Explorer staff report

Marana has expanded its job creation incentive program, now offering to pay job training expenses incurred by qualifying, resident companies that create new, non-retail jobs in the community.

The town council approved the change Sept. 7.

State government suspended its Arizona Job Training Program in 2009. Josh Wright, who leads economic development efforts within the town manager's office, told the council Arizona is "the only state that does not have a job training program at the state level of any kind."

In addition, the federal Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development grant, awarded to a coalition from Pima, Santa Cruz, Yuma and Cochise counties, recently reached its conclusion, the town said in a release.

"Town support of workforce development and job training programs is in the best interests of everyone who lives or does business here," Mayor Ed Honea said in the release. "Town council and staff are making job creation and retention a priority in Marana."

In May, the town council approved the original job creation incentive program, giving non-retail companies choosing to locate or expand in Marana the ability to recoup portions of paid construction sales taxes if they create new, higher-paying jobs, if employees buy homes in Marana, if they beautify the Interstate 10 corridor, and if they provide internship and training programs for high school or college students who reside in Marana.

To be eligible, companies must make a capital investment of approximately $2 million and create 25 jobs that pay at least $40,000 annually. These companies may then request reimbursements of construction sales tax dollars.

Wright said Marana has received "quite a few inquiries from other communities" across Arizona about its economic development incentives.

"It's generated a lot of positive inquiries," Wright said.

"I hope we can say we're out in front of this," Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler said.

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