Tucson Metro Chamber

The Voice of Business

By Loni Nannini

The Tucson Metro Chamber is a conversation-starter, a change-maker and a community-builder for businesses of all sizes throughout Southern Arizona. 

“As a voice of business, we are working to create a stronger business ecosystem here in our region, and we want businesses to trust us to do that work,” said Michael Guymon, Chamber president and CEO. “We have members on all sides of the political spectrum, but they all agree that the work we do collectively builds a stronger economic environment. 

“They all support business and business growth. They support growth in the sense of hiring more employees and growth in the sense of selling more products, which creates a stronger tax base. All of that helps to grow our overall economy.”

Founded in 1896, the Chamber is a membership-based business advocacy and community development organization representing 1,400 businesses and more than 160,000 employees in Tucson and Pima County. 

The Chamber offers five tiers of membership. Entry-level is $495 annually for Connectors; followed by Promoter, Champion and Catalyst. Keystone Investors are the highest tier and include prominent leaders in the industries of defense, finance, utilities, healthcare, major manufacturing, real estate and development. 

Since Guymon was promoted to Chamber CEO in 2022, Keystone membership has more than doubled to 31 Investors. Connectors—comprising entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, restaurants and small businesses—remain the largest group. 

“As a Keystone Investor, the Port of Tucson very happily supports the Chamber’s efforts to represent well the interests of all of Tucson’s businesses,” said Eli Peart, COO of Port of Tucson. “Many of our own customers and tenants are local small businesses, so it serves us well that these businesses have a strong advocate with the Chamber, which ultimately results in a strong business ecosystem for Tucsonans.”

Big Vision for Business

Small, medium and large businesses are booming in the region, resulting in a wealth of opportunities and challenges. 

The Chamber is updating its strategic plan with a comprehensive approach that embraces Advocacy, Connection and Education. At the forefront is a laser focus on local issues that directly impact businesses and their success. That includes emboldened advocacy with governance such as the Tucson City Council, Pima County Board of Supervisors, Pima Community College Governing Board, Rio Nuevo and more. 

“We have learned that there are issues in the community that we need to focus on to increase our ability to compete against other markets our size,” Guymon said. “A lot of that relates to transportation infrastructure, access to talent and workforce development, public safety, and quality of life issues.”

As Tucson continues to grow—the population now tops 1.2 million in the metro area—another priority is collaboration with economic development agencies such as Sun Corridor Inc., Visit Tucson, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Tucson Industrial Development Authority and more. 

“Tucson has the charms of a small, closely-connected community, but we are gaining the scale of a larger city,” said Joe Salkowski, senior director of communications and public affairs at Tucson Electric Power and a Chamber board member. “We need to make sure to hold on to the connectedness that is so important to our business community, while scaling to meet the needs of a larger city, and part of that is working in tandem with economic development agencies to promote job creation in sectors that will be best aligned with our community and the desires of local elected leaders and residents.”

Workforce Development

Over the past seven years, the Chamber has become increasingly involved in workforce development, culminating in a Workforce Development Blueprint launched in 2021 that incorporates five strategies built on innovative education-industry partnerships.

“Our recommendations relate to making sure we are addressing supply and demand—the demand being the open positions that exist throughout the industry—and making sure that Pima Community College, UArizona, local school districts and other educational institutions are developing the right kind of skills to meet that demand,” Guymon said.

Key to the effort is the Chamber’s director of workforce advocacy, who engages employers and educational institutions to address policies including access to transportation, food security, housing affordability and quality childcare. 

“Employers care more about these now than in the past because if talented employees can’t get to work because they can’t afford childcare, their talents are completely moot,” he said.

Thinking Local 

Perhaps one of the Chamber’s greatest triumphs is its devotion to all things local, as evidenced through its Tucson Restaurant Advisory Council, for example.

“TRAC is one of the most creative and dynamic things the Chamber has done, which speaks volumes to the operating style of this Chamber to be flexible and innovative and to think local,” said Ray Flores, president of Flores Concepts, a Tucson-based management and creative company overseeing restaurants, concessions and catering businesses.

Flores said TRAC aims to represent Tucson restaurants at all levels and advocate for good policy and good relationships with the Pima County Health Department, Tucson Planning & Development Services, Pima County Wastewater, fire and safety departments and others.

“We have been able to gain access to city, county and state leadership and messaging on topics that may be federal issues as well,” he said. 

As the ultimate advocate, educator, connector and communicator, the Chamber is truly the pipeline for the many voices of Tucson business.

“We are proud to be members of the Tucson Metro Chamber,” said Garrett Workman, government relations manager for South32’s Hermosa Project. “The Chamber provides helpful opportunities for us to tell our story to an important audience as well as advocating for us and other members in order to keep our economy growing and continuing to attract new investments and opportunity.”

Pictured above – Michael Guymon, President & CEO Tucson Metro Chamber. Photo by Brent G. Mathis


Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button