Life Along the Streetcar with Tom Heath from The Heath Team Nova Home Loans

This week we speak with Mike Peel, State wide sustainability Director for Local First Arizona.

Today is April 26th my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.

Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app.

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Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with Calexico

We start today with getting back to getting back to business

Change of Plans

Our featured guest today also represents hundreds of businesses across the state, including many right here in the urban core. Mike Peel and his staff from Local First Arizona were supposed to take over my show for a Sunday in March, but that got scrapped when Coronavirus safety protocols mandated social distancing. We didn’t know until a few days before that our plans would have to re-worked and, oh how times have changed.

Like the businesses they represent, LFAZ, has had to quickly adapt to a new environment, create a path for survival and still keep their eye on the post pandemic goals as they relate to the organizations overall mission.

Mike joined us by phone yesterday to catch us up.


Getting Back to Getting Back to Business

Good morning. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo. You are listening to Katy DT to Busan that you’re spending a part of your brunch shower with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll or radio station this week. We speak with Mike Peel Statewide sustainability director for local first, Arizona. Today is April 26th. My name is Tommy and you’re listening to life. Along the streetcar each and every Sunday our focuses on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core and we shed light on hidden gems. Everyone should know about From a mountain to you, Arizona and all stops in between you get the inside track right here on 99.1 FN streaming on Downtown Radio dot org also available on your iPhone or Android similar by heading to your app store and downloading Downtown Radio Tucson and you’ll have us wherever you go. You can reach us directly here on the show contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter and if you

want to check out any of our past episodes our web site address is Life along the streetcar dot-org. We’re going to start Today’s Show with news about getting back to getting back to business. We don’t have a date but we have a plan. That was a takeaway. I got from Chuck huckleberries announcement late last week of the back to business task force for the last six weeks or so the debate to temporarily shut down businesses and an act Provisions to keep people in their homes is dominated the headlines and the decision-making the city the county the state the federal government. They’re all trying to figure out what steps do we take during these true? Unprecedented times and while it’s too early to say that these restrictions will be lifted exactly win. It does appear that from a state and local level. We are seeing the framework. Being created by which those decisions will eventually be made. This process is not being dictated by a time table, but rather phased in as health and safety requirements

can be met so certainly expect the execution of this to change as information changes by pulling together medical professionals government entities private business owners and trade groups. Mr. Huckleberry is signaling a light at the end of The tunnel Tucson’s Metro chamber has input on the process and using its connection to hundreds of businesses in the area to provide feedback to the task force and it’s not just about getting back to business quickly, but doing it safely and sustainably as Michael Diamond, the chamber’s vice president said in a recent kold news feature. Quote the last thing we want is for us to open prematurely and then have this thing rear its ugly head again unquote. Thanks for that Mike. Well, our featured guest today is another Mike who also represents hundreds of businesses across the state including many right here in our Urban core. It’s Mike Peel and his staff from local first, Arizona that were supposed to take over Life along the streetcar for one Sunday in

March. Thank you. Remember us promoting that what didn’t happen that whole idea got scrapped because the coronavirus safety protocols mandated social distancing we didn’t even know. A few days before the show that it wasn’t going to happen. It’s around the same time that they were starting to cancel events that were raising eyebrows like Coachella Coachella festival the Austin South by Southwest and here in Tucson. We lost the Tucson Festival of books. Oh how times have changed his like the businesses they represent local first, Arizona had to quickly adapt to this new environment create a path simply. For survival, but keeping their eye on this post pandemic goal-setting as it relates to their organization’s overall mission might join us by phone yesterday that catch us up on what they’ve been doing. I am Mike pihl. I’m the Statewide sustainability director for local first Arizona foundation. And I am also a date of to selling I’ve worked as the Southern Arizona director and still support

the operations of Southern Arizona for local first, Arizona. Yeah. I think you need to add to your title frequent guest of Life along. The streetcar frequent is right. It’s always good to have updates and oh my gosh, we have updates. I was thinking yes, that’s the last time we were supposed to do this. Was in March, I was going to take the day off for the Festival of books because I was doing some stuff with them and local first was going to do a takeover of the show and catch us up on what was happening. And obviously those plans got derailed by this pandemic, right and it’s only been a little over a month, but I don’t think I don’t know if anything you were going to talk about on March 15th is still applicable. We have lots of updates though and a lot of of exciting news to share. Well, let’s start with some of the most recent stuff Earth Day local first that are really nice virtual Earth Day celebration Statewide and featured you as the sustainability director. Can you tell us a little

