2020 Year in Review

Dec. 30, 2020
| by:
Communications and Public Affairs

This year has definitely been one for the books. Despite the craziness, there is still much to acknowledge and celebrate about this year in Chandler. 

Everyone had to pivot and adjust the way they live their lives, with virtual experiences becoming the new normal. Despite the many challenges to the economy, several companies announced their relocation to or expansion in Chandler and are now thriving. Once again, our Community of Innovation was honored with accolades to further showcase Chandler as a world-class City to live, work, play and visit.

City of Chandler’s top highlights from 2020

January
  1. 2020 Multicultural Festival
    Chandler was named the #6 Best Place to Find a Job by WalletHub, moving up from last year’s #10 ranking.
  2. Tumbleweed Recreation Center (TRC) held a grand reopening to celebrate the state-of-the-art redesign of the fitness center floor and the jogging/walking track.
  3. The Chandler City Council unanimously voted during its Jan. 9 meeting to elect Councilmember René Lopez as the new Vice Mayor
  4. The City’s Diversity Office hosted the 25th Annual Chandler Multicultural Festival, bringing the community together to celebrate Chandler’s diverse cultures. 
  5. The City partnered with the Chandler International Film Festival to host their weekend series of cinematic events, which attracted thousands of attendees to Downtown Chandler.  
  6. The Chandler Arts Commission and Downtown Redevelopment teamed up to commission a new mural for the Downtown Chandler Breezeway, which is located in the passage between the Historic Square and New Square development.
  7. The City’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) waitlist opened up for the first time in four years. In two weeks, 6,560 total pre-applications were received and, through the lottery process, 4,000 of those pre-applications were added to the waitlist.
  8. Chandler released its 2019 Annual Report to highlight major projects and accomplishments as a Community of Innovation, as well as progress made to implement the City Council’s strategic policy goals. 
February
  1. Mayor and Council at Chandler's incorporation ceremony
    Chandler commemorated the legal incorporation of the town, which was approved by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 16, 1920. To commemorate the anniversary, a new historical marker was installed on the northwest corner of Arizona Avenue and Chicago Street, the site of the original Town Hall that was dedicated in 1923.
  2. Chandler became one of the first cities nationwide to implement a free texting service for customers and contractors to schedule construction inspections and receive results via text messaging.
  3. The City’s Economic Development Division hosted the 9th Annual Chandler Science Spectacular. Sponsored by Northrop Grumman, Intel and First Things First, the event brought thousands of attendees of all ages into Downtown Chandler to experience science in an interactive way. 
  4. Chandler Municipal Airport held its first open house to kick-off the Airport Master Plan update to the community.
  5. Clarivate Analytics signed a 30,000 square foot lease at Chandler Viridian in the Price Corridor with plans to employ approximately 150 people.
  6. During the annual State of the City Address, Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke highlighted Chandler’s achievements during the past year as well as new things coming in the year ahead. The event kicked off with a Made in Chandler Expo, featuring local businesses with innovative products made in the City. 
  7. The Chandler Center for the Arts organized its ninth Annual Eat Your Art Out Chandler community event. For one day in February, 10 local restaurants donated a percentage of their proceeds to support the programs at Chandler Center for the Arts, making them accessible to everyone. 
March
  1. Serrano's Mexican Food Restaurant
    Chandler held an all-mail ballot Special Election to amend the City Charter regarding the timing of City elections to conform with state law, which was passed by Chandler voters. 
  2. Root Insurance announced plans to expand its operations in Chandler, creating 480 new jobs over the next five years. 
  3. Chandler residents received an invitation to be counted in the 2020 Census. It was the first time in the history of the Census that residents were able to participate online.  
  4. Mayor Kevin Hartke signed an emergency declaration proclaiming a local emergency in response to COVID-19. As part of this declaration, all Chandler residents were ordered to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to further prevent the spread of the virus, including wearing a mask when not able to be physically distant. 
  5. Chandler City Council approved a resolution to relax standards on the City’s temporary sign code. This gave local businesses that might be struggling during the pandemic the opportunity to have additional signage to promote their services and without needing a permit.
  6. Chandler’s Economic Development Division created a “Choose Chandler” online map for businesses to submit current offerings, such as online services, specials, delivery/takeout, curbside pick-up and hiring opportunities.
  7. By mid-March, Chandler temporarily closed City facilities. All special events on City property were postponed or canceled to help stop the spread of the virus.
April
  1. Group of City Census Workers
    The month of April kicked off with National Census Day another reminder for all Chandler residents to complete their census online, by phone, or return the completed questionnaire sent by mail. Census outreach efforts continued through mid-October.
  2. Chandler launched a recycling awareness campaign to educate residents about recycling in order to reduce contamination, thus reducing the overall cost to the City.
  3. After months of planning for the annual Family Bike Ride, the City changed course to host the first Chandler Family Bike Ride as a week-long community-building ride and social media event to coincide with Valley Bike Month. 
  4. Many of Chandler’s regularly scheduled programs, events and meetings changed from in-person to a virtual platform for the public to participate safely at home.
  5. Chandler launched a hotline and webpage dedicated to assist residents with needs or questions related to City services impacted by COVID. The COVID-19 webpage highlighted the numerous resources and services accessible online.
  6. Chandler launched a virtual Live at Lunch series that featured a variety of local musicians who performed live acts from their homes during the lunchtime hour.
