I moved to Chandler in 1985. At the time, it was not my intention to stay here, but the community became home. As I look back over the past thirty-two years, it has proven to have been a great decision. Even though Chandler has grown from sixty thousand to two hundred and fifty-three thousand, it’s inviting appeal to engage has not left.
A comment that I frequently hear is Chandler has a small town feel to it, even though we are the fourth largest city in Arizona. I hear this statement in our downtown, a place that proudly retains mom and pop businesses and a quaint charm, even though Arizona Ave bisects what was once the town square and AJ Chandler Park. Even with the addition of office space, apartments and more exciting venues, I anticipate the sentiment to remain the same.
I hear the point of pride and familiarity in our schools. Chandler United School District is a large district that has a string of top ratings in the state, as well as nationally recognized schools. Sports, academics, clubs and excellent teachers and staff maintain this feeling of accomplishment and belonging in our community. One of our charter schools, Basis, is rated as one of the top schools in the nation.
Home Owner Associations, social media circles like Living Chandler, Ocotillo Friends and NextDoor keep our community aware and connected. They provide more than news, they create a feeling of family. Since most of our residents are transplants, this is especially important.
Non-profits and faith communities work together seamlessly in our community. We find great collaboration around issues like homelessness, preparing our children for school with a back to school drive, providing toys and meals at Christmas and turkeys at Thanksgiving. We do this together, rather than as a disconnected group of individual organizations. No community does this better than our Chandler. When there is a need, social groups, civic groups, individuals and businesses work together to address and meet needs. .
Our Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest in the state. The events, direction and resources they provide create opportunities for new businesses as well as those who have been here for decades. Whether the business is Intel with 12,000 employees or a single employee pest control operator, our Chamber draws them in and helps their success.
Chandler is a powerful economic engine that has been and is continuing to be a force in the tech world. Recently, Chandler’s Orbital ATK tested a rocket launching capable of taking out aggressor missiles. Driverless cars are seen frequently on our street. Our Chandler Tech Shop and Innovation Center appeals to inventors and entrepreneurs.
Fiscally, Chandler is the envy of cities across the nation. We are one of two dozen entities with a triple bond rating. When the great recession hit our state, Chandler was the last one in and the first one out – without firing a single employee! Today we have a structurally balanced budget with ample reserves ready to be utilized at the next down turn.
What makes Chandler different? You do. I do. We do.