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It’s Official: Phoenix is the New Silicon Valley
By CJ Cornell
Arizona No. 1 for startups, Kauffman study finds
Arizona had the highest entrepreneurial activity rate of any state last year, according to new research from the Kauffman Foundation.
Definitely worth of a major shout-out
When I arrived in Arizona 4 years ago to help them build their entrepreneurship program, I had already spent over 15 years in Silicon Valley – the mecca for entrepreneurship (and venture capital). Needless to say I was cynical and underwhelmed by the scope and quality of the entrepreneurial community, but I wasn’t surprised or disappointed. Most areas outside of the “big 3″ (Silicon Valley, NY, Boston) or the up-and-coming-3 (Denver, Austin, LA) lack the culture, critical mass or role models to sustain a vibrant entrepreneurial community. Phoenix was no different, and it wasn’t the fault of the entrepreneurs or other talented would-be entrepreneurs. Again, without a critical mass of role models (successful entrepreneurs), supporting companies, capital and a culture of risk and innovation – it just doesn’t happen. But it did happen in Arizona- particularly in the Phoenix metro area. After 4 years, we hit the top spot in the country for entrepreneurial activity. It wasn’t due to any one silver bullet. It was a combination of simultaneous and independent efforts by many individuals and institutions, all committed to stimulating entrepreneurship in the region. Some of the efforts were predictable – other regions have used similar techniques and failed. If these efforts weren’t buoyed by other activities and other individuals, they might have fizzled in Arizona too. But the synergy worked, and continues to work – primarily due to these influences: