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

On this week’s show, we’re going to speak with Jessica Barfield. She’s recently been hired as the Director of Tucson Business Development for Local First Arizona. They’ve had lots of developments so we’re going to catch up with her about how she came to the role and what Local First has been up to.

Today is December 18th, 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. Reach us by email [email protected] — interact with us on Facebook at LifeAlongTheStreetcar and follow us on Twitter @StreetcarLife

Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with music from Everything But The Girl, “The 25th December.”

Transcript (Unedited)

Good morning. It’s beautiful Sunday in the old pueblo and you’re listening to KT. DT, Tucson. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson community sponsored rock and roll radio station.

On this week’s show, we’re going to speak with Jessica Barfield. She’s recently been hired as the Director of Tucson Business Development for Local First Arizona. They’ve had lots of developments so we’re going to catch up with her about how she came to the role and what Local First has been up to.

Today is December 18, 2022. 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 May Mountain to the University of Arizona and all stops in between. You get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on Also available on your iPhone or Android by getting our Downtown Radio Tucson

app. If you want to get us on the show, [email protected] social MediaWise. Facebook and Instagram are the best and we have our podcast out there. Lots of places and more information on our show. Our book and past episodes can be found on Life Along the Well, it is the middle of December, but the next two weeks are major holidays and I’m probably not gonna have a show. So this is my wrap up show for 2022 and it has been an interesting and another fun year and filled with all kinds of great talented people in Tucson sharing their stories. One thing coming up though, in just a couple of weeks, the Arizona Bowl, the Barstools Arizona Bowl kicks off once again. Been happening since 2015. And it’s an organization I like because the profits from this ball game end up going back to nonprofits here in Tucson and supporting our community. So it’s not just a chance for us to showcase Tucson, it’s also a chance to help build on that sense of community. So we’re welcoming

the Wyoming Cowboys and the Ohio Bobcats to lovely Tucson. The game this year is going to be on the 30th. In the past it’s been on the 31st, but this year 12 30 22 with a 230 kickoff time. More information at their website. The hopefully have some another beautiful weather for our Wyoming and Ohio fans coming out. Well, it’s been a while since we’ve had an update from Local First Arizona, and part of that was because the director that we had been chatting with moved on to a different position. But that position has now been filled and filled with a very talented and dynamic leader. Her name is Jessica Barfield and she comes to us via some economic development in New Mexico. But we haven’t had too many updates. Although Local First has been doing many things behind the scenes to strengthen our small business community, so we had a phone call, jessica, a couple of days ago to find out about her, how she came to the role and what’s been happening with local first. Jessica barfield,

the new director of tucson business development for local first. Jessica, we’ve had many updates on local first, but it’s been a while. So how are you? What’s going on, and how long you been in the role? And are you loving it?

Yeah. Thank you so much, tom, for having me. I really do appreciate you. I am absolutely loving the work that I am doing at local first arizona. I’ve had the privilege of being with the organization now for about four months, kind of getting to know people in the community and seeing some of the support being provided through our organization and those that we have the privilege of collaborating with across the state.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been four months. You’ve been all over the place.

You know what? I was really lucky. Local first arizona has actually been rooted here for 20 years. We’ll be celebrating 20 years in 2023. We have an organization that has some really strong programs and resources, and so it’s very easy for me to tap into what our organization has and start getting out into the community. It’s been really great.

Well, we got to find out a little bit about you. You have a very interesting background. I think you are like an entrepreneur at heart. You tend to get these businesses going, so it’s probably a good fit for logo first. But tell us about your background, kind of what you were doing before and how you ended up here in this role.

Yeah, absolutely. So we’ll kind of start let’s see. Let’s start. When I came to tucson the first time, straight out of high school, I joke I was here in my early 20s doing radio, and in 2009, when the recession hit, I realized radio wasn’t going to be my forever career, and I stayed in tucson and lived here. I met my husband here, and I worked in education and kind of grew my career there. Well, over the years, we traveled a bit because of my corporate career. I did work in education compliance, and I grew up in new mexico. And as my parents got a little older, we felt the need to move home. And so I had lived in new mexico over the last eight years, and during that time, I opened a coffee shop and restaurant with my sister, and it turned into a really great way to talk to community members that wanted to start their own business. And before you knew it, fast forward three years later, and I was the economic development director for the city, working with businesses on growing ideas and

connecting them to resources, I kind of found a love for development. So we made the move back to tucson two years ago, and I was still working remotely, working in development from afar. And I really felt the need to get involved in the community where we’re living. I met my husband here, this is where we call home. And whenever I learned about Local First, I was really excited to hear about their mission and find out they were looking for a director, was able to connect with the leadership here and find out more about what they were doing. I really felt like this was a great place for me to put my energy and kind of plug back into the Tucson community.

