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Fourteen Local Businesses Awarded Groundswell Growth Fund Grants

The Groundswell Growth Fund of the Tucson Changemakers Grant Program recognizes small businesses in Tucson that have been around for at least five years.



Tucson, AZWhile launching a business takes courage, creativity, and perseverance, growing a business takes grit and passion. The Groundswell Growth Funds recognizes small businesses in Tucson that have been in operation for at least five years. To be in business for five, or ten, years is an achievement, but to do so in the 2020s is remarkable.


We are honored to take a moment to recognize these fourteen Tucson small businesses and support their growth initiatives with the Groundswell Growth Award.


Groundswell Growth Fund Grant Awardees


Barrio Books: As an independently owned books store, Barrio Books strives to provide boundless literary selections with a passion for curating BIPOC titles. Owned and operated by Syrena, a former schoolteacher and transplant recipient who embodies resilience, Barrio Books has outgrown its first iteration as a pop-up shop, and its second as a small storefront at Hotel McCoy. This year, Barrio Books grows tenfold in a new much larger South Tucson space and will use the Groundswell Growth grant to fill their store with fixtures and merchandise.


Dolce Pastello Cakes: Dolce Pastello Cakes is owned by Haydee, who moved from Sonora, Mexico to Tucson with her daughters. Haydee began selling cakes to make a living for her family, and now, this award-winning baker oversees Dolce Pastello, famous for its Tres Leches Cake, located at the Mercado San Agustin. Currently, Dolce Pastello operates from a shared kitchen, but with help from the Groundswell Growth grant, Haydee's business will have enough funding to buy and install its own oven, expanding opportunities for their delivery and catering services.


ETANO: This small business is taking on the opioid crisis by offering short and long-term opioid addiction treatment services. A parent of an Etano patient writes, “Beyond providing closely supervised and safe methadone, helping those with opioid addiction tremendously, the Etano Center also provides counseling, online groups, medical support and other encouragement beyond compare". The Groundswell Growth Fund will be used to purchase the license legally required for ETANO to advertise their much-needed services throughout our community. 


Mayor Regina Romero with Earl and April King, Better Than Provisions


Flores Landscaping: Flores Landscaping has three employees, two work crews, and an inventory of equipment they have purchased over time to help their business grow little by little. Over the past few years, removing debris from a job would require several hours of work, but with the Groundswell Growth Fund, Flores Landscaping will purchase a hydraulic dump trailer that reduces labor time to ten minutes. This will allow employees to fulfill other jobs and expand their commercial impact with jobs.


Better Than Provisions: Founded by April and Earl King in 2018, Better Than Provisions produces three fun and unique flavors of a 5 Nut Granola that’s gluten-free, grain-free, keto, vegan and has no added sugar. They have a track record of success and will use this grant to implement a plan to simplify and improve their production process to reach their $1,000,000 sales goal.


FreeFall Aerospace: FreeFall Aerospace is a Tucson technology company born from The University of Arizona Center for Innovation startup incubator program. FreeFall focuses on communication systems and antenna solutions for aerospace and commercial applications with unique patented designs. Groundswell Capital will fund Project FreeFall Fast Forward, an initiative to accelerate facilitization and equipment procurement, as well as support workforce development for a local STEM student.


Mayor Regina Romero with the Salazar Family, Rocio's Salon


Lara Ruggles Music: Lara Ruggles Music, sometimes known as Sharkk Heartt, offers music creation, recording, production, and live performances here in Tucson. Lara’s music has won many awards in Tucson and beyond. The Groundswell Growth Fund award will support the purchase of new equipment required for revenue diversification including sync licensing and local music production.


Rocio’s Salon: The Salazar family has owned and operated Rocio's Salon in the City of South Tucson for more than 14 years. Rocio's Salon focuses on delivering quality services with hair care, haircuts, and hair styling, specializing in enhancing appearance with personalized hair modifications. With the Groundswell Growth Fund, Rocio's Salon will enhance their look, upgrading equipment and accessories within the whole salon.


Exo Coffee: Exo Roast Co is home to two coffee shops, is a wholesale coffee roaster, and serves as a community hub here in Tucson. If you have ever visited either of their locations, you may notice they weave regional foods and plants into the cafe as a way to highlight the unique qualities of our borderlands region. With this grant, Exo will develop the backlot of their Simpson Street property into a verdant space for demonstration gardens, workshops and collaboration with local non-profits. You can soon expect to see chiltepin growing under a mesquite canopy.


Mayor Regina Romero and Dr. Jamal Fruster, Dr. Jamal Fruster


Merchant’s Garden: This indoor urban farm grows organic leafy greens that you have probably had the pleasure of eating. They work with over 40 local restaurants, 88 Tucson schools, a number of grocery stories, and several food banks in our community. With this grant Merchant Garden will extend the hours at their EBT/SNAP retail stand by finalizing the purchase of a float washer that reduces farm labor by 40%, moving those employees’ time to the retail side.


Spark Business Solutions: Spark Business Solutions is a multi-service bilingual agency in Tucson, providing small business consulting, insurance, and tax accounting services to the English and Spanish speaking community. This grant will help Spark to reach their growth goal and continue to empower entrepreneurs by bridging knowledge gaps and ensuring compliance for their clients by funding training, licenses, and much needed software for this business.


Templo Fitness: Templo Fitness is a thriving wellness establishment dedicated to empowering individuals to achieve their fitness goals and lead healthier lives. They are renowned in the community for the incredible work they do with Tucson youth and our veteran community. With the Groundswell Growth Award, they will soon install an outdoor covered area and a dedicated creative space in which they will welcome non-profit partners and use to expand business offerings.


Dr. Jamal Fruster: If you don’t know Dr. Jamal, he is an awesome person to know and a great follow on Instagram. Dr. Jamal Fruster began formally coaching five years ago. A provider himself, his mission is to pour into our local healthcare professionals, teachers, parents, and leaders of various spaces, many of whom are facing burnout, compassion fatigue and a dysregulated nervous system, natural responses to the pandemic. With this grant, Dr. Jamal will expand his Providing for the Providers program, a transformative and restorative experience aimed at improving the wellbeing of our nurses, teachers, business owners, elected officials, first responders, and all who provide here in Tucson.





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