What’s Working Locally

SmallBusinessInnovative, independent entrepreneurship in the Valley

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ Over the past few years, Arizona has risen as one of the best states in the country for companies to start, expand or relocate a business. Named a “Top 10 Best State for Starting a Business” by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2013, Arizona was also ranked among the best in entrepreneurial activity by Fast Company and projected job growth by Forbes.

Add to that a growing technology corridor the stretches from Scottsdale’s SkySong to Phoenix and beyond, renewed efforts to reinvigorate Downtown Phoenix and connect it with education and entertainment hubs in Tempe and Mesa and a vibrant localism movement that is bringing entrepreneurs and communities together and the momentum is in Arizona’s favor.

Long a resource for small businesses and community builders, Local First Arizona (LFA) is leading the way in educating stakeholders, business leaders and policymakers about the significant economic, civic and cultural benefits of strong local economies. As part of this mission, LFA will host the 13th annual BALLE (Business Alliance of Local Living Economies) Conference in Phoenix June 10-12.

“Our annual conference is the national forum for visionary local economy connectors who are making a difference in their communities,” says Michelle Long, executive director of BALLE. “We are excited to head to Phoenix this June to experience the city as a rising star of Localism.”

The BALLE Conference (www.bealocalist.org/conference) is a three-day event that explores how locally rooted economic systems solve environmental, financial and social problems. Hundreds of local business leaders, social entrepreneurs, community funders, policymakers and local economy leaders of all kinds from across North America and beyond are expected to attend this year’s conference.

“Phoenix is a hub for independent entrepreneurship and innovation and we’re proud to be hosting the international BALLE Conference,” says Kimber Lanning, executive director of LFA.

Some of the innovations taking root in Phoenix include incubators like SEED Spot (www.seedspot.org), coworking spaces Co+Hoots (www.cohoots.com) and Hive at Burton Barr Central Library (www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org/hive) and accelerators like High Tide – Luhrs City Center (http://hightide.tallwave.com).

In his 2015 State of the City Address, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said, “What we have now in Phoenix is a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem that is empowering co-workers and makers, accelerators and incubators, designers and developers. It’s spurring innovation in a way that is contagious.”

If fortune favors the bold, then the Valley is fortunate indeed. |CST

We’ve compiled some resources online to help Valley entrepreneurs. Click here for more.



  1. […] Innovative, independent entrepreneurship grows downtown, in the Valley […]

  2. […] Local First Arizona, Kimber Lanning, and BALLE’s upcoming conference in Phoenix were featured in the City Sun Times. […]

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