I’m just going back to your coffee shop and thinking all these people coming in with they’re getting like a cup of coffee and all these business questions, you’re like, man, what is going on? I’m really busy with entrepreneurs and hopefully I left you good tips for all the tips you probably gave them.

Yeah, we opened a coffee shop in a small rural town of around 6000 people. And you can imagine how hard it is to make a business with 6000 people. But it was on the interstate and our locals became very they came in every day. You kind of start getting the sense of community and people started asking questions. How did you start your business? What can I do? Why is it so hard to do XYZ? And we really found that even though this town was rural, there was a lot of great people with great ideas. They just needed the resources to accomplish what they were wanting to do. And so that’s really what I love doing, is connecting people to make a greater impact. And so working with Local First is a great place for me to do that.

Anybody that’s listening wants to know more about Local First, we’ve done multiple interviews. You can head over to our website, but search for Local First and you’ll find about the history. It’s really an amazing organization that’s got deep roots and I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on that because we have covered it. I kind of want to talk about the last year or so coming out of COVID The things that the organization has done are just some staggering numbers that Local First has put together across the state and even here in Pima County.

One of the biggest accomplishments that have happened over the last 18 months was the creation of the Arizona Economic Recovery Council. Basically, that is kind of a wing of Local First that was created because we saw the response coming out in PPP loans. We saw that whenever it comes to the amounts of money coming into the state to assist our businesses, we weren’t doing so good, we weren’t competitive, we weren’t bringing in numbers. If you go back and you look at the first round of PPP loans and the amount of money that was distributed throughout the United States, the state of Arizona was 50 out of 50. We came in dead last.

And we’re talking about the money that was designated for small businesses to overcome some of the challenges with code. It’s like a COVID relief fund.

Absolutely. So we’re talking about the funds that came from the government through to help subsidize labor costs. And some of those SBA loans that came out of covered Response, which meant our businesses weren’t utilizing the resources and maybe just couldn’t access them. And so our founder, Kimber Lanning got to work and started trying to figure out what that gap was. And the Arizona Recovery Council now basically is a full time set of employees we have at Local First, working to write grants on behalf of civic organizations and not for profits throughout the state. We’re making sure we’re collaborative. We’re helping communities and organizations become more competitive through utilizing resources that we have in our community and bringing people together over a shared vision. Not just our organization, but others around the state got busy helping local businesses start banking locally, going to say, our credit unions that were doing a really great job of helping their members get access

to these federal loans and programs that were available. And then we started fundraising and working with counties and cities across the state to help make sure when they were bringing in federal and state funds, they were being allocated to businesses fairly and equally. So what does that process look like? And at the beginning of 2020, I believe it was, we had distributed around $10 million in funds. And the state recognized the work that we were doing, helps us work with different counties throughout the region. And before we knew it, we’ve brought in over $50 million of COVID response funds for small businesses throughout Arizona. And it’s been really great to see people rally around the Recovery Council that we’ve created because we’re building capacity across both organizations and some of our rural communities who had needs that they just weren’t able to write the grants for. Or perhaps they needed a not for profit partner to really be able to be eligible for those funds. It required

a lot of communication and a lot of outreach in order to make that happen and really getting into these communities and looking at the needs that they had and how we could support them. And so, for instance, we helped the Sunshine Mile Merchant Association here in Tucson and we wrote a collaborative grant that will allow them to do some really neat historic murals along the Sunshine Mile Quarter.

You have to have someone that really cares about that to drive that, take that extra effort to go to places where it’s not being utilized. And I think that’s what I was so impressed with, with Local First. It wasn’t just like, hey, we’re getting the money out, but it was, where are we getting that money? Have we hit everybody? And I understand there was like, door knocking happening in some of these communities because you hadn’t reached them yet. You’re like this goal. We’re going to hit every necessary space in the state.

