Local First Arizona is working to help local businesses compete for grants and stimulus funds and thus help get the state’s economy back to pre-pandemic levels. We learned more from Local First Arizona CEO, Kimber Lanning.
Lanning explained, “After the last economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, Arizona was dead last for economic recovery and they measure economic recovery by the length of time it took us to reach pre-recession levels of economic activity. Now here we are staring into the largest stimulus bill any of us will ever see in our lifetimes, we’re working to prepare Arizonans broadly to have opportunities to compete for those dollars. We’re looking at communities whether it’s small rural towns or nonprofit organizations, helping them become competitive so they can win some of those dollars.”
In discussing the center she said, “Really the economic recovery center is two significant parts. Number one is we’re researching and aggregating all of the grant opportunities we can find and those are federal, state, local, and foundation grants and we’re putting them into one-page templates and disseminating them across Arizona so everybody has an opportunity to see what opportunities are available. Then in addition we have put together a wide variety of people who have expertise in grants and facilitation.”
Lanning also talked about the motivation behind starting this.
“Our leading incentive for starting this was if we don’t do anything we know we’re going to get more of the same. So what we’re trying to do is lift up and focus on those communities that need this support. What we’re seeing with small businesses, very specifically those that did not invest in technology before the down-turn have actually fallen even further behind.”
She reminded us that small businesses include more than just mom-and-pop shops, but those are the people most heavily affected right now.