Why Glendale Chamber Won’t Be First To 'Poo-Poo' More Education Funding

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, July 19, 2021 - 5:15am
Updated: Monday, July 19, 2021 - 8:00am

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Glendale Chamber of Commerce
Robert Heidt is President and CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce

After forming a new education committee, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce could become vocal about funding.

Chamber President and CEO Robert Heidt told KJZZ that educators in his city want the chamber’s nearly 1,400 members to advocate for appropriate funding and resource allocation at the local, state and federal levels.

“Overall, Chambers of Commerce are kind of ‘We don’t want more tax, we don’t want more this,’ and we get that, I think our folks get that around the table, we understand that mindset,” he said. “But we’ve got some big issues on the table that we have to look at.”

Heidt said his members’ were split in 2018, when tens of thousands of Arizona teachers walked out of their classes for six days and rallied at the state Capitol for higher teacher pay and more K-12 funding, and in 2020, when Arizona voters approved Proposition 208, knowns as the Invest in Ed Act, which imposed a 3.5% surcharge on individuals earning more than $250,000 a year.

“We’re not going to be the first chamber out there to immediately poo-poo and put down increased funding or increased taxation, we’re going to want to look at it,” he said. “We’ve got business leaders and community partners that really want to be around the table and want to understand it.”

"We’ve got business leaders and community partners that really want to be around the table and want to understand it."
— Robert Heidt, Glendale Chamber President and CEO

“Being both an educator and business owner, I feel there is a need to establish a stronger working relationship between both sectors,” Committee Chairperson Angelo Rossetti said in a press release. “For businesses to grow and be profitable, we need a steady pool of potential employees who are career ready.”

As the Glendale Chamber dives deeper into funding issues, the group plans to support K-12 schools, colleges and vocational training groups through internships, mentorships, and mock interview events. 

Heidt said higher education for some people seems unattainable and the Chamber wants to find ways to work with education partners. One example, he said, might be having volunteers help students fill out applications and financial aid forms.

Kate Kochenderfer, senior director of supply chain, transportation and flight services for Salt River Project said SRP looks forward to working with the chamber’s education committee.

“For many years SRP has offered internship programs across our departments and we partner with our state’s high schools, trade schools and universities to continue developing these programs,” she said. “Our ongoing objective is to provide our community’s youth ample opportunities for career exploration with a key focus on careers in STEM and sustainability.”

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