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Embracing the Downtown Spirit: An International Visitor’s Perspective

by Downtown Phoenix Inc.
Community Community Voices Food, Restaurants & Dining Phoenix Community Alliance Downtown Phoenix Inc. May 15, 2024

In March 2024, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) and Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) hosted a visiting entrepreneur organized by PCA Member Global Ties Arizona*.  

Their 2024 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) offered 14 visiting entrepreneurs from Central and South America and the Caribbean the chance to shadow organizations. Both organizations’ retail and business makeup created endless opportunities to collect best practices from industry leaders to replicate in their communities.  

This is their perspective of our unique Downtown and the thriving entrepreneurial spirit animating the community: 

Before he departed Downtown, the Phoenix Community Alliance Team gifted Global Ties’s YLAI visitor a book of Polaroids of their time in the office. (Photos by Leah Tan)

My journey to Downtown Phoenix began with a pivotal video call to Brandon Ramsey, Phoenix Community Alliance’s Membership Services Director, Downtown Phoenix Inc.’s advocacy and membership affiliate.  

He ignited my curiosity about the organization’s mission and potential collaborative opportunities. I soon discovered Brandon was like my twin brother, from a different mother and father. 

Little did I know that my initial encounter would catalyze a transformative month, steering me toward unexplored paths. 

The Flight: A Desert Landscape from Above 

Descending into Phoenix, I was greeted by the sprawling desert, a striking contrast to the verdant landscape of where I departed. The vast expanses of sand momentarily disoriented me as I yearned for the familiar shores of home. Despite this, the desert’s sheer magnitude and beauty captivated me, offering a fresh perspective on nature’s diversity. 

Weeks One and Two:  

Meeting the Ambassadors 

Upon arrival, my initial interactions were with Downtown Ambassadors, whose ties with Downtown Phoenix, Inc. were unbeknownst to me. Their warmth and hospitality shone through immediately, paving the way for an enlightening exploration of the city. Downtown’s cleanliness struck a sharp contrast to the streets of my hometown, unknowingly providing a first glimpse into the efforts of DPI’s Clean & Green Team 

A Surreal Experience 

Entering the DPI office was like stepping into another world. The office’s quiet efficiency was new and surreal.  Everybody immediately provided a machine gun of information. It was a living testament to years of meticulous planning and development, starkly different from what I was accustomed to. I began to learn how everybody within the organization carried out different versions of the same mission: 

  • Maria, one of the Ambassadors, was invaluable in understanding the significance of their role in assisting visitors like me.  
  • Erika [Rubio], whose seven-year dedication to advocating for businesses [in Stakeholder Engagement] deepened my understanding of the community’s needs and dreams.  
  • [PCA’s Communication & Events Manager] Leah [Tan] held our first meeting outside the office, which resonated with me, reinforcing the value of informal interactions.  
  • Skyler [Scott], with her marketing expertise, connected me to businesses aligned to my vision. For this, I am profoundly grateful. 
  • I drove around the city on a golf cart with Patrick [McDaniel, PCA’s Advocacy Director], who offered insights into urban growth and the transformative potential their sports teams and the bioscience industry provide to the city’s landscape. 

Collective Prosperity 

My encounters with local small business owners, facilitated by Brandon, Erika, and Skyler, revealed a strong camaraderie and a collective pursuit of prosperity. These meetings underscored the importance of community collaboration in addressing challenges—a concept familiar and essential to my own entrepreneurial philosophy. 

Before he departed Downtown, the Phoenix Community Alliance Team gifted Global Ties’ YLAI visitor a book of Polaroids of their time in the office. (Photos by Leah Tan)

Weeks Three and Four:  

Pursuing Those Opportunities 

The latter half of my stay was marked by engagements with Members within the food and beverage industry, providing a comprehensive view of operational dynamics, from cocktail batching to the significance of ambiance, music, and team dynamics.  

Meetings with industry veterans like Heather Lennon from Imagine Development*, Kim Haasarud from Garden Bar Phx*, Madison [Webb] from Huss Brewing*, Julian Wright from Pedal Haus**, and Nick Nitz from Luckys Indoor Outdoor**, as well as the efficient Jessica from Harumi, showcased the fast-paced nature of service and delivery, emphasizing the value of time in business operations.  

Everything is really about efficiency and quality, a win-win for everyone.  

Reflections on Phoenix’s Urban Dynamics 

I aim to foster community impact through workforce development and creating a global hospitality network in partnership with Phoenix Community Alliance and some of your Members, providing a platform for professionals to exchange ideas and launch apprenticeship programs.   

As I shadowed them, I realized PCA has facilitated lasting connections and resources. Let’s continue collaborating to embark on this innovative program that is very much needed where I come from. 

I want to bring in chefs from elsewhere to expose people in my hometown to different recipes and techniques to elevate work. I will be using it as an experimental lab. 

Conversations with PCA Members affirmed the organization’s effective advocacy and action-oriented approach toward creating a sustainable Downtown. I firmly believe that the next generation of Downtowners will enjoy your vision of tomorrow. 

I want to conclude with a funny anecdote about a DTPHX pen finding its way into the box of an Amazon order—an amusing reminder of my integrated experiences Downtown.  

Perhaps the pen was already in my messy room and fell into the box, but I like to think that it was in the box because DPI is behind what’s happening Downtown. 

* – Denotes a PCA Member   | ** – Member as Fork & Dagger Hospitality