Desert sunset

Marana resident Helen Horton took this from her backyard vantage point in The Preserve on Dove Mountain.

Even though the recession took a hard hit to cities throughout Arizona, residents can remain hopeful and optimistic – especially those in the town of Marana.

Consumer advocacy website, NerdWallet, recently released a study about the economic improvements to the state of Arizona from 2009 to 2012. Marana was one of a many in Arizona areas that were highlighted in the areas of income, employment and population growth. According to the study, the driving force to create a sustainable and growing economy is the people.

In 2010, Arizona’s population was at about 6.3 million and within the last year has grown to about 6.6 million. The town of Marana has contributed to the state’s growth through their work force population growth of 7.6 percent, from 2009 to 2012, and an employment growth of 18.1 percent. 

From 2010 to now the population has increased from about 35,000 residents to 40,000. Curt Woody, economic development and strategic initiatives manager, recognizes the mayor and council and supportive residents for the town’s growth.

“The attraction to Marana is that it’s a family-oriented community that people feel comfortable in and are proud of their community. It’s a business-supportive environment and a safe place to live,” said Woody. “You don’t have this type of positive feeling of a community unless the mayor and council have the vision to move the community forward.”

Moving forward is just what the town of Marana is doing. Public information officer, Rodney Campbell says the growth is also due to the picking up of big projects that were put on hold when the recession hit.

“When the recession hit we hit the pause button for a while. Projects got put to the side,” said Campbell. “The town planned very well for the recession and budgeted well so soon enough the projects started to pop back up again.”

Saguaro Bloom, a project that was on standstill for about four years after the recession, is now complete and provides residents with more than 2,000 homes over a spread of 700 acres. Two other projects that are expected to bring in more residents, more job opportunities and more revenue are the Marana Heritage River Park and the Marana Premium Outlet Mall. 

The Heritage Park will comprise a farm that will have a community garden, an area for planting, working and eating locally grown food. The park will also include a themed splash pad and ranch where numerous sporting events will occur. The 

park will be located south of Gladden Farms and west of the Interstate 10 on Tangerine Farms Loop Road.

Another generator of revenue is the 360,000-square-foot outlet mall that will have about 100 name brand and designer stores. Groundbreaking on Aug. 25 and the outlet mall is expected to open by the fall of 2015.

“The outlet mall is truly going to be destination shopping. It’s one of those things that will be a game changer for us,” said Campbell. “It is really big, sustainable and will stay in business for a long time. It’ll provide a good economic base, hundreds of people will be hired, we’ll get sales tax revenue, which we can use also use for the police, parks, road improvements and more.”

Marana was ranked 16th among other cities and towns in Arizona for the overall rate of growth over the past three years. The town is expected to continue to grow as new developments pop up in the region.

“I’m getting weekly invitations for internal meetings for developers to meet with personnel from different disciplines within development services. Residential applications are also always coming in,” said Woody. “When you have a town that has a structurally balanced budget, policy, procedures and a vision it makes for a great formula.”

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