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This week we speak with Michael Guymon, VP of the Tucson Metro Chamber, about Pima County’s new Back to Business Task Force

Today is May 3rd, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.

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Walk Then Run for Tucson Economy

Michael Guymon, VP of The Tucson Metro Chamber joins us to talk about the work the Chamber is doing to help local businesses and the role they play with Pima County’s Back to Business Task Force.

Transcript

The Best Laid Plans

Good morning. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo. You’re listening to Katy DT Tucson and thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll radio station. This week we speak with Michael Guymon vice president of the Tucson Metro chamber about his role with Pima County’s new back to business task force. Today is May 3rd. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to Life along the streetcar each and every Sunday. Our focus is on social cultural and economic impacts and 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 FM streaming on Downtown Radio dot org and available on your iPhone or Android by using our very own down town radio Tucson app, which you can get from their respective app stores. If you wanna get us on the show, our email address is contact at Life along the Ricardo org you

can find us on Facebook and Twitter and please head over to our website and check out all of our past episodes on Life along the streetcar dot-org. We’re going to start today with a little bit of resiliency. The mayor announced last week that resiliency fund. This is 1 million dollars for local Tucson businesses with 50 or fewer employees that can get loans to help them get through this economic down turn and all of the challenges related to this covid-19. Pandemic, let’s call the resiliency fun. And it’s not unique to Tucson all the communities around the around the country are gathering together. But this is a directive from the mayor’s office. It’s part of her. We are one somos Uno resiliency fund its with the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, and these funds will provide immediate and long-term support for the community. You can find out more on their website. And we’ll we’ll give you a link to that on our Facebook page right after the show, but it’s called the resiliency fund

check it out. Well, our featured guest today is Michael Guymon. He is the vice president of the Tucson Metro chamber. Their footprint is larger than just the City of Tucson. It covers the region pretty much the county. I think it was would be a fair assessment. Although they do have I think businesses from outside of that that our members they’ve been very active since the pandemic has put businesses into a tailspin and wanted to reach out to talk about their efforts but really wanted to focus on the role they’re playing with Pima County’s new back to business task force we spoke about this briefly last week Chuck Huckleberry put together a task force with government officials Healthcare officials private sector public sector all these folks coming together and creating subcommittees to look at how do we go about getting back to business there are no dates there are no timelines and we’re just starting NG to see the the creation of the process well Michael Guymon sits on that task force

and has been involved since day one they wanted to get his input from that so here’s my interview with him from a Friday this is Michael Guymon with the Tucson Metro chamber thank you very much Tom Michael Guymon vice president of the Tucson Metro chamber happy to be here well Michael before we get into today’s topic which is really kind of how two sons in Pima County’s going to get back to business You tell me a little about yourself. You’ve had an interesting career in Tucson that led you to your current role with the chamber. Sure. I’d be happy to Tom. I’m a native to Sonnen. I was born at UMC and went to grade school high school graduated from the U of A political science. I was one of the few that actually used his political science degree. So I’m very happy and proud of that. I’m kind of doing a 360 here was their local lobbyists back in the day 23 years ago. I think now and today I’m back at the chamber’s their vice president and in the in between all of that. I was Chief of Staff

to a Tucson city council member City councilmember Fred Ronstadt for the eight years. He was in office. I was the executive director of the Metropolitan Pima Alliance for three years and then worked for sun Corridor ink Our Economic Development Organization for seven and a half years, which gave me a lot of really interesting experience in why companies choose to Saint things that we have to do as a community to maintain and bolster our competitiveness. So that was very fascinating experience learned a lot because it was somewhat of a deviation from all of the politics that I had been involved in but now I’m back in the chamber have been there for almost two years now and very excited to work with Amber and the team to to help grow and expand our business Community. Well, I knew it was going to be a long intro because I know you and I know your history, but I thought it was really important to put that on the on the table so that we get a sense of the type of expertise that is working through

