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

On this week’s show, we’ve got Aleshia Howell and Erika Mitnik from the Arizona Forge program. It’s an entrepreneurial community combining experiential student and community ventures. We’re going to find out some really cool things they’ve got coming up for the remainder of this year.

Today is September 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 DowntownRadio.org- we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app. Reach us by email contact@lifealongthestreetcar.org — 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 Toots & The Maytals, “Start Me Up.”

Transcript

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

On this week’s show, we’ve got Aleshia Howell and Erika Mitnik from the Arizona Forge program. It’s an entrepreneurial community combining experiential student and community ventures. We’re going to find out some really cool things they’ve got coming up for the remainder of this year.

Today is September 18, 2022. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to life along the streetcar. Each and every Sunday are focused on social, cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s urban core. 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@downtownradio.org also available on your iPhone or Android by downloading our downtown Radio Tucson app.

Then we’ll be in your pocket. Wherever you go here on the show, you can email us directly, contact@lifelongthestreetcar.org that same URL will take you to our past episodes and get you a link if you want to purchase our new book. We are on Facebook and Instagram and our podcast is available just about anywhere you like to listen to your favorite ones. So please check us out and share our story with the world as we’re sharing others with you. Well, programming change or a note from last week’s program, Cheers to Tucson had originally planned their launch party. Today, it’s a pool party. They have decided for a few reasons to move it to October 23. So if you want more information on Cheers to Tucson, you can check out last week’s episode on our website. Or you can go to the Tucson Food Project’s website and learn all about the organization. But if you’re planning on going out there today, that’s all right. We’ll see you on the 23rd. We’ll have updates for you as we get closer on our Facebook

page in case you have questions on that. And also stay in touch with us on Facebook because this is the event season. We got Tucson. Meet yourself coming up. We’re going to have the Mission Garden has the Membrio fest. We got all these things that are starting to happen in Tucson because the weather is becoming fabulous. So check out our Facebook pages. We’re going to share all the things we hear about. And we would love for you to tag us in events that we either need to share or perhaps feature here on the show. And as a kind of a subtle reminder, tucson Trolley Tours just launched our fall season. And you can check that out on Tucson Trolleytours.com. As you may know, that was a result of this show. Many of the interviews that we do have led to the stories that we share on the tour. It’s the same footprint of this show. We cover quite a bit of history, cultural and economic impacts in that two and a half hours that we have you on the climate controlled bus that looks like an old time

trolley if you want to join us or at least check it out. Tucson Trolleytours.com. Well, I guess today it’s going to be a twoparter this week and next week with the folks Alicia Howell and Erika Mitnik from Arizona Forge. They’re helping entrepreneurs launch great ideas in this economy, in this market. So we sat down with them to get a better idea of what the program and the facility is like.

I’m Erika Mitnik, I am the marketing and communications manager for Forge. Forge stands for finding opportunities and resources to grow entrepreneurs and what we are as an entrepreneurial community that combines experiential student and community venture education alongside startup acceleration.

Totally smoke. We’re going to dig into all that here in a minute because there’s a whole bunch of words there. I understood them all, but maybe not in that order. So we’ll dig in and get some questions going on with that. And we’re also joined with and I’m.

Alicia Howell, I am program coordinator of Forge at Roy Place. And we are based in the Roy Place building in downtown Tucson. And we are the flagship location of Forge Communities, which works to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem everywhere where the university has presence.

So let’s talk about it. We’ve heard this word entrepreneur quite a bit. Tell me a little bit about the genesis of Forge. Where does that come?

I feel like it really starts with our director and founder Brian Alamon, who saw a real need to have a strong entrepreneurial community and to develop entrepreneurial mindset. And that’s something that’s valuable to everybody. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to start up a venture today or even ever, but growing those skill sets of recognizing opportunities and being comfortable with risk and being innovative and being flexible and adaptive, there’s so many skill sets involved with that that are really valuable wherever you end up. And if you’re someone who finds yourself in the position someday where your passion has led you to a place where now you have a business and you’re running a business, but your passion didn’t necessarily include education about things like how do I form a solid management team, how do I have financial oversight of this, how do I run this like a business? Forge really helps fill in those gaps. We have a program called Venturing 101 that we offer free

of charge that offers core modules for folks to really help fill those things in.

