Fall 2013 Metro

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Tucson Metro Chamber Driving Pro-Business Initiatives


Change Ahead Tucson Metro Chamber Driving Pro-Business Initiatives By Joan Liess

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Tucson is experiencing a Copernican shift. The way we view our local universe is changing dramatically. This onetime small town is energized and expanding its role in the world. The Tucson region rightly values its unique natural and cultural assets – yet recognizes its quality of lifestyle is reliant upon a robust local economy. A revitalized Tucson Metro Chamber is leading the way for positive economic change by focusing on the nexus of healthy, growing businesses and prosperity for all Tucsonans. That plan is to focus, focus, focus on pro-business initiatives. A shift in the chamber’s intensity to foster a pro-business climate began when current President and CEO Mike Varney took the helm in May 2011. Like many local businesses at that time, the chamber’s status quo was tenuous. The economy was slowly recovering from a recession that had hurt businesses and property values, escalated unemployment and dampened consumer confidence. Not surprisingly, the chamber’s membership and revenue streams plummeted in the wake of those troubled waters. It was clearly time to refocus and rebuild. “Mike brought a lot of different ideas based on his experience in other chambers and his own personal experience,” current Board Chairman Kurt Wadlington said. “Businesses were struggling and they were looking for solutions. Now we have a guy with a new perspective. That’s been good for Tucson.” The chamber concluded its 2012-13 fiscal year in June – under the leadership of then Board Chairman Bruce Dusenberry – with a litany of accomplishments and an improved balance sheet. The investor curve was reversed as small businesses re-upped and the top-tier Chairman’s Circle expanded from a dozen companies to nearly 80. Clearly Tucson businesses began recognizing the value of investing in the chamber and that drove this renaissance. The chamber is 100 percent funded by member investments and special events. “We get things done” “We are putting on a full-court press to bring positive

pro-business changes to Southern Arizona,” Varney said. “Companies invest in us because we demonstrated that we get things done.”

Cover Photo:©iStockphoto.com/dszc


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I was impressed with how much the chamber cared about me and my business. – Emmett O’Leary President, O’Leary Construction

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Just ask chamber investor Emmett O’Leary, president of

O’Leary Construction, a site preparation company with 60 employees. In 2008 “I dropped out of everything because I was in survival mode,” explained O’Leary, who recently rejoined after the chamber helped him overcome some roadblocks with the City of Tucson on a permit issue. “All I heard was ‘no, no, no,’” said O’Leary, whose experience mirrors that of other business owners when navigating governmental processes. “I was impressed with how much the chamber cared about me and my business.” The snafu O’Leary experienced was a systemic predicament, according to some business owners. The concern drove the chamber’s agenda during its last fiscal year. “Our goal is to change the local culture to say ‘yes’ to business opportunities and then work out the fine details – rather than starting from a position of ‘no’ and making the opportunity justify itself,” said Varney. Robert Medler, VP of government affairs, points to the chamber’s creation of the Joint Business Objectives as a positive step towards improving outcomes when dealing with local governments. “New York City and Portland had established a Business Bill of Rights – which inspired us to do something similar,” Medler said. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry readily bought into the initiative. “Our document is based on give-and-take on both sides,” explained Medler, who included the development directors for both the city and county in the process. “What are the basic things that need to happen to make this process work for both government and business?” Both the city and county now have poster-sized Joint Business Objectives documents on display in their development offices. “A lot of the problems were simple,” said Medler. “It’s a common-sense starting point.”

Mike Varney

Chuck Huckelberry

Bruce Dusenberry

Face Time With Top City, County Leaders

The chamber also instituted the Interface forum offering regular opportunities to speak directly with top city and county officials about public policy and doing business in Southern Arizona. The Interface sessions rotate between the city and county leadership. Rothschild met with chamber investors in August, with the next session scheduled for Nov. 21. Huckelberry and/or Board Chairman Ramon Valadez are scheduled Oct. 31 and again on Jan. 23. During the hour-long exchange, politicos can get direct feedback about the city’s latest policy decisions or current initiatives such as the county’s proposed aerospace and de44 BizTucson


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fense corridor and its proposed bond package. “You get an hour of direct face-to-face time with this region’s senior political leaders,” Medler said. If capacity attendance is a measure of success, investors clearly value the productive meeting of minds at these forums. The chamber encourages openness, transparency and robust discussion.

Advancing Pro-business Initiatives

The chamber recently commissioned a comprehensive study conducted by Smith & Dale, a local nonprofit consulting firm, to evaluate its effectiveness and set its agenda based on the priorities of investors. “Businesses place a very high value on the chamber being their voice in the halls of government,” said Wadlington, who added that more than 100 business people were interviewed as part of this commissioned study.

Our goal is to change the local culture to say ‘yes’ to business opportunities and then work out the fine details – rather than starting from a position of ‘no’ and making the opportunity justify itself.

– Mike Varney President & CEO, Tucson Metro Chamber

Wadlington said the findings were “a third-party, environmental scan to get insight on things we are doing that are valuable – and things that weren’t as important so we shouldn’t spend valuable time on those.” Key to advancing pro-business initiatives via the ballot box is the Southern Arizona Business Political Action Committee, the political action arm of the chamber. The chamber formed its political action committee in 1978 and was certified as a Super-PAC in 2012 as its means to en­dorse candidates and support or oppose issues. “Just the creation of that PAC sends a powerful message that not only are we paying attention, but in terms of finances, we’re armed and ready,” Varney said. During the 2012 election cycle, 94 percent of candidates supported by SAZPAC won their elections. With the blessing of Varney and SAZPAC’s board, Medler formalized and expanded the candidate evaluation process in 2011 by creating the candidate evaluation committee comprised of chamber investors equally identified as Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The committee also mirrors the blend of ages, gender, ethnicity and industry sectors of chamber investors. “If you take out that one person who is a really strong R and his or her score, and one person who’s a really strong D and his or her score, everyone else is almost always within the first standard of deviation,” Medler explained. “They’re all pretty close when it comes to the business issues – and that’s continued on page 46 >>> www.BizTucson.com

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BizLEADERSHIP Business on the Ballot

State of Education Luncheon – Guy Gunther, VP & GM, CenturyLink with scholarship recipient Sarah Hefferan

Hot Topics in 2014 • City of Tucson budget and oversight of Proposition 409 road bonds • Statewide offices including governor and legislators • Proposed Interstate 11 project to complete a north-south three-country international trade corridor • Permitting and construction of the Rosemont Copper mine project

Continuing Efforts • Union Pacific rail yard project – supporting a multi-modal transportation hub on the Pima-Pinal county line

• Supporting F-35 Joint Strike Fighter basing at the 162nd Air National Guard and attracting other new Department of Defense programming

Businesses place a very high value on the chamber being their voice in the halls of government.

