Cities make run for Google - East Valley Tribune: Business

Cities make run for Google

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Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2005 10:21 am | Updated: 8:18 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

East Valley leaders are talking, meeting and touring with Google Inc. representatives with the hope of landing the company’s coveted Arizona operation.

An East Valley business coalition also plans to make a formal pitch for the entire region, which is competing with Phoenix for a site that will provide about 600 high-tech jobs.

Tempe, Chandler and Scottsdale leaders have all met with Google officials and Tempe officials have toured a potential site with them.

However they caution that it’s still early in the process and are waiting to hear more from the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet search engine giant. Google called Mesa officials last week to set up a meeting, but canceled and have yet to reschedule.

Roc Arnett, president of the East Valley Partnership, said he is considering writing a letter to Google and forwarding East Valley demographic information that he said includes higher-thanaverage income and education levels.

"We’re saying ‘Google, take a look in the East Valley,’ " Arnett said. "We’re not going to pick one city, but we’re going to help you."

Google officials announced at a news conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday its intention to open a new office in the Valley by the end of 2006, but have not given any indication where that may be.

"We’re still really early on in the search process, and we’re looking at the entire greater Phoenix metro area and haven’t narrowed it down further," Google spokeswoman Sonya Boralv said.

Boralv said Google is meeting with officials from many cities and has started the process of looking at sites, but she would not confirm any specific meeting.

She said the company is open to either constructing a new building or moving into an existing one, and wants to provide a strong quality of life for its employees with access to public transportation and amenities.

Boralv said public transportation does not specifically refer to light rail, which will run through downtown Phoenix and Tempe.

Google and Tempe officials looked at property around Tempe Town Lake during a recent visit, Councilman Ben Arredondo said. Their tour included a bird’s eye view of the lake and surrounding properties from one of the buildings on the water’s edge.

City officials talked up Tempe’s assets — its downtown, the lake, the planned light-rail line, Arizona State University and a range of quality-of-life issues.

But they also acknowledged Phoenix, Scottsdale and other locations could be

suitable for the Internet company and said they’re not trying to outdo other communities.

"It doesn’t do anybody any good to shoehorn a business into the wrong spot," Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said. "They’ll only be unhappy and that will just produce negative press."

Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn, who met privately with company representatives after the announcement, said the city — already home to high-tech Intel — has sent Google additional information since that initial meeting.

"Oh yes, we’ve been talking with them quite a bit," said Dunn, who called Chandler "a good fit" for the company.

Scottsdale officials said it’s too early to be wooing Google, in part, because the company hasn’t offered up specifics about its future plans.

"I think it’s premature for anyone to get out there and start throwing sites in Google’s direction," said Dave Roderique, Scottsdale’s economic vitality director.

Roderique did say, however, that Scottsdale’s planned technology center at the old Los Arcos Mall site could be an option. The city and Arizona State University are developing the $300 million center at Scottsdale and McDowell roads.

Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker said his city would also be interested in promoting sites downtown, at Williams Gateway Airport and along Mesa’s one-mile segment of the lightrail route. But he is waiting for Google to reschedule a meeting.

"If they called and canceled a meeting it sounds like they are working on another deal," Hawker said.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon sent a letter to Google the day after the news conference touting Phoenix’s diversity and downtown projects, including the new ASU campus, while agreeing to assemble a "Team Google" at the highest level of the mayor’s and city manager’s offices.

Gilbert and Queen Creek officials are also interested, but the towns are not considered front-runners for the office location.

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