It was Brian was he a faculty member at the University of Arizona. How does that connection come together?

Well, Brian was actually a Tucson resident, but was kind of doing a lot of work outside Tucson and even outside the United States. And so he was working for these companies based in Paris and would come back. And Tucson was where he lived but wasn’t really well connected with the community. So my understanding is he gave a session at TEP one day and several people approached him afterwards and said, oh my gosh, it’s great to meet you. Are you new to Tucson? And he’s like, no, I’ve been here for however many years. It was, it was quite a lot. But I think that was the catalyst for him to make those connections with his community and start contributing to the city where he lived.

Okay, I think that’s a good Tucson story. Someone that’s been here for a while doing the work and then all of a sudden gets recognized and they become that overnight success. But they’ve been laying the foundation for years to come. And you mentioned you’re the program director.

I’m the program coordinator.

Coordinator.

So tell me, what are some programs that operate out of Forge?

Great question.

My role is a community facing role. So my job is to run programs that serve members of our community. Create a community that we are all excited and proud to be part of and a community that is sufficiently active so that when students graduate from the university they can look around and if they’re maybe making a decision to leave Tucson or not. Things are going on in Tucson so they might have a reason to stay. Full disclosure I think it’s good for young people to have different experiences and to go where the wind takes them and to get that experience when they’re young enough to be able to do that. But people who do want to stay and do resonate with Tucson, we want them to have opportunities to grow and find work and find community and friends and all those things. So that’s really what we’re trying to do here. The pandemic has really changed the goals of what we’re aiming for here. So we are taking a step back and looking at what the needs in our community are. Previously, there was

a program called the Advanced Entrepreneur Program that ran under forge at Roy place. However, when I assumed my role, I was kind of having conversations with people in the community and there’s lots of organizations who are doing this kind of work and doing it well in our community. Startup Tucson is one, the YWCA is another. There’s just so many of these organizations that are providing this kind of entrepreneurial education to the community and so it’s really necessitated like coming back to how can Forge be helpful to the community in a real way and how can we contribute so that we’re not just replicating someone else’s content and creating more of what already exists. So right now we’re working on some really top of the funnel programs for people who might not even see themselves as entrepreneurs or embarking on bringing their idea to life. Maybe they’re in a place where they don’t feel like they have a lot of opportunities. Maybe they’ve lost some of the curiosity that a lot of young

people have. So a lot of my efforts are going towards creating opportunities to come together, be an active participant in your community, spark curiosity, and from there comes purpose, and from there comes looking around, identifying problems, and thinking up creative solutions to them. And I think that only comes from being an active community member and a participant. I also think that there are opportunities in

kind of rethinking how people work nowadays because we are arriving at a time people are living a lot longer than they ever used to. Life expectancy is 80 and 90 years old. People are living 30 or 40 years longer than they ever used to. And so this three stage life where you go to school for accounting, you get a job in an accounting firm, you hold that job for 40 years, and then you retire, that is an outmoded way of working. And now we’re in a situation where the longevity paired with technology and the pace that it’s moving are necessitating that your undergraduate education is not going to be everything you need anymore. So as adults, what opportunities can we create to upskill, reskill, retrain, transition to other careers that don’t require you to hang up your whole life and head back to the university for a traditional program? So we’re working on ways to help adults navigate those kinds of transitions and participate in programs where they’re leaning on each other for accountability

and support and figuring out new things to do and new opportunities to embark upon that are free and low cost.

That was Alicia How. She’s also joined by Erika Mitnik. They are both with Arizona Forge, a program helping entrepreneurs and entrepreneur minded individuals in our community. We’ll be back to the second half of this interview in just a moment. First of all, I want to remind you that you’re listening to Life Along the Streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtownradio.org.

Greetings and salutations, Downtown radio listeners. Haley O’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 CYC 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 Downtownradio.org.

We are back with Alicia Howe and Erika Mitnik from the Arizona Forge Program. As a reminder, this is going to be a two week episode, so we’re going to cover the second half of our part one of our interview today, and then you can tune in next Sunday to get the completion of this. There’s just so much information as we started talking and could not figure out how to edit it down into one segment. So we’re doing too.

That’s interesting because you talk about this being a way to potentially retain you of a graduates and then you were very clear because I think your background is one that would support this idea of moving around and finding your niche. But niche is a niche or niche, I don’t know. We’ll have to figure that out.

