Tucson Metro Chamber
Major Accomplishments

Tucson Metro Chamber Recent Accomplishments Section

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Workforce Development

Tucson Metro Chamber and TUSD Partner to Develop Intern to Career Program

The Tucson Metro Chamber listened to its investors during a series of "Roundtables" to identify and address the biggest challenges facing local businesses today. Finding qualified workers was identified as the biggest obstacle to the success of businesses and the overall growth of our local economy. Businesses are not aware of the curricula being taught and our schools are not aware of the talent needs of local businesses.

Based on Roundtable discussions, a small group of business leaders along with TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez helped to build a paid summer internship program for incoming TUSD high school seniors. The group chose to focus on automotive technologies knowing there was a significant shortage of such employees. Eight local auto service centers were identified to test the model. Participating businesses said they had no connections to local students. Furthermore, there was no PAID summer internship program available to these students. Unless the students are paid many of them turn down internship opportunities because they must hold paying jobs.

The six week pilot program officially launched June 1. Of the eight students that participated, five completed the paid internship program and were offered part-time jobs during their senior year and three were direct hires resulting in full time careers upon graduation.

The Tucson Metro Chamber’s next step is to develop a task force of business leaders to expand the TUSD program. Imagine the impact of 50 or 60 students working together with businesses in many different career sectors.

Tucson is no different than the many communities facing this challenge. As Author, Mark Lautman said in his book, When the Boomers Bail : "A structural shortage of qualified workers is creating a zero-sum labor market that is forcing communities to steal talent from each other in order to survive and grow."

If you are interested in joining this task force, contact Susan Manfredi at smanfredi@tucsonchamber.org.

CLICK HERE to view the TUSD & Tucson Metro Chamber automotive internship video to learn more about the success of the program and to hear from the students that participated.

air service

Tucson Metro Chamber Opens Tucson – JFK Non-Stop Route

The Tucson Metro Chamber's Air Service Task Force has succeeded in negotiating the creation of non-stop air service between Tucson and New York City's JFK International Airport with American Airlines.

The first inbound flight from JFK will arrive in Tucson on October 6 and return to JFK the following morning. Daily service will depart Tucson at 7:57 a.m. and arrive in New York at 4:00 p.m., in time for overseas connections to Europe and beyond. Return flights will depart JFK at 5:00 p.m. and arrive in Tucson at 7:29 p.m.

Until now Tucson had been the largest U.S. city without non-stop air service to the New York metro area.

The new non-stop service is expected to make an instantaneous impact on both business and leisure travel. Visit Tucson estimates that between 2012-14 Tucson lost 49 meetings and conventions equaling 39,000 hotel room nights when meeting planners who contacted them specifically cited air service as a reason to choose location other than Tucson.

The Chamber's Air Service Task Force was led by Bill Assenmacher, CEO of CAID Industries. Assenmacher and the task force secured financial support from more than 45 local businesses and organizations to create a $3 million revenue guarantee for American Airlines in the event that load factors fall below a minimum level. This is a common practice cities around the country use to win new air service routes. Research has shown that more people with S. Arizona zip codes fly to New York every day by making a connecting flight or flying out of another airport than there are seats on the American flight.

"Southern Arizona will benefit from this new non-stop route in more ways than we can imagine," says Assenmacher. "We expect an increase in business and leisure travel. Whenever we can bring out-of-market spending to our community we stand to grow our local economy."

Chamber President & CEO Mike Varney adds, "Bill and his team worked tirelessly on this project. He was the ‘maniac on a mission' and he got it done. The local businesses and organizations that stepped up to create the revenue guarantee deserve everyone's gratitude. It's amazing what we can do when the entire community works together."

first impressions

Tucson Metro Chamber Creates Positive First Impression for So. Arizona Visitors

Recognizing the need to beautify Tucson, increase community pride and project the best possible image to the world, the Tucson Metro Chamber developed the First Impressions project. First Impressions was conceived in 2013 with leadership from Tucson Metro Chamber Board of Directors members Richard Underwood, president of AAA Landscape, and Cody Ritchie, president of Crest Insurance.

The Tucson Metro Chamber listened to its investors during a series of “Roundtables” to identify and address the biggest challenges facing local businesses today. Finding qualified workers was identified as the biggest obstacle to the success of businesses and the overall growth of our local economy. Businesses are not aware of the curricula being taught and our schools are not aware of the talent needs of local businesses.

The purpose of the First Impressions project was to transform the six-tenths of a mile on Tucson Blvd. between TIA and Valencia Rd. into a positive landscape, art and cultural experience for visitors leaving TIA. Of course, that “first impression” is also a “last impression” when that same visitor leaves Tucson.

From idea to dedication, First Impressions took nearly two years to complete. The Tucson Metro Chamber secured six community partners: Casino Del Sol Resort, Crest Insurance, Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, Jim Click Automotive Team, Vantage West Credit Union and Visit Tucson to fund the $360,000 renovation of six medians on Tucson Blvd.

AAA Landscape provided labor at cost and many suppliers provided plants, boulders, granite and other landscaping materials. Other groups like the City of Tucson and Tucson Pima Arts Council were also involved. Each community partner worked with a local artist to create a work of art celebrating Southern Arizona’s culture.

On January 9, 2015, the Tucson Metro Chamber assembled artists, dignitaries, business leaders and community partners to dedicate the First Impressions project and unveil the newly renovated medians and works of art. The resulting product of the First Impressions project is a beautiful, inspirational and impressive mix of landscaping, arts and Southwest culture that say "welcome to our city".

bear survey

In March 2014 the Tucson Metro Chamber released the findings of a survey conducted by a Chamber volunteer group, the Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) Task Force.

The BEAR whitepaper was a data-driven analysis of what local business said they like about doing business in Southern Arizona and what challenges they face as they try to grow their companies, expand their operations and create more jobs.

The information gathered from the BEAR Survey was used when meeting with public policy officials to discuss economic development priorities for growing our local economy.


Community Quality Report Card

The Tucson Metro Chamber released a Community Quality Report Card, a data-driven summary of research that was conducted by a Chamber volunteer group to quantify and describe how the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and Pima County are doing in key areas of community performance.

The Community Quality Report Card was developed around seven community quality factors that economic development expert and author Mark Latuman identified as critical to a community’s likelihood of future quality of life and economic prosperity. The seven factors include: economy, population, ecosystem, education, crime, housing and healthcare.

The findings of the report card identify strengths and weaknesses in Southern Arizona’s community. The Tucson Metro Chamber will continue to work with public and private parties that are also interested in dealing with the realities of our local situation and taking the kind of positive steps necessary to improve our community’s assets and amenities.


Tucson Metro Chamber

2016 Accomplishments Infographic