By Molly Spangler, Director of Economic Development
Sedona AZ (March 1, 2019) – During our Community Plan process, the residents told the city they value economic diversity, so much so that one-seventh of the plan is dedicated to this achieving the vision of “Sedona has a resilient economy, provides the highest quality of service to visitors, and offers rewarding and diverse employment opportunities.” It’s my job to translate this mandate into increased availability of good jobs, regional cooperation, and successful local businesses. Upon adoption of the community plan, the city committed to take a more proactive role in businesses retention, expansion, and recruitment. Through these efforts we will be a more prosperous community with creative and innovative businesses.
We have been actively working to achieve this vision since the creation of an Economic Development Department in 2016. This includes strengthening business and economic development partnerships, assisting businesses and acquiring grant funds to further our economic development goals.
We have strengthened our partnerships with other business assistance agencies such as the Yavapai College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization (VVREO). In the past year, the SBDC has committed more time to directly serve businesses in Sedona and the region with business planning and strategy. An example of these resources in action is this past year Sedona business Tribe Wellness acquired a VVREO loan to open and expand psychiatric and wellness services. These loans help local businesses create jobs, grow business, and continue to contribute to our community.
Routinely, I meet with businesses looking to start-up, expand and relocate in Sedona. In the past year, alone, I have spoken with over 50 businesses looking to find ways to grow their business in Sedona. Many of these are entrepreneurs and small businesses owners who need help with business planning, marketing, and better financial planning and acumen. I help connect businesses to the resources they need such as the SBDC and VVREO mentioned earlier.
The city’s Economic Development Department has hosted a few workshops and intensive all-day bootcamp trainings for our small businesses. These events typically have a limit on number of participants for we want to deliver a quality and engaging experience for those attending. Time and time again, these events have waitlists and are at capacity. Participants give positive feedback and ask for more opportunities to learn. We plan to continue offering such programs to our businesses.
In fact, a great opportunity is coming up through the Pioneer Pitch event April 11 -13, 2019. Businesses can sign up on vvreo.com to participate in an all-day workshop learning to craft their business pitch and message. Business will network with other like-minded entrepreneurs and compete for cash and in-kind prizes. The city of Sedona is proud to collaborate with VVREO on this exciting opportunity.
Over the past couple years, the city has leveraged over $150,000 in grant funds for business assistance services. Recently, we acquired a generous grant from APS to hire a consultant and lead us through the year long process of an Economic Diversification Plan. This plan will build upon our vision in the Community Plan and our efforts I’ve outlined in this article. The purpose of this plan is to outline our next steps in economic diversification strategies so that our business community can provide higher-wage jobs, diversified services and an overall more resilient economy.
The Sedona Economic Development Department exists to help businesses create and keep jobs and opportunities in our community. For information on revolving loans, business education, and other business support resources, contact Sedona Economic Development Director Molly Spangler at email@example.com.