Tom Heath: Good morning Tucson. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo. Thank you for spending part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored Rock n Roll radio station.
Tom Heath: This week, we have Mike Peel live in our studio. He’s a man of many local interest including a leadership role with Local First Arizona. 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for hims we’ve got a lot to catch up on. Today is January 26th. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to Life Along the Streetcar.
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Tom Heath: Well, we start Today’s Show with a fun night out, before we meet our guest I wanted to thank downtown Tucson for not only a great night, but really a great couple of weeks here in the urban core. Just a highlight of things that I was able to partake in was about a week ago at the Rialto Theater. They brought in an amazing Led Zeppelin cover band Zeppelin USA and last night Fox Theater hosted a fabulous Fab Four Beatles tribute band. Both of those groups played to very full venues and you can see a lot of folks coming into our Urban core that may not have been here for some time.
Tom Heath: On Thursday our local band Miss Olivia & The Interlopers played to a very packed Tap and Bottle, there on 6 and they delivered an amazing show and then to top it off and this is kind of what triggered everything to me for me today. I had dinner at Feast, which is it’s not downtown, but on the menu they had an item that included a membrillo and that’s that paste made from the Quincs fruit. We’ve talked about on the show here before.
Tom Heath: Well, Feast owner and Chef Doug Levy stopped over to our table and let us know that the Quincs that he used for that paste were harvested from Mission Garden, right here in downtown as part of their experiment to recreate the Spanish Orchards of Father Kino in a quest to recreate all 4,200 years worth of that continuous agricultural history along the Santa Cruz. And I know they seem like simple things but just being in different settings with a wide-ranging set of demographics and different influencing factors and realizing everything had one one common element and that was downtown Tucson.
Tom Heath: That was a pretty inspiring moment and kept me thinking about this show and the efforts that we make and how we’re excited to be a part of making Tucson and even more vibrant place to live, learn, work and play. We’ll be right back with our fantastic guests Mike Peel and just a moment. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming of Downtown Radio dot-org.
Tom Heath: All right. Well, welcome back into the show. I’m gonna let you know that we are in the underground lair here of downtown radio and right above us is a fantastic event and you might hear some ambient music coming across from name a more. I would love to take credit for bringing him in but Just enjoy him in the background. But on our show today. We’re excited. Sometimes we tape our interviews in advance because Sunday mornings are tough for some of our guests to get up, but we’re excited that Mike Peel from Local First Arizona chose to get up and come back to some familiar haunts here in Downtown Radio. Welcome back to the studio mic.
Mike Peel: Thanks for having me. Tom’s great to be back. And I love what you’re doing. It’s fun for me to hear what you’ve been doing with the show and what you just highlighted for a weekend out. I think exemplifies what this show is all about. Saw those connections you’re making and the return to certain themes and I think that anyone listening is appreciating what you’re doing to enhance the local economy.
Tom Heath: Well, that’s our show for today. That was Mike Peel giving us a fantastic promo there. No need to go farther can only get worse from here. Hey Mike, you’ve got we got so much going on 2020 crazy year for you personally crazy year for for the events and organizations that you’re associated with. So, let’s just jump right into it. Let’s talk first. About your role Southern Arizona director of Local First Arizona, you guys launch something last year called the Local First Roadshows. Tell us a little about that and what we’re going to see with that coming up here in 2020.
Mike Peel: Definitely yes. The year is a very busy one already an exciting one. And actually I’ll start with the announcement some may know but we’re very recently we moved our location for our office to the Historic Y. So we’re near or read our Fourth Avenue and we’re part of a community. Either that is full of organizations that are like-minded and very focused on social Community issues and environmental issues and we’re loving being in a space like that. So we’re out of the Historic Y now and in the last what about a year? We’ve reached a lot more community members with doing what we call the Roadshow and it’s a block party for localism is what it is and we are going around the community and activating spaces to highlight different local first members and partners.
Mike Peel: Everything about it is meant to be engaging with the community at large with our part of our mission is it’s definitely focused on local businesses and strengthening those businesses and nonprofits, but it’s also connecting to the community to make them more aware to prioritize local and that way there’s a shift to making the local economy and buying local more of a priority. So this is an opportunity to bring it all together.
Tom Heath: Yeah. I think that’s the bring it all together because this sort of kind of originally had this feel of maybe like a networking mixer or something along those lines, but the the expansion of it has really led to so much interconnectivity and I’ve seen you know, that this road showed said of being a standalone event you’ve tied in with things that had Congress or other events are here across town and I think that’s a fantastic way to highlight those businesses and that interconnectivity as you’re talking about
Mike Peel: Right we’ve spun off. We’ve had a number of successful ones on our own and then we were invited fortunately to be part of Hotel Congress has 110 Anniversary party last November. We just got to be part of their Dillinger Days event last week. And so we’re able to do smaller versions of these Roadshows within bigger events as well. And we’re encouraging the community to reach out and we’ll consider how we might bring a version of a Roadshow elsewhere.
