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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Holmes’

6th May
written by JHiggins

Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 10:00 am | Updated: 8:48 am, Thu Apr 21, 2011.

By Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone, Inside Tucson Business | 0 comments

The general consensus among Southern Arizonans is that the business community can be considered second-class citizens to neighborhood interests and the environmental lobby. Previously, we’ve chronicled the decline of business leadership and aggressively nudged them with suggestions for improvement. The first step has now been taken by the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber board’s decision to bring in a proven chamber professional in Mike Varney, who is coming from Las Vegas this month to be the new CEO, and local leader Bill Holmes, formerly with Wells Fargo as the new chief operating officer, will prove to be an important move. It encourages us and should encourage the entire business community.

Here’s what lies ahead for the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce with ideas on how we can all be a part of getting it back on track.

Reload the board. The chamber’s board of directors changed last month. The new president is Wendell Long, CEO of Casino Del Sol, and he is being joined by new directors Colleen Edwards, of Tucson Appliance’s Tucson Wholesale Supply; and Fletcher McCusker, CEO of Providence Corporation. The board has been rightly criticized as hand picked loyalists to the status quo. The old board and the boards that ran the chamber the past 20 years have had a hand in the demise of the business climate.

Economic development. Typically, a local chamber of commerce coordinates a community’s business attraction and retention efforts. Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) – and the Greater Tucson Economic Council before it – have had little concrete success. Bringing economic development back to the chamber, where it would be funded entirely with private dollars, will free some taxpayer dollars to help balance government budgets. The pairing of economic development with strong political advocacy and the ability to influence the ballot box is much stronger stratagem for the future.
Politics. Chambers of commerce do four things: member networking; group discount programs for such things as employee insurance and office supplies; education and training; and most importantly for Tucson, public policy. Take a look at the state of the chamber on those four issues. Ask yourself which of the four will most likely make you step up and write a check to join? If and when the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce develops some real political muscle, more members will join. Tucson businesses are ready to be part of a successful political policy agenda focused on creating jobs.
Charge the hill, take the hill and hold the hill. Too many organizations “town hall” issues and then never do anything. K-12 education is important but so is giving Mom and Dad a job that pays enough to support their family. Having a world-class university is important but losing the people it educates after graduation defeats the purpose. The Tucson Chamber cannot be all things to all people on all issues. It has to focus on being the organization that stands up for business and jobs.
The rest. A list like this can go on and include development of deeper relationships with business in Mexico and making Tucson a logistics hub. The chamber already is doing a good job when it comes to supporting and retaining the military in the region. Splinter groups that over the years have broken off from the chamber need to be brought back into the fold. The Tucson Chamber needs to be the “go to” organization to get business done.

This is going to take work
. Businesses need to evaluate where they put their money when it comes to their futures. If each business, from the very biggest to the smallest, picked just one or two organizations to join and support, the businesses community’s second-class status could be changed in two election cycles or less.

Welcome to the chamber Mr. Varney and Mr. Holmes. We’re excited for the breath of fresh air you bring to the business community. Even if you do nothing we’ve outlined here, may we suggest you find out what every other business leadership group in Tucson has done for the past 20 years and do the opposite.

You have our support and our membership applications. All Tucson business owners should do the same to get in the game.

Contact Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone at wakeuptucson@gmail.com. They host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Their blog is at www.TucsonChoices.com.

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