Local Business and Economy: PhoenixMart, business smart
Thursday, August 22, 2013
After several years of waiting for word on the much-lauded PhoenixMart project, CEO Steve Betts brought only good news to a full house at last Thursday’s Economic Development Group of Eloy (EDGE) luncheon at Robson Ranch.
The curiosity about the project was tangible at the luncheon, as twice as as many people came to hear Betts speak than had RSVP’d. Even the restaurant had trouble keeping up with the meals to feed those in attendance. Many area businesses, political leaders and economic development organizations were represented.
And no one walked out disappointed.
First, Betts cleared the air about what the aim of PhoenixMart was, and what the objective is for the building the facility would be here in Arizona.
While the project is heavily financed by Chinese investors, Betts said PhoenixMart has nothing to do with bringing in Chinese business and industry. Rather, its focus is to provide a way to bring American industry into the global market like the Chinese have done over the last 20 years.
PhoenixMart is based off of a development that occurred quite by accident in a small rural town called Yiwu in China back in the 1980s. As China began to experience its own industrial revolution in the 1980s, small businesses began to pop up everywhere. But there wasn’t a central location through which these business owners could market their products. So what developed was what Betts refers to as a “farmer’s market on steroids,” as these little manufacturers and business owners flocked to a central location, which started with only a couple of hundred square feet and a tin roof overhead.