Phoenix Councilman Gates pushes small-business assistance programs

by Eugene Scott – Feb. 7, 2011 01:35 PM
The Arizona Republic

Phoenix officials told north Phoenix entrepreneurs Thursday that Phoenix’s Small Business Division has implemented programs to help support small-business owners.

Councilman Bill Gates’ Office and the North Phoenix Chamber of Commerce hosted a Business Roundtable at My Brother’s Office, 14001 N. Seventh St.

Red tape has made opening small businesses in Phoenix difficult, discouraging entrepreneurs from bringing their companies to the city, Gates said.

“We have rules and regulations and that’s important, but the key is economic development and we need to work better with our small-business people,” he said.

Michelle Pierson, deputy director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Office, discussed some of the city’s 11 small business assistance programs.

Pierson said that more than 80 percent of businesses in Phoenix have fewer than 500 employees, which classifies them as a small business according to the Small Business Administration.

“Small businesses create the majority of the jobs in Phoenix, so it’s very important that you are thriving and succeeding,” Pierson said.

Pierson said the division’s Ombudsman Services will serve as advocates for entrepreneurs by connecting them with the permit, water, environmental and other departments.

The division’s expansion assistance and development program helps businesses with existing loans receive funds of up to $150,000 if needed.

“If you’re looking at expanding and not looking to go through the maze, we’re here to help you,” Pierson said. “We’re here to provide for you. We’re here as your public servants.”

Members from community business organizations in Sunnyslope, the Cave Creek Corridor and parts of northeast Phoenix shared their desire to see businesses in north Phoenix revitalized.

Tracy Baumbach, a founder of District 32 North, a business association interested in revitalizing the 32nd Street Corridor, said she was encouraged to see members of neighboring business associations present and expressing their concerns.

“It kind of made me realize that it’s not just 32nd Street,” said Baumbach, owner of Tracy B Designs, 3121 E. Greenway Road, No. 305. Entrepreneurs “are going through his whole district forming different groups to improve the economy.”

Councilwoman Peggy Neely talked about how her office helped the business community in the Palomino neighborhood improve from where it was in the late 1990s. Baumbach said that she hopes to get Neely involved with District 32 North, which is near Palomino, to see if she can help do the same for the 32nd Street Corridor.

“We aren’t done with Palomino and we didn’t have a lot of resources, but things have changed,” Neely said.

More information about the Small Business Division’s programs can be found at or by calling 602-262-5040.

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Bill Gates serves as the District 3 Supervisor for Maricopa County. His Maricopa County District 3 reaches from the far southern boundary of McDowell Road, north to the border of Yavapai County, from the eastern boundary of Scottsdale Road in places, to the western boundary of 43rd Avenue and includes the areas of Anthem, New River, and Desert Hills.

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