Lauren Bradley, Flagstaff Chamber Intern, sat down with Joe Galli, who recently returned to the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce. Joe served the Flagstaff Chamber as Vice President, Government Affairs from April 2005 through December 2011 before relocating to Phoenix to lead the North Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce. Joe returned to the Flagstaff Chamber this fall as Senior Advisor, Public Policy.
LB: What brought you back to Flagstaff?
JG: I like to tell people I was just on a brief sabbatical. Truthfully, I spent many weekends visiting friends in town when I was away. The local business community faces many challenges, and we need to be present to assist.
LB: You were gone for 5+years. What appears different to you in town, and what’s never changed?
JG: There’s an acute sensitivity to growth these days. That certainly has been heightened. Sadly, the tension surrounding growth is palpable. Many of the community’s key leaders are still around and engaged, which can be an asset. A few have retired, and moved on. There are a handful of new faces, too, hopefully providing new perspectives.
LB: What’s different at the Chamber?
JG: The Chamber is still the big dog in town, which is important for Flagstaff’s business community. What’s cool is the Chamber’s expanded role now representing the region, thus, “The Greater Flagstaff Chamber” and it has established NAMAC – Northern Arizona Military Affairs Council, NAMP – Northern Arizona Manufacturing Partnership and FYP – Flagstaff Young Professionals. There’s a lot of excitement with those entities that benefit the community.
LB: What challenges do you feel the business community faces moving forward into the next decade beginning 2020?
JG: The pace of life is slower here than in the
big city, and that’s great, but a slower pace of life is not always conducive to adaptation. Communities are ever-changing, and for business to be successful anticipating and adapting to change on time is crucial. Long term, the community always seems to have a healthy debate on priorities, which will continue to shape Flagstaff in the next decade.
LB: What are some of the Chamber’s business advocacy priorities for 2019?
JG: We’re always concerned about the cost to do business in town. Tax and fee hikes and unfunded mandates from state and federal governments are always a concern. There are some good projects on the front burner, including getting a new City Courthouse built, making strong headway on the Rio de Flag construction project, widening Fourth Street over I-40 – all very present, super-important community needs. We want to see economic development opportunities improve out at Camp Navajo, as well. A few hurdles in place there, but we’re working on those.