bit about those those initiatives and the things that you covered during that that live of it? Yes, so we’re so happy with how it went and I wanted to first thank my team for pulling together an Earth Day event in a matter of weeks. Weeks that turned out to be a big success we had over 3,000 views and we set out to have as many as we could but we didn’t quite know what it would be. And so it was definitely something that people I think wanted to to have happen on Earth Day. I think to have something positive to share the event was to share positive stories from our Network for from our network of local businesses. We know there’s a lot out there. That’s that’s really A positive that’s going on even in this crisis businesses are continuing to be sustainable and think through how to be resilient with their business models and continue forward. And so we wanted to share those stories. It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth day and we didn’t want that anniversary to pass Us by was the we also wanted

to preview our programs it was there a specific story that stuck out in your mind about a business and sort of they’re adapting that related Earth Day. Yes, well, there’s so many one just for the Tucson crowd here. That was what Hotel Congress is doing now to be like full-on grocery store for everybody’s needs right now while still being a shining example of how to be sustainable and how they think about what they do with the Agave Festival that I’m sure will be bigger and better than ever when it comes back to everything. They’ve done in the past to be as green as possible with their operations. None of this work has to pause or stop there being resilient and they’re still going to be sustainable. And then if you mentioned there’s some initiatives that are underway from a state level. Can you talk a little bit about what that what that looks like I can and I preview did briefly at the event. And again that was just meant to be about inspiring stories and and the music of Calexico. That

was a great bonus. We were really fortunate to have Joey burns from Calexico. Ago kick us off. So thanks to him for making it such a memorable virtual event. So at the end I previewed the at the programs that were working on right now across the state as a sustainability team and learning as a whole team about how to have any program be about those three stages I mentioned so everything we do will relate back to those stages of triage recovery and resiliency. So with our sustainability grams, we’ve been working for months ahead of where we are now to have these programs ready to go and we’re actually mostly on track to still roll them out on time in a virtual way and that’s really good news to share. It took a while to well. It felt like a while for us. It really hasn’t been like we were just talking about it’s really been just over a month we take in that month which felt like a lot longer to get all of this together and now we’re in a place where the Sir about resiliency and sustainability.

So when I say resiliency, I mean planning for business models to be redefined readapted, whatever it might need to be to be competitive in this new era that we’re into the focus on online operations to be focused on how to maybe redefine the model of the business with employees. It could be employee ownership models. It could be looking at the collaboration that could occur with other businesses to be really competitive around the how to be focused more on local procurement and working together to Have more local products created here in our community. So there’s a strengthening of the model and of the local economy in the process. That’s it’s interesting to see all the adaptations that are happening and the think the the buzzword is Pivot as business. Yes find their way through that. What is your overall sense? Not just in the sustainability from a sustainability standpoint, but just overall if your position with local first, what’s the what’s the mood of the members of local first in

those businesses? I think the mood is of Cautious optimism I think of knowing that there’s a lot of people that want to them to succeed. I think there’s a lot of concern to of course about the immediate that I think that there’s a lot of collaboration going on and I think because we’re in this together to figure it out. I think there’s some cautious optimism that we can find ways out of this together and redefining what it means to be a local business and ideally a stronger on after this is passed. Yeah. That’s the that’s the challenging part. If you can get through this you’ll probably going to end up on the other side stronger because of the lessons we’ve learned it’s just how do we get as many of those businesses to the other side exactly and not to minimize the day-to-day fear and concern which is legitimate, especially given the Challenges in accessing the federal relief funds those our day-to-day real-time challenges and we’re fortunate in this community that there’s so much that

we could rely on it and consume RDR. I’ll mention the community Investment corporation in particular is such a strong example of local options and solutions that are there already regardless of what’s going on at the federal level. We are so fortunate to have After leadership of Danny and his team thinking through creatively new options and more accessible options for loans. And and when I say loans it’s meant to be about working with the business to support them and customize what their needs are. That’s here. And so to me that is is a sign of how strong our community is and how strong communities can be when we work together and Define local options. Well part of the challenge of getting from here to there is as simple as it sounds money, and I know with local first in the foundation you am I correct that you’ve put together a funding platform for for businesses. We have put together a relief fund for local businesses that has been something we’ve put together right away actually to help

