The city of Tucson launched a new assistance phone line for small to medium-sized business owners Thursday.
The line will help business owners “navigate the city’s departments, programs and personnel through a one-stop shop to allow them more time to focus on growing their business,” said Michael Graham, city spokesperson, in a news release.
Staff members from the city’s Office of Economic Initiatives will answer questions directly and guide the callers through their issues, said Chris Kaselemis, the program director.
“A lot of times, [small business owners] don’t know how to navigate through the city’s systems or how to get a business license or how to deal with our planning and developmental services,” he said. “They can call us and we can give them any information they need, we can refer them to different agencies and just kind of help them out.”
Kaselemis said the office’s goal is to “come up with ways so we can help businesses that want to come to Tucson, businesses that are already here and for entrepreneurs and the start-ups.”
“This is another tool in our toolbox for helping out the local economy,” he said.
Kaselemis said the idea for the small business assistance line came from the Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Business Commission, which worked with councilwoman Karen Uhlich.
Robert Medler, vice president for government affairs at the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said the help line is “one step in the right direction,” but the city should refine the system so that it’s not so difficult in the first place.
“There’s a 17-step process to get a business license in the city of Tucson,” he said. “I hope over time, we’d be able to reduce that and it becomes rather straightforward.”
Medler said he believes the line will be helpful to business owners, but the process of owning a small business in Tucson should be more simple, making guidance services like the assistance line “obsolete.”
Yoohyun Jung is a University of Arizona journalism student and apprentice at Arizona Public Media