Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Props 406, 403 aim to repair streets and increase safety


The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce recognizes that transportation infrastructure in our region is in critical need of repair and ongoing maintenance. Funding through Federal
resources is lacking and a solution that will adequately address our needs is unlikely. Arizona’s Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) is continually being swept, reducing the already minimal share our city sees from that funding source. The lack of funding support from our state and federal resources necessitates a local solution. Both the City and County have proposed increases to our sales tax in order to repair, improve and maintain our road system.

The City’s Prop 406 – Road Repair & Street Safety raises the sales tax one third of one percent (.033%) or 33 cents per $100 purchase. The County’s Prop 403 – Coconino County
Road Maintenance Tax raises sales taxes three tenths of one percent or 30 cents on a $100 purchase.
This would go into affect while the existing Coconino Parks & Open Space tax expires. The net increase would be reduced to 17.5 cents on a $100 purchase.

These initiatives would bring our sales tax rate from 8.446% to 8.951% or 50.5 cents per $100. It would be in effect for 20 years and fund approximately $12 to $13 million for needed repairs and maintenance.

The propositions are the result of a two year process with significant input from diverse groups within the community. There have been two voter surveys, a Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) comprised of various community leaders, and independent road evaluations.

The results of the 1,200 voters surveyed indicate overwhelming support (69%) for a tax increase now vs. paying more later for future repairs. The CTAC recommended a sales tax increase to fund these core services. Kimmley-Horn and Associates provided the independent assessment, finding that 35% of the County paved roads are in poor or severe condition.

The City of Flagstaff and Coconino County have stated that without the significant revenue this initiative will provide services will be at risk. The negative impact on tourism and the business community is too great to ignore. It is a public safety and an economic development imperative that our roads are properly maintained.

The Chamber is cognizant that the idea of raising our local sales taxes to fund road repair is a difficult proposition. Unfortunately, our two choices are to let our roads fall into further disrepair or fund improvements ourselves.

Registered voters have the opportunity to decide to fund better roads in the upcoming general election on November 4, 2014.
For more information, visit www.coconino.az.gov/countyroads and www.flagstaff.az.gov/roadsafety.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blinded by the Light: a Dark Skies Summit

On August 18-19 the Keystone Center hosted a Dark Skies Summit to explore common solutions to the growing threat from the proliferation of white and poorly-filtered LED outdoor lighting in this region.

The value of our Dark Skies City designation cannot be underestimated to sustain and grow our
deep scientific and astronomy communities.

The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce participated along with collaborative partners Lowell
Observatory, the City of Flagstaff and NAU.

The importance of preserving our Dark Skies as it relates to regional economic development
through the use of emerging technologies and it’s importance to our tourism industry was discussed.
Public policy, balancing lighting standards and public safety while incorporating cost effective new
technology to preserve our dark skies will all continue to be important work at the Chamber on
behalf of this region. For more information please go to Lowell.edu and Keystone.org

Business Leaders Meet New NAU President

At the end of August, Chamber board members, ambassadors and other community members gave a warm welcome to NAU’s new president, Dr. Rita Cheng.

The Chamber has always believed in the importance of a strong partnership between the business community and NAU, which is why President and CEO Julie Pastrick invited the new university president to the Chamber’s board meeting.

Dr. Cheng spoke about both her career and personal history, as well as her exciting plans for the future of NAU, building on John Haeger’s numerous accomplishments.

Business leaders asked her questions, gave her advice and informed her about current initiatives happening between the university and the community and at the Chamber of Commerce.

Welcome, Dr. Cheng!



