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Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton addresses the crowd at the Phoenix Startup Week kickoff event. Photo via UP Global.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton speaks at the Phoenix Startup Week kickoff. Photos: Luz Bratcher/UP Global.

Phoenix Startup Week is officially here.

Current and soon-to-be entrepreneurs, investors, community-builders and more are coming together this week in the desert for five days of free activities designed to build awareness and support for the startup community.

IMG_8645-2The event, organized by UP Global and sponsored by Chase, kicked off Monday morning with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilman Daniel Valenzuela sharing their excitement for the region’s innovators.

“This is going to be an awesome week for Phoenix’s entrepreneurs,” Stanton told the crowd.

Stanton, a Democrat who took office in January 2012, encouraged entrepreneurs to “bring your startup to our city.” He told GeekWire afterward that Phoenix is in a unique position when it comes to building an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Other cities are ahead of us, but we are catching up fast,” Stanton said. “We’re at a tipping point here with the number and quality of entrepreneurs we have here, and also an understanding from our business community in terms of how critical it is to have an innovation-based economy.”

Stanton said he’s made creating that innovation-based economy “my No. 1 issue.” He pointed to the universities in the area focusing on entrepreneurialism and the city itself placing investments in its infrastructure to help support a quality of life in sunny Phoenix that is “second to none.”

“People want to be here,” Stanton noted. “Entrepreneurs just want to know that if they choose to be here, that there’s an ecosystem in place to help them succeed. We are getting there pretty quick.”

Meanwhile, Valenzuela added that he’d like to see 5,000 new companies in the next five years if stakeholders can come together to support the ecosystem.

At this morning’s kick-off, Chase also announced that it awarded a $175,000 grant to Arizona State University for a program that supports women entrepreneurs.

“As premier sponsors, we want the impact and benefit of Phoenix Startup Week to resonate throughout the community,” Noreen Bishop, Chase’s regional manager for Business Banking, said in a statement. “The grant to ASU to develop programs for women entrepreneurs will continue to help this thriving ecosystem and keep the momentum and energy alive.”

GeekWire will on the ground in Phoenix this week and we’ll be reporting from some of the 130 Startup Week events in the coming days. More than 3,000 people from the community are expected to attend workshops, presentations, and panels this week. Check out our overview post here for a glimpse at what’s happening with the Phoenix startup scene.

Editor’s Note: GeekWire has partnered with UP Global and Chase to cover four Startup Week events around the country, starting with Tampa Bay earlier this month and now Phoenix from Feb. 23 to 27. Tune in to GeekWire for more stories about the activities, and to learn more about this emerging startup hub.

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