The commitment to build a $5.3 billion chip fabrication facility in Chandler’s Ocotillo region — expanding on an already significant presence in one of the East Valley’s benchmark cities — has certainly brought Intel its fair share of global and national recognition over the past year.
Yet the company received one more accolade Thursday night — this time on a truly local scale.
As part of its 25th annual awards dinner honoring the best of its city’s industry and leadership, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce presented Intel with its 2012 Business of the Year award in front of hundreds of dignitaries and other guests during a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort.
From the cost of the plant expansion, to the size and visibility of the cranes used during early construction, to a visit from the leader of the free world himself, Intel’s investment into Chandler has dotted news pages on both a national and global scale.
During his January visit to the Intel Ocotillo Campus, President Barack Obama spoke on business development and praised the firm for its commitment to adding American manufacturing jobs.
During Thursday’s event, Intel was one of 14 individuals or businesses honored with awards or scholarships, with locally-owned Floridino’s Pizza and Pasta restaurant securing Small Business of the Year honors. Micro business of the year — a category designed for operations with five or fewer employees — was given to Furbabies Delectable Delights, a hand-made specialty pet bakery.
With a bevy of Chandler storefronts as well as administrative facilities — including a call center with more than 1,000 employees — Verizon Wireless was celebrated with the Business Diversity award. Fulton Ranch store manager Heath Manering accepted the award on behalf of the company.
“We have a credo ... Diversity is not only the right thing to do, diversity is great for business,” Manering said.
Open in Chandler for about a year and a half, and now with more than 1,200 employees, eBay/PayPal was honored with the Chandler Cup, presented by the City of Chandler to an organization that fosters growth in the city’s economy and contributes greatly to the community.
Individually, Richard Jordan, site manager of Air Products and Chemicals and the chamber’s current board chairman, was awarded the Chamber Cup for his service to the Chamber and commitment to the organization’s efforts throughout the year.
While business awards are certainly a key to the Chamber’s recognition efforts, the organization also hands out a host of individual awards to school employees, public service representatives, and other individuals who have shown exceptional commitment to the city and its residents.
Sgt. Dave Ramer of the Chandler Police Department was the recipient of the James R. Snedigar Public Service award, named for the Chandler officer killed in the line of duty 13 years ago.
Ramer was credited for his work with local charities, youth organizations and schools — including establishing programs at 41 Chandler campuses to raise funds for the Special Olympics. He said the fallen Chandler officer still holds an important place in the eyes of most in the department.
“April 16, 1999,” Ramer said, reciting the day Snedigar was killed, from memory and without hesitation. “I was a volunteer with the police department at the time. I didn’t have the chance to know Jim ... I was hired in July. But his impact … it is such an honor to receive this award in his name.”
Alberto Esparza, founder and president of the Si Se Puede Foundation was honored with the Community Cup, given to “show appreciation for outstanding volunteerism or other commitment to the community.”
Started in 1993, the foundation is a youth-based organization that encourages diversity, non-violent conflict resolution, and educational opportunity for local youth, including those at risk. The organization works hand-in-hand with the Chandler Unified School District.
Esparza said that he’s been asked at times by other schools to bring Si Se Puede to their communities, but he has turned it down without fail.
“My answer has always been no. We cannot leave the Chandler school district,” he said.
Educational award winners included Hamilton High School social worker Dia Mundle, named support staff employee of the year, and Chandler district community relations director Terry Locke as administrator of the year. Amy Miller, a special education teacher at Haley Elementary School, was named educator of the year.
Three education scholarships were also presented to Chandler-Gilbert Community College students. Those honored: Sharon Despars, a business/logistics major; Sobeida Henriquez, a general business major; and Ginger Noteboom, an international business major.
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