Mike Peel: But in terms of what we actually do with our regular Road shows, it’s all about having really a fun night out evening out. So what we want to do is have local music each time. We want to have local beer and wine and coffee. Coffee we want to have fun activities for the family. So different areas that are activated within each round show around sustainability around local art around the different types of businesses that are part of local first that offer a lot of different services. So each time you’re going to get a very eclectic mix and we’re going to be continuing to cultivate a different mix each time. We do a road show. So be on the lookout for these the next big one we’re going to be Is in March at the end of March with the sunshine Mile with the sunshine mild Business Association.
Mike Peel: So what we want to do is highlight those businesses on the sunshine Mile and construction is starting. So we want to make sure that the community at large knows about all these businesses that are still there and still doing great things and and also about the plans ahead. There are a lot of interesting details around what’s being planned to preserve that area and we want to make sure that people are aware of what’s going to be be occurring in the future to ensure that local business is still on that strip.
Tom Heath: Yes, when the sun shine miles pretty much from from Euclid to Country Club lot of Historic Center, that art deco feel as you move out of downtown. You can see this definite expansion as you get into the 50s and 60s of the architectures. There was a lot of concern and oh when the construction started happening because this the original plan was to tear down some of those structures and the city and renewable kind of work together to in some cases move them. Or realign them in a way that makes them potential Outlets. I think that’s is that what you’re getting to the you’re going to talk a little about that at the Roadshow?
Mike Peel: Yes, we want to showcase what exactly what you’re talking about right there so that it becomes a also about history being on the on the Roadshow so that we can have a almost like a mini art installation or Museum installation. I should say around the history of that place making, because placemaking is so much tied to localism and we want people to celebrate those places and go back to them after the Roadshow that’s ultimately the goal here is that people have a great time they linked with the businesses nearby and other local first Partners In the Mix and they continue to work with them or support them in any way that they can.
Tom Heath: Well as we get closer to that date will roll it out. I know the merchants on the sunshine mile because the construction there’s there’s some apprehension and nervousness. So we want to make sure we get people out there and recognizing the value of of those businesses and uh speaking of value of businesses. This is like breaking news. I think here we might be the first to be announcing this but Your program with LA Fuerza sort of this business accelerator just received a fairly sizable partnership with Rotary Club here in Tucson, right?
Mike Peel: That’s correct. Yeah with the Rotary Club of Tucson Sunrise. We were the selected nonprofit to be getting the support this year from the Rotary Club for our flares are Locale business accelerator program in south Tucson to expand that program and continue to help businesses grow their businesses with that the business accelerator curriculum that we have but in addition to help make more connections with the programs that we have like the road shows get the businesses that go through this accelerator program to be part of the local first Network on a regular basis as well as our sustainability programs and the 4 is the program is taught completely in Spanish. So what we want to do is with our sustainability programming is in the next year translate parts of that curriculum to be incorporated into the Fuerza curriculum. So a lot of ambitious goal You’re in the I think the Rotary Club really identified with our and our strategic plans for the year.
Tom Heath: Well, I don’t want to put put anyone on the spot, but I do know that I looked at some of the list of people that you were competing for that Grant not to put that out there but it was a pretty substantial list of local groups of clearly. Your your impact was recognized this that you’ve already been doing. This is not a new programme doing it for a couple of years. You’ve had several cohorts go through this.
Mike Peel: We’re on to our fourth coming up here. So yeah. Yes, we’re almost two years into doing this every six months we run a cohort and they go through an intensive business accelerator process to get a better more comprehensive business plan put together and more importantly they’re saving money through the program a thousand dollars over the course of the six months and then we’re matching them through our foundation another thousand dollars that they can then have those those funds be invested in their business plan. It helps their credit scores increase and improve and then helps them be linked to Local Credit. Unions and Community Banks to have Fair rates with loans and really competitive loan packages that they can be accessing.
Tom Heath: Well, I’ve been to a couple of the graduations of these cohorts and always impressed with the businesses and I can tell you personally of you sir a couple of the businesses that have come through that cohort. So I appreciate that you’re doing that and it’s right. It’s always towards this what we would consider maybe an underserved area that might not get that information. In other ways.
Mike Peel: Exactly. Yeah, we’re going into areas that don’t don’t have a lot of business networking opportunities and unfortunately in these underserved areas, there’s a lot of predatory lending and so we want to provide a number of competitive options that the the businesses can choose from ultimately. Our goal is to provide as many Fair rate loan opportunities as possible as low rate as possible.
