Stanton: Phoenix makes changes to help local businesses succeed - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Stanton: Phoenix makes changes to help local businesses succeed

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Posted: Saturday, January 18, 2014 10:45 am

To build a healthy, home-grown economy for the long-term, we have to make sure our small, local businesses have every opportunity to succeed. Not only do small businesses create two-thirds of all new jobs, but today’s startups could be tomorrow’s industry leaders.

When I ran for mayor, I heard first-hand about the frustrations of many of our local business owners — including how much red tape they had to endure when working with government agencies.

I sought to change that, and have pushed for the kind of common-sense solutions that cut through unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and help create jobs. Phoenix now accepts design plans submissions online rather than only through a long line at City Hall; we teamed up with Maricopa County to streamline the permit process; and, perhaps most importantly, we’ve brought a buy “local first” mentality to the city government.

Since November, businesses have been able to submit building and design plans that require city approval online. It’s a simple solution, but for too long, applicants were forced to haul giant stacks of paper to the permit counter — wasting time and money.

We also worked to make the sometimes frustrating permit process a bit easier. Many development projects require approval from both the city and Maricopa County, forcing companies to endure two stops to move forward on one project. By working with county officials, Phoenix streamlined the process, and now allows companies to apply for both city and county permits at a one-stop-shop in City Hall.

The most lasting impact, though, may be our local shift in the city’s procurement process. My family shops locally for good reason: for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $73 stays in our local economy. But at a non-local business, only $43 stays here at home.

The city of Phoenix should shop locally too, but for too long, it did not. When I took office, of the millions of dollars the city spent on outside contracts, only $50,000 was awarded to local companies. That’s chump change — we had to do better.

At my direction, Phoenix created a new database that allows local companies to sign up and get listed in our procurement system. Now, when a procurement officer has a particular need, local companies are available at the click of a mouse.

The results have been incredible. In just two years, the value of city purchases from small local businesses has jumped to $2 million — an astounding 3,860 percent increase.

These are common-sense solutions that spur, rather than stunt, economic growth. And rather than get in the way, Phoenix is becoming the kind of partner that helps local companies succeed.

• Greg Stanton was elected mayor of Phoenix in 2011.

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