with immediate needs for businesses that needed These funds need of these funds to ensure that they can keep food on the table and keep going $2,500 Grant would go a long way and has and so we’ve done that. We’ve added to the Support options available consultations any time of business might need It will do one-on-one consultations to figure out what the needs could be and match them to experts in our Network as needed another options available. We have done webinars and lot around how to navigate all of this because there’s a lot to navigate and it’s happening literally day-to-day here. We’re learning together. And we’re going to learn together about the next phases of local first, Arizona things that are coming up here in just a few minutes after the break. First of all, I want to remind you that you are listening to Life along the streetcar and Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio dot-org. Yeah, we get back to the second part of our interview with Mike

pihl Statewide sustainability director for local first, Arizona native to Sonnen and friend of businesses across our community now the the as the news rolls from that first stimulus that first injection into what was supposed to be for small businesses. It’s clear that it didn’t it didn’t happen as maybe many people thought it would or at least as it was planned to do and they have a second round coming out here soon. Do you have guidance for businesses on how to how to get in in line to receive some of that money that they might have been? Out for during the first round we do we are recommending that they work with the local Community Banks and credit unions and we know from our conversations how quickly that they want to respond. And again it goes back to how much local decision-making matters and how we have people who are in our community who are invested in our community. The one I responded figure out how fast they can create opportunities and solutions. So So we’re recommending to

work with a local bank or credit union if you haven’t for or if you already are involved with one. Start talking to them now because I think it’s going to be as soon as Monday that the next round will be starting. So we’re recommending as soon as possible to have those conversations is every bank and credit union participating in this. I thought there were some that were not or is that just a misunderstanding on my part. There’s a list on our website of the ones that we know of that we’ve identified. Okay, so just go to local first AZ or is it? Yes. Local first day, and we have a whole page of resources available. Actually that we’ve been building up over the last month. Plus we keep it all archived. So there’s a lot there to go through and again, we could not have done this without being a one team. Basically. We’ve been operating as one team on all of this and that’s been a real encouraging sign. But can you dive a little bit deeper into what you mean by one team? I thought local

first was one team always. Oh definitely bet really thinking about it as not about different teams, like sustainability here and Rural here. It’s been one team figuring out. How do we get this information out in real-time to everybody? We know across our teams so really linking efforts. So we’re stronger together starting as really Arizona first he’s out didn’t thinking about it. And if you could also just to catch people up. I know you were the you are the have been the Southern Arizona director and you’re still involved here in Southern Arizona years. And as we mentioned your the Statewide sustainability director Keith hustle about the state leadership because it’s not new but there has been some changes in the last couple of years and might be good to refresh people with who’s doing what at the state level. Yes. So Kimber Lanning is the chief executive director of the local. Arizona foundation and Thomas bar is the executive director of local first, Arizona our membership organization

rc6. So we’re a C3 and a C6 Kimber Lanning is the founder and is now leading the nonprofit side of the operations. So local first, Arizona came out of Kimber Landings Record Shop up in the Phoenix area. Correct. That was where this sort of all started. Yes. She’s a very successful business owner in Phoenix. And she has its own stinkweeds records for over 30 years and modified Arts. For 30 years. Yeah. Wow. I didn’t know that and then Thomas bars going with the association for with the the group there for a while as well. And he seems I saw his portion of the the livestream thought he did a great job of instilling confidence sharing the vision and recognizing the need without you know, it wasn’t dismissive of the concerns on the ground but talked about a higher level. I think you’re approaching that today with this. With this interview that the pain is real but it’s a piece of who we are and where we’re going to be and we can’t focus on the pain. We have to focus on the entire picture exactly

and we have to think through it from again those three stages and not every business is going to be in the same stage. We’re going to meet them where they’re at. Yeah, that’s I think that’s the key that a lot of businesses are missing. I’ve talked to several smaller business owners and their They’re lost. They don’t quite know what the options are how to access the options and because they’re spending every waking hour. Just trying to keep their business alive. They don’t have the resources to go out and and track down what’s available to them like a maybe a midsize or a larger company could and I think that just creates so much fear and anxiety and and I’m glad to see local first addressing that and providing those resources. Are you resources available to Any business owner do they have to be a member of local first or how’s that working on a great question and that goes back to my comment about being one team about this. This is meant to be for anybody who needs it. So we’re not about