Friday, August 8, 2014

Sign Code Restrictions Discussed at City Council

The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce mission includes advancing a strong business climate by being a catalyst for community and economic development in our region. Community improvement and economic growth come from a thriving business environment; when our local small businesses are able to grow their bottom line they are able to retain and hire new employees and reinvest in community needs. But to be able to do that good public policy needs to be in place that provides small businesses tools to succeed and removes barriers to success.
A significant way we can strengthen Flagstaff is by improving our city’s sign code to better reflect the needs of an economy in recovery. A study prepared by the University of Cincinnati and the Signage Foundation found that if a business chooses to use advertising signage to promote themselves it can help improve sales by as little as 10%  and much more, and can even lead to small positive impacts on employment at those businesses. For Flagstaff businesses a 10%+  increase in volume could contribute major dividends to strengthening our community.
Unfortunately, many of our city’s business owners and operators have felt that Flagstaff has too stringent of a regulation on signs, leading some to not bother with a significant investment in promotional signage due to penalties that are too high, permits that cost more than the signs themselves, and a permit application process that is too cumbersome.
Earlier this year, we conducted a survey among Chamber member businesses to gauge their opinions on the city’s current sign regulations. Responses were robust with more than 140 member businesses weighing in and the results were not surprising. Over 67% of respondents indicated that they felt the current code was too complicated. Only 15% said they had an above average opinion of the current regulations. Over 54% agreed that their business could benefit from a de-regulated code on temporary A-Frame (sandwich board) signs.
In the spring, Chamber staff went before the Flagstaff City Council to present the results of this survey to members of council and city staff advocating for a less burdensome, easier to understand, and less costly sign code to promote a stronger small business environment and robust economy. Some of the reforms for which the Chamber has advocated include:
- Continuing to respect our dark sky ordinance
- Allow for directional way-finding/off-premise signs
- Rescind permit requirement for indoor & inside window signage
- Give businesses an incentive to replace free-standing/old signage without fees or reapplication
- Allow A-Frame signs without a permitting process so long as their use conforms to a set standard
The Chamber applauds the city council for moving forward with amendments which reflected many of our suggestions including: removing the need for a permit for an A-Frame sign, allowing for directional signage to a business and adopting incentives for business owners to replace their old signs.  We still have work to do.  A vote on the final sign code revisions should take place early in the Fall.
To keep up-to-date with the sign code revisions and to see the full results of our member survey, visit our advocacy website www.flagbizvotes.com

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chamber Active on Wildfire Prevention Legislation

A Message from the President

Last week the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce sat in on a conference call with Senator John McCain, representatives from his office, and the offices of Senator Jeff Flake and Senator John Barasso of Wyoming, to hear about S.2593, FLAME Act Amendments Act of 2014. Senator McCain began his conversation stating what an incredible challenge we have in the Southwest regarding fire and water.

The FLAME Act Amendments are tweaking the original legislation passed in 2009. Senator McCain bases his sponsoring of the legislation on the 2.4 million acres needing thinning in the Four Forest Restoration Initiative. Forest thinning can reduce the severity of a fire and the associated suppression
costs. But forest thinning cannot be successful without commercial enterprise to do it since the associated costs would be an enormous burden on the federal government.

Very high temperature fires are created when thinning isn’t done, which ultimately cause more catastrophic effects than if a burn reaches a thinned out area. This summer we watched the San Juan fire near Show Low torch over 7,000 acres of the White Mountain Apache Reservation and the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forests. That number could have easily been multiplied if not for the decade-long White Mountain Stewardship Project. In S.2593 there is a requirement for the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to dedicate appropriate funding to hazardous fuel reduction. There is also a discussion about categorizing catastrophic fires as FEMA national disasters; ditching the 10 year average cost of fire suppression to truly document what we have been spending in the past 3 years to better understand actual costs associated with suppression today and what budgetary measures should change to meet current drought conditions; requesting the Department of Defense to transfer newer aircraft to suppression efforts, versus outdated military aircraft which cannot meet our demands; and lastly to consider taking 50% of the $1.9 billion that is dedicated to suppression and dedicate it to hazardous fuel reduction or simply – forest thinning.

We applaud our Senators McCain, Flake, and Barsso for taking a lead on an issue so near and dear to all of us in Flagstaff and across the state. The bottom line is that we can’t continue to put more dollars into emergency fire situations and maintain the status quo while ignoring the excess fuel loads in our national forests that cause the catastrophic fires. Your chamber remains actively involved in many issues that affect our livelihood and local economy. Thank you for your membership investment; you allow the Greater Flagstaff Chamber to remain active affecting good policy decisions on many fronts as a catalyst for community and economic prosperity throughout our region. You are valued!

Boy Scouts Build New Park for 'Second Chance' Dogs

Thanks to a local Boy Scout troop, the dogs at Second Chance Center for Animals can now let out some energy and build confidence in the shelter’s own backyard.
When Anthony Violissi of troop #7033 approached SCCA looking for a project, they tasked his troop to build a confidence training park for the dogs temporarily staying the shelter.
 Mark Markussen, the adoptions and outreach manager at Second Chance, designed the course to be similar to the one set up in Bushmaster Park – which he designed for the City.
“I set it up so that any dog can complete the course,” Markussen said. “There are a few more difficult obstacles, but they’re all modifiable so that even a small dog, for instance, can get over everything. We use it particularly for dogs that have less confidence.”
Violissi found different donors to provide all of the supplies and materials needed to create the park. Then, he and his scout troop went out to the shelter for two days and constructed the course.
Mark was impressed with Violissi’s drive and leadership skills.
“Anthony was the lead guy and he learned a lot about leading,” Markussen said. “It was really cool to watch him figure out what he needed to do over the two days. I think the rest of the scouts really got some good work ethic out of it. They all stayed focused and got everything done and stayed on schedule. It was awesome.”
Markussen explained that Second Chance’s goal is to take care of the body, mind, heart and spirit of all of the animals that come in to their facility. The confidence course helps stimulate the dogs’ minds, keeps their bodies strong and their spirit high.
“Most shelters can only focus on Body – which is survival,” Markussen said. “We take it a step further by having a behavioral department so we can also focus on Mind, Heart and Spirit. We think about mind by actually giving them adoptable behaviors. Socially, they get play time together. They also get to interact with people. And finally, Spirit. Most dogs come here with an unbroken spirit and it’s up to us to not break that spirit. We need to make sure their lives are enriched while they’re here.”

