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Tucson Helping Tucson: Activating to Support Small Business from Danny Knee, CIC Executive Director

Less than one month ago no one could have imagined half the stores on 4th Avenue being in danger of being permanently shuttered or the bakeries of South Tucson no longer in place to bake authentic pan dulce and bolillo.  What seems like overnight we are at grave risk of losing  cultural and community investments that are  not only vibrant businesses like Five Points Market, and farmer’s market mainstay Sunflower Superfoods, but also businesses that act as community spaces like American Eat Company and Cartel Coffee Lab.  I for one can’t imagine Tucson without my favorite Sonoran hot dog cart, El Sinaloense, on Alvernon just south of Pima. 

Small businesses are at the heart of Tucson’s economy and of Tucson’s culture. And just like the individuals in our community dealing with the necessary restrictions in our fight to contain COVID-19, our small businesses are as well, and they are being particularly hard hit. Business owners are making great sacrifices to help us all stay safe, and because of their sacrifice many of our businesses are in jeopardy of shutting down, for good. 

99% of all firms in the U.S. are small businesses and over 50% of our nation’s private sector work force are employed by them. The effects of COVID-19 could be devastating as it’s estimated that as many as 50% of small businesses could close due to COVID-19 depending on how long we’re fighting to contain its spread. The average small business has enough cash reserves on hand to last them roughly 27 days. The pandemic we are facing and the restrictions needed to contain it will far surpass that timeframe. Our small businesses need your help now. 

Tucson Helping Tucson (THT) is a coalition of Tucson businesses and individuals who care and who understand the depth and breadth of the road ahead for our small business community. Community Investment Corporation is partnering with THT to raise money to provide critical financial assistance to the businesses hardest hit by this pandemic. Starting the evening of April 4, and every Saturday thereafter, THT will be livestreaming a virtual variety show that provides a much needed paid performance opportunity for local talent, while broadcasting an interactive, fun, and family-friendly program safely to Tucson homes. When safety permits, THT plans to produce a major three-day virtual event for the community to celebrate all that we are and all that we have overcome. In parallel with our programming is a sustained fundraising drive. With money raised we’ll provide grants and create a no-interest revolving loan fund to help keep the local treasures that make up our small business community afloat. This fund will not only support Tucson until we are able to go back to business as usual but will act as an emergency fund to help no matter what our local economy faces in the future. I know that our businesses are resilient and will “pay it back to pay it forward” to others in need, but right now we need everyone to get involved, give what you can and invest in the future of the small business economy. 

We’re asking you to stand with us and to support Tucson’s homegrown business community through the health and financial crisis we’re facing.