this is just for local first members or disinformation is Phoenix related or Tucson related. This information just has to get out there. And so we are doing something different where we are securing sponsorships for businesses to just be part of the network. So if a business can’t afford membership we are going To get them in as a member regardless and we’re finding other ways to support them so they can come to us and there’s a form very simple form to fill out and we’ll get them in as a member for a year. No charge to them and are you finding more more or less more or less collaboration with other Chambers of Commerce or are you finding that people are coming becoming sort of siloed? It just sort of focusing on what’s right in front of them and just their immediate their immediate members and those that are coming to them for help. In Tucson, right? Well, I’ll speak the Tucson because I think it depends on the community. I know best about Tucson. I know that the city has compiled all

the resources into one place through their Economic Development website Connect Tucson. So I think that shows when at siloing anything which is really good and I think the same holds across the state. I know Arizona Commerce Authority is working to put all these resources into one place as well. So I think across the board everybody wants to get those Resources by entity in organization in one place so it’s not not missed. So nothing’s missed. You know, yeah and just to tie that that was sort of a leading question because I wanted to give a shout out to local first and Tucson Metro chamber as you know, and I’ve talked about this on the show last week. I’m involved with the Tucson helping to Saint movement, which is Multifaceted but at the end the end goal for it is a relief fund for for the small business community and the community Investment corporation because of the adaptability and flexibility. You mentioned earlier was selected as the the organization. We wanted to raise funds for

yeah, but as fundraisers and people that are in the community and so on need and saw pain and wanted to help we started raising money, but we didn’t know how to allocate that appropriately and the community Investment corporation asked us. You know, what are your thoughts on this and we deferred and we said why don’t you talk to local first in the Metro chamber and I think you’ve been involved with those conversations. I know Amber from the Metro chamber has been involved and I believe what came out of that was hundreds. If not thousands of business perspectives got funneled through to the community Investment corporation who then could establish the funds in the methods that they that they can help businesses based upon. On real-time input from two of the largest organizations supporting businesses in Southern Arizona, and I think that’s just a great collaboration. It’s not always that you see the local first Mantra with the large National or the larger National chamber that takes in the

larger National organizations, but I really appreciated that that camaraderie and everyone just sort of check their agenda at the door and said what’s best for Tucson and I got Got to witness that as a spectator for Tucson helping Tucson and just want to thank you and the team at local first for for just stepping forward and providing that support and that Insight. Well, we’re glad to and it goes back to my Mantra one team who it’s not just about looking first being one team and everybody focused on the same goal. It should be everybody’s focused on the same goal and objectives here. We need to support our local businesses and nonprofits to get through this and be there on the other side. We need to identify the essential worker needs and meet those any way we can I think there’s so much mobilization that’s going to have to continue to be done around the food banks needs and there’s a lot out there that word. I think we’re just getting started with so we have to work together. It’s no other

way. Mr. Mike pihl Statewide sustainability director local first, Arizona of to Sonnen heavily involved heavily respected in our small. This community. You’re welcome back anytime. You’ve got updates. Just give me a holler. We’d love to keep sharing the good work that you and many in our community are doing so thank you. Appreciate it, Tom. Thanks for what you’re doing. That was Mike pihl director of sustainability for local first, Arizona. Tomorrow is Monday the 27th, which is a big day for me because it’s the day that Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria opens back up for service, and I’m excited about that. One of my favorite pizza joints here in Tucson. So I’ll be probably heading out there this week Monday seems to be a good day and in honor of Joey burns from Calexico Mike pihl said kicked off their Earth Day event on their Facebook live stream. We thought we would find a Monday song to leave you with today. So we’re going to play Calexico goes maybe Monday. On the way out of here. Well,

my name is Tom Heath. You have been listening to Life along the streetcar 99.1 FM. We stream it on Downtown Radio dot org, and you can find us on your iPhone or Android with our Downtown Radio app. Thanks for listening. I hope you tune in next Sunday and to learn a little bit more about what is happening and Tucson’s Urban core. Have a great week. Look up on Monday and wrote you a love song route, you know

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