Tom Heath: You mention I guess so we probably couldn’t have planned this much better because you keep throwing out those key words there and you mentioned that the Fuerza program ties in with your sustainability efforts and I With local first and you personally this has been a huge motivating factor for your last couple of years and you personally are going through some changes with that in the organization.
Mike Peel: Well, this is also big news that is very new here at my role is evolving now to be the Statewide sustainability director for Local First Arizona foundation. So we’re working through all the capacity building that we need to do to make that happen over the next few months. The reason for it is that the State of Arizona has funded Our scale up program in the past and will continue to be funding the expansion of that program which is all about supporting local businesses through workshops on and nonprofits to be working on plans for Energy Efficiency, water conservation, Transportation reductions, waste reductions, Green Team development, ultimately anything that can be caused saving and supporting anything related to climate action that can be basically focused on carbon emissions reductions.
Tom Heath: I think sometimes people get a little bit When you talk about a business organization and then tying in these sustainability components, how does that work in your mind? What’s the what’s the connection with Local First.
Mike Peel: An example. I love to tell lately Merit Foods went through our scale up program when we first launched in 2018 and they went through the workshops and they put a plan together all this material based on best practices across the country and we pulled it all together with experts locally in the community put together the most accessible comprehensive content that we could and focus on costs. Savings and with Merit their saving over $1000 a month having gone through this program looking at just smaller and medium-sized measures that they could take but their facility and I think that’s where it all relates when we can have local businesses go through a program like this. It’s not too much of a time commitment and as a result, they’re on the road to that kind of savings on a regular basis. I think it’s one of the most impactful truly impactful ways that we can be enhancing our local businesses. Getting them on the road to being stronger.
Tom Heath: So the practices aren’t unique to local businesses. Sometimes the larger corporations are National National groups. They’ve got their own research. They’ve got their own resources to figure this out and it sounds like what you’re providing then is that roadmap for someone that really can’t on their own do the research to figure out what’s effective and what’s what’s actually going to work versus what may work
Mike Peel: Exactly. It’s a One-Stop shop is what I like to say a platform for all of us. We’re not duplicating anything. We’re pulling it all together. We’re finding out what exactly is going on with the utilities and the governmental and agencies around here. So we know exactly what incentives are out there. What rebates are out there. What kind of expertise is out there and we’re pulling all together into one place in addition. We’re offering exclusive opportunities as a result of going through this program. So if you have a scale up plan having participated in the program one example is you can participate in our revolving. Loan Fund with the community Investment corporation.
Mike Peel: It’s the it’s the lowest interest rate opportunity for conservation sustainability type projects out there in the community here in Tucson. It’s actually three to five percent interest rates up to ten thousand dollars per project at the moment. We hope to grow that to larger levels over the next year. But yeah the able to have a partner like the community investment corporations offer this exclusively to the participants of scale up is a big win for the community and there’s nothing Else out there that is offering that kind of opportunity for businesses to get loans like that.
Mike Peel: And so once again, it’s this is not a new program. You’ve launched it in Tucson. You’ve had success in Tucson. So my understanding I was as the state director, you’re taking the Lessons Learned here and applying them across all of Arizona.
Mike Peel: That’s exactly right. Yeah. So the State of Arizona wants us to now take this program model and have it run elsewhere in the state by the end of the year. So we’ll be expanding it throughout Tucson on a quarterly basis will have a cohort Quarter of 10 to 15 businesses that will be recruiting at least per cohort and then we’ll be expanding this model elsewhere. So it’s exciting news and not only that we have a new program called the Southern Arizona Green Business Leaders program that we’re about to roll out and it’s more of a foundational program. It’s a I’ll call it a designation which is checklist based and it’s meant to be not as time-intensive as scale up.
Mike Peel: We recognize that every business can immediately connect. Wrecked necessarily to the program they may have to plan for it and join a cohort in a few months, but with Southern Arizona Green Business Leaders, they can literally pick from the 50 items on the checklist and they can get the designation for looking at composting or looking at other efforts that are green related that can help them start to get some recognition in the community and we have a lot of Partners involved in this across the city that are helping support it and actually mayor Rothschild got us. Going with this before he left office and he was really excited for us to have an introductory type program offering that could then lead to scale up. So Southern Arizona Green Business Leaders program rolling out in the next month and a half here. It’ll be ready to go by March and so will scale Up 2.0 and one other news item. That’s I think the first time that this is being announced on online or on the air here on Earth Day. We will be doing a big Community event on April 22nd. In conjunction with the being the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. We’re going to be doing a big unveiling of all of this with this work. We’ve been doing with so many partners in the community or forming an alliance around all this work as a community with green businesses. So we’re going to do a big fun event on Earth Day at Hotel Congress and stay tuned for more details.
