The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Partner America presented Mayor Greg Stanton with the Small Business Advocate Award to recognize his support of small businesses and championing policies that help local small business. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “We know that the key to building a healthy and strong economy is supporting local businesses, lifting them up and helping them succeed. Phoenix is blessed with a community of innovative entrepreneurs across every industry.”

For Phillip Potter, chief executive officer of The Armory, that industry is veteran entrepreneurship. In 2016, Potter founded his startup incubator to provide high-potential military veterans with the training, mentorship, resources, and access to capital they need to launch and grow new, high-value startups.

“Mayor Stanton and the City of Phoenix Department of Community and Economic Development have been key to The Armory’s success,” Potter said. “From the outset, Mayor Stanton understood military veterans to be exceptional business leaders and key economic assets. We appreciate the mayor’s enthusiasm for veteran entrepreneurs and value the trusted partnership that he’s helped forge between the City of Phoenix and The Armory Incubator.”

When Leticia and Jose Gamiz needed guidance with their small business, Mi Vegana Madre, a vegan Mexican food truck, they looked to the Hive @ Central—the City’s free entrepreneurial resource center. They participated in the Business Roadmap Program, a series of free workshops (also offered in Spanish) on how to start a small business in Arizona.

“The Hive offers more than a ‘Business Roadmap’—it’s like a GPS and a door that’s always open and full of services that businesses need that would normally be expensive,” said Leticia Gamiz.

In Arizona, small businesses make up 99 percent of businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Stanton has made supporting small businesses a priority. During his time as mayor, the City has adopted several measures to help small businesses get started and succeed: 

• The Hive @ Central — The City’s first business incubator offers 500 programs and has served more than 36,000 people since its launch in 2014. The Hive helped launch 93 startups and created 139 new jobs as a result. The Hive’s Business Roadmap Program is a series of eight startup workshops for anyone interested in starting a small business in Arizona. The workshops are also offered in Spanish as Mapa Para Su Negocio.

• Shop local policy — The program sets aside all procurements of goods and general services under $50,000 and limits competition for such bids to Local Small Business Enterprises whenever possible. With the Shop Local policy, the value of procurement contracts to local businesses climbed from just $50,000 to more than $2.3 million in the first two years alone.

• 24-hour online permitting system — In 2012, Stanton and the City Council approved an online, accelerated permitting process, cutting the red tape to conducting business, reducing wait times at permit counters and facilitating private development.

• Export readiness boot camp — Local small business leaders are attending export boot camp to learn how to expand their reach across international borders. Through Stanton’s initiative, companies have been participating in export readiness boot camp ExporTech since 2015. In 2017 alone, 14 companies completed the program.

• Adaptive reuse initiative — Stanton has made it a priority to help business owners who are finding new, productive uses for older and historic buildings by offering development guidance, a streamlined process, reduced timeframes, fee waivers and cost savings. The Office of Customer Advocacy has assisted in 160 adaptive reuse projects. Some of these projects include Ballet Arizona’s new studio space downtown, Upward Projects’ Federal Pizza on Central, and ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design in the Warehouse District.

“The City’s adaptive reuse program was instrumental in easing the process when opening our second bookstore in an older building,” said Cindy Dach, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore, located at The Newton on Camelback. “Having the City’s and community’s support helped us get off the ground.”