• Advancing tax policies that encourage job creation and capital investment, including the film tax credit

Kurt Wadlington Board Chairman Tucson Metro Chamber

• Ending Highway User Revenue Fund sweeps and other funding sweeps

• Focusing on education issues including results measurements, education finance policy and reinstating funding for four-year Joint Technical Education District programming known as JTED • Supporting downtown improvement projects • Supporting policies that encourage increased trade with Mexico • Adopting immigration policy based on the S.A.N.E. framework • Reforming the initiative process to increase transparency, prevent abuses and further limitations on the legislature’s ability to set state budgets For more information visit www.tucsonchamber.org

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continued from page 45 what matters as a chamber.” Medler invites all viable local and state candidates to participate in the chamber’s vetting process – which includes submitting a written questionnaire or track record (for incumbents), engaging in a scheduled interview conducted by the candidate evaluation committee and providing empirical information about his or her campaign. After evaluating the data, the committee submits its recommendations to SAZPAC’s board which reviews the collected information and considers the committee’s endorsements in earnest when making its final decisions. Medler admitted, “It took a few years to get the process just right – but it’s working well now.”

Focus on Workforce

Pro-business public policy is effective stimulus for business growth. Equally as important is a workforce fit to convert growth into tangible, quality-of-life benefits for both businesses and our community. The workforce challenges of tomorrow are already upon us. As a result of a dwindling pool of skilled workers, 3.5 million current job openings are not being filled by U.S. companies, according to a new study published by the Apollo Group, parent company of the University of Phoenix. Compounding this problem, one of the most educated segments of our workforce – the baby-boom generation – is reaching retirement age. Thanks to the University of Arizona, Tucson can call dibs on high-end college graduates and advanced-degree talent. The UA is the major source of engineers for Raytheon Missile Systems, the region’s largest private employer. Conversely, Tucson was the sixth-poorest of the nation’s top 500 metropolitan areas in 2011 with a poverty rate of 20.4 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau data – despite the fact that quality jobs in aerospace, mining, manufacturing and other trade professions went unfilled. continued on page 48 >>> www.BizTucson.com

BizLEADERSHIP ment working together to make sure this happens.”

Chamber’s Mission

The mission of the Tucson Metro Chamber is to promote a strong local economy resulting in business growth, ample employment and improved quality of life for all citizens.

Chamber’s Mantra

Robert Medler

When business is good, life is good.

Chamber’s Core Fundamentals Promote a strong local economy Because when business is good, life is good…and jobs are plentiful. Provide opportunities to build relationships To help businesses open new channels of opportunity. Deliver programs to help businesses grow To help business survive and thrive. Represent and advocate on behalf of business Because what happens in government often impacts business. Enhance commerce through community steweardship So that quality of life improves and our community has more to offer. Increase public awareness of member businesses So that investor companies stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace. Provide symbols of credibility Because consumers really do prefer to do business with investors of the Tucson Metro Chamber. Source: Tucson Metro Chamber

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New York City and Portland had established a Business Bill of Rights – which inspired us to do something similar.

– Robert Medler VP of Government Affairs Tucson Metro Chamber

continued from page 46 The chamber intends to be an active partner in efforts to cross this chasm. “We’ve reached a critical point. We have to move ahead,” said Gregg Johnson, campus director for the University of Phoenix in Tucson, who was tapped to head a new chamber committee charged with addressing workforce readiness and education – including strategies to reduce the high school dropout rate. “How do we put people into the careers they want – and more importantly – match them to the careers of the future?” Johnson said. That’s the big question here and nationwide. “We have the educational resources but we don’t always have the trade development that we need.” The Joint Technical Education District is one key to developing this segment of the workforce for the future. “We want to keep the triangle of business, education and govern-

Build Partnerships Pima Community College is poised to step up its role in vocational education. PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert, who took office on July 1, is a proven innovator in that arena and is certain to be an influential voice in the chamber’s efforts. Lambert is a founding member and current board chair of the National Coalition of Certification Centers, known as NC3, a corporately supported organization that emphasizes increasing the competencies of the workforce in three key sectors – transportation, energy and aviation. Lee Lambert – Lee Lambert Chancellor Pima Community College

We need investments to the region that are not tied to state and federal dollars.

“We’re going to bring PCC into the NC3 network,” said Lambert who explained the two entities will work together with industry to develop curriculum and faculty currency, while building an assessment instrument to validate that the training programs for Pima students meet the needs of industry. “Together, that’s the key. That’s a big change,” Lambert emphasized, referencing the rarity of educators continued on page 50 >>>

Outlooks Conference 2013 From left – Philip J. Dion, Senior VP of Public Policy and Customer Solutions, UNS Energy Corporation; T. Boone Pickens, BP Capital and Natural Gas Advocate; Dr. Cathy Mincberg, President & CEO Center for Reform of School Systems

Intelligence Gatherings

Chamber Event Calendar Annual Events

Copper Cactus Awards September 27 Awards dinner event to celebrate the accomplishments and innovation of Southern Arizona’s small businesses

Copper Cactus Awards Best Practice Showcase October 17 Relaxed happy-hour event featuring knowledge-sharing presentations by the 13 Copper Cactus Award winners

State of the State Luncheon January 14, 2014 Gov. Jan Brewer’s legislative address details the issues affecting Southern Arizona and the state

State of the City Luncheon February 26, 2014 Mayor Jonathan Rothschild outlines the goals, planned policies and objectives for the City of Tucson for 2014

University of Arizona Athletics Luncheon September 2014 UA coaches share updates and plans for Wildcat athletic programs

Recurring Events

Knowledge Transfer Series September through May Local experts mentor investors on sales, marketing, digital media and social media and other aspects of business operations

Chamber XChange Monthly Investor businesses host other investors and guests to XChange contacts, XChange business, XChange ideas and XChange knowledge

Interface Quarterly Interface is a series of discussions with Mayor Rothschild and County Administrator Huckelberry and/or County Board Chairman Valadez that provides business owners and executives with opportunities to speak directly to these high level public officials about public policy and doing business in Southern Arizona

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continued from page 48 and industries collaborating as full partners. “It’s not, ‘My way as the college; we’re going to do it and trust us.’ It’s a reciprocal relationship.” Companies like Snap-on and Trane are handson in the NC3 program. “As we strengthen our relations with these multi-nationals, the hope is that it’s going to strengthen the small businesses here that sell and service their products,” said Lambert. “Pima’s role is to make sure that we’re producing high-quality workers for those businesses.” Lambert also intends to participate in economic recruitment endeavors. “We need investments to the region that are not tied to state and federal dollars,” he said. “If the community of Tucson wants to attract a large scale manufacturer, for example, PCC can be a big part of the supply chain.” The Pima County Joint Technical Education District is also pivotal for training the new workforce. JTED works with business and industry to not only teach the technical skills for students to succeed in college and careers, but also workplace – or soft skills – so students know how to interact with coworkers and supervisors professionally. At a recent Arizona Technology Council meeting, high-tech firms said those skills are paramount. Pima County JTED offers career and technical-education programs to more than 13,000 students each year at 34 high schools and nine central campus locations. Its Business and Industry Advisories represent 25 program areas, providing curriculum and equipment guidance as well as internships and job shadowing experiences for students.

