Tucson launches small-biz help line

2013-09-28T00:00:00Z Tucson launches small-biz help lineBy Darren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Trying to locate someone within the city’s bureaucracy to answer a simple question can be frustrating and time-consuming for small-business owners.

But not anymore.

The city has launched a Small Business Assistance Line as a one-stop shop for local entrepreneurs seeking answers or information from city staff.

“We recognize the important role small businesses play in the local economy, and we want to help them out any way we can,” said Chris Kaselemis, director of the city’s Economic Initiatives Program. “Economic development is not just trying to woo the big companies to town. It’s also supporting the businesses that are here and helping entrepreneurs get off the ground.”

Now, business folks unfamiliar with city services can call a direct line to connect with a staffer from the city’s Office of Economic Initiatives who will work with callers to address their specific needs.

“It’s answered by a live person. … You call that number, you’re going to get one of our economic-development specialists. It’s not going to be an answering machine,” Kaselemis said. “We’re going to make sure they get everything they need and they’re not just going to get dropped off on another department.”

Katharine Kent, owner of The Solar Store and outgoing chair of the Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Commission, said it’s good that the city now has staff members dedicated to resolving small-business owners’ issues.

“Having a direct, well-publicized phone number in the City Manager’s Office, available to all small-business owners in the community, will be so important,” Kent said in a press release.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, who supported the line’s creation, said it’s a critical next step to making Tucson a better place to do business.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com. Follow on Twitter @DarrenDaRonco.

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