We know what you mean.

Your thought process here being the top of the funnel is very interesting because you’re actually giving people an idea before they have that idea. So they might be graduating, they might get this experience, travel the world and realize hey, Tucson is the place where I want to start my business. This is where my vision comes together and the resources are there. So it’s not necessarily keeping graduates all the time, but it’s also showing them a way back should they find this is the best place for them to operate. It’s a little different, I think, mentality than what people might expect.

Yeah, absolutely. And Erika was saying that people might not always see themselves as starting a business, and I think that’s true. I think risk aversion is a really hard nut to crack and especially if you’re up in an environment where you just don’t take those kinds of risks. Having entrepreneurial skills is still a valuable thing to do because it means a lot of things. It’s grit and resilience and resourcefulness and all these things that are valuable to employers. They’re valuable in your personal life, they’re valuable if you hold community roles. Just really useful skills, not only for economic development, but also personal and professional development too.

And I think it can be really hard, especially if you’re in a community where you haven’t seen that, where you might not know what that looks like. And I have seen a lot of those folks who feel like they have to go off somewhere else. They love it in Tucson, but they feel like they have to go to San Francisco or to New York or to wherever that sort of big market is to see what does it look like to be part of one of these communities. Because they haven’t really seen that model, but they realized Tucson is the place they want to be and come back here. And the Venturing 101 that we offer has modules that specifically address things like failure and resilience. How do you deal with that part of the process? Or how do you even get started? How do you develop your customers, all of these things. And we can help people sort of figure out what that roadmap is. We’re tied into this vast array of resources and we really want to help people map that out. And we’re happy and willing to say that for

whatever your next step is, if we’re not the spot, we want to help you find where it is. We’re tied in with the university system so that we’re aware where a lot of the resources are. We want to be the folks that help guide people there. And one way I would encourage people to come and explore what we’re doing is our Thursday is a Forge series. So every Thursday we open up our building at 08:30 A.m.. We encourage people to come down here, have coffee with us, network chat. We have a program that we start at nine, and those programs vary each week. There’s the Forge Fireside series that we do that are interviews with business leaders and success stories. There’s a Campus Spotlight program we do where we bring people from the U of A downtown because we really want to mix those communities together to show off some interesting things that are happening in the university. There’s the Curiosity Club where we bring folks from the community to talk about interesting ideas. Alicia likes to call

it Tucson’s. Grownup show and tell, which I love.

That where you don’t have to know what you want to be when you grow up.

That’s awesome.

And that idea is around. There’s people in our community doing awesome things, and they’ve arrived where they are via a very circuitous route. So especially when we’re talking to people from campus where young people are expected to have your entire trajectory planned out by the time you graduate from high school. And I think that’s totally ridiculous and unreasonable. So you can talk to someone who like Peggy Johnson, who came to our last ever Curiosity Club, which was last month, who began her career in political journalism, and now she is executive director of the Loft Cinema. And she arrived in her position, loves what she does, but that was never part of the plan. And so I think it’s helpful to hear these stories from people who just ended up somewhere. But that’s okay. So the tagline for that is kind of not all those who wander are.

Lost, but in this day and age, I think when you’re graduating, I don’t know what the statistic is, but I remember there was a large proportion of graduates that were going to end up in a field that didn’t exist when they graduated.

Yes, and it will continue to beat that. Everybody’s freaked out about technology and AI, and it is advancing rapidly, and I think probably more people should be a little worried about that. But the worry is that robots are going to take over our jobs, and that’s just not true. Humans will always find something to do and a way to be useful. But human usefulness is increasingly going to be dependent on high level cognitive functioning and flexibility and socio behavioral stuff that we have to deal with in the workplace.

You’re preparing people to think and to act and to do things maybe not task oriented, but the challenging part, the critical thinking, that’s a component that you don’t necessarily get when you’re learning how to be an accountant, you’re teaching them what that accounting degree might other fields that could apply to or how that logic would fit in. As far as an entrepreneur. I think that’s fantastic. You’re sharing that.