some of the challenges were seeing here in the area regarding Economic Development and sustainable economic. Practices so just overall maybe from the beginning of March till today, which is May 1st. And this is going to air on Sunday the third to clearly Tucson has undergone a significant change what I use to Saint. I mean the metropolitan area. I know your your members don’t just exist within the city limits your all over the region, but we aren’t we’ve seen a significant change kind of if you could briefly kind of talk about the chambers. Different efforts under way and kind of how they’ve been pulling together to help members and non-members alike. Sure. Well, it has been a challenge, you know, and the we’re not to Unique from other communities every community in the country is going through very similar challenges than compared to what we’re going through. What I would say though is that we as a chamber reacted almost immediately. Once we were getting indications that whether it was

locally or Statewide we were going to see some of these shutdowns of non-essential Services. We reached out to all 1,500 members. We did this Believe It or Not by calling all 1,500 members. We didn’t think that the email was enough. Obviously there were some that we weren’t able to get ahold of so we emailed them, but we were able to get in touch by a phone to almost all 1,500 members and really have a conversation with them about what what they were going through. I have the dubious honor of talking to all of our hotel members and the you know, this is March. This is one of the best months for hotels in Tucson and they were seeing 98% occupancies go immediately down to 22% occupancies and some hotels, you know, losing business that they had scheduled through the remainder of 2020 so lots of challenges Is out their hospitality and restaurants were immediately hit the hardest. So we we started Gathering the information. We wanted to make sure that not only are our members but the business

community at large understood the programs the state and federal programs that were being unveiled. Obviously a lot of that was in the form of the cares act. We wanted to make sure that in really scream from the rooftops that these programs are available. And we started we immediately set up daily webinars our knowledge at noon series and we front-loaded that with individuals who can talk directly to businesses about the programs that exist out there so that we can get those businesses enrolled in those programs whether it’s loan programs or the PVP program. We wanted to make sure that we got the information in their hands and the right steps to do that the individual who’s been a big help in all this. Has been our board chair to Med cough. I don’t want to say it’s serendipitous because I would never want an event like this ever to happen again, but our board chair being a an employer attorney has been extremely helpful because he has been able to spend a lot of his time helping us get

the right information into into all these companies hands so that they’re making the right decision for their for the Future of their business and at what point did you guys start working remotely? I mean, how long have you been doing this from the comfort of your own homes? So so we started working remotely on St. Patrick’s Day. So it’s been almost six weeks now that we the chamber staff have been working remotely. We want to you know abide by all the guidelines and set an example and try to figure out ways in which we can from a remote perspective. Assist all of the companies and the other interesting thing to Tom is that you know, we do talk a lot about our members supporting our members. We obviously, you know, it’s our goal to have all the businesses throughout the region become members of the chamber, but we don’t want to pick and choose and we have been getting calls from businesses that are not members, but they know the resources that the chamber has and so even though there Not

members, they have called us and leaned on to on us for that support and we have been giving it to them. We want to make sure that like I was saying earlier all of this is in the community are treated well and get the help that they need and I think I like the idea of leading by example. If you’re trying to help businesses navigate this it’s I think it’s important those with the giving the guidance of figured out how to do it themselves and you guys have done a really good job with that. No, across-the-board your staff has been involved in a tremendous amount of efforts that are underway conversations with those raising money conversations with those Distributing the money conversations with those trying to manage how that money is coming in from a state or federal level. It’s been impressive to watch from a from an outside perspective and knowing how how invested someone like yourself is in Tucson. I think is important to understand this isn’t just about doing your job at I get the sense.