  7. The Chandler Center for the Arts (CCA) was awarded $50,000 from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust to offset major economic losses and to support the Center's community response to COVID-19. In addition, the CCA was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Ruth McCormick Tankersley Charitable Trust to support its Connecting Kids program for the 2020-2021 season. 
  8. Chandler Police offered a business watch program to businesses closed for an extended period of time during the essential service restrictions by conducting extra patrols and spot checks at the business.
May
  1. Mural along Commonwealth Canal
    Chandler joined the International Code Council and its partners to celebrate the 40th Annual Building Safety Month. This year’s theme was "Safer Buildings, Safer Communities, Safer World." 
  2. The Chandler City Council hosted a Return to Service community briefing to discuss the City’s plan to begin reopening its parks, libraries and recreation center, as well as what departments are doing to serve residents during the pandemic.
  3. The City's Diversity Office and the Chandler Museum partnered to create the Veterans Database to document our community’s history of military service. The information will be used as a foundation for future initiatives to honor the service and tell the stories of Chandler’s veterans.
  4. The City created a Memorial Day video tribute highlighting the community's history of military service that includes interviews, exhibits and a musical performance. 
  5. Chandler kicked off a new initiative called ‘Dine in the Park’. In an effort to provide additional capacity for restaurants as they adapt to restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, patrons ordering from local eateries are now able to consume beer and wine in Dr. A.J. Chandler Park West and the Courtyard with their take-out meals.
  6. Chandler implemented an advance appointment scheduling option for a variety of services that require a one-on-one session with city staff. This eliminated long lines and wait times for customers.
  7. The Cultural Development Department teamed up with SanTan Brewing Company, The San Marcos Resort and the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership to commission a new mural in Downtown Chandler (along Commonwealth Avenue). 
  8. Rachelle Kuzyk was hired as the City’s new Library Manager overseeing the operations of the Chandler Public Library system. She brings extensive experience to Chandler from the City of Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
  9. The Chandler Parks Division introduced a new website, planchandlersparks.com, to inform the public about the Parks Strategic Master Plan. As part of the outreach, several virtual forums were held to get community feedback.
  10. The Chandler City Council ratified an emergency declaration brought forward by City Manager Marsha Reed to reduce liquor license renewal fees by 50% and to push back their due date by three months (from June to September).
  11. Chandler’s Economic Development Division received Council approval to prepare a multi-faceted “I Choose Chandler” marketing initiative to support local businesses and inform the community of the impact residents make when they choose to spend their money and volunteer their time in Chandler.
June
  1. CCA Anywhere Series
    The Chandler Center for the Arts launched its CCA Anywhere Series, virtual performances that the public could watch anywhere with a phone, tablet or computer.
  2. Mayor Kevin Hartke and the City’s Economic Development Division, in partnership with ARIZONA@WORK Maricopa County, Career Connectors, Pipeline AZ and BestCompaniesAZ hosted a virtual hiring event
  3. Chandler’s Economic Development Division, in partnership with the Chandler Industrial Development Authority, initiated an “I Choose Chandler” reimbursement grant program to assist small businesses with costs incurred from purchasing personal protective equipment. 
  4. The City of Chandler Economic Development Department, in partnership with University of Arizona Eller College of Management, announced the new Professional MBA program blending online learning with bi-weekly practicums in Chandler.
  5. Chandler Public Library was awarded four grants totaling $42,206 through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) for projects developed by library staff to better meet the needs of the community.
  6. CVS Health announced a new 101,000 square foot office at Allred Park Place development along the Price Corridor. CVS Health will employ approximately 500 workers at the site.
  7. During a Council Meeting on June 8, Mayor Kevin Hartke and the City Council issued a Unity proclamation, which tasked the Human Relations Commission (HRC) to engage with the community and make recommendations to the City Council to benefit the quality of life, economic opportunity and relationships within Chandler.
  8. Mayor Kevin Hartke issued a proclamation regarding use of masks/face coverings in Chandler businesses and public spaces.
  9. Through an annual allocations process, the City’s Neighborhood Resources Department administered $1.2 million in human services grants that were awarded to 40 programs serving Chandler’s families in crisis, special populations and youth. 
July
  1. Operation Back to School Drive-Thru
    The annual July 4th Fireworks Spectacular was canceled due to new social distancing restrictions ordered by State leadership.
  2. The Chandler City Council approved the allocation of nearly $30 million in federal coronavirus relief aid (AZ CARES Fund). A total of $9.5 million will assist businesses retain and hire employees and acquire personal protective equipment. The City’s nonprofit and community service organizations will receive nearly $2 million in additional funding. Chandler will use $7.1 million to update the City’s technology infrastructure. The City allocated $500,000 to purchase protective gear for employees and disinfect city facilities. The remaining $9.9 million will be saved for future needs.
  3. The Douglas Allred Company broke ground on two additional office buildings at their Park Place Development on Price Corridor. These buildings will have the capacity to bring approximately 1,800 jobs to Chandler.
  4. The Mayor and City Council dedicated four new multipurpose fields at Tumbleweed Park (south of the Park and Ride).
  5. Chandler’s Neighborhood Resources Department and For Our City-Chandler hosted the annual Operation Back to School event. More than 2,000 backpacks filled with donated school supplies were distributed within two hours to Chandler families in need.
August
