Good things are happening in the little adobe on Simpson Street in Barrio Viejo. We caught up with Mike Peel, Southern Arizona Director at Local First Arizona to learn more about the growing partnership between Local First Arizona and LeadLocal and all that it brings to the Old Pueblo.
FC: Local First Arizona and LeadLocal have a new budding partnership, tell us more.
Mike: A new partnership between Local First Arizona (LFA) and LeadLocal is focused on the creation of community development efforts for businesses and nonprofits in Southern Arizona. Joint opportunities include local leadership development and ongoing networking and professional trainings to develop social entrepreneurship projects and hone local innovation. LFA’s headquarters for Southern Arizona is now located downtown at LeadLocal in the historic Barrio Viejo neighborhood, where locally-owned businesses and budding entrepreneurs will be able to connect more easily to the events and trainings being offered by this dynamic partnership. The new downtown location for LFA in Southern Arizona lends itself to increased collaboration with community partners, from new businesses to nonprofits and other partners alike.
FC: What kinds of things can we expect from this new partnership?
Mike: Local First Arizona and LeadLocal are launching the Southern Arizona Localism and Sustainability Alliance (SALSA), a new initiative comprised of a signature event and training series for growing prosperity in the Tucson community, bringing together visionary leaders from around Arizona. LeadLocal, a think, learn, and DO tank, provides workshops and professional learning opportunities to expand possibilities for collaboration and community building in Tucson. SALSA’s inaugural signature event, Discover Local Day, connects community members of all ages to learn how to engage in localism through unique and exciting micro-workshops focused on topics related to sustainability, local food and more, and will be the kick-off event of this year’s TENWEST Festival.
FC: What is Discover Local Day? That sounds like something our readers would be interested in. Tell us more…
Mike: Discover Local Day will offer Tucsonans the opportunity to connect with local organizations through innovative hands-on activities that are educational as well as fun. Through these micro-workshop experiences, Discover Local attendees will be able to experience the power of Tucson’s local organizations. From water harvesting and earth works to compassionate leadership, desert gardening and urban arts culture, Discover Local Day will highlight ways to get involved with diverse organizations that strengthen the Tucson economy. The main goal is to connect the community to actions on localism and sustainability and understanding how the choices you make and the interactions you have each day affect the entire Tucson ecosystem. The event is Sunday, October 14th with details forthcoming about the workshop schedule, along with many other surprising features.
FC: What else is Local First up to with other partnerships?
Mike: New community programs launched in Southern Arizona by Local First Arizona this year include the Fuerza Local program and SCALE UP program. Fuerza Local, a Local First Arizona Foundation (the sister nonprofit organization to our business membership) program with the YWCA is now serving entrepreneurs in South Tucson, is a six-month training program offered at no cost to underserved Hispanic business owners and provides a structured business curriculum taught by experienced, bilingual professionals. During the program, entrepreneurs learn fundamentals to launch or develop their business, creating a firm foundation for their goals. Lessons on accounting, social media, marketing, and many others are taught completely in Spanish by industry professionals and experts. Food Conspiracy Co-op owners voted to fund three local nonprofits – including this program – through the Cooperative Community Fund. With the expansion of Fuerza Local in Tucson, the program is adding significant value to our local community.
FC: You mentioned SCALE UP, what is this new initiative about and what does SCALE UP stand for?
Mike: SCALE UP stands for Sustainable Communities Accessing Lending and Expertise Upon Performance, a Local First Arizona Foundation program that saves businesses money by lowering utility costs through sustainable business practices. Participating businesses develop and implement sustainability plans and, in addition to saving money, are able to access exclusive benefits. Participating businesses are issued a workbook that guides them in creating a plan to achieve at least a 10% reduction in one of four categories: energy use, water use, waste reduction, or transportation emissions. To help meet their sustainability goals, participating businesses may qualify for a short-term loan to invest in energy- and water-saving or other sustainability improvements from program partner and nonprofit lender Community Investment Corporation (CIC). Through CIC’s Social Impact Lending initiative, participating businesses will have access to loans between $500 and $10,000 at below-market interest rates from 3 to 5% as part of a larger revolving loan fund. CIC has also committed $10,000 in grant funding to incentivize SCALE UP business participants to invest in their sustainability plans. CIC will pair grants of up to 10% of the project costs with its low-interest loans exclusively for participants of the SCALE UP program.
This article first appeared as a feature of the Tucson Gems pieces in the Conspiracy News summer issue 2018. Discover Local is partnered with the Museum of Art Second SundAZe Family Day @ TMA on Sunday, October 14 for a day of exploration and learning as you Discover Local @ TMA – a TENWEST Festival event. Take part in hands-on activities that will immerse you in all things Tucson!
Local First Arizona Southern Arizona and LeadLocal can be reached at their joint headquarters, the “local adobe,” at 196 W. Simpson Street. For more information about Local First Arizona, visit www.localfirstaz.com. For more information about LeadLocal, visit
Contact Michael Peel, Southern Arizona Director, Local First Arizona, at [email protected] for more information and to get involved.