Mary Jacobs, Assistant City Manager of Sierra Vista, AZ, shares one of their business retention and expansion programs that activates the participation of various stakeholders.
One really exciting partnership that we developed with the chamber was a, in fact it’s going on just this morning, is a monthly business walk. The chamber provides some volunteers. The city provides some of our city staff and they meet and identify maybe a couple of blocks and then they deploy. Maybe two people go into the businesses that are on their list and see if the business owner would be willing to spend just a few minutes answering some questions about how are things going. What are some challenges for you? What are the issues that are, that you’re finding are impacting your business? More importantly, what is it that the city or the community can do to assist you?
We’ve gotten some really great responses from our residents. Of course, it’s everything from access to capital, in some cases just not having knowledge. Social media was something that people are identifying, just the challenges of marketing in an internet-based world, particular our retail operations. Many of them have identified workforce as issues. They can’t find people to take their jobs. Using that as that opportunity to touch those businesses, make sure that they know who at the city they can speak with, we’ve put together this very comprehensive book on doing business in Sierra Vista that shows them where they can go to get information and includes all of our partners, like the Small Business Development Center, the Economic Development Foundation, the colleges and that sort of thing, workforce development, so that they know what those resources are.
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