Don't be fooled by Gilbert's well-cultivated image as a family-friendly small town and former Hay Capital of the World.
The southeast Valley community, which for years has been among the nation's fastest-growing municipalities, now numbers almost 200,000 residents as it matures into another level of growth.
While residential growth has been closing in on build-out the past couple of years, the town (don't call it a city) has seen its first hospitals, freeway and regional shopping center open.
Those hospitals - three have opened in the past two years - are seen as a potential cluster for the health-care and wellness businesses.
Attracting those kind of jobs is viewed as a way boosting Gilbert's income and education levels, which are both among the highest for Valley communities.
Gilbert is family-friendly for a reason. About 70 percent of the households are married with a child under 18, almost reverse the national average.
It's not surprising that a great premium is put on education. Thirty-one of the Gilbert Public Schools' 39 schools were ranked excelling, the highest category in a demanding state school-labeling system.
The town is served by Chandler-Gilbert Community College, noted for its outreach to the business and civic communities, as well as Arizona State University Polytechnic campus, which is at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on the town's eastern edge.
That former Air Force base is generating more employment as well as adding passenger-plane service to about a dozen markets.
Gilbert, which is 2006 was ranked 16th on Money Magazine's 100 Best Places to Live in America, offers many other family-friendly features.
An extensive parks system is highlighted by Cosmo Dog Park, ranked as the top dog park in the nation by Dog Fancy magazine, and the Riparian Preserve, which has earned Audubon Society honors.
The town is adding retail and restaurants, although some of the most popular eateries, such as Joe's Real BBQ, the Farmhouse and Joe's Fresh Grill, featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, feature a rural ambience.
Every fall, Gilbert Days, complete with rodeo and parade, celebrates the town's rural and Western roots.
While 1,000 residents per month has been an entrenched growth rate, Gilbert still rolls out the small-town welcome. New residents are feted at quarterly Newcomers Socials by town and civic leaders.
Author:Keith Judish Phone: 623-224-7956 Dated: April 23rd 2015 Views: 196 About Keith: O'Keith Judish licensed REALTOR® with Realty ONE Group serving the West Valley and Phoenix Metrople...
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