2022 INTERCITY LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE – Tucson/Phoenix, Arizona
In October 2022, the San Marcos Area Chamber continued its goal of learning best practices to grow our region by once again hosting an InterCity visit. 42 community leaders and business professionals from San Marcos, Lockhart and Austin traveled to Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona to study the area’s successes and challenges in the hopes of further enhancing San Marcos and our region.
“For us to hear from others who share the same mission as we do, we’re listening to best practices and things we can adopt at home,” said San Marcos Chamber President Page Michel. “It’s really important to be in tune with the emerging trends that are coming from all around the country, and it’s something we can make sure San Marcos is looking ahead to.”
This InterCity Conference featured a high-impact presentation on Economic Development in the Greater Phoenix region. We heard from members of the Phoenix Chamber and WESTMARC, the EDO for West Maricopa County. They gave an overview of the economic development space in the region and what challenges they are currently facing.
Day two in Tucson included a conversation important to the San Marcos community: building relationships between the University and the surrounding community. Representatives from the University of Arizona, Tucson PD, and local neighborhood associations explained their “Campus-Community Relations Program.” They gathered leaders from the University and surrounding neighborhoods to develop effective ways to co-exist and thrive.
“What stood out to me most was the Campus-Community Relations Committee, and how they partnered the University, city and neighborhood associations, and how they work together to create, promote, and sustain neighborhoods,” said San Marcos Chamber Board Member Keely Hennig. “One of our biggest struggles has been, we need neighbors to be neighbors, and recognize the students, while they may be temporary, are still residents of San Marcos.”
Workforce development is key to growing a community into a thriving region. To get a better idea of how Tucson is growing their workforce, we visited Pima Community College where they are revolutionizing Workforce Development programs to become one of the leading institutions in the country. We toured their Centers for Excellence to see first hand their commitment to Career and Technical Education (CTE).
“One of the things we liked about workforce development topics, and using Pima Community College as an example, they have a strong relationship with their business community,” said Ted Groholske, Manager of Workforce Development at the Greater San Marcos Partnership. “Having that aspect of having your business community more involved in some of the process and procedures, is a win-win for everybody.”
Next the group focused on Housing in the Tucson region. We heard from developers, county staff, and the president of the region’s Homebuilders Association. We got an overview of the complications they’re facing with housing, and also areas where they have been able to achieve success.
“Every single builder talked about how diversity in housing is crucial,” said GSMP board member Laura Dupont, “and we need to continue creating those opportunities in San Marcos.”
After the conference, the Chamber continues to convene community members to begin implementing priorities of what was learned to help shape the future of San Marcos. It is a way for many different citizens to participate in the future success of our region.
Previous InterCity Leadership Conference locations:
2022: Tucson/Phoenix, Arizona
2021: Research Triangle NC (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill)
2019: Provo, Utah
2018: Greenville, South Carolina