Local First Arizona
The Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) team received excellent feedback at our quarterly Board of Directors meeting earlier this week. In addition to a comprehensive overview of new development initiatives, we focused on events, membership, establishing our brand, and our work with Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill to investigate the feasibility of creating a business improvement district. Our economic development partner, the Downtown Phoenix Community Development Corporation (CDC), has joined the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) in agreeing to a January 1, 2015 consolidation date. We continue to work with the Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) on a similar arrangement.
Having our business, city, and community leadership at the same table focused on the future of downtown bodes well for the future.
Doing Our Best
USA Today named the Roosevelt Row Arts District one of the top ten best arts districts in the nation. Last year Roosevelt Row was spotlighted, again by USA Today, as one of the ten best neighborhoods that tourists haven’t found yet.
Bleacher Report named Phoenix the 13th best city (out of 25) to be a sports fan. Rankings were based on number of teams and events, success of teams in last five years, stadiums, fan passion, general fan experience, media, star power, and tradition and history.
Our Bleacher Report ranking should go up a few notches as the Phoenix Mercury completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago Sky on Sunday to win the third WNBA championship in team history. They join the Arizona Rattlers who, a few weeks earlier, won their Arena Football League championship against the Cleveland Gladiators.
Earlier this month, government, business, and civic leaders hosted representatives from the Democratic National Committee in town to evaluate Phoenix as the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Phoenix was the fifth and final stop for convention planners. Other cities being considered are Birmingham, AL; Columbus, OH; New York City; and Philadelphia, PA. According to Mayor Stanton, “I am confident that when the DNC leadership leaves here, they will leave with an understanding that, logistically, there is no better place than Phoenix.”
What’s Brewing Downtown
Downtown Phoenix welcomes a new brewery. On September 15, Mother Bunch Brewing opened in the 1926 J.B. Bayless Grocery building at Seventh Street and Garfield. Until it offers its own signature beers in a few weeks, Mother Bunch will make available a variety of Arizona beers through its 20 taps along with a “sophisticated, but not complicated” lunch and dinner menu.
Local First Arizona has released the fifth edition of its Phoenix Small Wonders map, a pocket-sized guide featuring nearly sixty local restaurants, pubs, galleries, boutiques, venues, and experiences located in central Phoenix. All of the businesses included in the guide are independently owned and operated.
The City of Phoenix received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to evaluate the planning, environmental, and conceptual engineering to extend Metro light rail down Central Avenue from Jefferson to Baseline Road. According to Mayor Greg Stanton, “Getting light rail to South Mountain is one of my personal priorities. I want to bring the same flexible transit options to the area as others in the city experience with Metro.”
The City of Phoenix has selected Chicago-based Smithfield Properties to develop a mixed-used project on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren, the current site of the Central Station transit facility. Smithfield proposes a 476-apartment, 390-foot building that would be one of the tallest buildings in Arizona. A parking garage also would be built as part of the new development. Metro light rail trains and Valley Metro buses still will run through the station.
New City Church will be moving into a 18,000 square foot building at 1300 North Central Avenue for more space and a central location near the Roosevelt Row Arts District. According to Pastor Brian Kruckenberg, “We love being on the ‘front porch’ of the city and are ecstatic about the growth and attention that the city’s center is getting.”
New apartments and condominiums have sprung up or are being planned in and around downtown Phoenix. That’s a positive trend. But stalwarts of downtown living are the residents of Phoenix’s historic districts who remained while others fled to the suburbs in the 50s or purchased, renovated, and brought back to life vintage homes since then. The Arizona Republic has begun to profile these neighborhoods in word and photo: Country Club Park, Del Norte Place, East Evergreen, Encanto Palmcroft, F.Q. Story, Fairview Place, La Hacienda, Margarita Place, North Encanto, North Garfield, Roosevelt, Windsor Square, Woodland, and Woodlea.
Our Creative Arts
The second RadiatePHX business and community networking event, sponsored by DPI and Downtown Phoenix Journal, was held at the ASU Step Gallery in the Warehouse District on Tuesday. The theme and conversation focused on the importance of the arts community, cultural engagement, and the work of our local creatives to help transform and improve our downtown. Guest speakers in front of a packed audience included Councilwoman Kate Gallego and Steven Tepper, the new Dean of the ASU Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. We appreciated the strong participation of PCA members at this event.
Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix is opening the doors of its New Media Innovation Lab to the public, offering expert advice and support on entrepreneurial and technological endeavors.
