W. Chandler site picked for development of futuristic tech center

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Chandler is charting a new technology path in the region that will both diversify and stabilize the community’s job market well into the future.

Called Innovations, the project entails incubator lab space at a former Intel facility in west Chandler that will be made available to smaller, start-up science and technology companies.

It’s another move that keeps us well positioned in the global marketplace, and better prepares us as we move out of the recession.

The Chandler City Council unanimously approved a 10-year lease and funding that provides move-in-ready lab space for entrepreneurs. Located at Stellar Airpark, the 36,700-square-foot facility already contains the necessary wet-lab facilities companies need to do their work. So why would a municipality take on such an endeavor?

Studies show that 80 percent of small companies that start up through incubators succeed — four times the average for other small business start-ups. Given this economy, it is critical that we help grow our own companies and this is what this project will help accomplish.

TGen provides a good example of the success these types of operations can have. The Phoenix-based group does research in the area of bioscience with great success. A recent report showed that every dollar invested in TGen by the state returned an investment of $8 through the generation of jobs and tax revenues.

In Chandler, we already have interest from several companies, as well as a commitment for space from the University of Arizona. Innovations will not only bring new jobs to Chandler, but will also continue to diversify our economic base and strengthen the long-term viability of the community. We envision that Innovations will be home to start-ups that would include software design, engineering, bioscience and nanotechnology researchers and developers.

Chandler began looking at this idea about three years ago when we initiated a study on the feasibility of financing incubator space. The study determined there was a need for such space, particularly because of the large technology presence that already flourishes here.

In developing our plan we identified several key components of the project to help it succeed. Those include university participation, the early identification of potential tenants, a professional and enthusiastic scientific advisor, and a talented oversight committee.

This will be a great addition to the strong technology presence that continues to grow in West Chandler. Companies including Agilent, Avnet, Armor Works, QualComm, Intel and Rogers continue to thrive on the city’s west side.

This project also complements the Next 20 Report, our city’s vision that includes the key areas of exploring the bio-sciences and partnering with the state’s universities.

The timing is right to pursue this new project. If we do not invest in ourselves how could we expect anyone else to do so?

Now, more than ever, we need to continue to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollar, and I cannot think of a better investment for our community’s future.

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