Christine Mackay, director of the city of Chandler’s economic development office, says everywhere she goes she is asked how Chandler has been so lucky in landing job-creating businesses in recent years.
“The job creation in Chandler is going nuts,” she said.
But it isn’t because city officials are raining incentives on companies that are considering a move to the city.
She told a group of more than 60 Chandler business people at an economic update hosted by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and SRP on Wednesday that the business growth was due mostly to decisions made long ago by city officials to focus on building out the infrastructure of the city in anticipation of growth. She said this preparation makes Chandler very competitive for companies looking to expand.
Mackay joined Keith Watkins, senior vice president of the Arizona Commerce Authority, and John Krueger, vice president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, to update business leaders on activities to grow business in Chandler, the East Valley and the state.
All three organizations focus on getting the word out on business opportunities in Arizona. Krueger, Watkins and Mackay emphasized that they collaborate and work together to win business and jobs. Otherwise, they realize the businesses and jobs could slip away to other aggressive states, such as Texas.
While other cities in the valley are struggling to fill office space, Chandler has a vacancy rate below 5 percent. And she said there are a lot of potential growth projects in the pipeline that could be announced in upcoming months.
The past and current city council members should get much of the credit, MacKay said.
“Chandler has these wins because they (council members) have a sense of place, by having a plan and having infrastructure. They know what they are doing,” Mackay said.
She admitted that retail space continues to be a struggle in Chandler just as it is in other Arizona communities.
“Retail still continues to struggle as must find alternatives for former box store sites. But people are shopping and getting out more but we (Chandler and other Arizona cities) were overbuilt in the retail sector when the recession started,” she said.
Mackay gave special mention to Chandler Gilbert Community College as a great partner for economic development.
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