Local business owners gathered at the Clarendon Hotel in downtown Phoenix Tuesday to talk with state Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, about the issues they’re facing, with the discussion largely focusing on taxes.
Campbell, the House Democratic leader-elect, organized the event and said the purpose of the meeting was for him to hear directly from local business owners rather than from lobbyists.
“We don’t really hear the small business perspective,” Campbell said. “This informal conversation is meant to get a more genuine perspective in what small businesses would like to see going into this next legislative session.”
Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, a group focused on supporting local businesses, said in this economic crisis small businesses need to have a say in Arizona’s future.
“We need to make sure we as small businesses have a seat at the table,” Lanning said. “We need to demand a seat at that table.”
More than 20 business owners of professions that included plumbing, farming and photography attended the discussion. With the new session starting Jan. 10, many of the attendees wanted there to be a focus on streamlining the tax code.
Campbell said many of the loopholes and exceptions in the tax code were unfair to local businesses, especially when looking at the 25 percent property tax for Arizona businesses.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the state,” Campbell said. “We need to make the tax code fair for Arizona businesses and keeping dollars here in Arizona and not ship it out.”
Jim Mapstead, board chair for Local First Arizona, said he hoped the event would be a springboard for local business owners to be able to talk to their legislators about the issues they face.
“We’re often told by legislators that they get really tired of hearing from lobbyists and the people that they see and have dinner with on a daily basis,” Mapstead said to the group. “It is people like all of us in this room right here who have a greater impact in telling legislators exactly what’s going on in our businesses than the lobbyists do.”
The issue of giving local businesses priority when it came to procurement, or the state accepting bids for contracts for different services, was discussed.
Lanning said Arizona is one of only three states, including Rhode Island and New Hampshire, that do not put a preference on local businesses for these contracts.
In 2008, a bill introduced in the Senate would have given the nod to local businesses in the event of a tie between a local and non-local business, but it was defeated in the House.
“We’re considering reintroducing the legislation, but we don’t have the support at this time,” Lanning said.
She said in order to get the law changed, the dialogue needed to be altered so others wouldn’t see that change as being unfair to big businesses.
“These types of changes could literally make a huge impact on our state’s economy,” Lanning said, pointing to other cities that have seen increases in the amount of consumer dollars that remain in the state from using this procurement practice.
Campbell said with 30 new freshman legislators coming into the House for the new session, business owners should let them know what their concerns are.
“It’s a golden opportunity to introduce yourselves to the new legislators,” he said.
Mapstead said the event allowed Campbell to know what business owners needed, but also allowed those business owners to see their common ground.
“There are a lot of frustrations and situations we face as business owners,” Mapstead said. “There’s a real commonality that exists here because we operate businesses in this state.”
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[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]
Long-time downtown restaurateur Michael Ratner passed away on Tuesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer.
The owner of Tom’s Tavern since 1982, Ratner led the operations of the restaurant that was long known as a place for politicians to meet and eat. The restaurant has served Phoenix customers for 80 years.
Steve Chucri, president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association, said Ratner’s passing is a loss to the Valley’s business community.
Ratner had served for decades as a board member of the Arizona Restaurant Association and worked hard on behalf of other restaurateurs, Chucri said.
“Mike was a good example of what restaurateurs across the nation are all about. It’s hospitality. He was there every day greeting guests, talking to them, making sure they were happy and making sure they would come back. He thrived on that and that’s why customers kept coming back,” Chucri said.
Ratner also was a founding member of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership and served on its board for 20 years.
“He was truly passionate about downtown and he will be greatly missed,” said David Roderique, president and CEO of Downtown Phoenix Partnership.
Tom’s Tavern was opened in 1929 by Tom Higley in the old city morgue building, 136 W. Adams St. in downtown Phoenix. It changed hands a few times over the years and moved to its current location in the Renaissance Building, 2 N. Central Ave., in 1988. Ratner bought the business in 1992 from the Big 4, a business group made up of some Chicago natives.
