One to One with Tucson Metro Chamber’s Amber Smith

The foundation of our great country is built on the pillars of free speech and the right to engage in civil protest. Those hallmarks led our forefathers to demand no taxation without representation and, eventually, to create the Constitution—the living, breathing document that permits us to live in an orderly and safe society. There is a fine line between civil protest and civil unrest; in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” As a society, we must challenge each other and our elected officials to make tomorrow better than today. That debate, however, cannot and should not justify rioting, looting and destruction of personal property. Doing so tarnishes, in this case, the horrific, senseless death of George Floyd. Instead of focusing on his tragic death and taking steps to hold those responsible, accountable, and ensure it never happens again, our community, like many others, is left to pick up the pieces of broken glass and debris, and clean up graffiti. Brutal acts of violence due to skin color have no place in our community.

We, like you, are angered when we see violent acts against humanity. Against individuals. Against government. Against businesses. After all, a “business” is comprised of owners, workers, customers, individuals. In other words, a business is akin to a person or persons, just like you and me. Businesses create the taste, look and feel of a community. Literally. They provide the brick and mortar to community spaces. They feed and entertain us. They provide the funds for critical services like public safety, parks, education, and infrastructure. For this reason, when we support and advocate for our business members, it is because we are protecting and promoting our community. 

The Tucson Metro Chamber’s mission is to champion an environment where your business thrives, and our community prospers. We seek to grow commerce because by doing so we reduce poverty which, in turn, creates a more vibrant and prosperous place for all of us to live, work and play. We promote and advocate for investments in education and workforce development to give everyone an equal chance to grow their knowledge and skills, to increase their wages, to improve their chance for home ownership, and to have food security and reliable healthcare. Our involvement with the Cradle to Career Partnership (C2C) strives to disrupt the status quo and set higher expectations to improve educational and life outcomes for our most vulnerable population across Pima County. Our most recent Chamber Edge magazine focused awareness on diversity and inclusion, knowing these issues make a community stronger and better. 

We detest the recent destruction of some public and private property by a few isolated individuals. Significantly more importantly, we are disgusted by the actions that led to Mr. Floyd’s tragic death, whose loss of life should not be ignored because of the recent rioting. We support and encourage peaceful protests striving to inspire the change that has been fought for more than a century. Mayor Romero stated it best, “Violence only brings violence…Harming locally owned, mom-and-pop businesses and inflicting harm does nothing to accomplish justice for George Floyd and only serves to divide our community. These are not just businesses; they are people’s livelihoods. They help put food on the table for them and their families.”

Local businesses, especially mom-and-pop operations are what make Tucson unique and great. These businesses are barely holding on as a result of COVID-19. Now, they have been knocked down again. The Tucson Metro Chamber is a collective of local businesses. We will continue to fight for them; to help them rise from the ashes; to grow and thrive. We must. Businesses are the anchor to employment. Employment is the anchor to our livelihood. We must allow businesses to grow because then our community grows. We are here for you, for our business owners, for your employees, and for our community—just as our values reflect.

Thank you,

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