  1. Bigger than Boxing:  Zora Folley and the 1967 Heavyweight Title
    Chandler voters elected three candidates to serve on the City Council: Christine Ellis, OD Harris and incumbent Mark Stewart. The elected Councilmembers will take office after an installation ceremony that will be held on Jan. 14, 2021.
  2. The Economic Development Division announced the creation of the I Choose Chandler Business Hiring and Retention Program. Approximately $9.5 million was made available for the program from the AZ CARES Fund, which provided qualifying businesses with $1,300 per employee retained or hired since Dec. 31, 2019, up to a maximum of $10,000. More than 540 Chandler businesses were provided funding.
  3. The City Council authorized the payment of $250,000 from the City’s AZCares grant funding to Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) to purchase 1,000 mobile hotspots. The hotspots provided Internet access to CUSD students in need so they can connect with their teachers and online/virtual classrooms. 
  4. The 2020 Citizen Bond Exploratory Committee was formed to provide a recommendation to the City Council of bond authorization needed to support important public capital/infrastructure based on the highest priorities.
  5. Bigger Than Boxing: Zora Folley and the 1967 Heavyweight Title” opened its year-long run at the Chandler Museum on Aug. 25. This 3,000-square-foot exhibition features the stories of two boxers (Muhammad Ali and Chandler’s Zora Folley), the circumstances that weighed heavy on each man and the fight that was a turning point in both of their careers.
September
  1. CCA Under the Stars
    September kicked off with a new pilot program in partnership with rideshare platform Lyft. The program provides up to 50% off on rides to and from designated bus stops south of Pecos Road. Dubbed the First-Mile, Last-Mile program, this partnership helps the City expand public transit access to an area of the City with limited availability.
  2. Chandler Center for the Arts announced CCA Under the Stars, its first live outdoor concert experience presented on the terrace at the CCA and under the outdoor living room space at the Chandler Museum. 
  3. This year’s Mayor’s Neighborhood Excellence Awards winners were announced on Facebook Live. Congratulations to Lagos Vistoso, winner of the People’s Choice Award, and to Fox Crossing, winner of the Mayor’s Choice Award. 
October
  1. VB Cosmetics Inc. signed a 40,000 square-foot lease to expand and relocate their corporate headquarters, R&D and manufacturing operations in Chandler. The company will move into the Lotus Project, one of Chandler’s premier industrial developments, located near Kyrene Road and the Loop 202.
  2. Best of Arizona Award
    The City launched a new program to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to Chandler businesses. Businesses may apply through the Chandler Chamber of Commerce to receive a free I Choose Chandler PPE Kit, valued at $240.
  3. Chandler Parks and Rec hosted a free Halloween Spooktacular drive-thru event. From the comfort of their own vehicle, the public enjoyed a Halloween-themed cul-da-sac featuring a special soundtrack, festive décor and lights and tasty treats. 
  4. Chandler’s Price Corridor was honored with the Best of Arizona Award during the Arizona Association for Economic Development’s (AAED) annual Economic Development Distinguished by Excellence (EDDE) awards event. This award has been given out only a handful of times in AAED’s 45-year existence. 
  5. Valley Metro recognized Chandler’s travel reduction program and Transportation Coordinator Nancy Jackson as ‘Champions For Clean Air’ during a virtual ceremony that celebrated the 33rd Annual Clean Air Campaign Awards.
November
  1. Veterans Path of Honor
    The Chandler Museum hosted a weeklong grand opening celebration for its new Museum Store
  2. The City’s Diversity Office, in partnership with the Chandler Museum, created the first annual Chandler Veterans Path of Honor at Veterans Oasis Park. Large signs featuring nearly 20 local Veterans were on display and placed along the trail. 
  3. Banner Health‘s newest hospital, Banner Ocotillo Medical Center, opened this month in Chandler. The four-story, 240,000-square-foot hospital is located on the southeast corner of Alma School Road and the Loop 202/Santan Freeway. The hospital anticipates handling about 21,000 emergency visits per year to start. 
  4. Chandler launched a new program that allows businesses to expand their premises into on-street parking. ‘On the Street’ was created to assist businesses who have been faced with indoor capacity restrictions due to the pandemic.
  5. The City of Chandler was recognized as one of the top 10 Digital Cities Survey award recipients, by the Center for Digital Government (CDG). 
  6. The Chandler City Council approved a historic preservation ordinance, allowing property owners to establish historic preservation districts on private property and neighborhoods to protect historically significant parts of the City from redevelopment. 
  7. Mayor Harkte opened applications for CIVIC, an new interactive, 10-session program that will provide Chandler residents with the opportunity to meet with city leaders, tour facilities that keep our city running, participate in interactive sessions and learn how to stay engaged with the city and in their community. The free program will launch in January 2021.
  8. Compound Photonics, a leader in compact high performance microdisplay solutions for Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR/MR), announced its opening of MiAC (MicroLED Innovation Acceleration Center) in Chandler. 
December
  1. Chandler for the Holidays
    Chandler hosted Tumbleweed Tree Lighting: A Reimagined Tradition” — a video experience in place of the annual Parade of Lights and tree lighting ceremony. The holiday spectacular was full of musical performances, stories about Chandler traditions, and more.
  2. In addition, the City kicked off Chandler for the Holidays, a variety of activities including photos at Tumbleweed Tree, a food drive held in partnership with AZCEND and the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership, Chandler Fire’s annual toy drive and more. 
  3. Comtech, a company that designs, develops and manufactures satellite ground equipment used throughout the world, signed a 15-year lease to occupy the entire 146,000 square feet at 305 N. 54th St. in West Chandler.
  4. The University of Arizona College of Law launched its Master of Legal Studies program in Chandler.  
  5. The Chandler Public Works & Utilities Department received full accreditation by the American Public Works Association (APWA) for the fifth time. 

