Feb. 3, 2017
State of the City continues to be robust, vibrant and enduring
By Mayor Jay Tibshraeny
Missed the annual State of the City presentation? Watch it now on YouTube
During my recent State of the City address, I took a look at Chandler through four different lenses: Our Place, People, Portfolio and Progress.
I spoke of our population eclipsing the quarter million mark, with more than 102,000 housing units. We're a big city, yet remarkably, we've retained a small town feel. The residents of Chandler have a lot to do with that. They are creative, compassionate, engaged and hard working.
We talked about many of the services provided to residents by the city. We have a Library system that is developing childhood literacy programs and pushing out early education phone apps to young parents. Later this year, we will begin work on a new museum addition. Our Parks system continues to thrive, as we add amenities, make renovations and build new spaces. Our Vision Galley and Arts Center continue to enhance programming, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Employees continue to aid the small business community through the Business Location Team - a group representing multiple departments to walk entrepreneurs through the development process. A process, by the way, that has also been aided by online permitting and plan review initiated just this past year. These programs, and so many others, don't get a lot of attention. They may not be sexy to talk about, but combined, they make this place an exceptional one.
In talking about Chandler's people, I introduced my Teen Leadership Academy class of 2017, discussed the accomplishments of our great volunteers, outlined the many programs we have in place for our veterans, and gave a shout out to our city employees for the work they do each and every day.
In looking at Chandler's portfolio, I mentioned that we continue to lead the Valley with AAA bond ratings from all three agencies -- something only one other Arizona municipality, and maybe two dozen cities across the country can claim. That financial stability sends a strong message to those looking to do business in our city.
As I have said many times, our fiscal policies, set in place decades ago, provides us with an extraordinary foundation in terms of fiscal security. We have refinanced and paid down bonds - saving taxpayers millions of dollars. We have developed exceptional transportation, parks and infrastructure systems. We have secured additional water supplies and developed strategic plans to ensure that critical resource does not become an issue at build-out. And in 2017, we continue work on two significant water-related construction projects to keep up with demand. We do this as one of the leanest cities in the region, while providing great value. Tempe's annual cost of service study continues to show we are one of the most inexpensive and efficient cities to live in, in terms of sales tax, property tax and municipal utility costs.
Which brings us to our Progress. Chandler's business and development community continues to be a dynamic force. Rogers Corporation, one of Chandler's longest-running businesses, announced last summer it will move its headquarters here. Other large corporate moves last year included Republic Services and DaVita into the Price Road Corridor. One of Chandler's many long-term strategies for maintaining a strong fiscal house has been to build and foster a diversified job base, and both of these companies do just that. In all, we project 2016 will produce 2,000-plus jobs, the absorption of nearly a half-million square feet of space, and close to $90 million in new capital investment.
In fact, Downtown Chandler continues to thrive with a number of new restaurants, shops, office users and expansions taking place there. It is also a bit noteworthy to look at all of the investment we have made in the core. And the private sector has led the way. In recent years, about $64 million has been invested in projects with an estimated $172 million on the way in the near future.
From downtown Chandler, I introduced the audience to Uptown Chandler -- a stakeholder-powered branding initiative promoting business and lifestyle opportunities in this eclectic employment corridor that is home to more than 10 percent of all jobs in Chandler.
Perhaps the most exciting local trend has been the emergence of car technology in our City. Chandler is home to many companies developing automotive technology including Waymo -- formerly the Google self-driving car project. Others include the General Motors Innovation Center, Intel, NXP Semiconductors, Microchip, Garmin, Local Motors and others. These automotive tech companies further diversify Chandler's robust employment base, allowing us to remain economically strong.
We will continue to take care of business in our city -- and build upon all of the solid economic momentum we have experienced in 2016. The State of our great City continues to be robust, vibrant and enduring.