In this installment of In the Community Conversations, 2021 tournament chairman Scott Jenkins held a virtual call with Kimber Lanning, President and CEO of Local First Arizona. The Thunderbirds have been long-time partners with Local First Arizona – A statewide organization dedicated to building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable Arizona economy by working with small business.
Lanning first spoke about how Local First Arizona has been affected by the pandemic.
“A quarter of our overall revenue comes from events, which are obviously cancelled now,” said Lanning. “So, we’ve been able to transition from events to what we call fee for service contract work – technical assistance and hands-on training for small business to be successful and ensure their survival.”
While there have been federal assistance programs, Lanning spoke about how not all small businesses were able to take advantage of them.
“Federal assistance did help some businesses but some could not take advantage,” said Lanning. “Many of our sole proprietors were not set up to have themselves on payroll, so we set up a small business relief fund and to date we have raised $1.3 million and distributed that around Arizona. We prioritized families with children without another source or income and in some cases, that was the difference between having food on the table and not.”
Lanning then spoke about the impact Thunderbirds Charities has had on Local First Arizona.
“The Thunderbirds have overwhelming shaped our program which helps underserved community members effectively run small businesses,” said Lanning. “We’re able to get them out of bad debt and improve their credit score. The thunderbirds have played a key role in that educational component and we now have 500 graduates who have created more than 800 jobs. That’s life changing.”
How can you get involved?
“Entrepreneurs apply though our website and we have a month of recruiting every six months,” said Lanning. “You apply online and then they’re called inf or an interview where they explain what they hope to do with their business. When they complete the program, they go through a graduation. It’s an extremely sought-after program, but the graduation is a huge celebration. It’s the most fun night ever.”
To learn more about Local First Arizona, visit their website at http://www.localfirstaz.com/
To volunteer with Local First Arizona, CLICK HERE.