Ice cream can pay off big. Ask the state's current governor. While Tina Chau and her husband, Sam Chang, aren't looking to parlay an ice cream empire into a political career, they do have big ambitions. Four years after opening Slickables in Tempe, they recently opened their second location in Mesa with plans for more. "Four years in, we opened our second location, and it's my guess that three, four and five will probably come a lot quicker," Chang said FridaySince their early days, the ice cream dealers have gone from zero employees to 18 and represent the small business revival. When the Great Recession hit in 2009, small businesses took the brunt of the economic punishment, according to Todd Sanders with the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. It's not a good economic situation when your states relies heavily on mom and pop shops to generate jobs. "We are a small business economy," Sanders said. "That's really where our sweet spot is in many ways." But the signs of a turnaround are there. The state's unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in March, still higher than the national average of 5.5 percent. Still, Arizona ranked in the top 10 for job growth last year, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. The organization also noted that small businesses account for two-fifths, or nearly 955,000, of the state's private workforce. And in another good sign, fewer small businesses are closing their doors. Thirty-five percent of small businesses that opened in 2010 failed within two years, according to the SBA. The rate has fallen to 22 percent. "For the large companies and a lot of the mid-sized, it probably turned maybe even last year," Sanders said. "We're now starting to see us turn the corner for small business, and they're starting to grow again."

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