Investors, Revenues Up

Tucson Metro Chamber chose the tagline, “Growing Businesses. Building Communities.” The theme is not an idle platitude. It’s the organization’s marching orders from its investors. Lori Banzhaf, VP of business development said the number of investors hovers around 1,400 businesses which employ more than 110,000 in Tucson and Pima County. That’s a 7 percent increase from the recessionary fallout – with 75 percent of those designated as small businesses with 25 or fewer full-time employees. Better yet, revenues grew by almost 20 percent, in part because investments in the Chairman’s Circle increased nearly seven fold. Banzhaf, who came onboard in the fall of 2011, is also charged with planning and operating chamber events – a key component of investor retention. “We created a strategic layout of events aligned with our goals that deliver high value to our investors,” she said. continued on page 52 >>> www.BizTucson.com


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BizLEADERSHIP continued from page 50 Realignments included handing over the Man and Woman of the Year program to the Greater Tucson Leadership organization, which made “perfect sense,” Banzhaf said, as did eliminating fundraising golf tournaments from the schedule. On the flip side, acquiring the Copper Cactus Awards – which recognize innovative businesses, many of them chamber investors – was a good fit. Banzhaf avowed that, “The number one reason more businesses are not chamber investors is because they haven’t been asked.” Her message to prospective investors going forward is clear: “We heard you. You’ve told us you haven’t invested because you haven’t been asked. I’m asking you now to stand with the chamber as we move our community forward.” The chamber’s “asking” is codified by the Business Expansion and Retention project, known as BEAR, which sets up exchanges of information between chamber volunteers and key business decision makers in a person-to-person setting. The project targets businesses with 100 or more full-time equivalent

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Lori Banzhaf

The number one reason more businesses are not chamber members is because they haven’t been asked.

– Lori Banzhaf VP of Business Development Tucson Metro Chamber

employees. By year’s end, the BEAR committee will present a white paper of its findings to the board and community. The chamber, which has roots in this community dating to 1896, operates with an executive committee of five officers, plus 20 other members of the board of directors and a staff of 14. There are six key committees addressing specific priorities in the year ahead. Numbers don’t lie and the uptick in revenues speaks volumes. “There’s a definite reinvigoration of our investment base,” Varney said. “Our investors expect us to do whatever is necessary to promote a strong local economy. Addressing government affairs and quality workforce issues are clearly the top priorities. We are putting on a full-court press to bring positive pro-business changes to Southern Arizona,” he said. Varney summed up the chamber’s positioning in the investor-based nonprofit marketplace. “We don’t just want to be known as an organization that does things – we want to be known as an organization that gets things done.”



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Jerry Schuchardt

A Mentor’s Peerspective Brian Woods from Southwest Print & Promotions and Mary Rowley from Strongpoint Marketing cofacilitate a monthly CEO roundtable support group called Peerspectives, which seats up to 12 business owners from non-competing companies. “You’d be surprised how many people think their problems may be unique,” said Jerry Schuchardt, owner and pres­ident of Unicom Grafix. “We all share the same fundamental challenges – whether it be growing your business, hiring employees, producing a quality product, navigating government regulations and, of course, always taking good care of your customers.” The topic varies each month and is determined by the two subjects the group votes to discuss. “One may want to grow his business, another wants to streamline manufacturing, another is looking for ways to get a better handle on her accounts receivables,” explained Schuchardt, who confessed he still experiences some of those problems, too. “At least I think I know how to handle it this time around.”

Super-Serving Small Business By Joan Liess

The majority of jobs and the bulk of our country’s gross national product are generated by small businesses. Here in Pima County, 300,956 people are employed by 20,059 private non-farm businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011. Do the math. That’s an average of 15 employees per establishment. Tucson Metro Chamber pledges to help small businesses protect

those jobs, add even more jobs and beef up their bottom line. The chamber recently formed the investor-run Small Business Advisory Council charged with identifying programs, products and services needed by small businesses to support their success and ultimately their growth. Here are the committee’s initiatives and the key chamber resources to help fulfill them.

Make Money

• Military procurement workshops through the military affairs committee

Save Money

• Money-in-Your-Pocket discounts of 40 percent or more on frequently purchased office supplies at Office Depot. • SCF Arizona Safety Association program for workers compensation insurance – 118 members collected an average of $786 in bonus dividends and credits in 2012

Build Relationships

• Monthly Chamber XChange networking event for investors and their guests • Peerspectives CEO roundtable for small and medium-sized business owners – conducted monthly by an experienced facilitator

Transfer Knowledge

• Knowledge Transfer Series – Workshops on priority topics conducted by local experts to help small businesses learn to run a more profitable company • Networking How-To Seminars organized by the new connections committee – experts share knowledge and techniques to maximize the benefits of networking • Tools for Business one-stop online resource center – direct links to government procurement sites, business license offices, the Small and Medium-Size EnterprisesToolkit and Affordable Care Act resources

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First Impressions Project

Looking Good By Joan Liess

Tucson Metro Chamber’s First Impressions initiative to corral the private sector to help spruce up high-traffic city sites is evolving from conception to the construction phase. Its first project – the beautification of Tucson Boulevard from the airport to Valencia Road – should gear up in early December. According to Richard Underwood, a chamber board member and the real bulldozer behind the project, several businesses have come on board with cash in hand and City of Tucson officials have pledged to help navigate ordinance roadblocks. “Completing this upgrade will give every citizen of Southern Arizona something to be proud of and will make the most positive impression possible on anyone visiting our region,” said Underwood, who committed resources from his company, AAA Landscape. Many of the 3.6 million people who deplane each year at Tucson International Airport experience their first impression of Southern Arizona at the airport. TIA’s striking design and 56 BizTucson


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new solar-panel canopy over the public parking lot visually signals that “Tucson is an innovative city.” Not so for the roughly half-mile corridor they travel from the airport to the city proper. Because of budget restraints, existing plants and medians along Tucson Boulevard have been poorly maintained on the city-owned road and right-of-way. Private donors are crucial to the success of the planned $350,000 upgrade to the medians and streetscape. Underwood credits First Impressions com-

Cody and his team were able to raise three quarters of the sum needed in two weeks. I was amazed.

