High-tech Chandler leading economic recovery - East Valley Tribune: News

High-tech Chandler leading economic recovery

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Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 5:26 pm | Updated: 2:27 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Intel is "making rumblings" about bringing new technologies from Oregon to Chandler. Orbital Sciences takes possession of its 82,000-square-foot expansion next week. The city issued 56 new housing permits in the last two weeks, and several significant solar companies are eyeing property.

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Intel earnings strong, CEO sees recovery

Orbital Sciences in Chandler set for expansion

Solar companies eye Chandler, tax incentives


The economic recovery is taking root in Chandler sooner than in other areas of the state and the country, said Christine Mackay, the city's economic development director.

Mackay told Chandler Chamber of Commerce members during an economic forum lunch Wednesday at Serrano's restaurant that while job creation, new building permits and office vacancy rates are not comparable with the flush years, they are moving - and in the right direction.

"We always knew we'd start the recovery first," Mackay said.

That's because of the high-tech businesses the city has snagged and continues to pursue, said Arizona Technology Council CEO Steven Zylstra.

Technology has not been as impacted as other business sectors in the down economy, and it will be the industry to lead the way out of recession, Zylstra said. He predicted that first quarter 2010 "will begin a bright future again."

Especially for Chandler.

"The good news is there is a lot of technology in Arizona, and Chandler is very well-positioned for the new economy," he said.

Zylstra dubbed the city "the rising star" in leading Arizona's recovery.

"Chandler has the assets to be a global leader," he said. "It has some of the best brand names, the best players, and it has some of the best talent."

Finding a talented labor pool to fuel the technology companies is one of the greatest challenges in Arizona, Zylstra said. But Chandler has far more than its share.

More than 75 percent of the 30,000 manufacturing sector workers in Chandler are in high-tech fields, Zylstra said, while the national average is 15 percent.

Intel alone employs 10,000 people in Arizona, and their average annual compensation is $122,000, he said.

That's why more than 100 Chandler Chamber of Commerce members, who are mostly small business owners, jammed Serrano's Wednesday to get an update and outlook on the high-tech industry.

"They are our core businesses," said Chamber CEO Jerry Bustamante. "They fuel our retail, fuel our restaurants. They bring in wealth."

And they bring in other businesses that become suppliers to the big companies, Bustamante said.

If a dry cleaner, clothing store or plumber, for example, examined its customer base, chances are a lot of the small business' customers are employed by Intel or one of the many companies that came to Chandler because of Intel, he said.

So what's new in the city's efforts to land more high-tech giants?

Among the technologies of the future, solar is a major focus, Zylstra said. And again, Chandler is poised to bag some biggies, he said

"Solar is primed to take off in Arizona, and Chandler is the prime location for it to happen," he said.

Mackay said solar companies are unquestionably pursuing Chandler, but until a deal is done, she would not divulge names.

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