And we want to reach people again who might be interested. But the idea of sitting down and going through a lot of business books per se, or very structured curriculum isn’t necessarily something that’s going to appeal to them. But these are still skills that we want to get in front of them. A really interesting program that we’re doing this month is we’re actually holding a gaming tournament with an organization called the Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy. And they’ve actually built a video game called Venture Valley that teaches folks about the basics of running business within a video game where you launch a business and it stops and you have to take a look at sort of what are your cost of goods, what are you paying for labor, what are your competitors doing all in this really fun, interactive way? And so they’re actually sponsoring a gaming tournament that we’re going to be holding here downtown on September 30. And they’re going to be awarding $5,000 in prize money to students

who compete in that. So we’re really excited to see folks engage with that. And at the same time, here at the Building Forge at Roy Place, we’re going to have a Venture Expo where folks can come in and watch folks play the game, but they can also come toward the Venture Expo and see what sorts of business ideas do students have, what sort of ventures are they building. And it’s a really great opportunity for those students and anybody who’s participating to kind of ask the audience, like, what do you think of this thing that I’m trying to make?

What’s the date on that?

That is Friday, September 30, and that’s happening from 02:00 p.m. To 09:00 p.m..

Well, I’m going to leave it there for this week as we end up with Alicia Howell and Erika Mitnik from Arizona Forge. Their Venture Valley coming up here on the 30th, details on their website. We’ll also link to it on our Facebook page. And then remember, next week we’re going to do the second half of that interview, which gets more into some of the details of their mentorship programs. We talked a lot about programs and facility. Next week we’ll get into that sharing of knowledge through their mentor program. Well, my name is Tom Heath, and you’re listening to lifelong the streetcar downtown radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on downtownradio.org.

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Well, episode 218, Arizona Forge is in the books. Don’t forget to tune in next week. For the second half. We have Alicia and Erika back to talk more about the amazing things happening in downtown Tucson at Arizona Forge, at Roy Place. As always, if there’s something for us to cover you would like us to share, let us know. This story came to us via a listener who wanted us to learn more and it turned it into episodes, so you never know where it’s going to go, so please do reach out, tag us and things on Facebook and Instagram. That’s a great way to do it. I mentioned the top of the hour, the top of the show that we have Tucson Trolley Tours kicking off. That’s another venture of mine based upon this show. And next week on the 24th, if you are interested on going, we’re going to take a couple of our fans. If you would like to DM me on our Life Along the Streetcar Facebook page, let me know that you would be interested in a couple of tickets. We’ll pick a couple of winners and you can join

us for a free tour on September 24. All the details about our tours and everything else is on our website, lifelongthstreetcar.org and Tucson Trolleytours.com. Well, what do we got going on? Well, next week we know what’s coming up and then we’re going to talk about some events here as we roll into the fall. And we’re always looking for your suggestions. But don’t forget about the other days of the week here on the radio station because we got some fantastic programming monday through Saturday, rock and roll mix and recently got a dog. We do a lot of walks and I will tell you, I am learning so much about music. We’ve talked about the Arizona Four One and our roadside show on Monday night. Jim and Dave is fantastic, man. Brother Mock, he puts out the Arizona, the Club Crawl, and you want to know what’s playing in Tucson, what music is out there. Coming up this week, you listen to a show, you can hear samples of all the music from those artists and then he tells you where they’re playing.

Good heavens, that’s a lot of work to put in each and every week, so we appreciate that. And of course, I’m always partial to our Sunday lineup, starting off with Mr. Nature and little leaf radio. Every Sunday morning at seven, that rolls into DJ Bank, the Musical Bum. Self described musical bum, because this man is a musical genius in my mind with the art of easing. And that show makes it tough for me to want to do anything afterwards. And I think most of my listeners probably are just folks that couldn’t get off the couch because they’re easing. With DJ bank after us. Coming up at the bottom of the hour, we have Ted prozelski words and work. And then right back at noon is Ty Logan and heavy mental. Fantastic lineup on Sundays. Check out the website downtownradio.org for our full lineup and then you know why. Either hit that donate button. We are in our 7th anniversary week this week. We’re just wrapping that up. Been on the air for seven years and it happens because of support from you.

So please head over to downtownradio.org and give us a little bit of donation to keep us going for the next seven years. And we’re going to leave you music today as those entrepreneurials do. They start us up. So here’s a 2004 version of start me up from tooth to the may talls. Hope you have a great week and tune you next Sunday for more life along.

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