Chamber is About Community Leadership Through “The Three C’s”
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
June 25, 2021
After way too many Zoom sessions, it was refreshing to see people face to face at our sold-out Chamber Annual Meeting at the Sedona Golf Resort in the Village of Oak Creek June 24. We needed a real get-together to feel like a community again.
Convener, Catalyst and Champion
We talked about how the Three C’s of the Chamber – convener, catalyst and champion. Meeting in the VOC symbolized all three. It was a step in convening a broader business coalition inclusive of the Village, unincorporated areas, Oak Creek, home-based businesses and regional enterprises with Sedona connections.
Together, we can catalyze regional approaches to tourism management, housing affordability, the labor shortage and more. We’re even adding “Greater” to our name to become the Greater Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau.
Chamber Positioned to Facilitate Government Partnerships
Our economy includes parts of two counties, Sedona, the Village of Oak Creek, congressional district 1, the Yavapai College District, the Arizona Parks Department and the US Forest Service, not to mention ADOT. These jurisdictions work together fairly well, although no agency specifically facilitates communication. We work with all, so I feel the chamber is well-positioned to serve as a convener and catalyst to improve the quality of the work we need to do together.
Labor Shortage Threatens Business Viability, Community Cohesion
The labor shortage is a national problem, but Sedona’s housing unaffordability contributes to our difficulty attracting workers.
Housing costs also create social inequity. Sedona workers must live elsewhere, unable to put down roots here. At the same time, they must leave their bedroom town to work in Sedona. They are not truly at home in either place, inhibiting a sense of community in both. With our government relationships and my experience developing workforce housing in Montana, the chamber can champion this issue.
Education Critical to Developing Future Local Workforce
Yavapai College’s Sedona Center is doing fantastic work; their hotel, restaurant and culinary training courses are excellent, as are their accounting and computer programs, to name just a few. With the change in state law, the College can now begin to undertake four-year degree programs. The chamber can be a forum to promote these and deliver feedback.
Destination Management Involves all Aspects of Community, Economy
We are Sedona’s Destination Management Organization. The challenges that get so much attention – traffic, transit, trash and trail preservation – affect the entire region. The current OHV noise issue shows how quickly legal and jurisdictional aspects become overly complicated. Sedonans are beginning to recognize that complexity, and we want to broaden that understanding.
For example, America is now poised for a record-setting resurgence in summer travel aimed squarely at semi-rural destinations with lots of outdoor recreation. Us, in other words. I’m not sure most Sedonans see this coming. Action will require a rational conversation involving all levels of government and a well-informed community.
Chamber Can Help Avoid Oversimplify Solutions That Can’t Work
Simplistic tourism management ideas are either impossible (stopping tourism) or counterproductive (eliminating communications hoping that visitors somehow forget about Sedona, therefore failing to educate travelers on sustainability obligations). The chamber’s power to convene, catalyze and champion helped produce the Sustainable Tourism Plan. Now we need to convene conversations about savvy tourism management strategies that will help us achieve sustainability.
Moving forward, we will facilitate those conversations so policies reflect wise community choices supporting our quality of life, economy and environment.
-Candace Carr Strauss,