Two members of the DPI Board of Directors were just highlighted in the press, partly due to their involvement with the arts: Ken Van Winkle, managing partner with Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, most recently chaired Ballet Arizona’s successful campaign to create their new facility at 29th Street and Washington. Tim Eigo, editor of Arizona Attorney magazine, serves as steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition and recent host of Space 55’s first PHIL Talk (Phoenix Has Ideas LIVE), a comical parody of TED Talks. In addition, Dr. Carol Poore, chair of PCA’s Arts, Culture, and Public Life Committee, wrote a compelling op-ed in the Arizona Republic about how science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts are all vital to attracting businesses and retaining skilled workers in cities and towns throughout our state.
Amanda LaCasse, one of the 106,800 college students who live in Phoenix – and more specifically downtown Phoenix – shared her opinion about growing up and now furthering her education here: “The gems I have grown to love are not hidden – they are plain and simple, out in the open. Anyone can find a spot to feel at home in downtown Phoenix if they spend enough time getting to know the area, and nobody should be afraid of it. It offers the same services as any other part of the city, but with a more authentic attitude and honest, personable interactions with people who love you for who you are.”
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Local First Arizona Releases Fifth Edition of Phoenix Small Wonders Map
Pocket-sized guide serves as resource to find local restaurants, shops, and more
Local First Arizona has released the fifth edition of the Phoenix Small Wonders map, a pocket-sized guide featuring nearly sixty local restaurants, galleries, boutiques, venues, and experiences located in the central Phoenix area. All of the businesses included in the guide are independently owned and operated.
“We created the Small Wonders maps series to help Arizona residents and visitors find the unique local businesses in their neighborhoods,” said Kimber Lanning, Director of Local First Arizona. “Our central Phoenix map has been one of our most popular maps. We have found that visitors especially love to use the map to find the best local restaurants and shops to experience Phoenix like a true local.”
“Participating in the Small Wonders map has always been a no-brainer for us,” says Lisa Olson of Practical Art, one of the participating businesses in the fifth edition of the Phoenix Small Wonders map. “Not only have the Small Wonders maps helped bring in new customers to Practical Art, they have also been a great tool for us to share information about other small businesses with our customers. When someone asks about other places they should check out around the area we can just hand them a map and circle our recommendations!”
Some of the businesses featured in the fifth edition of the Phoenix Small Wonders map include recently opened businesses such as The Clever Koi, Joyride Taco House, and The Welcome Diner, but also includes old favorites like the Duck and Decanter, frances, All About Books and Comics, and many others. The map boundaries cover the area south of Bethany Home Road, north of Washington Street, east of 15th Avenue, and west of 12th Street.
Local First Arizona has also produced Small Wonders maps for the Phoenix Arcadia Area, Tucson, the Verde Valley, Gilbert, Glendale, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa. The Phoenix Small Wonders map can be viewed digitally at the Local First Arizona website: http://localfirstaz.com/small-wonders/phoenix.php. Physical maps can be picked up at a variety of local businesses, hotels, apartments, and events in the Phoenix area. Business owners, realtors, property managers, hotels, event organizers, and individuals can request maps for distribution free of charge by contacting Local First Arizona at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Local First Arizona.
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
I want you to mark your calendar for Tuesday, August 26, 5 to 7 p.m., at the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. It’s the premiere of RadiatePHX, a monthly networking event for business, community, and city leaders. Hosted by Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal, RadiatePHX provides a monthly opportunity to connect with a broad spectrum of downtown advocates, receive key updates from guest speakers on what’s happening in the city core, and learn how you can connect and contribute. RSVP here.
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is seeking 5,000 volunteers to help out over a nearly two-week timeframe at various Super Bowl-related events, including Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix. If you have friends, family, or employees interested in helping to showcase our downtown (and I know you do), have them visit the Super Bowl Volunteer webpage.
This Could Be PHX, a website that promotes downtown businesses, launched PHX Coffee Culture last month to emphasize the city’s growing coffee movement, highlighting 13 coffee shops in central Phoenix. The project is a joint effort between Ryan Tempest and Quinn Whissen, co-founders of This Could Be PHX, and Jonathan Carroll, owner of Songbird Coffee & Tea House.
Turning Phoenix Green
According to the Arizona Republic, homes and businesses along light rail routes in Phoenix should save about $13 million a year on electricity bills from new energy-efficiency projects paid for by Energize Phoenix grants under the federal government’s 2009 stimulus program. But an audit released earlier this year showed that energy savings from upgrades, which included better lighting, shade screens, cooling systems, and duct repairs, were lower than predicted.
Progress is being made on the renovation of the 1931 Professional Building at 15 E. Monroe St. in downtown Phoenix. The project, renamed the Monroe Hilton Garden Inn, is now in the city permitting stage.