– Richard Underwood Chair, First Impressions

mittee co-chair Cody Ritchie of Crest Insurance for doing the heavy lifting on fundraising. “Frankly, we were stuck on the fundraising side until Cody, with the help of Mike Varney and Kurt Wadlington and other chamber members, stepped up,” said Underwood. “Cody and his team were able to raise three quarters of the sum needed in two weeks. I was amazed as well as delighted. Cody may be one of the most can-do guys in Tucson. We are blessed to have him in our town.” Underwood acknowledges that once the facelift is finished his company will work with the city on the costs of maintenance. “AAA will handle any shortfall if that helps Tucson make a great first impression,” vowed Underwood. “That’s a chore we’re eager to take on.” Contributions to the First Impressions project are welcome from individuals as well as businesses. Donations via credit card are accepted online at www. TucsonChamber.org/firstimpressions – or any Bank of America or Bank of Tucson branch.



TREE PALETTE Ironwood Tree Texas Ebony INERT GROUNDCOVER 6” Colored Rip Rap (Brown) 2-4” Colored Rip Rap (Tan)


SHRUB PALETTE Beavertail Cactus Blue Elf Aloe Giant Hesperaloe Golden Barrel Cactus Grass Tree

Ocotillo Old Man Cactus Red Barrel Cactus Saguaro Silver Queen Agave Santa Rita Prickly Pear

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Skilled Workforce Shortage Looms When Baby Boomers Bail By Tara Kirkpatrick Tucson leaders have some major work to do to ensure this community can compete in a contemporary economic climate – one in which the most tactical cities will nab the top talent and the rest will slowly perish. It’s not unemployment we should fear – but full employment, Mark Lautman told leaders from the Tucson Metro Chamber and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities. “We have a looming shortage of qualified workers.” Lautman helped build the economic

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base of Rio Rancho, N.M. in the 1980s and has worked in economic development for three decades. He’s the author of “When the Boomers Bail – How Demographics will Sort Communities into Winners and Losers.” He’s based in Albuquerque. Baby boomers, the hardest working and most productive group of U.S. citizens, are nearing retirement – and along the way, they did not have enough children to fully replace themselves, Lautman explained. Essentially, this

will leave the nation with jobs unable to be filled. There won’t be enough workers with the skill sets to fill them. “Everyone you’re going to hire in the next 25 years has already been born,” he told the Tucson leaders. “It’s not enough.” So, cities will fight to attract the most qualified workers to keep their economies growing faster than their populations – the absolute key to survival, Lautman said. “This is the game now. In this new economic and demographic continued on page 60 >>> www.BizTucson.com

BizLEADERSHIP continued from page 58

heading into, you have to be aggressive and play at a level you’ve never known or you are at risk.”

environment, talented people will be in short supply and thus, will increasingly be able to choose where they want to live.” Tucson must become a city that can steal these top workers from other cities because as we move forward, they will hold all the power. “It won’t be enough to be one of the best at industry recruiting,” he said. “From now on, economic development will require a much broader and more integrated mix of programming and a much higher, more strategic level of commitment to keep the local economy growing faster than the population.” “So, are we going to be a Bedford Falls or a Pottersville?” he asked local leaders, citing the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” You are not going to be in the middle, period.” Tucson – The Challenges Because of its 300-plus days of sunshine and beautiful landscape, Tucson is a very attractive place to retire. Yet, retirees, who may move here in good health, within a decade likely won’t be able to drive and quickly become part of the dependent portion of the economic equation – those who need the services of an economy and workers to care for them. “Communities like Tucson have to be especially careful in a labor-constrained economy,” Lautman said. “Even if the retirees you are attracting are relatively healthy and wealthy, they increase the demand for qualified workers and will put a major strain on public infrastructure, only exacerbating the economic imbalance issues.” Tucson and Southern Arizona’s economic base has also been heavily dependent on federal government funding – including military installations like Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Raytheon Missile Systems, one of the region’s top private employers with 10,000 employees. “It’s been a safe place to be.” Lautman said. “Yet, if those jobs go – almost everything is at risk. Each job that goes will take a service sector job with it.” 60 BizTucson


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You have the opportunity to be the quality alternative to Phoenix.

– Mark Lautman Author & Veteran Economic Developer

Lastly, there are numerous leadership groups here – but they must work together like never before because their destinies are linked, he said. It’s no use having different chambers of commerce and business groups if their missions aren’t aligned toward growing Tucson’s economic base. “One of the biggest problems in a place like Tucson is we’re all cordoned off from each other,” Lautman said. “It’s easy to get indifferent to the others. Given the economic waters we’re

Tucson – The Potential Yet, Tucson has incredible assets and passionate people. With some predictive, strategic work, the city could fare well, Lautman said. “You have the opportunity to be the quality alternative to Phoenix. Being located within the magnetic field of an economic powerhouse like metro Phoenix gives Tucson a much longer list of strategic options than communities of comparable size. Your proximity to Phoenix frees you from having to be everything to the economic region. You have the luxury of being able to specialize, be selective and move up the market.” Michael Varney, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber, agreed. “I not only believe that a coalition of different leader groups is possible – I think it is mandatory,” he said. That’s why, in 2011, the Tucson Metro Chamber signed a cooperation agreement with TREO, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to work together to help Tucson advance and compete on a global stage. Reaching out to the independent contractors – those employees who work from home – might be another strategy that could pay off for Tucson, Lautman suggested. “This is the fastest growing economic base in the country. There is no strategy I have seen yet to recruit them. Tucson has the DNA required to become a magnet for this sector that has been, up until now, completely ignored by traditional economic development programs.” More than anything, as the biological clocks of the baby boomers tick down, time is of the essence. “You aren’t different than anywhere else in the country,” Lautman concluded. “There is an unlimited list of things you can do to solve these problems.”



