Downtown Tucson continues to thrive

Published: Jun. 7, 2013 at 9:35 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2013 at 10:35 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The latest sign downtown Tucson is experiencing a rebirth is the formation of a Downtown Innovation District.

The district is made up of several high tech companies which are just beginning or have already taken hold in the city's center.

Some of the companies are already selling worldwide. Others are just beginning.

Gangplank is one of the companies which is a recent downtown transplant but is already seeing some success.

A tour of its space on the first floor of the Pioneer Building on North Stone shows just how fast it's becoming a much needed fixture.

20 companies are using its space after only a few short weeks.

It's a coworking and collaborative space which is perfect for start ups like LeadLocal.

It's cofounder Robin Breault, a PhD who spent nearly 20 years teaching in the Eller School at the U of A says "we couldn't exist without a place like Gangplank."

She's hoping to teach and inspire the leaders of the future. Right now, ten high school students from schools all over Tucson are learning how to lead.

Downtown "is the innovation hub and it's just exciting to be part of it," Breault says.

"Part of it is because we need to be close to the university," she adds.

That's one of the reasons why the tech startups downtown are valuable to the community.

In the past, Tucson has suffered from a brain drain because after they finish college, there's little to hold the graduates here.

"They are really valuable assets for retaining talent," says Justin Williams, of Startup Tucson. "Linking that talent is a piece of the economic development strategy."

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