Now that the economy is no longer going downhill at record pace, many say it is dragging along the bottom, and everyone is looking at ways to help nudge it upward.

One entity gaining a lot of attention for those efforts is the Town of Marana. With the recently opened Business Development Center, officials of the Town of Marana are recognizing that times are tough, and the last thing a business needs is to go through multiple layers of government, receive different messages from different department heads, and get frustrated at the entire process.

Instead, the Town of Marana is assigning one team for each permit application. What does that mean? Well, it means the group of engineers, planning officials, fire officials and other town officials will be working together. An applicant isn’t going to go into the engineer’s office and hear one thing, then go to the planning office and hear another. Instead, all of these people are going to be working together.

Taking this approach means they are cutting down on communication problems, and they are going to have developers, contractors and business owners coming away pleased with their experience with a government entity. That’s not something we just don’t hear a anymore.

In fact, many, especially in the Tucson region, agree that doing anything requires too many of layers of government, a lot of unnecessary paperwork that leads to nothing but a frustrating experience.

From Pima County to the City of Tucson and at times even Oro Valley, the phrase “business unfriendly” is being used often.

Oro Valley is taking steps to address some of those concerns by having an open dialogue with business owners, and recently allowed A-Frame signs to be posted outside local businesses.

Marana Vice Mayor Patti Comerford said, “We are ahead of the game in all of the region in helping businesses survive and strive,” and she’s absolutely right.

The entire Tucson region should follow Marana’s lead. At some point they need to recognize that the days of getting 150 permit applications per month are gone. That if you get more than 20 you are doing well right now, and working to be too choosy, too picky and make the process to complicated will only make prospective business owners look elsewhere. If Marana is nearby for that perspective business owner or developer, they will take their business there.

Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said, “Without a thriving, healthy business community, we wouldn’t have the nice roads we have, the parks, or this building. We wouldn’t be able to do any of the programs that we provide to our citizens.”

So, is Marana’s concept of having a “business friendly” environment working? Based on the evidence, it’s obvious it is working, and that’s without the recent opening of the Business Development Center.

Unlike the City of Tucson, Oro Valley and Pima County, the Town of Marana wasn’t looking at a 2011-2012 budget and stressing about how many employees would be let go, which departments would be cut, and which programs would be eliminated.

Instead, Marana talked of excess funds that would allow them to refill positions vacated during tough economic times. They gave staff a $450 cash bonus, and they are continually looking at projects that will improve the community.

Marana is also well aware of the fact that they can’t do it all alone. They are working with the Marana Chamber of Commerce, they are taking input from the community and they are forming boards where everyone is being brought to the table.

It would be wise for the entire Tucson region to become aware of how Marana is working to help businesses in tough economic times.

After taking notice, they should be taking notes and taking action to follow their lead.

—Thelma Grimes


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