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Mike Varney President & CEO Tucson Metro Chamber


Mike Varney Sees Change Ahead By Joan Liess Mike Varney’s road from Madison, Wisconsin to Tucson by way of Las Vegas, Nevada was paved with experiences apropos for a business organization in need of a revival. The Tucson Metro Chamber board voted unanimously to hire Varney in April 2011, in the wake of a lingering recession. Two-plus years later Varney is still full-steam ahead. Chamber board member Richard Underwood reported that candidate Varney arrived at his interview with a list of 20 ways to improve the chamber, then proceeded to outline a long-term business plan. That’s not surprising for a senior executive who describes himself on his LinkedIn page as “a believer in the power of participatory management, servant leadership, precise planning, quality communications and expectation of excellence.” Varney’s professional experience encapsulates the spectrum of business diversity. He’s served in leadership positions at other chambers for 10 years and held high-level positions at forprofit entities, including his own small business. In his current role at the Tucson Metro Chamber, Varney is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s operations including planning, product development, government affairs, communications, research, finance and investor services. Varney replaced retiring Jack Camper, who served 32 years. The chamber’s roots go back to 1896. Varney immediately reinvigorated the chamber and laser focused its energies on pro-business initiatives. He sees the chamber as “a major force in creating positive change.” A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Varney graduated from the University www.BizTucson.com

of Wisconsin earning a bachelor of arts degree in communication arts. He established his career in the broadcasting industry, moving up to GM of a Madison radio station before creating and operating his own small business for six years. Varney moved to Las Vegas in 1997, embracing the economic energy of America’s fastest growing city at the time.

The Tucson Metro Chamber is making a difference every day. We’re growing businesses and building a better community. –

Mike Varney, President & CEO Tucson Metro Chamber

He did a nearly nine-year stint as VP of marketing at the 7,000-member Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Prior to arriving in Tucson, he served as president and CEO of the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Between those positions, Varney was president of Nevada Corporate Headquarters, a start-up business consulting firm, and worked as an independent organizational consultant. Varney is a master networker and sought-after guest speaker who continually gathers and shares information with the intent of developing new ideas and tactical strategies for the Tucson Metro Chamber. He’s currently a member of the executive committee of the board of directors of the Western Association of

Chamber Executives and is also on the board of directors at the Arizona Chamber Executives and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. Varney is a past recipient of the Gerald Hathaway Award for excellence in chamber of commerce operations from the Western Association of Chamber Executives. Alliances with other local economic development organizations complements the chamber’s efforts. Varney serves on boards for the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority, Visit Tucson, the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance, Linkages and Habitat for Humanity. His enthusiasm is contagious, demonstrated by the growth in membership and the expansion of the chamber’s Chairman’s Circle to nearly 80 investors. “The Tucson Metro Chamber is making a difference every day. We’re growing businesses and building a better community,” he said. The chamber’s top four priorites this year are: • Lead government relations and public policy • Improve workforce readiness and education • Super-serve small business • Develop the local economy

When recently asked about his adopted home of Tucson, Varney answered in a nanosecond. “Fabulous city. The natural beauty is exquisite. The pace of life is very, very nice,” he said with a smile. “Great friends, great people. Very much a neighborly feeling reminiscent of where I grew up.” Welcome home, Mr. Varney.

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Kurt Wadlington Chairman of the Board Tucson Metro Chamber


Change Architect Kurt Wadlington By Joan Liess Kurt Wadlington is invested in Tucson. As an employee owner and project executive at Sundt Construction, Wadlington understands the value of business in building communities beyond the brick and mortar. Wadlington, chairman of the board for Tucson Metro Chamber, is an accomplished architect who joined Sundt in 1999. He brings Tucson life experience as well as business expertise to the table in the chamber’s boardroom. Wadlington said Tucson has tremendous potential for economic growth. “It has so much going for it in terms of climate and culture and in terms of the diversity of offerings,” he said. “We’re very well positioned but we’re missing opportunities. It’s time to get our economy growing.” On the job, Wadlington , a 1979 University of Arizona graduate, is a building group leader responsible for his team’s delivery of pre-construction and construction services consistent with client goals and objectives. This includes active participation in business development and project execution consistent with budget, schedule and quality requirements. Wadlington is active in the American Institute of Architects and is a registered architect in the State of Arizona. He is a Designated Design-Build Professional as certified by the Design Build Institute of America. Subcontractor and supplier relationships are a key component of Sundt’s project delivery and Wadlington maintains active relationships with many Tucson companies and fellow chamber investors. Over his career, he has been involved in the design and construction of projects for clients including the UA, Pima and Cochise Community www.BizTucson.com

Colleges, Tucson, Sahuarita, Marana and Catalina Unified School Districts, City of Tucson, Pima County, Tucson International Airport, Northwest Fire District, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Square & Compass Children’s Clinic. Wadlington was front and center during the construction of Sundt’s Tucson corporate headquarters at River Road and La Cholla Boulevard. The award-winning 47,000-square-foot

We are a center of progress and innovation. And we are a community where neighbors care about neighbors.

– Kurt Wadlington Chairman of the Board Tucson Metro Chamber

LEED-Gold office building was completed in 2010. He is a LEED accredited professional as designated by the United States Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. “By looking for ways to employ innovative construction practices in our own facility, we were able to develop several techniques, especially with tilt-up and finished concrete, that are now proven and can be employed with confidence on client projects,” Wadlington said. Amenities in Sundt’s home for its 100 Tucson employees include a fitness center with showers, meditation room, multimedia “innovation gallery” high-

lighting past work and even a health clinic. “Sundt has long recognized that business success is directly correlated to employee engagement,” Wadlington said. “An investment in improving the work environment is an investment in future business prosperity.” Wadlington’s commitment to and professional support for the Southern Arizona community is exemplified by his participation in numerous business, philanthropic and service organizations. Beyond his service at the Tucson Metro Chamber, Wadlington is active in the Southern Arizona Leadership Council P-20 Education Committee, Southern Arizona Business Education Roundtable, Habitat For Humanity Building Freedom Day, Teacher for a Day at Vail Unified School District and 2011 Advocacy Chair for the USGBC Southern Arizona Branch. Sundt Construction is one of the country’s largest and most respected general contractors and has been active in the Tucson market for more than 80 years. Known nationally for its innovative approach to construction services, the 100-percent-employee-owned company is ranked the 64th largest construction company in the United States by ENR, the industry’s principal trade magazine. He sees Tucson as “a city of multinational companies and local small businesses, with prominent companies in the solar, high-tech, defense and aerospace industries, plus major medical and bioscience facilities. We are a center of progress and innovation. And we are a community where neighbors care about neighbors.”

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Chair Elect Tony Penn

Immediate Past Chairman Bruce Dusenberry

Penn’s primary role is leading the United Way toward its goal of creating positive social change in education, financial stability and access to health care. He’s chair elect for the chamber, is on its development committee and serves with Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities. Honors include Congressional Recognition for Leadership by U.S. Rep. Ron Barber and Southern Arizona’s 25 Most Influential African Americans by the Black Chamber of Commerce.

