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Arizona chambers announce strategic partnership

Two of the state’s most respected chambers of commerce announced a strengthening of their already close alignment that will increase the influence of their organizations statewide.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are entering into a new strategic partnership that will see each organization’s members earn general membership status within the other, resulting in a joint membership roster of over 1,800 participating businesses across the state.

“The Arizona Chamber is proud to be joining one of the nation’s most respected Hispanic chambers of commerce in a new partnership that will create a powerful grassroots network of advocates for policies across the state that will encourage job growth and make Arizona’s economy even more competitive,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said. “By working together, the business community’s voice in Arizona becomes even stronger.”

The two chambers already maintain a close working relationship at both the organizational and policy agenda level.

Lea Márquez Peterson, the president and CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber, sits on the board of directors of the Arizona Chamber, while Hamer sits on the board of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber, which in 2013 was named Large Chamber of the Year by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Both Hamer and Márquez Peterson have participated in trade missions to Mexico, and the two chambers have successfully advocated for the funding of the state’s trade offices in that country. The two CEOs are also part of Gov. Doug Ducey’s Zanjeros program, with Márquez Peterson serving as a co-chair. Hamer sits on the board of directors of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, and he serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Public Affairs Committee and the Committee of 100, which is comprised of the nation’s top chamber executives.

The two chambers’ most promising joint venture has been in the establishment of A for Arizona, an education initiative headed by former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan, which highlights the work of school leaders in low income areas across Arizona who are earning outstanding results and whose educational models could serve as the basis for replication in other parts of the state. A for Arizona is a technical adviser to Gov. Ducey’s Classrooms First Council, which is charged with developing recommendations for modernizing the state’s education financing system.

“A for Arizona demonstrates just how impactful our chambers can be when we work together,” Márquez Peterson said. “With A for Arizona, we’re showing policymakers at the highest levels of government the positive things that are happening in Arizona’s K-12 schools, setting the stage for future education reforms that will bolster Arizona’s reputation for education excellence.”

In addition to reciprocal general memberships, the two chambers anticipate organizing joint events and forums, as well as jointly collaborating on research through each chamber’s foundations.

“There are so many important areas where our chambers can and will collaborate to influence policy,” Hamer said. “From enhancing the state’s cross-border trade relationship with Mexico, to reforms to our K-12 and higher education systems, to issues that impact Arizona’s Hispanic business community, no two organizations are better positioned to elevate the broader Arizona business community. We at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce could not ask for a better partner than the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and the dynamic Lea Márquez Peterson. I can’t wait to get started.”

The Tucson Hispanic Chamber is no stranger to expanding its mark beyond Tucson. Under Márquez Peterson’s leadership, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber has launched affiliate Hispanic chambers of commerce in Douglas, Sierra Vista and in both Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Sonora.

“I know from my time on the board of directors that the Arizona Chamber is the state’s premier business advocacy organization,” Márquez Peterson said. “I am excited that through this partnership the Hispanic chambers in southern Arizona will be able to tap into that policy prowess, while also increasing the visibility of our business community at the state Capitol.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed the news of greater collaboration between the chambers.

“I applaud the Arizona Chamber and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber for working together to make Arizona a better place for our state’s job creators. I have enjoyed working with both organizations in my time as Governor as we strive to extend opportunity to all through a stronger economy,” Gov. Ducey said. “These chambers’ desire to work even more closely will surely benefit our entire state with an increased focus on Southern Arizona’s economy.”