Supporting Small Businesses in a Crisis

Chamber steps up to reassure community

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ National Small Business Week has been postponed. The U.S. Small Business Administration event, originally scheduled for May 3–9, is an annual celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation. Never has there been a greater time for innovation in the small business community, nor a better time for recognition at all levels of our local small businesses.

There are more than 550,000 small businesses, (those with fewer than 500 employees) in Arizona, and it is estimated that these businesses employ one million workers, representing 44.5 percent of the state’s private workforce.

Studies show that when residents buy local, it makes a difference. But what happens when a crisis hits — and businesses are closed, or scramble to change their business model in an effort to meet demands or just stay afloat? At press time, Arizona is still under the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” Executive Order, which is set to expire April 30. Whether or not safety restrictions are lifted in May, the small business landscape has been forever altered, and the community is looking for help.

Representing nearly 400 businesses in the Carefree, Cave Creek, Phoenix and Scottsdale area, the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce is just one organization that is stepping up to provide resources for businesses that are experiencing the challenging impacts of COVID-19.

Patty Villeneuve, president and CEO of the Chamber, says that the main challenge that they are helping members overcome is the fear of the unknown.

“Once we truly understand we are all in this together we can breathe a small sigh of relief and buckle in to communicate what unique need one business has versus another.”

To help communicate with the community, the Chamber has created a comprehensive resource page that is easily found on the front page of its website (www.carefreecavecreek.org).

“This information has been gathered from local Congressional delegates, Governor Ducey’s office, the Small Business Association, Small Business Development Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” said Villeneuve. “The information includes where and how to access needed funding for our business community and resources for the employees of our business community.

“As a part of the resource page we also have a comprehensive list of businesses that are open for curbside, the phone number and a link to their website. We are listing all businesses, not just Chamber members. Even though we are a membership-based organization it is important that we offer as much help as we can to our entire community. We are truly, all in this together. We have also invited the community to share in webinars and conference calls so that they have an opportunity to hear directly from the people mentioned before.”

Villeneuve says that additional relief funds have become available for EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) and PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans for the business community, and that the Arizona Chamber Executives, which she is currently board chair of, approached the Governor for one-time funds to be included in the state budget to be delivered directly to Chambers across the state for things like low-cost and no-cost grants.

“I can assure you that every Chamber Executive within the state are lobbying every single day to state and federal officials for increased funding.”

Beyond the support that the Chamber is providing to community businesses, Villeneuve says that the community as a whole can help support the local businesses that it relies upon.

“Continue supporting the businesses that are open for curbside pickup, buying gift cards from all businesses (not just restaurants) that can be used later. When more businesses can re-open, the ones that rely on tips, consider tipping a little more than usual. This will mean a lot to these workers. Continue to support the food bank with donations of food, money or volunteer hours. They need your support now more than ever. Don’t forget our other nonprofits with donations of time and money. Their donor bases are significantly impacted also.

“Finally, be kind to one another. We are all in this together. Kindness will go a long way with reassuring people that everything will be OK.” |CST

Powering The Community

Chamber honors standout business leaders

Chamber Business of the Year: Tech 4 Life, Carefree

Working together as a community is vital for the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce to continue strengthening the local business environment with resources, networking, educational opportunities and advocacy. The power of the Chamber comes from the strength and support of its members, ambassadors and sponsors who work together toward a common goal – a thriving business community in Carefree and Cave Creek.

To recognize the standout businesses and ambassadors who make a difference in the community marketplace, the Chamber holds its annual Celebration of Excellence Awards. This year, the awards ceremony was held on March 30, at Harold’s Cave Creek Corral.

“It is such a pleasure to shine a spotlight on our esteemed business and ambassador of the year at the Celebration of Excellence Awards,” said Patty Villeneuve, executive director of the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce. “Each of the nominees is a shining example of giving back to the community that supports their business and helping the Chamber enhance the local business environment.”

Chamber Ambassador of the Year: Paul Cocuzza

This year’s “Business of the Year” is Tech 4 Life, Carefree, and the “Ambassador of the Year” is Paul Cocuzza.

Steve Woods founded Tech 4 Life in 2003 with the sole purpose of helping people with their computer support. Their mission is to provide country doctor service for technology.

Woods and his crew have been invaluable to the Chamber and many other non-profits in this community by donating untold hours and dollars in volunteer services to keep everyone’s technology running smoothly, always with a smile on his face.

Paul Cocuzza serves as the co-chair of the Chamber Ambassador Committee. He attends every Chamber event acting as a greeter, a host and emcee at Chamber events and functions. Paul champions the Chamber’s mission and vision and is actively involved with member recruitment and retention. He has volunteered countless hours with the Chamber and many other community organizations. Paul is also a top-performing sales and business development manager at UCP of Central Arizona.

Business of the Year Nominees for 2016:

  • Animal Health Services
  • Bartlett Lake
  • Brix Wines
  • Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ
  • Cave Creek Candles & Gifts
  • Sonoran Arts League
  • Tech 4 Life
  • Watson’s Hat Shop

Ambassador of the Year Nominees for 2016:

  • Paul Cocuzza
  • Liz Castenada

 

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