But data indicates town officials have made strides in recent years to balance the residential real estate boom with jobs that keep residents in Gilbert.
In the past six months alone, three companies headquartered outside the region have announced plans to expand their footprint locally or open a Gilbert location, which could lead to more than 1,100 new jobs in the coming years.
The recent news from Northrop Grumman, Deloitte and Curry Supply Co. follows a trend in Gilbert in which 15,978 jobs have been created since 2010. Approximately half of those jobs have come from companies that feature five or more employees.
Gilbert Economic Development Director Dan Henderson credited regional and state efforts in helping spur job growth and said the town continues to see interest from different industries in being in Gilbert or nearby in the region. He acknowledged that events such as the Jan. 30 Northrop Grumman groundbreaking make for “great days.”
“It conveys our economy is good for business,” Henderson said. “The cost of doing business, the tax climate, the relative cost of employment—we package that. Part of that package is not only an economy that wants to do business, but also speaks to the quality of life that helps us to attract that qualified workforce.”
Recent job growth announcements
Defense contractor Northrop Grumman began construction Jan. 30 on an expansion of its Gilbert campus with a 120,000-square-foot administrative and engineering building addition as well as a 1,000-square-foot expansion to its satellite manufacturing facility.
The expansion is expected to add approximately 200 jobs over a three-year period, according to the company. The jobs will be full time and high paying, officials said, in fields such as engineering, manufacturing and technology.
The project will double the production capacity at the Northrop Grumman facility and enable the site to meet projected business growth, according to its release.
Deloitte, already with more than 900 workers in its Rivulon building, announced in September plans to occupy a second 100,000-square-foot building in the development.
“We’ve set some targets of what growth would be, and thus far we have exceeded the pace of what we thought it would be,” said Matt Even, managing director of Deloitte’s Gilbert site. “We’re going to have a little over 1,000 folks in this first building before too long, and that caused us to think about adding a second building.”
That building could add another 900 employees in Gilbert. And Even said reaching 2,500 “certainly seems reasonable at the pace we’re going now.”
Unlike Northrop Grumman and Deloitte, Curry Supply Co. was new to Gilbert when it announced Jan. 2 that it was coming to town.
The commercial service vehicles manufacturer already has moved into heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer Silent Aire’s former building, which it acquired Dec. 12 for $6.56 million, according to commercial sales tracking site vizzda.com. The company said the facility will allow for better service of its growing number of West Coast customers.
In addition to the manufacturing of commercial service vehicles, Curry provides service and support and has inventory readily available for customers, Marketing Coordinator Bailey Schandelmeier said.
Why they moved to Gilbert
Northrop Grumman has bigger operations in Chandler but has been in Gilbert since 1989. Chris Keeler, site lead for Northrop Grumman’s Gilbert location, said in an email the company chose to further invest into Gilbert for reasons “ranging from our successful past performance as a site, skill sets of our employees, access to the right workforce, and the supportive business environment in Arizona.”
Deloitte arrived in Gilbert in June 2018 with one of the biggest job incentive packages in town history. The company projected to add between 1,500 to 2,500 jobs at the professional services firm’s delivery center built at the Rivulon business park development at Gilbert Road and Loop 202-Santan Freeway.
The town agreed to pay up to $3.05 million in a jobs grant, dependent on how many new local jobs averaging at least $95,000 in salary were created. The company also had to spend $34 million in local investments to unlock the grant money.
Even of Deloitte praised Mayor Jenn Daniels and town staff for being easy partners to work with. He also said he considered Rivulon as a good place to do business and grow because of its proximity to the airport and the town’s attractive talent pool, amenities and safety.
“It’s easy to recruit people to live in this community,” Even said.
Curry Supply Co.’s Schandelmeier noted Gilbert receiving the “Best City for Business in Arizona” award from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2019, a time when the company was looking to expand west.
“It was evident that the values of both the [town] of Gilbert and Curry Supply as a company strategically aligned,” Schandelmeier said. “Our Gilbert, Arizona, facility will allow us to add the significant level of service and support our West Coast customers deserve.”
Bringing new jobs nothing new
In 2010, approximately 73,501 full-time equivalent jobs existed in Gilbert, or about 64.8% of the town’s total labor force—113,367 residents age 16 and older at the time, according to data from analytics firm Esri and Arizona Labor Statistics. But as the labor force has grown the past decade, so, too, has the number of local jobs. As of 2018, Gilbert counts 89,479 jobs in town limits, a 21.7% increase from 2010. In the same time frame, the labor force increased 19.4%.
Even was upbeat on the possibility of more local job growth.
“Given the strong market for space and continued success of our current facility, the future looks extremely positive, and our intent is to continue the growth,” he said.