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CHAMBER NEWS: Supporting our business community is essential

Michelle Conway (Submitted photo)

Michelle Conway (Submitted photo)

Last week, we welcomed two new businesses with a double ribbon-cutting ceremony near Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, Mi Amore and Terrapin Station by El Portal.

Sandy Patel and PJ Malani have opened Mi Amore gift shop in the original historic Hart store (built in 1926) at 100 Brewer Road, formerly the Hummingbird House. Right next door at 90 Brewer Road is Terrapin Station by El Portal, a cozy, pet-friendly vacation bungalow known as the only handicap-accessible vacation rental in Sedona. Congratulations to our newest businesses. I encourage you to support them!

Lately, we have emphasized the “stories behind the storefronts,” while also highlighting our sustainability-oriented community activities. On March 15, at our Chamber Shredding Event, Sedona’s residents and businesses pitched in and dropped off 3,600 pounds of paper. According to our partners at Elevated Shredding, recycling that material saves:

• 30.6 trees

• 684 gallons of oil

• 5.4 cubic yards of landfill

• 7,200 kilowatts of energy

• 12,600 gallons of water

• Burning that paper would produce 2,700 lbs. of carbon dioxide.

We strive to build a culture of sustainability among our visitors while advocating for the small businesses such as Mi Amore and Terrapin Station. On April 5, Chamber members can sign up, at no cost, for a special workshop on how paid social media can benefit their bottom line, hosted by Chamber Social Media Manager and Content Creator, Eric Nguyen.

We know tourism drives small businesses, and those businesses power most of our jobs, tax revenues, civic contributions, amenities and cultural events. But another business contribution popped up in the city’s recent National Community Survey: Sedona shoppers are increasingly satisfied with their consumer experience. Two-thirds say Uptown and Sedona’s commercial areas’ vibrancy is good or excellent, up nine percent from the 2020 survey. There is also a nine percent jump in the percentage who feel shopping opportunities have improved.

Most survey respondents also said tourism should play a lesser role in Sedona’s economic future. There is no obvious or immediate alternative to tourism as our primary economic force; tourism provides more area jobs than Sedona’s population and generates a $1 billion annual economic impact. Our present economic slowdown is tied to fewer visitors, demonstrating tourism’s importance.

But a diversified economy is a sustainability goal, and the growth of a regional wine industry shows new industries can develop. Hardworking entrepreneurs and our friends at the Verde Valley Wine Consortium and Yavapai College Enology and Viticulture program have made Verde Valley wines nationally known. This deserves celebration, though broad economic diversification in Red Rock Country has a long way to go. The most sensible path forward is to seek diversification opportunities while bringing a culture of sustainable tourism to Sedona and our visitors, which includes marketing to sustainability-minded travelers. Of course, we are continuing our “Respect Red Rock Country” message to arriving visitors.

I want to close with a big ‘Thank You’ to Patrick Schweiss and Reba Stone of the Sedona Film Festival for offering valuable tips on motivating volunteers at our Nonprofit Leadership Roundtable session March 28. SIFF is another Chamber partner enhancing our quality of life, while attracting longer-staying, higher-spending, sustainability-minded travelers. We appreciate you, Patrick and Reba!

Michelle Conway is CEO & President of Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau.

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