American Express study shows importance of small business in Phoenix well below average

PHOENIX - A new report shows when it comes to the vitality of small business across the country, Phoenix falls well below average.

The report, produced by The American Express OPEN Independent Retail Index , looked at 15 cities and the performance of their independent business sector. Phoenix ranked dead last.

The study looked at retail, eating and drinking sectors from 1990 to 2009. New York and San Francisco topped the study.

"We don't have the same level of infrastructure that some of those other cities have," said Preston Cameron, with Mesa Community College's Business Department.

Cameron said small businesses are more important to other cities that are built differently. He also noted small business is extremely important in Arizona, just in different ways, and they contribute a substantial amount of money to the Valley's economy.

The report also showed small businesses increase home values in surrounding neighborhoods. It did note, however, that small businesses nationwide have lost ground in the past few decades to larger chains.

"Trying to be something you're not is the biggest problem small businesses have," Cameron said.

Cameron said the best thing for a small business is to find, and stick to, a niche and to avoid directly competing with the big brands.

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