Win Free Downtown Office Space for a Year!

January 17, 2012

Make sure you check out this very cool project sponsored by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce:


By Rhonda Bodfield, AZ Daily Star (January 17, 2012).  Downtown advocates say they’re so convinced downtown is a good place to do business that they’re putting their money where their assurances are.

The Tucson Metro Chamber is sponsoring a contest offering free rent downtown for a year to an emerging company.

The space will be on the 10th floor of the Pioneer Building, 100 N. Stone Ave., in an office of about 1,600 square feet. That’s likely not a good choice for a retail startup, but it could work for anything from an Internet or software company to a public relations firm.

Michael Kasser, president of Holualoa Cos., a development firm that owns the building, said he’s offered the office space to the chamber at $9 a square foot, which is essentially the operating cost for the building with no markup. That still works out to thousands of dollars in free rent annually.

But there’s more to it than just office space, said Fletcher McCusker, the CEO of Providence Service Corp. and a member of the chamber board.

McCusker is anticipating chamber members will volunteer to provide assistance in a host of areas, from Web design to public relations, banking and general business consulting.

“There are a couple of things we’d like to accomplish,” McCusker said. “First, it helps a struggling business that might not be able to launch otherwise, and it promotes the value of doing business downtown. That’s become a priority for the chamber board – to promote downtown business.”

Michael Keith, the head of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, said he sees three goals will be met with the contest. “You get to utilize a space that’s underutilized now because of higher-than-normal vacancy rates. You provide an incubator opportunity for a small business that otherwise wouldn’t have the resources to take that first step.

“And it calls attention to downtown in general. You get the best of all possible worlds.”

The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is also ready to assist, said Len Jessup, the dean of the college.

The school will help select the winner by helping to review the business plans submitted by the hopeful candidates.

Jessup said the school will help promote the contest, predicting some business students at the college may even end up applying.

Once an applicant is chosen, he said, the Eller team will be available to mentor the fledgling business.

“This is the kind of leadership this community needs, and we stand willing to help with it,” Jessup said.

Some of the rules are still being worked out. It’s not entirely clear yet, for example, whether the contest will be open just for brand-new businesses or whether it can be offered to an existing business that’s struggling.

The chamber board, which endorsed the concept of the plan in November, is expected to develop the remaining rules at its board meeting later this month.

McCusker said candidates will likely have a month to respond, and suggested interested parties stay posted for more details and updates on the chamber’s website,

Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at or 573-4243.



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