City team gives new businesses a big start SanTan Sun News

City team gives new businesses a big start

City team gives new businesses a big start
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By the City of Chandler

 

The thought of starting and growing a business is exciting for many, but there are also many unknowns that might make the process daunting. 

This can especially be true when a business is leasing or purchasing a new commercial building and needs to apply for a building permit before making tenant improvements. 

The City’s Economic Development staff offers a unique program designed to make this process easier on the front end. It’s called the Business Location Team (BLT).

Ryan Kaup, an economic development specialist in Chandler, is in charge of the BLT. 

“This free program is for small companies all the way up to large companies, but we have found that it has been particularly valuable for the smaller or mid-sized companies that do not have a large real estate team and do not open new locations on a regular basis,” he says.

The program consists of an economic development specialist, building plan review manager, fire marshal and city planner. 

The first step to start the process is contacting Economic Development to find out whether the program will be helpful based on the company’s unique circumstances. 

Usually, a business will already have identified a building and know the changes that are needed to meet their business needs.  

A BLT review meeting will be scheduled on-site with the BLT members, the business owner and their representatives, such as their broker, architect and/or contractor.

 While on location, the small group of city employees will walk the site to determine which city code and zoning-related requirements need to be addressed to comply with the city’s standards. 

It’s designed to give companies immediate feedback and a better idea of the cost and time needed to complete the project so they can make a more informed decision.

From the city’s perspective, it also improves the process.

 LeeRay Hanly, the plan review manager for the City’s Development Services Department, explained:

 “Meeting with the customer early on really helps speed up the review process for the customer. Knowing what the scope of the project will entail, and having seen the site in advance of any plan submittals, we are able to significantly reduce review times while dealing with far fewer, if any, surprises.”

Chandler Fire Marshal Cina Kauble echoes this sentiment when she talks about the advantages of the BLT meeting.

 “It’s easier, safer and more economical to identify and address any issues on the front side, rather than to try to fix issues after a business has moved in,” Kauble said.  

When asked about examples of some of the success stories that he’s seen, Kaup says that there are many.

 An example of a start-up restaurant that stands out to him is Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria.

 The owners moved to Arizona from Texas and were searching for a good location to launch their first restaurant. They found a retail suite that had been vacant for awhile and needed many improvements.

 The BLT was able to help answer all of the owners’ questions so they knew what it would take to improve the space. 

Another business that utilized the service is the State Seal Company, which is in the manufacturing industry. They were looking to consolidate their Arizona operations from four buildings into one larger existing building.

 Owner Jason Darmel said, “City staff walked through the building and actively addressed tenant improvement questions related to building code, fire code and zoning items. This allowed us to save time and money throughout the build-out process.”

In fact, the BLT reputation is growing.

 A recent project that came to Chandler was a repeat customer of the BLT and one of the main reasons they chose to move to Chandler was because the program made their first project easier. 

According to Kaup, there are still many people who are unaware of the program, and the economic development staff is hoping to change that. They want more people to take advantage of the free service if it makes sense for them. 

“For many companies finding a new space or moving into a new space is an infrequent experience,” Kaup says. “We want to help companies get through the process quicker and make it as transparent as possible.” 

Information:  480-782-3032 or ryan.kaup@chandleraz.gov.

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