Earlier this month, Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning was honored at the Arizona Capitol Times annual awards ceremony recognizing leaders in public policy. Kimber was awarded this recognition in the Business category, one of 20 other categories including Arts & Humanities, Economic Development, Environment, Government, Healthcare, and others. Kimber has been a leader in public policy for many years now, advocating tirelessly for policies that support locally owned businesses and allow them to thrive and create jobs here in Arizona. Here are some highlights of her accomplishments:
Redeveloping the City of Phoenix's Adaptive Reuse Program
Kimber found the city of Phoenix’s adaptive reuse program to be so cumbersome and regulatory that it was preventing small businesses from getting their doors open in the city’s center. She was appointed to the Development Advisory Board for the City in 2006 and began working with city officials to streamline this process to get entrepreneurs and new businesses into all of Phoenix's great old building stock to create active streets. The pilot program Lanning instigated and oversaw helped 12 businesses through the new system, saving them an average of 4.5 months and $16,000 in the process to get their Certificate of Occupancy. Because of the success of this program, it is now encouraged city wide and works for any building built before 1990 and up to 30,000 square feet. Because of this shift and Lanning’s relentless mantra to city officials, Phoenix has seen over 80 new businesses open up in the city center, every one of them in an existing building. Find out more about the program here.
Banning Tax Breaks for National Retail Development
In 2007, Kimber worked with the Arizona Legislature to pass a bill that banned cities doling out of tax dollars for national chain retail developments. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, the law "outlaws subsides for retail projects in Maricopa and Pinal counties, which encompass the Phoenix metro and include two-thirds of the state’s population. Under the law, cities that continue to fund retail development will see their share of state revenue reduced by an amount equal to the incentives they give developers." This moves helped local businesses by stopping tax handouts to national chains and reminded cities that investing in local businesses is a great way to promote economic development and jobs.
Encouraging Cities to Adopt Buy Local Policies
Kimber has worked with cities across the state to keep procurement dollars circulating in Arizona's local economy and supporting local businesses. In 2012, the City of Phoenix adopted a new policy for its purchases: for goods and services costing less than $50,000, Phoenix must first offer the contract or job to a company based in Maricopa County or Arizona before offering the work to an out-of-state company. This move resulted in directing $2.2 million in city spending to local businesses, or 44 times more than in 2011.
Moving Public Money into Local Banks
According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, "small and mid-sized banks control less than one-quarter of all bank assets, yet they account for more than half of all small business lending." To foster a friendlier lending environment for local businesses, Kimber has worked with a variety of government entities to make their money work for Arizona. In 2012, the City of Phoenix launched a plan to move $50 million into local banks and credit unions. In 2013, the City of Tucson announced it was moving $5 million to locally owned Alliance Bank.