Several recent studies highlight how Arizonans and Phoenicians are becoming less reliant on a car-centric transportation system:
- Arizonans Driving Like It’s 1994, Streetsblog USA, July 23, 2014
- When Car-Loving Cities Start to Embrace Light Rail, Next City, July 15, 2014
- HUD Sustainable Communities Grantees Take a Healthy Path Toward Urban Development, National Prevention Strategy, July 1, 2014
- Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros, Smart Growth America, June 16, 2014
Snell & Wilmer LLP has renewed its lease for approximately 10 years at Arizona Center. A long-standing anchor tenant at the downtown development, Snell & Wilmer is the largest commercial law firm in metro Phoenix.
Buffalo Wild Wings is seeking a new restaurant location in central Phoenix, possibly downtown Phoenix, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.
College students and Millennials are driving the local multi-family housing market as younger demographics are pushing new apartment developments in central Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Despite this trend, the Phoenix-area housing market is officially in a slump, according to a new report from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
According to the Wall Street Journal, as Millennials and other urban dwellers have children, their needs are changing. And cities, like Phoenix, want to hold on to them by becoming more “playable,” for both children and adults.
Parking meter changes in downtown Phoenix take effect next week. Hours that drivers have to pay to park are extended to seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., including holidays. How much drivers pay will vary depending on what area or “zone” they are located.
AZ + Africa
The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a six-week professional civic leadership training institute for 25 young African leaders, was recently concluded by the ASU College of Public Programs. Listen to Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College, and Al Kags, one of the ASU Fellows, recap the time spent in downtown Phoenix in this KJZZ Radio interview.
A $1 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation will enable ASU journalism students to produce daily coverage of business and economic issues for regional and national media outlets. The Reynolds Business Reporting Bureau will be located in a state-of-the-art newsroom at the Cronkite School on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program, in partnership with Friendly House and the ASU School of Film, Dance, and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, will receive a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant. The funds will be used to create “Story Days,” a two-year series of story-based arts programs and events that explore the connections Phoenix residents have to their communities.
Congratulations to three young downtown advocates who received significant recognition this past month. Kimber Lanning (right), director of Local First Arizona, a small business owner, and member of the Downtown Phoenix, Inc. board of directors, has been named the recipient of the International Economic Development Council’s 2014 Citizen Leadership Award.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Local First Movement Gains Pivotal Seat at the Traditional Economic Development Table
International Economic Development Council Names LFAZ Director Kimber Lanning Citizen Leader of the Year
Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning has been named the recipient of the 2014 Citizen Leadership Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The annual award recognizes a community leader who has endeavored to further the profession of economic development and has played a key role in economic development in his or her community.
“This award is a milestone in a changing economy, one that is now recognizing the work of Local First Arizona and other Local First initiatives as a viable part of economic development.” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Kimber can proudly accept this award on behalf of everyone working to create sustainable, resilient, diverse, and vibrant local economies in their own communities.”
Lanning’s background is entrepreneurial, having owned three arts-related businesses over the past 27 years. Her work in the arts and culture community provided the platform for Lanning to launch Local First Arizona (LFA) in 2003. “I founded Local First Arizona for two reasons,” said Lanning. “First, I saw too many bright young people leaving Arizona for other cities like Austin and Portland. I wanted to inspire others to stay in Phoenix to help build a world class city. Second, I thought the massive subsidies being given to national chain stores were a raw deal for local communities, and I wanted to see Phoenix return to a climate where businesses, particularly retail and restaurants, had to pay their own way.”
Making an impact on the local economy
Lanning’s leadership has transformed Arizona’s local economy in a drastic way. LFA is now the largest locally owned business coalition in North America with over 2,500 business members, large and small. The online business directory she and her team created gets searched uniquely 48,000 times per month on average and they have amassed nearly 70,000 social media followers. She has 13 full-time staff members in offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Cottonwood working tirelessly to help citizens, business leaders and policy makers to understand the connections between local ownership and widespread prosperity. It is clear that the message is being heard, as the local business community reported sales were up 8.1% in 2013, which is significantly higher than the national average retail sales (local and national chains combined) of 4.2%.
“The movement to diversify our economy isn’t about baristas, shop keepers, or servers,” Lanning explains, “but about the ecosystem of businesses that support independent ownership. Accountants, graphic designers, web developers, attorneys–they all prosper when diverse, independently owned Arizona businesses are thriving. That ecosystem is lost when local business ownership is scarce.”
Using “sense of place” as a tool for economic development
Lanning is quick to site a Knight Foundation study which recently showed “connection to place” as the single-most leading indicator in places that have prosperity. “We need to be sure that people living here feel connected to this place, and locally owned businesses play an important role in that connection. Communities with a strong sense of place are highly successful in attracting the very kinds of high tech workers that our high level economic development teams seek to bring here to Arizona.