Dusenberry helps customers through personal and business transitions by providing outstanding moving experiences. His former company - Horizon Moving Systems, the largest moving and storage company in Arizona - is now part of the Suddath Companies, with operations in 22 cities nationwide. He serves on numerous boards, including Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Southern Arizona Leadership Council and DM50. He was named Tucson Metro Chamber’s “Man of the Year” in 2009.

William R. Assenmacher

Assenmacher presides over the day-to-day operations necessary to manage a $40 to $50-million-dollar business that manufactures a wide variety of engineered products, both domestic and international. He’s active with the chamber in development and in improving job opportunities. In addition, Assenmacher is a member of AMIGOS, Southern Arizona Leadership Council and Air National Guard Minuteman Committee. He’s founder and president of Southern Arizona Business Coalition.

President & CEO United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona

President & CEO Caid Industries

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Treasurer Robert Ramirez

Secretary Cyndy A. Valdez

In addition to his involvement with Tucson Metro Chamber, Ramirez is active in numerous community organizations, including DM50, Pima Community College Foundation, 162nd FW Minuteman Committee and Ronald McDonald House Charities. He serves on the board of directors for Mountain West Credit Union Association and Carondelet Foundation Board of Trustees.

Valdez provides legal counsel and guidance to Golden Eagle’s officers and upper management and oversees the company’s human resources department. She belongs to numerous beverage associations and holds positions with Greater Tucson Leadership and Association of Corporate Counsel, Arizona Chapter. Valdez has committed her time to Child Parent Centers and Volunteer Center of Tucson.

James K. Beckmann

Jim Burns

John Gibson

As President and CEO of Carondelet’s regional network of hospitals, primary care, specialty care and outpatient clinics, it’s Beckmann’s responsibility to ensure that the 133-year-old legacy as Southern Arizona’s only faith-based healthcare provider continues for many years. He’s a member of Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association board of directors and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Chairman’s Circle.

Burns oversees more than 1,400 employees and is responsible for the daily management of the resort and related properties. He provides financial expertise to the Tucson Metro Chamber board of directors. While Burns is new to Tucson, he is a member of the Arizona CPA Society and a past member of the board of governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

As area president for Wells Fargo Bank in Southern Arizona, Gibson is responsible for 780 team members and 52 banking stores with $3.3 billion in deposits. In addition to his service with the chamber, he contributes time to United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson. Gibson is a recipient of Wells Fargo’s National Leadership Award.

Business Development Consultant Suddath Relocation Systems

President & CEO Carondelet Health Network

President & CEO Vantage West Credit Union

CEO & CFO Casino Del Sol Resort

VP General Counsel Golden Eagle Distributors

Area President Wells Fargo Bank in Southern Arizona

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Guy Gunther

Stephanie Healy

Robert E. Lenhard

Larry Lucero

As CenturyLink’s head of operations, network development and customer support for the greater Arizona market, Gunther works with the company’s technicians, sales representatives and marketing personnel. He’s a chamber Chairman’s Circle investor and immediate past chair of the education committee. He also devotes time to Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Boy Scouts of America and Foothills Chargers Football and Cheer.

Healy oversees government affairs, public relations, community development and media relations in Southern Arizona for Cox Communications. She is a Flinn Brown fellow and has received a number of leadership awards in the community. Her list of civic participation and board membership is long, including El Rio Health Center Foundation, Arizona Forward, DM50, City of Tucson’s Economic and Workforce Development Commission and Komen Advisory Council.

Lenhard leads the 25-year-old firm that represents buyers and sellers of all business categories and has more than 500 transactions under its belt. Lenhard is active with the chamber’s knowledge transfer committee and business expansion and retention committee. Additional community involvement includes membership with Arizona Business Brokers Association and Merger and Acquisition Source. He received an Arizona broker award of excellence in 2003.

Returning to an area where he spent many years, Lucero’s vast experience in the legislative arena will assist in advancing the interests of the utility and its customers. He’s a new member of the chamber, focusing on public affairs. Lucero also works with a variety of community organizations, including Chicanos por la Causa, Campus Research Corporation and Tucson Youth Development /ACE Charter High School.

Tom McGovern

Kay J. McLoughlin

Mike Proctor

Walter Richter

McGovern manages the Arizona operations of Psomas, a top-ranked engineering firm. He’s a member of its board of directors with assignments on the governance, audit & finance and retirement committees. He served as infrastructure committee chair for the chamber and contributes his time to Southern Arizona Leadership Council, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Society of Civil Engineers, Arizona Forward and Southern Regional Council.

McLoughlin serves as Raytheon’s local interface with business associations, nonprofits, educators and the general public. She’s in charge of the company’s in-kind gifting. She recently joined the Tucson Metro Chamber board of directors and is a member of Greater Tucson Leadership, Catholic Diocese of Tucson School Board and University of Arizona Alumni board of directors.

Proctor manages the university’s international activity, distance education, branch campuses and regional development efforts. He serves on a number of local boards and committees, including Arizona Town Hall, Downtown Tucson Partnership, Pima County Library Foundation, Downtown Tucson Economic Development Committee and Imagine Greater Tucson Leadership Council.

Richter handles government relations for Southwest Gas throughout Southern Arizona, working closely with government partners at local, regional and state levels to provide safe, reliable service to customers. He serves on the Tucson Metro Chamber government affairs committee and is the former chair of the candidate evaluation committee. Richter also serves on the board of directors for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities.

VP & GM CenturyLink

Director of Public Affairs Cox Communications

VP/Regional Manager Psomas

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Community and Government Relations Manager Raytheon Missile Systems

President Hallmark Business Consultants

VP of Outreach and Global Initiatives University of Arizona

Senior Director of Government and External Affairs UNS Energy Corporation

Administrator Corporate Public Affairs Southwest Gas

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Cody Ritchie

Steve Rosenberg

Keri Lazarus Silvyn

Howard Stewart

Ritchie oversees the operations of Crest Insurance in Tucson and Phoenix, concentrating on the agency’s sales and marketing functions. He serves on the First Impressions committee with the chamber and is active with other community groups, including Rio Nuevo, Tucson Conquistadores, State Compensation Fund Broker Advisory Board and San Miguel High School. Cody also volunteers as a youth coach.