This is something that means a lot more to you and to the staff. Hi. Yeah, I appreciate that Tom. And and yes, I like I said, I was born here. I plan on spending the rest of my life here. So it’s my community. I want to make sure that that we are doing the things that lead to bigger and better and greater economic Vitality will be back to the second half of our interview with Michael geyman and just a moment we Remind you though that you are listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio dot-org. We’re back now with our interview Michael Guymon from two sons Metro chamber joined us on Friday talk about the back to business task force with Pima County and the challenge isn’t just the the health. I mean, obviously the pandemic is creating a tremendous amount of strain on the economy across the globe. But you also have Regional concerns with how do you how do you unwind this stay-at-home process? The world is working throughout

the United States is working through it. Arizona’s working through it. The region is working through Tucson is working through it. And we all have different levels of issues that we have to address. So from a Chambers perspective. I understand you just got involved with directly with the county and Chuck huckleberries effort to create a back to work task force, or is it back to business task force? Back to business. Yes. In fact Amber Smith has been asked our president. CEO has been asked and she’s already started to lead the committee that relates to employers and employees kind of break break in this the brother burp this this back to business task force into four major areas, you know health and safety things that relate to the County’s employees and the way that conduct conduct conduct business moving forward employers and employees which I mentioned the relates to the what Amber is heading up and then restaurants they wanted to do something specific with restaurants because like I

was saying earlier those have been the most hardest hit businesses and we want to make sure that we’re doing the right things for the restaurant industry to to make sure that people are feel safe and secure going back to restaurants & dining restaurant. So so, you know, we’re helping to lead these efforts. It’s a great relationship because we can bring the business perspective and what we immediately did was we reached out to the different sectors. So like industrial commercial retail office restaurant Jim’s we’re trying to collect information from them as to what they can do in their place of business. To ensure that things are clean that things are safe so that we can we can then take over the county and it’s working directly with Pima County public health staff who from their side, you know, they want to make sure that that we are doing things effectively so that this doesn’t rear its ugly head again because the last thing we need is for shutdown orders to happen again, because that

would be just devastating to the business community. Yeah, so you’ve got this interesting mix of professionals politicians and public health officials that are trying to coordinate one common goal, but they each have their own priorities in that that’s got to be somewhat challenging to get those in alignment. Do you oh, do you see another question do you see from the obviously the county can’t do anything until the state provides some guidance as there. Is there a good communication chain between the state and the county at this point? I think so, you know, that’s that’s something that we’re obviously pushing for because the last thing we need is for the jurisdictions to take this on themselves. All of a sudden we hear we’re hearing stories about you know, some mayors of Phoenix wanting to you know, keep non-essential Services closed until September. I mean, so it would be I think would be extremely detrimental if we had jurisdiction start to act on their own and not collaborate with each

other. And so so yes, we are pushing for that. We do want to work with the county. We want to provide guidelines. We want to work directly with their health staff because they are the owners of the data that is coming in and that’s a very important to be able to make data-based decisions. But you know, we’re also relying on the on working with our partners in Maricopa County in other parts of the state so that Statewide we are making all these decisions together and we’re comfortable with these decisions being made. Have you gotten to the point where you’re discussing anything you can share as far as time. Whines what what maybe not dates but what happens first? Who is that first group that once were able to open up? What do you think that first group is they can start to see some a little bit closer to normal business activity. I think Tom it’s probably going to be initially retail establishments. I know that they’re trying to be a little bit cause a little bit more cautious with restaurants,

which I believe is why May 12th is being talked about because there are a lot of discussions with the Arizona Restaurant Association as I mentioned locally. We have our own we stood up our own restaurant advisory Council within the chamber and we have a lot of restaurants that are a part of that conversation which will feed into the Hens had that will be had during this these back to business task force meetings. So but I do think that you know, probably office a little bit of retail those will be some of the first then it will get into the restaurants. Potentially then you know Jim’s and other spaces like that what has been a real challenge in all these discussions are bars. There’s really happy there. It really has been no indication as to a date certain that bars would be able to open and that’s just because of the nature of the bar business. I mean, it’s it’s a group of people crowded into one space. Sometimes extremely crowded into one space and you know, even if even if we put all