This was kind of before my time with the organization, so I hear these stories, but I’ve heard Kimber, who is our founder, talking about calling businesses in some of our rural locations and talking to some of these very small businesses within our tribal communities and saying, what do you need and how can we help you? Did you know this was available and actually being able to provide some of those services? Sometimes it’s easy to say come and apply for XYZ, the money is running out, but some of those people don’t know where to start. And so there really was a huge effort. They had a big whiteboard up with all of the counties and the amount of money that we’ve been able to bring in and where we were lacking to make sure that we kept that front of mind with our outreach and that we were able to reach out to some of those marginalized communities that may not have been receiving assistance and do so.

We’ll be back to the second half of our interview with Jessica Barfield. She is the recently hired within the last four months director of Tucson Business Operations for local First Arizona. First, I want to remind you that you are listening to Life along the Streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown

Greetings and salutations, downtown Radio listeners. Paleo Dave, your unfrozen caveman DJ, here to spread the good word about the Scrambled Sunrise rock mix happening every weekday morning from seven to 09:00 A.m. Right here on Downtown Radio from the earliest days of Psych punk and new wave to 80s college rock, 90s alternative and the ongoing wave of 21st century indie rock. It’s all right here on the Scrambled Sunrise. So tune in via 99.1 FM if you’re in the greater downtown area or streaming worldwide via Downtown Radio.

Before the break, we got a sense of kind of the things happening during COVID with local first and their support of small businesses around the state. Now we want to find out more about Jessica’s four month tenure, things that have been happening since she took over and kind of where she sees things going here in the near future. Let’s talk about your time. So you’ve been here four months. What are some of the things that we’ve seen in the last four months and what are we going to see in the next four months?

Absolutely. So I’ve really spent some time getting to know our partners in the community and learning about what’s happening in Tucson, because there are some really great resources here, and I want to make sure as an organization, we’re elevating all of the opportunities for local businesses, but we’re also helping to figure out what we can add in terms of services to assist. So I’ve developed a couple of different relationships. One of which I’d love to share is we’ve been working with the hospitality wing of Pima Community College and I’m not sure how many people are aware of the really large funding that they were able to receive. They’re building out their hospitality and leadership program. They’re going to have four huge commercial kitchens. And we’ve been talking with the college and saying, hey, what’s the local component? Where are you sourcing your food? How can we help connect you to local businesses so that as you continue to grow your food and entrepreneurship programs here,

they’re locally rooted and your students are already in front of some of these local companies where they may want to work. So there’s some really fun collaborations going on in the educational side of things there at Pima Community College.

This sort of collaboration, because I know you’re working with Startup Tucson and for all these different organizations that are out trying to help entrepreneurs in their own way. And there seems to be a lot of overlap and interest, but it seemed like the skill sets are being collaborated on. So you’re not stepping on someone’s toes and they’re not stepping on your toes. They’re doing what they do well. You do what you do well and then you just work together.

Absolutely. And that’s a really great point. So Joel, who happens to be the director of programs for Pima Community College, sits on the Tucson City of Gastronomy board. So do I. And so we get to talk a little bit about what the City of Gastronomy is doing. And we’re also talking about the skill sets that’s being taught over at Pima Community College. Liz Pilcock from Startup Tucson is sitting on that board of directors, so she gets to talk about the Recipe for Success program that they’re doing here downtown. And we’re really able to collaborate and say, where do all of these really great programs meet and how can we make them even better?

Well, just in the four months you’ve been here, like I said, I’ve seen you in so many different places and having announcements about all these different programs. Where can people get information about local? First? Your website? Is there a Tucson chapter? How does this all shake out so people can find out?

Absolutely. You can definitely go online to and if you go there, you can go to the event calendar sign up and that’s going to let you know about everything that’s happening in the area as well as what we’re doing here in Tucson. We have monthly mixers the first Wednesday of every month. You can find us at a different member, whether that be a restaurant, bar, or perhaps even an office with an event space that wants to host us. We get local business members, leaders, business owners together, and we really talk about the power of building a local economy. And that’s really what sets us apart, I think, from a lot of different organizations, is our focus on making sure that we keep that dollar in our economy as long as we can and we’re creating jobs. So I know you’ve heard it a lot, Tom, but it’s important to remember that we know from a number of national studies that if you go and spend money at, say, a big box retailer, only $13 of that remains in our economy. That tends

to be the money they’re paying their employees, maybe the utilities. But if you spend it with a local business that’s based here in Arizona, $43 remain. Because if we’re spending it here with the local business, they’re spending their money with local accountants and local web designers, they’re marketing locally, and those dollars remain in our ecosystem. And so that’s that’s one of the things that we’re really rooted in. And we help our members find other members that are doing great things, whether it be wholesale opportunities or just the ability to even source office products locally. We kind of help people really think about how they’re investing in their community and where they’re spending their money.

