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Local First Arizona launches center to aid businesses following pandemic

Small business owners met up with Senator Krysten Sinema to discuss incoming relief, the importance of local banks and credit uniones and how to better reach out to underserved entrepreneurs on March 29. (Twitter photo/@LocalFirstAZ)

PHOENIX — An economic recovery center aiming to ensure every corner of the state has the opportunity to build back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic has been launched by Local First Arizona, officials announced.

The Arizona Economic Recovery Center will focus on increasing capacity for more cities, towns, counties and nonprofits to win competitive federal, state and foundation grants, according to a press release.

“Arizona is at a turning point. While fairing better nationally than most states, we also have an opportunity to help shape what local economies look like in the coming decades,” Kimber Lanning, CEO of Local First Arizona, said in the release.

Gov. Doug Ducey recently announced his support through a contribution of $250,000, matching funding provided by companies, foundations and others raised by Local First Arizona to launch the initative.

Other donations to the organization were made by Vitalyst Health Foundation, Freeport-McMoran Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation, according to a separate press release.

“As our economy continues to reach new heights, local businesses and organizations across the state should have easy access to competitive federal grants,” Ducey said in a separate release. “Local First Arizona has a track record of success and Arizona is proud to expand that work.”

The Nalwoodi Denzhone Community on San Carlos Apache secured a $250,000 grant with the assistance of Local First, further advancing their food system work, including growing and distributing fresh food to improve access to healthy food in the region while creating jobs, according to the release.

Sen. Mark Kelly said he’s honored to partner with the center which will be a critical part of working with local governments and community leaders to bring investment and opportunity across the state.

“Getting our economy back on track is a top priority, and the passage of the COVID-19 relief bill was a critical first step, but the work doesn’t stop there,” Kelly said in the release. “Arizona needs to bring good-paying jobs and investment, not just to big metropolitan areas, but to rural areas as well.”

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