“Through Local First Arizona, Kimber continues to create a sense of pride within our communities and showcase the vibrant cities in our region, which helps our organization in attracting businesses to the region,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “It comes as no surprise to see an outstanding community leader from Arizona selected as the IEDC Citizen Leader of the Year.”
Policy and programatic successes
As Director of Local First Arizona, Lanning has overseen many policy changes that have fostered local economic development. She has worked on streamlining the adaptive reuse program at the City of Phoenix, which has enabled more businesses to open up in older building stock that only just recently blighted the city. This policy work has been pivotal in jumpstarting downtown Phoenix’s revitalization and recently landed Lanning the Distinguished Citizen Planner Award from the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association last year.
Additionally, Lanning and her team have worked diligently on government procurement policies that would enable more Arizona companies to compete, keeping more dollars and jobs flowing through the local economy. Local First Arizona has also seen many programmatic successes that have directly contributed to economic development. LFA was the first local business organization in the country to implement a Spanish language initiative, called Fuerza Local, a business accelerator program which works to encourage low-income Latinos to think entrepreneurially to create a pathway to prosperity for themselves and their families.
Furthermore, LFA’s efforts extended far beyond Arizona’s urban areas when LFA acquired the Arizona Rural Development Council (AZRDC) in May of 2013. Today, Lanning regularly travels across the state to work with rural stakeholders to help find creative solutions for building resilient and diverse economies for the state that include increasing in-state tourism. She also leads the annual Rural Policy Forum, a gathering of rural economic development professionals, nonprofits, community leaders, business owners, and stakeholders who are interested in sustaining rural communities.
Taking a broad approach towards economic development
“The successes of Local First Arizona over the last decade have underscored the broad range of strategies that Arizona needs to pursue for sustainable economic development,” said Lanning. “Through supporting entrepreneurs and locally owned enterprises—both large and small—we are maximizing the ecosystem of a healthy economy that builds widespread prosperity and supports more jobs. Local First Arizona is creating healthy local economies across the state that will in turn draw further economic development opportunities.”
Lanning emphasizes that a healthy Arizona economy needs to be diverse, resilient, and thriving. “To get there,” she says, “We need to invest in our own talent and develop policies that enable our business community to thrive.”
Lanning will accept the Citizen Leadership Award at the IEDC Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday, October 21. Lanning is the second from Arizona to be recognized with the IEDC Citizen Leadership Award. Last year’s award recipient was Sharon Harper of Phoenix, a founding board member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and co-founder of the real estate firm Plaza Companies.
Human beings rely on all kinds of tools to survive in our complex world and a good map is one of our most basic tools for understanding where we are and where we want to go. Maps help us get our bearings, step confidently into unfamiliar territory, and discover hidden byways and shortcuts through the larger landscape.
In an urban environment, a good map is a welcome mat inviting us into the unique neighborhoods that make up the specific landscape of that city. Public transportation and easy-to-use destination maps make perfect partners for pedestrians who want to experience the true spirit of a city.
Recognizing this, Valley Metro developed new destination maps, which were installed at light rail stations in late spring. Hillary Foose, Valley Metro’s Director of Marketing & Communication, spearheaded the initiative by partnering with the City of Phoenix, Artlink, Inc. and Local First Arizona to provide a unique level of local neighborhood-specific detail that would communicate the rich destination options just steps beyond each station.
She was looking for what urbanists refer to as the “fine grain” elements of the city to provide a richer sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
“We wanted destinations to be very local,” said Foose. “That’s what makes our system interesting; we can point people to the local gems that they can walk to from each station.”
The new maps are easy to read, and each station features a “you are here” circle showing the destinations within a five-minute walk of that station. And the plan is to update the maps twice a year. Very cool.
In addition to these station maps, Valley Metro has gone the extra mile to link residents and visitors to the many arts and culture destinations accessible from the system.
The Valley Metro Arts & Culture Destination Guide was published in March and features fifty destinations between Phoenix and Mesa.
Each page of the guide features a simple map highlighting each station stop and the major cultural attractions within easy walking distance. There are photos, venue descriptions and contact info that make it easy to use and more valuable than a compass for those who want to explore all of their arts and culture options.
Savvy visitors from around the Valley and beyond can use the station maps in combination with the Arts & Culture Destination Guide to explore, shop, eat, and experience what makes our corner of the world so special.
Next time you use the light rail, take a minute to download an Arts & Culture Destination Guide and scope out the station destination maps before you step off the platform and venture out into the hood. You’ll be amazed at the urban treasures you’ll discover in your own backyard.
Images courtesy of Valley Metro