Rosenberg is founder of BizTucson, the region’s quarterly business magazine. In addition to the chamber, he serves as a board member for Raytheon Spirit of Education Awards and Steven M. Gootter Foundation. Rosenberg is the founding chairman and a board member of Father’s Day Council Tucson. He serves on the chamber’s First Impressions committee. BizTucson also produces the CEO Leadership Summit and the Healthcare Summit, which are issues-based community forums.

Silvyn is a land use attorney, working predominantly with private property owners and developers to help create responsible development. She serves on the chamber’s government affairs committee and the Southern Arizona Business Political Action Committee. She’s founder of Imagine Greater Tucson and a member of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities. In 2011 Silvyn received an Athena Award for community leadership through the Small Business Association.

Stewart leads AGM managers in developing organizational policies, planning business objectives and coordinating operations between departments. He’s a member of the chamber’s Chairman’s Circle and he received the Small Business Leader of the Year Award in 2002. Additional community participation includes membership in the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, President’s Council for San Miguel High School – Cristo Rey Network and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Cristie Street

Richard Underwood

Wendy West

Judy Wood

Heading up this locally based IT firm’s team of professionals keeps Street on her toes. The company sponsors the chamber’s Copper Cactus Awards, saluting innovation through technology. With Street’s dedication, it also supports Ronald McDonald House, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Social Venture Partners, Mobile Meals, Arizona Public Media and other local nonprofit organizations.

In addition to presiding over AAA Landscape, Underwood is a partner with Arid Solutions Wholesale Plant Nursery and chairman of the chamber’s First Impressions committee. Underwood serves on Arizona State Landscape Contractors Advisory Board, Metropolitan Pima Alliance, Southern Arizona Leadership Council and the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board for the University of Arizona College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. He’s director of Canyon Community Bank and is a member of Tucson Airport Authority.

West’s diverse job responsibilities at IBM include overseeing budget, finance, operations, planning, business controls and professional development. Her focus with the chamber and in the community is education, specifically in the areas of K-12 outreach and science/ technology/engineering/math initiatives known as STEM. She’s earned several President’s Volunteer Service Awards and presents workshops on generational differences in the workplace for nonprofits.

Managing Director Crest Insurance Group

Owner & Publisher BizTucson Magazine

Managing Partner Nextrio

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President AAA Landscape

Fall 2013

Attorney Lazarus, Silvyn and Bangs

Tucson Site Operations Manager IBM

President & CEO AGM Container Controls

CEO Contact One Call Center Community outreach, special projects and business development make up Wood’s primary job functions with Contact One Call Center. She serves on the government affairs committee and nominating committee for the chamber. In addition, she’s active with Beacon Group, Arizona Commerce Authority, Governor’s Council on Small Business, Women at the Top and Southern Arizona Leadership Council.



Chairman’s Circle

In the past year the number of businesses who invested in the Chairman’s Circle – the top-tier investment level of the Tucson Metro Chamber – skyrocketed from a dozen to nearly 80. These investors include: AAA Landscape Aerotek Agape Hospice & Palliative Care AGM Container Controls Alliance Bank of Arizona American Family Insurance Amity Foundation Arizona Daily Star Bank of America BBVA Compass BFL Construction Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Bombardier Aerospace CAID Industries Caliber Group Carondelet Health Network Casino del Sol Resort & Conference Center CenturyLink Chase Bank Citi Climatec BTG Community Partnership of Southern Arizona Coventry Health Care – First Script Network Services Cox Communications Crest Insurance Group

CyraCom International Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment Diamond Ventures DRS Technologies – Integrated Defense Systems and Services El Rio Community Health Center Film Creations Financial Associates/ Gem & Jewelry Exchange Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Golden Eagle Distributors Granite Construction Company Graybar Holualoa Arizona HSL Properties IBM Institute for Better Education Intuit Journal Broadcast Group KVOI Madden Media HyperLocal Online Solutions McDonald’s Nextrio Pima Federal Credit Union Pima Medical Institute

Providence Service Corp. Quarles & Brady Raytheon Missile Systems Rosemont Copper Sam’s Club SCF Arizona Securaplane Sinfonia Healthcare Corp. Southwest Airlines Southwest Gas Sundt Construction Target Commercial Interiors Texas Instruments The Jim Click Automotive Team The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa Tucson Electric Power Tucson Medical Center University of Arizona for College of Science UA Tech Park Union Pacific Railroad University of Phoenix – Southern Arizona Campus Vantage West Credit Union Walgreens Wells Fargo Zanes Law

Teamwork Tucson Metro Chamber works collaboratively with local and state officials. Together we are helping create a more business friendly environment. We appreciate the leadership team that helps make this possible.

Jan Brewer Governor State of Arizona

Chuck Huckelberry Pima County Administrator

Jonathan Rothschild Mayor City of Tucson

Satish I. Hiremath Mayor Town of Oro Valley

Ed Honea Mayor Town of Marana

Duane Blumberg Mayor Town of Sahuarita

Join the Tucson Metro Chamber – Growing Businesses. Building Communities. The chamber offers an assortment of member­ship investment levels with varying portfolios of products, services and benefits to meet the needs of small businesses, those in a stage of growth and the interests of large businesses. To learn more about membership and how it can benefit your business or organization, contact Lori Banzhaf, VP of business development at (520) 792-2250 x 152 or lbanzhaf@tucsonchamber.org.

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Tucson Metro Chamber

Key Accomplishments Local Government Victories Worked with Tucson City Council and Pima County Board of Supervisors to build a more business-friendly atmosphere, including:

• Created Interface program to pro-

bills allowing open and transparent access for members to follow issues the chamber is addressing

• Hosted the State of the State pre-

created and promoted adoption of a Business Bill of Rights, the Joint Business Objectives platform with Pima County and the City of Tucson to improve businessfriendly service delivery

• Non-partisan candidate evaluation

committee held more than 40 candidate interviews, providing an excellent opportunity for chamber volunteers to meet candidates and assess business positions of future elected officials

• Successfully

vide investors with access to city and county leaders

sentation with Gov. Jan Brewer to deliver information about state issues

• Hosted

meetings with all newly elected state legislators in January so they would know the chamber’s priorities and positions on state business issues

• Successfully promoted the adoption

• Met with city, county and state of-

• The

• Hosted the State of the City presen- Education • Collaborated with the Tucson Centation with Mayor Jonathan Roth-

of a local purchasing preference in City of Tucson procurement Southern Arizona Business PAC attained a ‘Super-PAC’ status. The chamber is the only business organization with a Super-PAC headquartered in Southern Arizona. This places the Tucson Metro Chamber in a unique political position to strongly support pro-business candidates and public policy.

