Edythe Jensen and Luci Scott
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 14, 2007 12:00 AM
Motorola is selling its Chandler facility, its largest in Arizona, and consolidating operations in Tempe, company officials confirmed Wednesday.Most of Motorola's 1,200 Arizona employees work at the 152-acre Chandler site northeast of Price and Queen Creek roads, spokeswoman Kathi Haas said. Cellular network engineering operations done there will move to leased space in Tempe early next year. There have been no official layoff announcements, and Christine Mackay, Chandler economic development specialist, said she was assured by a top Motorola official that no Chandler workers would lose their jobs in the move.
However, Motorola reported to the state Department of Economic Security last month that it intends to lay off 79 employees in Chandler and 46 in Tempe before August. "Those job reductions are part of the 3,500 announced earlier this year and are not associated with the site consolidations," Hass said.Initially surrounded by alfalfa fields and dairies when the company moved to the city in 1985, the Chandler Motorola plant spurred development along the Price Road Corridor and for a while expanded to a second site on Alma School Road, now home to Freescale. The company isn't releasing the asking price for the plant and 152 acres it has up for sale, but Haas said the decision to sell was "real estate asset management." The property is valuable, and Motorola wants the cash, Chandler officials said.Motorola has been pared down by layoffs over the years, from its 20,000-strong workforce in the 1990s. Chandler Councilman Martin Sepulveda said it's a lesson in why cities need economic diversity."Companies like Motorola and Intel have brought us from agriculture to technology, but the semiconductor industry isn't at the top of the food chain anymore," he said. "What's next? It's bioscience, biotechnology."Councilman Matt Orlando is a business development manager for technology firm General Dynamics. He said that several prospective buyers, whom he declined to name, are eyeing the Motorola site and he expects it to sell "within the next few months." Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman is rolling out the red carpet. "I'm delighted Motorola has had a good experience in Tempe," he said. "We look forward to welcoming the expansion of their plant and operations."
Republic reporter Katie Nelson contributed to this article.
This will be the 5th place I have worked at since I joined Motorola on June 1, 1998, having worked at:
51st Street/Piedmont (Phoenix/Ahwatukee)
56th Street South of Indian School (Phoenix)
Price/Queen Creeek (Chandler)
and soon Diablo Way (Tempe)
My commute will be cut in half, approximately.