Certainly a lot of intentionality about all of this. Jessica, I will tell you that the local first model, what we found over the years is there’s just so many facets and you’ve got your, your staff working on things all across the state that are economic, that are health related, and they are food related, safety related. There’s all different facets. So what I’m hoping is, as we had kind of precovid, maybe we can get you on every five, six, seven weeks or so and just kind of give us an update because there’s so much just happening and so quickly, it’s hard to COVID it in a one segment show.

You’re right. I think we’re just getting started with what really 2023 is going to look like. We’re building these partnerships. And I would love to come back on in a few months after we’ve had some time to see some of these partnerships in action. One thing I did want to mention as well is you can go to the website, you can come to our mixers and take a look at some of the different educational opportunities we have. But we are also part of Forge, and I just wanted to kind of do a shout out because every Thursday you can come down to the University of Arizona. It’s called Forge at Roy Place, and it’s open to the community, it’s open to entrepreneurs, any business owner, anyone really that’s curious about the resources available locally. Local first and a number of other organizations have been compiled by Brian and the team down at Forge to say, hey, we’re going to open our doors and you can come work here for free. Come work in our coworking space on Thursday. Be around community partners,

ask questions, get help. And so that’s another place. If you are curious about what we do at Local First on Thursdays. Really between ten and two, you’re able to come down to Forge and meet with a ton of community partners and learn about kind of the resources we have and the outlook here in Tucson.

And if you’re not familiar, Forge is downtown at Stone in Pennington. When you’re over on our website, you can search them because we’ve covered their success story on the show as well.


Jessica, director of Tucson Business Development. That seems like a very broad title, and it seems like you’re living up to it with all of your connections and community organizations that you’re supporting here. I appreciate your time and I look forward to early in the first quarter of 2023, seeing where we’re going.

Yeah, thank you so much for having me on. Tom and I look forward to talking a little bit about more about the action we’re taking the next time we talk in 2023. Thank you.

That was Jessica Barfield, director of Tucson business development for local First Arizona. And as we have found over the years, we’ve probably had an update from Local First every three to four months because there’s so many different programs and advocacy efforts that are underway can’t cover them all in one show. My name is Tom Heath. You are listening to Life along the streetcar on downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on

You’re listening to Ktdt, Tucson, Arizona, 99.1 FM, downtown radio. I’m Brother Mark, host of a show called Radio Club Crawl that airs every Tuesday at 03:00 P.m.. We try to focus on most of the bands that are coming through Tucson, and we give you a tasty taste of their music. If you want to check out what’s happening around Tucson, check out Radio Club Crawl Tuesdays, 03:00 P.m., right here on Ktdt, Tucson, Arizona, 99.1 FM, downtown radio.

Thank you very much. Enjoy your evening. Bye bye.

That is episode number 230 coming to a close here for us, which is also bringing 2022 to a close next week being the 25 December and the following week being the first of the new year. We will not have any shows. Just going to have some music playing through. So I want to thank everyone that took some time to be with us this year. 52 weeks probably put on about 48, 49 new episodes. It means new interviews with people who spend time to share their stories with us. And it means a lot to me. We had stories from business, we had stories from arts, culture, economic development, philanthropy, all kinds of topics. And you can listen to them all on our website, And once again, as we have been on the air now for over five years, I want to give a huge thank you to our host, downtown Radio Tucson 99.1 FM. Please check out our website there It’s just amazing to me that this comes together every day by so many dedicated volunteers, people putting together

shows, our board members, those fixing equipment and making sure the station runs as smoothly as it does all through volunteer efforts. So as you’re wrapping up your year and thinking about what you want to give as gifts, maybe think about giving us on downtown radio a gift by a one time or an ongoing donation through our website. We’re going to leave the show today with some appropriate music. It’s a group called Everything but the Girl found the song from 1994. It’s called the 25th December. Kind of a mellow way to to wrap things up. If you have a topic you’d like us to share, hit us up, email, find us on social media, Facebook or Instagram. It’s a great way to to tag us and stay on top of the things we’re covering. But it’s been a wonderful 2022. I look forward to 2023. I hope you will have a fantastic yearend and tune in in January for more life along the streetcar.