Accolades abound in 2020

Chandler was among the top cities on many lists this year. Here is some of the special recognitions:

  • Economic Innovation Group: #2 Most Prosperous Cities in U.S.
  • Fundera: #15 Best Cities for Women Entrepreneurs
  • Government Finance Officers’ Association: Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (38th consecutive year) and Distinguished Budget Presentation Award (32nd consecutive year)
  • Government Technology Digital Cities Survey: #5 Digital Cities Award
  • HomeSnacks: #6 Best Places to Live in AZ
  • LendEDU: #21 Fastest Growing Cities and Affordable for Renters in Arizona (#775 nationally)
  • LendingTree: #7 Best Cities for Working from Home
  • Livability: #22 Top 100 Places to Live
  • Niche: #2 Best Suburbs to Live in AZ, #3 Best Suburbs for Young Professionals in AZ, #4 Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in AZ, #4 Suburbs with Best Public Schools in AZ, #6 Most Diverse Suburbs in AZ, #7 Best Suburbs to Buy a House in AZ 
  • SmartAsset: #8 Best Cities for Women in Tech; #8 Best Cities to Buy a Family Home; #16 Best Cities for First-Time Homebuyers, #2 Most Affordable City for an Early Retirement 
  • WalletHub: #6 Best City to Find a Job, #19 Best Cities for Keeping New Years’ Resolutions
  • Zippia: #6 Best Cities to be Quarantined, #10 Happiest Cities in the U.S. (#1 in Arizona)
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