects $2 million or more) Tofel Dent Construction Dave Dent, Managing Member, Operations, and Jim Tofel, Managing Member, Development

Founded by Steven L. Tofel in 1984, Tofel Dent Construction is a first-time winner. The general contractor spe-

cializes in commercial, hospitality and multi-family housing construction across the Southwest. 6. Professional Service Company of the Year Computer Dimensions Jeff Weinman, President and Jack Enfield, Vice-President

A first-time winner, Computer Dimensions has provided professional IT services supporting the Southern Arizona construction market for more than 20 years. Services include consulting, cyber security and custom software. 7. Supplier of the Year Daltile AJ Lopez, Manager

Daltile is a leading manufacturer and distributor of ceramic and porcelain tile and natural stone. For more than 70 years, the company, a first-time winner, has built its foundation on outstanding design, quality and service. 8. Owner of the Year Catalina Foothills School District Doug Huie, Director of Facilities and Transportation

A first-time winner, the Catalina Foothills School District values a dynamic curriculum that engages students in deep learning. The district, which has served Tucson since 1931, now comprises 5,400 students across eight schools. 9. Architect of the Year Eglin + Bresler Architects Tatyana Bresler & Evan Eglin, Principals

Since 1984, Eglin + Bresler Architects is recognized for innovative, high-quality and cost-effective designs. The firm, a first-time winner, is responsible for numerous office complexes throughout Tucson, as well as custom residential homes, retail, hospitality, school and industrial projects.

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PHOTOS: CHRIS MOONEY

The 26th annual Cornerstone Awards honored several individuals and companies who represent excellence in the construction industry this year. The March gala, held by the Cornerstone Building Foundation at Desert Diamond Casino, also awarded $52,000 in scholarships this year, bringing the total that the organization has distributed over the years to $277,000. The foundation was started in 1994 by Robert Hershberger, then dean of the University of Arizona College of Architecture, along with Dan Cavanaugh, then director of the Arizona Builders Alliance Southern Division, and Brent Davis, then executive director of the Arizona Institute of Architects. In addition to honoring the best of the building community, Cornerstone brings together architects, engineers, women in construction and other industry players to foster ideas, education and collaboration; and raise money for scholarships. They assist students at the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, the Tucson Unified School District and other educational institutions. “It is important that new generations of contractors, architects, subcontractors and others in construction are educated and trained for the future of the professions and industry,” said Davis, Cornerstone’s executive director. Ian McDowell, Sundt Construction’s VP and Tucson regional director, received the Jerry Wyatt Community Service Award, which was established in 2010 in Wyatt’s honor and awarded to him posthumously. It is given to an outstanding person who best emulates Wyatt’s efforts to improve the regional commercial construction industry and the Tucson community. McDowell is the 11th recipient of the award. “He has established himself as a leader not only in the construction industry, but also the community,” Davis said of McDowell. “He has been an innovative leader in Sundt’s approach to building a community where everyone prospers.”


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BizTRIBUTE

Southern Arizona Mourns a Leader:

Richard Elías By Valerie Vinyard

According to those who knew him, the late Richard Elías was “bigger-thanlife.” Elías, a die-hard Deadhead with a lifelong love of music, held a history degree from University of Arizona and served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors for nearly 20 years. He had the respect of the community, from average citizens to the holders of the highest offices of power. When the 61-year-old died unexpectedly in his sleep March 28, many were shocked and saddened. The fifth-generation Tucsonan and progressive Democrat was appointed in 2002 to the board to fill Raul Grijalva’s seat in District 5, which encompasses much of midtown Tucson and the Southside. Elías had been board chairman since 2017, which was his second time as chairman in his 18 years of service. Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said he spoke with Elías “nearly every day for 20 years.” He called Elías “a friend, a colleague, a compatriot, an occasional adversary and a superb supervisor who served his constituents and this county faithfully, earnestly, honestly and always with an ethos familiar to physicians – do no harm.” Betty Villegas, a retired Pima County official, was appointed to fill Elías’ seat for the remainder of his term, which will end in December. Villegas was the county’s affordable housing director when she retired in 2018 after working for the county for 23 years. Villegas said she has no interest in running for the seat when her term expires. “I’m just keeping the seat warm,” Villegas said. “Richard was bigger than life. Richard cared so deeply that he wanted to always do the right thing. I want to continue that legacy.” Above all, Elías loved his hometown. “He loved Tucson dearly,” said Tucson City Councilman Paul Cunning114 BizTucson

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ham. “I think you could say our community was the fourth person in his family.” Cunningham, a Tucson city councilman since May 2010, first worked with Elías in 2008 when Cunningham opened the Obama headquarters in Tucson. “As our friendship grew, I think it molded a lot of my philosophies about government,” Cunningham said. “He was friends with everybody. They throw out the cliché ‘easy to like,’ but usually you’re easy to like because you’re never controversial. He would actually take a stand and you’d still like him.”

Richard Elías Another Democratic Tucson city councilman, Steve Kozachik, has represented Tucson’s Ward 5 since 2009. Because his ward and Elías’ district “pretty much overlapped,” Kozachik said, the two worked together over the last decade. “We worked well together,” he said. “He was always willing to step to the plate and lend a hand.” Elías’ inclusiveness is what drew people toward him, Kozachik said. “Anybody who knew him felt wel-

come in the conversation,” he said. “He was a multigenerational resident of the area. He knew the players and knew the history and knew where the skeletons in the closet were, and he wasn’t scared to pull them out.” Elías even impressed longtime journalists, said Dylan Smith, editor and publisher of TucsonSentinel.com. “You don’t earn the respect of multiple generations of surly, suspicious reporters without being a stand-up and stand-out person, and Richard Elías did just that,” Smith said. “As a journalist, I was always confident that Richard knew why I was pestering him for answers and not accepting the first thing he and other politicians said,” he continued. “Richard cared for this town, he worried about it, took pride in it – he loved Tucson and Pima County, and the many phone calls he made to family, friends, reporters and politicians on what turned out to be the last night of his life were just a small slice of a deep and abiding connection to our entire community.” Even politicians on the other side of the spectrum lauded Elías, including former Tucson City Councilman Fred Ronstadt, who now serves as the executive director of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. “Richard and I were very friendly with each other,” said the Republican, who was on the city council when Elías was on the board. “I really, really, really respected him because he always did what he thought was best for his constituents. He always led with his heart and his passion for people. “We used to call him the Mexican version of Will Rogers. He always had a story.” Elías is survived by his wife of 31 years, Emily, and his daughter, Luz. County supervisors passed a proclamation that dedicated the month of April 2020 to the memory of Elías.

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