This week’s edition of The Explorer has the special section, “The Best of the Northwest,” which highlights some of Marana, Oro Valley and Tucson’s finest businesses on the Northwest side.

There are several reasons this edition of “The Best of the Northwest” is special. First, we had nearly 400 readers log in and vote on their favorite establishments ranging from their best places to eat Italian or Asian food, to their most trusted establishments for eye care, dental care and pediatrician.

It’s tough in today’s busy world to be recognized, to know if people really see the lengths businesses take to keep customers coming back for more. Every business owner agrees that while new customers are important, it’s the return customers that make a huge dent in the bottom line.

When polls such as “The Best of the Northwest” come out, this is a clear thank you to those hard-working businesses, from the owners down to their employees. We work hard, we get little recognition and a community newspaper like The Explorer specializes in getting the public’s opinion out there.

This year, The Explorer went a step further. We didn’t just ask you where you like to eat, get your nails done or shop – we asked who are the community’s best police officers, who are the best firefighters and who are some of the volunteers that deserve some recognition. In some cases, those categories are intertwined.

The poll results show clearly that the Golden Goose is a valued resource in the community. Not only were they chosen as a great shopping center, but also the organization as a whole was selected as one of the top volunteers of the Northwest.

We now have proof that while Tompkins Family Chiropractic is a valued professional, his practice is also respected for its community work. They collect donations during the holidays, they help with back-to-school programs, and businesses like this add value to the Marana community.

When it comes to bakeries and coffee, while Starbucks may remain the national favorite, primarily for name recognition, Village Bakehouse is an obvious favorite in both coffee and fresh-baked goodies. In coffee, Village Bakehouse tied for second best along with some other local favorites, including RockNJava and the Roadrunner Café.

While the “Best of the Northwest” has many businesses representing a variety of categories, every single business making the list are a valued part of the community where the residents of Marana and Oro Valley are proud to call home.

Another new aspect in this year’s special section is what The Explorer staff thinks of the local businesses. Each staff member chose some of their favorite categories and voted himself or herself, giving credit and recognition to some of their favorite businesses.

In the end, from me and The Explorer Publisher Ryan Kedzierski – we want to thank all those who participated in the 2012 “Best of the Northwest” section, and congratulate all those who made the list of favorites. We look forward to getting even more votes and recognizing even more businesses and organizations in 2013.

— Thelma Grimes

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