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Chamber focuses on keeping businesses in Ahwatukee area

CEO says key to success is ‘building community’

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Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 5:11 pm

Ahwatukee Foothills is known to have many thriving businesses, and keeping a sense of community has been a main focus at the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce.

Terri Kimble, president and CEO of the chamber, puts an emphasis on keeping businesses in the community.

"It's all about relationships and doing business locally," Kimble said. "Our whole theme is building service and building community."

The chamber has put on such events as Red, White and Boom, Ahwatukee's annual Fourth of July celebration that benefits more than 40,000 residents. The chamber also has an Ahwatukee community foundation that allows certain groups with needs to register at the chamber.

Joseph Ortiz, a financial advisor at Edward Jones in Ahwatukee, believes that community service is something that all businesses involved in the chamber should be participating in.

"I'm huge in community type of things," Ortiz said. "Ahwatukee has other challenges that we can focus on and the chamber has been really good to me so I like to pay it forward, so to say."

The chamber has also done other work like gathering fallen citrus from trees for the elderly by involving the Lion's Club and some local high school students. The citrus is then sold at the Ahwatukee Farmers' Market.

One business, S.O.S. Pool Rescue and Home Services, continues to aid the community by helping those who are having a little more trouble in the economic rescission. Sheila Ramirez's pool company does some elderly a favor and knows that sometimes times are tough.

"It's our gift to the universe to give back," Ramirez said. "We've done that for a couple of people during hard times."

Kimble and Ramirez both don't think that the recession has been affecting group membership as far as more businesses attending meetings.

"People know that during a recession they need to stay focused," Ramirez said. "They will be the ones that come out on top and are probably the ones that are more motivated."

The chamber also focuses on subcommittees, which house more than 500 businesses in the Ahwatukee area, such as the Ahwatukee Executive and Financial Research Group and Women in Business. This type of business networking helps to keep businesses strong in the community even with unemployment rates high and small businesses struggling.

"We are one of the chambers that are growing," Kimble said. "We are doing better as a staff and having them educated to help their businesses increase."

The Ahwatukee Executive and Financial Research Group is one of five different networking groups at the chamber, where 150 businesses meet weekly.

Emily Pomilio is a student at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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