During an interview with the Phoenix Business Journal about a year ago, Ratner said business was done a little differently in the Valley back then.
“I really bought this place on a handshake, and then the paperwork followed,” he said.
Services have yet to be announced, but friends are hoping to organize a gathering on Nov. 18 at the restaurant to celebrate his life, Roderique said
Startup Weekend Phoenix is a community building startup event. Participants get together with local developers, marketers, designers, enthusiasts and start companies in just 54 hours. The event will take place Friday, October 22 through Sunday, October 24, 2010 at CO+HOOTS coworking in Phoenix.
This is an amazing opportunity to meet other people interested in creating startups in Phoenix. Experienced mentors, attorneys and investors will be on hand to provide guidance and support to the teams throughout the weekend.
[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]
The Phoenix Jobs Corps Center will host an employment fair Sept. 30 in downtown Phoenix.
Twenty-five employers will be at the job fair including Bank of America, Safeway Markets, Frito-Lay, US Airways, State Farm Insurance, U-Haul International, Manpower and state departments of Economic Security and Environmental Quality.
The expo starts at 9 a.m. and takes places 518 S. 3rd Street (map).
The Jobs Corps helps younger workers find jobs, but this career event is open to the general public.
The tough labor situation in the Valley has resulted in large crowds at jobs fairs. In addition, employers have been seeing huge numbers of applications and resumes put in for available positions.
For more info: phoenix.jobcorps.gov
Upon walking into Gideon’s Coffee, Downtown Phoenix’s newest coffee bar located on the corner of Jackson Street and Second Avenue, it doesn’t take long to pick up on a theme.
The logo on the door features a Scales of Justice fashioned out of coffee cups. Upstairs you might overhear a woman speaking legalese on the phone. Even the name, Gideon’s Coffee, is taken from the 1963 landmark Supreme Court case of Gideon vs. Wainwright, which ruled that state courts are required under the Sixth Amendment to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford their own attorneys.
“What can I say, I have a passion for coffee and the law,” said David Kephart, sole proprietor of Gideon’s Coffee and a personal injury lawyer who before starting his own practice spent three years with the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office. ”This is a great way to combine those passions.”
During the process of getting Gideon’s off the ground, Kephart focused on imitating the finest qualities of his favorite coffee shops.
He chose his roaster (Echo Espresso, which supplies beans to many of the top shops in Central Phoenix and Downtown), his syrups (1883, a French import that Kephart calls the “Cadillac of syrups”), his methodolgy (100 percent French Press) and his go-to barista (Kaylee, pictured, whom Kephart recruited from another shop).
And if the space looks familiar, well, it’s because 209 W. Jackson Street used to be the home of Royal Coffee Bar, now located at the Phoenix Public Market. When he relocated his law office and launched the coffee bar, Kephart says he benefited greatly from the move in-ready quality of the building, having been a coffee bar in its former life.
“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here,” said Kephart. “I bought my equipment used, added new counters and I was ready to go.”
Gideon’s is open Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and serves up a variety of hot and cold French pressed coffee drinks. Gideon’s also makes their own chai, a combination of aromatic spices that galvanize popular chai tea latte drinks.
Be sure to include your downtown Phoenix favs!
[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]
CityCircles, a Phoenix media start up, announced creation of a Best of Light Rail contest.
The company, which develops tools for hyperlocal communities, is seeking the public input in a variety of categories for businesses located within walking distance of the light rail line.
According to a news release distributed by CityCircles, the goal of the survey is to increase awareness of life around light rail and to make mass transit more attractive.
There are 36 topics in four main categories: food, drink, services/shopping and the light rail experience. Examples include best sushi restaurant, best example of historic preservation and best public restroom. The polling closes Fri., Oct. 1. The winners will be announced Oct. 15.
Click here to access an online ballot.