• Ninety-four percent of

candidates supported by the Southern Arizona Business PAC won their election – demonstrating that the voice of business is listened to in our community

• Legislative agenda was created for

2013 and communicated to members of the Arizona Legislature in face-to-face meetings. Businesses did very well at the last legislative session

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ficials more than 100 times

schild to deliver information about city issues

• Hosted town-hall style debate for

Arizona Corporation Commission candidates, providing direct access for investors to interface with candidates and elected officials

Federal and State Victories Tucson Metro Chamber worked to promote a pro-business agenda through the following:

ter for Cultural Enrichment to deliver the State of Education to provide information on education needs in our community

• Collaborated

with the Tucson Center for Cultural Enrichment to award seven scholarships to graduating high school seniors to continue their education and establish careers in Southern Arizona

Community Affairs Publicly promoted eradication of weeds on city streets and medians

• Implemented new legislative track- • ing system allowing the chamber and investors to effectively manage • Backed Proposition 409 to repair and track more than 300 bills at the legislature this session

• Created online access to a tracking list of the chamber’s most important

city streets

BizLEADERSHIP Economic Development Worked to support the F-35’s arrival at the 162nd Air National Guard station to create 2,000 construction jobs

• Chamber leads multi-organizational

effort called the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance to protect and promote the military presence in Southern Arizona

• Chamber President and CEO Mike

Varney serves on the Mayor’s Business Advisory Group to promote a stronger local economy and a more business-friendly city government

• Promoted permitting for the Rose-

mont Copper mine facility to create 1,200 construction jobs and 450 permanent jobs

• Varney serves on Air Service Committee to encourage more airline flights into and out of Tucson

• Worked to defeat single-use plastic

bag ban in City of Tucson, keeping the choice of bagging options between the retail consumer and business owner

• Varney

serves on Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority board to increase tourism through amateur sports events

• Asked for and received appointment

of Dale Calvert, CPA to the Road Bond Oversight Committee to ensure compliance with financing intentions and application of funds

• Varney works on city work group

• Recognized and celebrated locally

• Promoted the development of

• Military affairs committee held fed-

to represent business and deal with abandoned shopping carts

the Red Rock multimodal transportation facility and improved trade with Mexico

owned small businesses at the Copper Cactus Awards eral procurement workshops to help small companies do business with the federal government

• Held Outlooks event to deliver in- • Created a library of

resources on the chamber’s website to help members navigate the Affordable Care Act

formation about growing and improving our community

Business and Workforce Development Saved members hundreds of thousands of dollars by way of chamber discount programs with Office Depot, SCF Arizona and Effortless HR

• Conducted a successful marketing

support project for small businesses through the University of Arizona Eller College to assist member businesses in solving marketing challenges

• Launched

the Peerspectives program to give small- and mediumsized businesses a resource for problem solving

• Upgraded

the chamber’s online resources library to provide a comprehensive body of online resources for small businesses

• Introduced Tools for Business, pro-

Communications Integrated mobile website increasing visibility and lead generation to investor businesses

• Received WACE Journalistic Excellence Award, recognizing the chamber for quality communications with investors

• Increased website traffic by 16 percent, providing investors greater visibility and lead generation

• Increased

distribution of The Chamber Edge by 25 percent, providing investors greater visibility and access to information

• Hosted workshops to help businesses

understand the Affordable Care Act

Source: Tucson Metro Chamber

viding members a resource for extensive information on how to start and grow a business

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Chamber Investors Speak Up


Having a vibrant and engaged chamber is critical for business to be represented as a stakeholder in our community. The new leadership under Mike Varney has been on point – making the needs of the business community known to our elected officials and demonstrating to them what it takes to create jobs in the private sector. A robust economy is dependent on a business-friendly climate that facilitates businesses prospering so that more people can be employed.

– Doug Martin, President & GM, Good News Radio Broadcasting

The chamber’s priority to promote job growth in our beloved Tucson is strong. That we connect strongly with all our military units not only builds community partnerships, it also promotes local and small businesses. This needs to continue and grow stronger – with the leadership of Mike Varney and the board of directors, it will. The rest of the country will ultimately see what we know to be true – Tucson values our military and Tucson values job growth.

–Ellen Jimenez, Senior Sales Manager, Radisson Suites Tucson

Mike (Varney) has brought laser focus on business issues impacting Tucson and Southern Arizona to the chamber. I really appreciate how Mike has specifically and very openly tackled some tough issues in a direct and honest fashion. He’s willing to confront those issues head on. I joined the chamber when I met Mike two-plus years ago because I thought he had the right vision for Tucson.

– Alan Madison, VP & COO, Coventry Health Care

In a short period of time, the chamber has initiated a lot of great things for companies and for the city. The number of resources they’re able to provide – not just for small business but for all businesses, from a standpoint of networking and getting to know other people in the community – is invaluable to business men and women.

– Rob Elias, VP Marketing, Pima Federal Credit Union

The Metro Chamber is leading the way to enhance the economic development in Tucson. El Rio Community Health Center is actively involved in supporting these efforts. The energy that the chamber has created is helping to strengthen our community.

– Miguel A. Cruz, Marketing Director, El Rio Community Health Center and its foundation

The chamber’s BEAR project is a great proactive, collaborative effort between the Tucson Metro Chamber and the local business community. Through this process, we are hearing job creation is critical, especially high paying jobs, along with the need to address the trailing spouse and family issues. Doing things the way we have always done them will not allow us to grow. Preparing us for the future will take change.

– Kristyn Meza, Business Development Director, Strongpoint Marketing


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Tucson Metro Chamber Staff EXECUTIVE TEAM President & CEO Mike Varney VP of Business Development Lori Banzhaf VP of Government Affairs Robert Medler Communications Director Carissa Fairbanks Member Services/Advertising Director Jackie Chambers Bond Finance and Operations Director Laura Nagore EXECUTIVE ADMINISTRATION Executive Assistant Shirley Wilka SALES Senior Account Executive Edgar Martinez Senior Account Executive Rebeka Kasle SPECIAL PROGRAMS & EVENTS Event Director Amanda Reynolds Event Coordinator Jason Cook MEMBER SERVICES Member Operations Manager Tammy Jensen Member Services Coordinator Andrew Gaines Member Services Administrative Assistant Nealie Neff COMMUNICATIONS Communications Coordinator Emily Grace Newkirk 78 BizTucson


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Executive team from left – Lori Banzhaf, VP of Business Development; Carissa Fairbanks, Director of Communications; Mike Varney, President & CEO; Robert Medler, VP of Government Affairs, and Laura Nagore, Finance and Operations Director. Not pictured: Jackie Chambers Bond, Member Services/Advertising Director.



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