of the health

You know guidelines on the cleanliness orders and all that in place. We as human beings may still say well, yeah, they’re doing that but I still don’t I’m still not there yet. Right. So it’s behoove us to really work on that and to ensure that these businesses are going to be safe to go into it now and I think you might have the opposite effect with some people as well there be so anxious to get back out there going to ignore. The the guidelines because they’re just wanting to get back out and back to a normal life and I it’s a very delicate balance. I think from an enforcement staff status. You don’t want to penalize someone for having a good time. But you also can’t can’t allow people to really create what you said earlier, which is a second way that could be devastating. Is there any sense of how that enforcement will look are we going to see Health officials and these bars and restaurants or Or is it going to be self-reporting or is that as I’ve been talked about? That’s because that’s

going to be part of these next wave of discussions because we do really need these the business has to be on board. We need the citizenry to be on board. We need the health officials to be on board. We really need this is really the time for a cohesiveness because like you said the the other aspect of human nature might be to just say okay. Everything’s fine. Let’s just go back to normal. And by doing that we may really hurt ourselves in the end by the virus spreading again. And then like I was saying earlier would be the disastrous effect of having to close down again. So so, you know, this is this is really a time for we talked a lot about how we’re going to get through this and we’re going to get through this together. Well that together part means that we all need to be on board. We all need to to be cohesive as a society and really Embrace that together aspect of it. Well, Michael Guymon vice president Tucson Metro chamber a native to Sonnen a wide variety of activities from a political

and social standpoint that have all sort of culminated in this position to help lead our community forward. I appreciate your time and look forward to seeing all the great things that come out of Chamber and the next couple of years. Thanks so much Tom Michael Guymon with the Metro chamber there. Thanks for his time on Friday will link to their website from our Facebook page also will get you those connections for something. He mentioned during the interview called the knowledge at noon. It’s a daily series with speakers from all over the community talking about different aspects of our economy or health With our well-being it’s been pretty well done. I’ve listened to a Vince been a fly on the wall for a couple of them and recommend if you have time you you check it out. It’s anywhere from I think 30 to 45 sometimes an hour long. Just when they’re out of a topic. They’re they’re done. So it’s not not always an hour. My name is Tom Heath. You are listening to Life along the streetcar on

Downtown Radio, 99.1 FM and streaming on. In town radio dot-org remember you can head over to our website Life along the streetcar dot-org catch all of our past hundred and 30 episodes. This is episode number 131. It will be up there later on this week. Usually get them up by Monday sometimes Tuesday when you’re there you’ll see in most cases. We’ve got the full show start to finish and we have the carved out interview with just our featured guest. Okay, so that is the information. Mation you are seeking most. There is no doubt about it things are different in our community. This show is built on social cultural and economic events happening in the urban core and I got to tell you A lot of those things aren’t happening. Normally. We’re in a very busy time of the year for different types of events. Lots to cover lots of exciting things to share with you hidden gems to uncover not so much these days. So we are talking a lot about the business side of things the economic side of things if

you’ve got something that’s cultural or social that we Be sharing things that are happening maybe a way a museum or a group has changed their operational habits to adapt to this pandemic. Let us know reach us here on the show. Tell us what’s going on. Let’s let’s get back to those listeners suggested shows. Those have been some of our best. We’ve kind of taken it upon ourselves to create the topics, but we want to hear from you as a reminder you can get us on our Email probably easiest way contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org and those of you that hit us up usually do so on Facebook. So you find this their life along the streetcar. Well episode number 131 is in the books Michael Guymon was our guest today. He is a native Tucson and we talked a lot about his professional pedigree, but didn’t get a chance to talk about his passion, which is baseball. He’s been a scorekeeper for the U of A who score keeper for the Tucson Padres when they were here this man loves Him some baseball he’s

sad because we have no baseball right now and he’s watching closely and hopes. Maybe we can lure some of these teams to Arizona for their end-of-season efforts that they’re they’re talking about. So I picked a little song today. Thought we would leave you with some music from a saint diamond is a song of his called love love love my baseball. My name is Tom Heath you been listening to Life along the Streetcar and please tune in next Sunday at 11 a.m. For more news from Tucson’s Urban core.

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