To learn more about Second Chance Center for Animals, visit their website: secondchancecenter.org.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Summer Camps 2014

This summer parents can have their children participate in a plethora of programs being offered by Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce members that range from learning how to open your own business to discovering dinosaurs to band camp. Among the programs are:

YES Week 2014

Do you have a budding entrepreneur in high school? If so, NACET and the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce would like to invite your student to YES Week 2014!
Young Entrepreneurial Scholars (YES) Week is a week long summer event for high-school-aged students in the Northern Arizona area to create their own businesses and to learn the ins and outs of startups!  At YES Week, students will gain an understanding of entrepreneurship as a viable career option and learn about resources in their community, generate business ideas to create an atmosphere of fun, meet and learn from successful entrepreneurs, learn to work and cooperate in groups, develop critical thinking, leadership abilities, and life skills, and identify and evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities in Northern Arizona. To learn more and to register, call the Chamber at 928.774.4505.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army offers a wide variety of summer camps to youth ages 7 through 16. Their five different camps include Salvation Army Youth Camp, Band Camp, Gospel Camp, Teen Wilderness Camp, and Discovery Camp. Each program is held at The Salvation Army Southwest Division Camp Ponderosa Ranch in the White Mountains of Heber, AZ. At every Salvation Army summer camp:
Youth live in common aged cabin groups with councilors.
Meals are served “family style” by wait staff to each table.
Each day’s programming includes Bible emphasis and Chapel times.
An on-campus certified Health Care Supervisor handles all medications and incidences at the Camp.
Contact the local Salvation Army Corps/Unit in your community to inquire about eligible camps, possible scholarships, and for Camper Applications.

Theatrikos Theatre Company

Theatrikos Theatre Company is offering several summer camps in the coming months! Expose your child to the thrill, excitement and creativity of theater. This summer, kids ages 7-14 can be a part of many popular performances, including Peter Pan Jr. and James and the Giant Peach. Children ages 6-12 also have the opportunity to learn about play production, test out their juggling skills, and practice their acting, dancing and singing. For more information and to sign up for classes, visit theatrikos.com.

The Boys & Girls Club of Flagstaff

The Boys & Girls Club of Flagstaff’s Super Summer Day Camp is a nine week summer program that kicks off June 2nd, and will run Monday- Friday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Kids will enjoy many field trips and exciting activities throughout the summer, including participating in the Youth Police Academy presented by The Flagstaff Police Department, going on treks with the hiking club, and themed weeks such as Super Heroes week and Space week. Career week also includes fine arts classes, time in the technology room, indoor sports activities, swimming, bowling, movies and much more. The camp costs $70 a week per child  plus a $20 membership fee. Multiple child discounts and scholarships are available. No child will be turned away. For more information please visit bgcflag.org or call the Boys & Girls Club of Flagstaff at 928-266-0489.

Museum of Northern Arizona

From dinosaurs to clay, floating the San Juan river or excavating an archaeological site, make your child’s summer one to remember. Museum of Northern Arizona camps offer meaningful exploration with a focus on the diverse traditions of the arts, natural sciences and Native cultures of the Colorado Plateau. Experienced educators will delight and teach using hands-on activities and field trips. The Museum of Northern Arizona Discovery Program offers summer camps for children ages 4 to 13. Camps run for 8 weeks from June 9 to August 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for ages 6 to 13 and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for ages 4 through 5. Camp dates, descriptions and costs are listed on the museum’s website, musnaz.org/discovery. Scholarships are available.

Hitchin’ Post Stables

A horseback riding camp at Hitchin Post Stables features equine education, riding lessons, activities, crafts, snacks, drinks and a Hitchin’ Post Junior Wrangler T-Shirt. Kids 7 to 16 years will learn about horse and barn safety, tack lessons and vet care. Gentle horses on a roomy ranch provide a backdrop for a fun-filled time. Monday through Thursday from 8 am to Noon. Sessions are  June 2-5, 9-12, 16-19 and 23-26. Cost is $300 per four-day session. Reservation are required, so call 928.774.1719.