Chef Stephen Jones on the patio of his restaurant, The Larder + The Delta. (Photo: David Wallace, 2022)

Within an urban community, ground-floor local businesses help drive growth, change and the cultural evolution as a city.

In order to celebrate this contribution, and shine a light on local entrepreneurs, Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI) is launching a new video series in collaboration with David Wallace Visuals.

“DTPHX In/Flux” documents the immense growth and change happening in the urban core, centering small business owners at the forefront of the conversation.

As the fastest growing large city in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the series takes a look at the influx of new residents, businesses, visitors and new development, through the lens of local entrepreneurs.

“It’s important to celebrate small businesses,” said R.J. Price, chief growth officer for DPI. “They are an integral part of the fabric that makes downtown special; that makes it experiential; that gives it heart. As an organization and as a downtown neighborhood, we should always celebrate that.”

Whether you opened a business 20 years ago or last week, everyone is a part of the change happening in Downtown Phoenix — a community “in flux.”

In this series, you’ll hear from early adopters, locals who’ve witnessed downtown’s evolution first hand, entrepreneurs with deep roots, and those who are brand new, drawn to downtown’s recent growth and energy.

In all, there are more than 200 locally-owned businesses in Downtown Phoenix according to new research by DPI, each with a unique voice, a history, and a contribution to make.

These contributions outsize corporate competitors, according to Local First Arizona. Nearly half or every dollar spent in a local shop or restaurant stays in the local economy, versus 13 percent that stays close to home at a non-local business.

Buying local also spurs job growth, new employment opportunities, and helps create a more stable, recession-resistant local economy, according to a report by the Small Business Administration. Nationally, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs, and account for 44 percent of all economic activity.

In addition to the numbers, research also suggests that small-scale, locally-owned businesses create communities that are more sustainable, equitable, and innovative and connected, according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance.

“But then there’s also an intangible,” said Price. “The intangible is community spirit, and that’s not something we can measure with data, but it’s something you can feel when you’re on the sidewalk.”

Other downtowns have an arena, a convention center, mass transit hubs or performing arts centers. These things are wonderful, and certainly add to the vibrancy and prosperity of a community, according to Price. But other downtowns don’t have a Fair Trade Café, a Monroe’s Hot Chicken, a Stardust and Sage – all situated within a 1.7-square-mile, art-infused, walkable area.

Through December, these are just a few of the businesses that will be featured in the upcoming DTPHX In/Flux series.

“We are better positioned now than perhaps at any point in our evolution to give residents, visitors, and especially people who don’t have familiarity with downtown an impactful experience that they can take home with them and tell their friends, family and coworkers about,” said Price. Like ‘have you been to Downtown Phoenix lately? Because there’s something going on there, and it’s pretty special.’”

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