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2017: More business growth in Downtown Tucson

Posted: 1:00 PM, Dec 25, 2017
Updated: 2017-12-25 20:00:37Z

While Downtown Tucson may look nearly the same as it did last year from afar, the business landscape on the busy streets saw a lot of change this year.

"It was off the charts," Kathleen Eriksen, CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership said. "We have an unprecedented growth this year."

She explained that nearly twice as many businesses opened up shop in the area than last year. What this means to her: downtown development has hit its stride. By the end of 2017, Eriksen projects 50 new businesses will have opened up in the downtown area. Another way to look at it, per Eriksen, a new business opens up once every eight days.

"Most of those, you know, 97% of them, are staying open. So we have our fingers crossed that we're attracting solid, successful businesses," she said. "The next wave that will be coming through is retail, and we're trying to aggressively recruit the retail so that we can augment the great amount of restaurants that we have. We have over 83 restaurants in the downtown area currently."

One new shop that opened up this year is Bandito, found off the beaten path on Scott Avenue. Inside, you'll find quite an assortment of goods.

"I sell vintage clothing and I sell hand made items, Clothing that's made locally or in the U.S.," owner Katie Petersen said. "Jewelery, books, candles, other natural apothecary products -- so it's kind of like an, all-encompassing lifestyle store."

Petersen's been in business for a few months. She spent a few years working in the service industry and decided it was time to take a chance at owning her own business. So far, she's thrilled with how well things are going.

"Though it is not on a major street like Congress or Broadway or 4th Avenue, it's still downtown," Petersen said. "We're still right in the middle of Armory Park & Barrio Viejo, where plenty of people live and work and go about their daily lives."

While she's relatively new to Tucson, she quickly grew to appreciate the downtown, small business culture, and where it's headed.

"I really like the direction that these little side streets are taking, where we're bringing in more small businesses and more experiences," she said. "This feels like something that -- this is for us. We've decided that we're going to develop in a way that is healthy, and that's enriching and inspiring."

Opening up a shop can be a risk for anyone in any city. However, for this first-time business owner, so far, the risk has been worth the reward.