Ina Road open for business

Even though Interstate 10 is under construction at West Ina Road, businesses on either side of the roadway are remaining open during the work.

Logan Burtch-Buus

As the Marana Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year, we also honor and give thanks for the businesses and entities that have supported us-some for the entire time.

At the annual luncheon last month, the Chamber recognized these 30-year members: Marana Unified School District, Marana Health Center, CalPortland–Rillito Plant, the Town of Marana, Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc., Comcast Business, Hensley Beverage Company, The Planning Center and Marana Stockyards and Livestock Market, Inc.

Those organizations signed up when the first Chamber of Commerce in Marana was put together in 1987, a decade after the town itself was incorporated.  

“It all started when Billy Schisler, then mayor for the Town of Marana, came up to me and he goes, ‘Would you start a chamber of commerce?’” said Phyllis M. Farenga, founder and first chamber director. “And I said ‘Of course I will, Billy.’ But then I had to figure out what a Chamber of Commerce was.”

Schisler eventually involved Farenga in the town’s master plan and planning process, and more businesses got involved.

Early marketing materials were basic and low-budget. A yellow and blue bumper sticker sported a large “MARANA” with an up arrow on the N and read “We’re really growing places!” The first business card for what was then called the Greater Marana/Avra Valley Chamber of Commerce featured a rising sun.

An early map of the area given to members and visitors was hand-drawn. By contrast, today’s Official Chamber Map is a professionally-produced slick, full-color foldout full of pictures, information and advertising. It is updated and distributed annually.

Kelle Maslyn, now director of community relations for Arizona State University, served as director from 1999-2003 when the Chamber had approximately 130 members.

Over the years, the membership has grown to more than 550, and we are adding new businesses and organizations every month. 

I have had the honor of being a part of the growth as the president and CEO for the past 14 years. During that time, I have had the privilege of serving a number of great people, including many who have been a part of our organization for two decades or longer.

At the annual luncheon we recognized these long-term supporters of the Chamber: (25 years) Cortaro Water Users Association and Quality Aviation; (20 years) Granite Construction, The Highlands at Dove Mountain, Avra Valley Fire, Foothills Mall; (15 years) Wells Fargo (Silverbell, Cortaro and Dove Mountain) and Alphagraphics. 

We also thanked members of 10 years or more: Canyon Community Bank/Continental Ranch, Lyra Done Realty LLC, Tucson Federal Credit Union, Red Rock Financial, TnT Promotions, Rockin Photo Events, LLC, Sanctuary United Methodist Church, Distinctive Cleaning and Maintenance Services, St. Christopher Catholic Church, Chili’s Grill and Bar, Mira Vista Resort, Signarama, Casa Grande Rent-a-Can, American Quality International Consulting, Copper Creek Cookies & Fresh Catering, Colt’s Taste of Texas Steakhouse, Casino Del Sol Resort, Oasis at Wild Horse Ranch, Continental Ranch Self Storage, Sunflower Community Association, Mighty Mouse Computer Consulting.

And we recognized the talented leaders who chair our committees: Thom Cope, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors; Dr. Monica Fowler, Fowler Chiropractic (Health & Wellness); Kim Wagoner, Red Point Development (Special Events); David Dore, Pima County College (Education); George Kennedy, Natures Impact/Zija (Economic Development); Roy Beagle, Capital Pacific Mortgage (Membership); Ed Stolmaker, President and CEO, Marana Chamber of Commerce; Brooke Nowak, TMM Family Services (Green), and Brenda Bowers, Stewart Title and Trust Tucson (Ambassadors). Pat Turner of FLSmidth Krebs was thanked for his service on the board of directors. He is leaving this year.

A big thank you as well to Trico and to the fantastic staff at The Highlands at Dove Mountain for sponsoring our annual luncheon.

Even as technology changes and as we greet new friends and say good-bye to old ones, the mission has remained the same: “The Marana Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business that works to build economic growth and quality of life in our community.”

And has Marana grown. 

We cut the ribbon to open The Dog Complex just south of Ina Road in August and we are getting ready to help Growlers TapHouse debut formally on Silverbell. Growlers joins a distinguished community of craft brewers in Marana that includes Catalina Brewing Co., Dove Mountain Brewing Company and the soon-to-open Button Brew House.

This is a busy time for the Chamber. In addition to the annual luncheon, we are holding our 16th Annual Golf Tournament at The Gallery golf course Sept. 15. Proceeds benefit local military families. It’s not too late to sign up for a sponsorship or to contribute an item for the raffle or auction.

Plans are well underway for the “Marana Earth Festival – Making Sustainability Fun!,” being hosted by our Green Committee. The festival, from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Tucson Premium Outlets mall, will include fun activities for the kids, education on energy savings and resource conservation for the whole family. We’ll also feature a sampling of unique Marana foods and exhibits from businesses who specialize in sustainability. 

The event will include a full-blown paper-shredding and recycling campaign through certified recyclers Beacon Secure, so start going through your old files now and decide to get rid of those old computers cluttering up your home office or garage. The Marana Police Department will conduct a Dispose-A-Med to safely dump old prescriptions and pill bottles, which will be scrubbed and used to distribute toiletries to the homeless.

The Marana Chamber would like to welcome our newest members, Life is Good Chiropractic, Dynamic Civil Designs LLC, Ebie’s Rub Cleaning, Repair and Restoration and New China Buffet. 

Ed Stolmaker is the President and CEO of the Marana Chamber of Commerce

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