Chandler aims to expand municipal airport business SanTan Sun News
By Ken Sain
City officials are keen to make one thing clear: don’t expect American or United planes to land at Chandler Airport.
“When you think of airports, you think of Sky Harbor, you think of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway. We are not thinking of small regional or general aviation airports, ”said General Manager Joshua Wright. “They weren’t designed to be a passenger airport and that was never Chandler’s plan.”
Wright said the airport will remain focused on business and business travel only.
To help it in this mission, the city is currently examining requests to manage the airport, the third busiest of its kind in the Valley. Deer Valley and Mesa’s Falcon Field rank first.
Wright said the need for the post became evident after city council reviewed its plan for the airport and surrounding air park last summer.
“This comes from the Council’s renewed commitment to develop the airport and the airpark area,” Wright said. “I think we’ve realized over the last few years that this is one of the last frontiers in terms of Chandler’s growth.”
He said it was time for a higher level of leadership and management.
The person hired will be responsible for day-to-day operations at the airport, as well as assisting with development projects inside the airport fences. The city clearly indicates in its posting that it is looking for someone with experience in economic development.
Wright said most of the airpark outside the fences has already been developed. A presentation to Council in August indicated that only 470 acres remained to be developed in the Airpark of over 3,000 acres.
“It’s actually more advanced than most people think,” Wright said. “But we also have to make sure that we are very careful and very strategic on these latter parts, to make sure that they are exactly the right use and that they fully complement the existing line of business there.”
Chandler’s director of economic development, Micah Miranda, said the city is looking for companies that match its strategic plan. These include aerospace, high tech, software and healthcare companies.
“If they don’t align strategically, we are very protective of this space,” he said. “We will work with them to find an alternative space that could work better. “
Miranda and Wright said a key part of the new manager’s job will be working with new companies inside the airport fences.
“We have in fact provided, I think for the first time, compared to previous airport master plans, a little more detail on the types of businesses that could set up within the fence of the airport. ‘airport,’ Wright said.
He said the city has already issued a request for proposals for a possible business next to the airport terminal.
Changes to the city’s master plan for the airpark are expected to be submitted to Council for approval this week.
Wright, who was an interim airport manager before becoming an interim city manager, said relationship building will be a key part of the job.
“There are a lot of different stakeholders at the airport,” Wright said. “You have your amateur pilot, who works only for recreation and loves to fly, and we welcome these people to the Chandler airport; there are companies which are physically located, it is their livelihood, at the airport, which rent land to the city, it is an important stakeholder; you have people who fly for a living, charter planes or other services that are often here that you want to build relationships with.
“And of course it’s certainly not the least of that, it’s the community around the area, all the businesses outside of the airpark area, there are some good neighborhoods there. , you want to build those relationships. “
Chris Andres is the Airport Planning Administrator. Its main goal has been to secure federal and state grants that provide most of the funds needed to manage and improve the airport.
Wright said Andres has an economic development background and will be a key player in defending the airport to businesses inside the airpark.
The new manager, when hired, will focus on day-to-day operations and work with businesses inside the airport fences.