Safford Spotlight on Small Business answers entrepreneurs’ questions

David Bell
5 Min Read

SAFFORD — More than three dozen small business owners, operators and managers had their questions answered, and learned about city operations, in the City of Safford’s first Spotlight on Small Business.

 “Getting people together in a room, and having a conversation, is the catalyst for ideas,” said City Manager John Cassella. “You never know what that idea is going to be, but you’ve got to get people in the room, get them talking, get the energy moving, and good things will happen.”

Attendees asked about commercial and industrial development at the city’s airport, as well as the possibility of commercial flights from Safford to Phoenix. There were also questions about utility rates and hook-up deposits for small businesses, and what is happening with restoration of the Safford Theatre and new way-finding signage for the Downtown area.

The Spotlight on Small Business, Monday morning at the Manor 415 convention center, was created by the city, in partnership with the Graham County Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center at Eastern Arizona College and the Safford Downtown Association.

Safford Mayor Richard Ortega welcomes everyone to the inaugural Safford Spotlight on Small Business event.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

After a welcome by Mayor Richard Ortega, a small business owner of more than four decades who said that nurturing a small business is similar to the challenges of raising children, Cassella talked about various programs the city has implemented to help small business, starting with the Small Business Support program, which saw the city offering matching funds to business for improvements to their buildings. That program ended in 2023, after spending more than $117,000 to support local businesses.

Small Business Support Program recipients

7-22-21 — $4,247.60 for the Tiny Bean Coffee Co.
10-5-21 — $2,377 for Gila Valley Made
1-13-22 — $10,000 for The Venue on Main
2-10-22 — $3,756.16 for the Venue on Main
3-29-22 — $8,176 for GCRC
6-7-22 — $7,536.53 for The Wash
6-7-22 — $10,000 for The Vignette
7-14-22 — $10,000 for The Vignette
9-8-22 — $10,000 for Fancy Pizzeria
9-8-22 — $10,000 for Farm Bureau Financial Services
9-8-22 — $2,613.50 for Willa’s Cottage
11-30-22 — $10,000 for Gineveve’s Market Place
1-18-23 — $1,010.50 for The Shelf
2-21-23 — $7,765 for GCRC
2-21-23 — $8,750 for GCRC
6-15-23 — $782 for The Nook
6-15-23 — $10,000 for Protein and Coffee Shake Shop

The City is currently supporting the Microloan program, which Cassella said has loaned out more than $200,000 to local businesses. And the City is offering fee waivers in certain instances when appropriate. Plus the City is seeking more communication on what can be done to support small businesses.

Eric Bejarano, director of the SBDC at EAC, explained the requirements of beneficial ownership reporting to the Financial Crimes Network of the IRS, as well as reminded everyone that the SBDC is a free service available to all business owners.

Tavia Raley, left, and Eric Bejarano with the SBDC at EAC, listen to input from Trophies N’ Tees owner Janet Quinn at the Safford Spotlight on Small Business event Monday at Manor 415. Also pictured is Safford Airport Manager Cameron Atkins, right.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Safford City Clerk Beatrice Driver explained the business licensing process, and Planning and Community Development Director Jaime Embick said her office has an “open door policy” to business owners with questions about development within the city.

Danny Smith, president of the Safford Downtown Association board, said his organization focuses on development of the Downtown area, as well as provides the façade grant program, where funds are matched for business owners seeking to improve their buildings’ appearance.

Heather Floyd, Public Relations specialist for Valley Telecom, left, talks with Roycycled Treasures owner Royce Hunt-Bell during the networking portion of the Safford Spotlight on Small Business event Monday.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Editor’s note: Reporter David Bell is a member of the Safford Downtown Association board.



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Local News – GilaValleyCentral.Net , 2024-04-01 19:32:12
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