Tempe looks to foster entrepreneurial growth

The city of Tempe already acts a hub for entrepreneurial ideas but business professionals are looking to expand it even more.

Tempe is an incubator for new entrepreneurial ideas, but it is not yet fully equipped to retain its talent, various business professionals have said.

William Malkovich, an entrepreneurship instructor at the ASU W. P. Carey School of Business, said to retain its top talent, the city needs to create a better ecosystem for local start-ups.

“Many ideas start in Tempe, but must leave the state in order to be realized,” Malkovich said. “If Tempe can create ecosystems for start-ups that include access to capital and senior management advisors, this could change.”

Donna Kennedy, economic development director for Tempe, says the city is striving to change this. Her team is currently in the process of creating the Tempe Entrepreneurship Network, which she hopes will serve as a means of retaining Tempe’s entrepreneurial talent.

TEN will serve as a “hub for the entrepreneurs” by providing them with services and co-working space, Kennedy said. Her team is surveying local entrepreneurs to get an idea of the community's needs.

Despite the amount of growth that still needs to take place, Malkovich said the presence of several local organizations in metro Phoenix that are committed to seeing small businesses incubate and grow. Local entrepreneurs have access to university-based assistance such as SkySong and the Edson programs as well as city-wide spaces such as Phoenix’s non-profit-focused Seed Spot.

Although access to capital may be locally limited, the city’s capacity for harvesting new entrepreneurial ideas is not.

Mary Ann Miller, president and CEO of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, said she feels that the city is more predisposed to developing start-ups because of the sheer number of students and graduates in the area.

“I see many more people interested in starting a business these days than I did a decade ago,” Miller added. “The process is more circular — more people want to start, there are more services, and the young people have more confidence. It’s not as risky as it once was.”

Miller also said although more systems can and should be established in order to enhance local growth of these start-ups, Tempe has tried to focus on what businesses need and continues to see a surge in the number of young people interested in entrepreneurship.

Reach the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or on Twitter @lina_lauren.

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