Small Business Partner’s Stories are the Heart of the Community
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
August 5, 2022
At the Sedona Chamber, we are proud to serve more than 730 local business members. We’re also delighted that, in the fiscal year that just ended, we grew by more than 10 percent adding 85 new partners.
But the real Chamber stories take place behind every storefront — real people taking real risks, striving to succeed with businesses they created, often working side by side with family members often spanning a few generations:
- Tudy Longmire and her sister Sharon Nagi founded Sedona Fudge Company in 1982. Still creating homemade fudge and cookies from their Uptown store, today Tudy operates the business with her daughter Jennifer.
- Lee Athenour opened Cheers in 1986. Since then, his daughters and their husbands, Nicole and John Davis and Corin Athenour and Rob Arbogast, expanded Cheers to two stores and started three other businesses. Together, the family employs 25 people.
- Jaliza Gil embodies the young entrepreneurs and supporting families staking their Sedona claim. We were thrilled to host her ribbon cutting at Jaliza Sedona Luxury Spa | Beauty Lounge in West Sedona recently, welcoming Jaliza and her team to the Chamber family.
Most Chamber businesses are driven by entrepreneurial dreamers and doers like these. Scroll through the business directory at sedonachamber.com and you will find balloon pilots, fitness coaches, restaurateurs, resort managers, golf pros, museum curators, nonprofit supervisors, IT consultants, wedding planners, veterinarians, and architects. Together they provide thousands of jobs and the amenities we love – from outstanding eateries to renowned art galleries.
What can we say about this broad and diverse group? For one, they are risk takers who believe in themselves. They work incredibly hard, logging untold hours behind the scenes handling everything from payroll to building maintenance, working weekends, holidays, evenings, whatever it takes. They are taxpayers, remitting the sales taxes that help pay for public services such as police and parks, and paying personal taxes. Finally, they are employers, paying the workers who in turn spend their money locally on everything from gas to groceries. In other words, they are the beating heart of our economy and community life.
Chamber members are also passionate givers. Year after year, you will find them supporting nonprofit fundraising galas, fun runs, food pantries, animal shelters and much more. In fact, more than 130 Chamber members are nonprofits themselves. From Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity to the Hummingbird Society, they know Chamber membership deepens their community ties and identifies synergies with other service agencies.
Our members are working for sustainability, too. Our Sedona Trail Keepers program features 52 businesses that donate $1,000 each to supplement the USFS Red Rock Ranger District’s trail maintenance budget. In addition, almost all the businesses and organizations implementing the Sustainable Tourism Plan are Chamber members. More than 100 are “certified sustainable” by the Sustainability Alliance for their recycling efforts, reduced water and energy use, dark sky-compliant lighting, and zero-waste initiatives.
Sometimes I think of our members as “the heroes you’ve never heard of.” When you think of the Chamber and our small business community, I hope you, too, reflect on the hundreds of independent owners investing in Sedona’s future while sharing our passion for Red Rock Country.
We are both proud and humbled to provide our members with advocacy, promotional opportunities, professional development, networking and more. We encourage you to support them, too, by prioritizing locally-owned businesses when it is time to buy. Sedona will be better for it!
–Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau