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Made in America: Season 3 — Showcasing the resilience of small business owners in Arizona

5 min read
Stacey Hartman

The landscape of Phoenix and its surrounding areas still beckon images of the Wild West — dusty, oppressively hot summers; a tumbleweed rolling by a saguaro cactus; rattlesnakes and scorpions. But, Phoenix and the surrounding areas are so much more than the days of yore. According to 2020 census data, Phoenix was the fastest-growing large U.S. city between 2010 and 2020 and two suburbs of Phoenix — Goodyear and Buckeye — are two of the fastest-growing U.S. cities in that decade. Not only is there potential for economic growth, but residents have also already proved that they have what it takes to excel in small business.

Made in America, GoDaddy’s documentary series showcasing the struggles and success of extraordinary entrepreneurs is using season three to shine a light on Arizona. Fittingly, GoDaddy’s headquarters are located in Tempe, Arizona, part of the larger Phoenix landscape and home to Arizona’s largest university.

We feel a deep connection to the entrepreneurs in the Valley of the Sun because we’ve been there.

Phoenix provides a unique opportunity for the season. Empower, GoDaddy’s philanthropic program that equips entrepreneurs in more than 40 cities with the tools they need to thrive, has a strong presence in Phoenix.

GoDaddy also has strong relationships with business partners and local experts that will bring compelling entrepreneurial stories and respected experts to the forefront of the series. The state’s polar and divided political climate allows for unique perspectives on core issues and entrepreneurial opportunity gaps for immigrants and Native and Indigenous Peoples.

Season three of Made in America is taking us on a journey with two unique entrepreneurs — Dizzie Ramsey and Cherilyn Yazzie.

Dizzie Ramsey, Just Energy Entertainment

Dizzie Ramsey

Dizzie Ramsey is a born entertainer. Using his high energy and humor, he has enjoyed 20-plus years in the entertainment industry as the MC for the Harlem Globetrotters and working for Radio Disney, the Phoenix Suns and Nickelodeon. Touring has taken him to all 50 states.

He started Just Energy Entertainment (JEE) five years ago. The company serves and entertains children and the elderly, focusing on children with disabilities and illnesses and partnering with local senior centers. The entertainment company also partners with larger corporations for team-building events.

Dizzie started JEE to do something that didn’t place the full burden of entertainment on himself. He saw it as an opportunity to train others and pass on his energy and passion for entertainment while bringing joy to others.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on the entertainment industry, and JEE is no exception. The nature of lockdowns and restrictions virtually shut down all business.

He financially supported his employees during the toughest times of the pandemic, making sure his colleagues could pay their bills and expenses.

The social unrest and racial divide that has intensified and been brought to the forefront of society has also created a struggle for Dizzie and JEE. He feels conflict in his profession and its perception as “the help” showing up to events for an audience that is generally affluent and white, and the inability to speak his mind on key issues to not alienate his client base and potentially lose business.

But Dizzie pushes on to create joy and entertainment for the community. JEE is working with the Treasure House, a home for adults with all abilities run by the Kurt Warner Foundation, for an upcoming event. Dizzie is also working toward a partnership agreement for JEE to be the entertainment partner of the local Indoor Football League.

Cherilyn Yazzie, Coffee Pot Farms

Cherilyn Yazzie knows the importance of healthy eating. As a social worker for more than a decade, and a Navajo woman, she managed the nutrition services department for Navajo County Public Health.

She continually recommended nutritionally dense and healthful foods but realized that wasn’t always possible for her clients.

Fresh fruits and vegetables weren’t always readily available, especially to those located on Navajo Nation reservations, where a food desert exists.

So, she decided to do something about it.

Cherilyn Yazzie

She and her husband, Mike, started Coffee Pot Farms. Using a greenhouse, drip irrigation, careful soil management, and other techniques, they produce fresh produce despite the harsh desert conditions and lack of water.

Since 2016, they’ve been running and operating the farm, providing fresh produce to the Navajo Nation.

Her goal is to get others within the Nation into farming so that more and more opportunities for nutrient-rich, fresh foods are available, and future generations will continue to be healthy, live long, and be able to continue to share the traditions and culture of the Navajo.

Operating and selling primarily from farm stands inside the reservation, Cherilyn and Mike had to adjust when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down those stands. They launched their first community-supported agriculture (CSA) movement and have been able to sell in some farmer’s markets both on and off the reservation.

Having to lease the land they farm from the Navajo Nation and working almost completely off the grid — no running water, no electricity and minimal internet service — Cherilyn and Mike say that if they can make a farm work, anyone can. They are focused on continuing to grow their CSA, getting their website up and running, and learning more about marketing their brand and their business to enable more people in their community and beyond live healthy lives.

Watch all available episodes of Made in America, including past seasons, here.