Tom Heath: So we’ve been talking here for a few minutes and this is the summary of our conversation so far Tucson, Is kicking tale about making changes here and that is influencing what’s happening across the state instead of the other way, which for years has been we’ve been the recipient of things that have trickled down to Tucson. We’re now driving through local first, Arizona were driving initiatives or driving efforts that are now becoming Statewide recognized and will have a huge impact and my guess is the same as that takes place in a few years. We’ll see you as the national director for sustainability of local businesses across the country. Is that that on the radar
Mike Peel: They sure that confidence vote that you right. Now. I’m just focused on the fact that we are getting the traction. We’re getting you know, what an opportunity like you just said Tucson is getting the attention for the models that we’ve developed here just in Tucson and now we can roll it out in Phoenix or actually we want to look at the how we can link to the rural areas of the state as well. That’s going to take time to figure out how to best do that. But it’s part of the approach we want to take and I’m now overseeing the work of the whole team across the state was sustainability. Local first and we have big ideas on how this can be Statewide.
Tom Heath: Let’s shift gears a little bit. We got a couple minutes left here and I want to talk about your other passion music you you’ve been on downtown radio for a while and you have a show with your with your wife. Dr. Peele and you guys have have taken your show Rarity rock radio ad you’ve you’ve kind of transformed it you’re not on our anymore. We miss you. Please come back, but we’ll find a way but rarely rock is still out there. Tell us more about what you guys Lon.
Mike Peel: And more than ever we listened to a lot of our fans who have been listening for the last few years now asking for more accessibility and that they could tune in whenever they have time and we found a way to do that. We now have a 24/7 commercial free online radio station called Rarity rock radio. It’s www Rarity rock radio dot f m. So if you go directly to that site and it’s there to stream, press play and it’s all under the radar Rock from the past to the present. Van exploring this for years and we’re very focused on music as carrying the traditions of some of our favorite artists from the past on into today and we’re getting a lot of artists reaching out wanting to have their music played. There’s definitely a niche there to keep Rock on the radar for people and we’re finding that a lot of people are responding to it and excited to hear a deep cuts and signs that they may not have heard from their favorite artists, but also artists that we think should be known that are carrying those Great Rock Traditions forward and keeping them alive. And well,
Tom Heath: I know a few hours on on our station was fantastic, but your reach is so much greater now and just before we came on air were talking about the the Kudos you got from from a group in New York.
Mike Peel: Yeah, there’s some bands and DJs in New York that are paying attention and wanting to get some AirPlay and that’s what we were hoping for that. We would start getting that kind of traction across the country because there’s so many great artists that we’ve been following for years at just having gotten that As much as they could we think the way that radio used to play a lot more rock and I think take more chances on the commercial side that isn’t happening as much commercial radio nowadays. So we think we can help fill that Niche and really be a place for artists to thrive and start getting more of a fan base. Well
Tom Heath: your wife Cassie Peel show just recently finished her doctorate. So she is Dr. Peel, you’re taking on a Statewide role you’re running a local organization launching an online. 24/7 under the radar Music Channel and the last question I think for me is when was the last time you slept?
Mike Peel: The weekends are good for catching up. Now I’m kidding. But definitely it’s a priority to get enough sleep for me. It’s been an interesting time to get it all together, but I think the flexibility of having a station on line is ideal because then we can do this on the weekends actually and get a lot of it pre-recorded and get it on the air for the So we’re having fun with it and that way we can prioritize things like, you know getting at least some sleep for who we get
Tom Heath: Our guest today. Mike Peel Local First Arizona Southern director, soon-to-be are actually is now the state director for sustainability, co-host of Rarity rock radio sleeper of a few minutes on weekends. Any last words before we wrap up here.
Mike Peel: I’m really excited that we have the Southern Arizona page for local first, Arizona now, I’ll live so if you go to LocalFirstAZ.com, you can get the link right there under regions and then you can go to the Tucson page and get more information about the road shows and the sustainability programs and stay tuned for all the details coming up here. And then the next three months. It’s going to be a an exciting time of unveiling all of this.
Tom Heath: I’m going to put you on the spot here because I chose some exit music for our show today that I know you’re familiar with and I mentioned in my intro that actually saw Folks so this band play at tapping bottle last week to a packed packed house, but I know you’re a big fan of Miss Olivia and The Interlopers. We’ve got their song blacklisted that’s going to help us out. What do you know about this? Olivia The Interlopers
Mike Peel: They are banned on the rise. And they’re one of my favorite bands locally. We actually have them playing on Rarity rock radio. So this song If you want to hear it is playing regularly on rotation on Rarity rock radio dot f m– enjoy this great song coming up here.
Tom Heath: All right. Right. Well, you are listening to Downtown Radio. 99.1 FM.
Tom Heath: You can catch us streaming on Downtown Radio dot-org. You can also pick up the app there and listen.