Just as many of you paused to give thanks last month, at the Marana Chamber of Commerce we, too, are reflecting on a bountiful year and are looking ahead to an even better 2018.

We joined the Town of Marana in celebrating the 40th anniversary of its founding. At the state of the town address and luncheon in April, Mayor Ed Honea and members of his leadership team provided an inspirational look at the community and its growth.  

We also observed the Chamber’s 30th birthday. Members at our annual meeting lunch enjoyed an enlightening, occasionally humorous look back at how this organization came to be, and what it has accomplished as it helps local entrepreneurs grow their business.

The chamber staff sees success in our members’ success. A highly popular networking breakfast throughout the year attracts and welcomes new members and prospects. Mixers draw younger members to enhanced and unique venues. Monthly meetings feature local government and business leaders. Quarterly lunches dissect education, healthcare, transportation and economic development. 

This year, we connected neighborhood businesses to their consumers through a mobile-friendly website, which helps buyers shop local. I hope you use shopmarana.com to find great deals and to support Marana-area merchants. 

Construction of the Ina Road overpass at Interstate 10, which got underway at the start of the year, significantly impacted businesses in that area. I am proud that the town and the chamber responded proactively, surveying 200 affected merchants beforehand and periodically since then. The feedback has been valuable in getting improved signage and better communication. We’ve supported block parties to boost Ina Road businesses. The next one will be this Saturday, Dec. 16 at Catalina Brewing Company (6918 N. Camino Martin #120).

Our can-do attitude allowed us to score highly on a Western Association of Chamber Executives survey on member satisfaction. We also earned a Reader’s Choice Award as Best Chamber of Commerce, for the second year in a row, from the Arizona Daily Star. It helped propel our membership to its highest level ever: 575 as of the end of November.

We couldn’t have achieved those honors without the strong support of our members, especially those who invest in our many events, both big and small. We also couldn’t have done it without member volunteers who chair, or otherwise serve, on our committees.

We stayed busy during the year with numerous activities. In addition to the state of the town address with the town, the chamber held its 16th annual golf tournament at The Gallery golf course to help benefit local military families. Thanks to a gift from BAYADA Home Health Care, our Health and Wellness Committee created our first-ever scholarship. The Marana Chamber Health Education Scholarship encourages high school seniors and adults to get training a health care field. If you are interested, contact us at scholarship@maranachamber.com. 

In November, we held a successful festival promoting conservation and “green” practices. We received great feedback about the Marana Earth Festival-Making Sustainability Fun! and are looking at making it bigger, and better, next year.

Meanwhile, we’re hard at work preparing for 2018. Our Business Connections Quarterly Luncheon on Jan. 17 will focus on education. Greg Wilson, dean of applied technology at Pima Community College, and Doug Wilson, Marana Unified School District Superintendent, will discuss the digital transformation of their schools. The 2018 state of the town address and luncheon will be held Thursday, April 19. It will include a large display of local businesses and services. Find more information and sign up for both events, and all others, at maranachamber.com.

Marana continues to be an attractive place to live, work and play. Curt Woody, director of economic development and tourism for the Town of Marana, reported that 62 permits for construction of single-family homes were issued in October. The building activity was spread equally across the three regions tracked by the town: 21 in Northern Marana, 21 in Eastern Marana and 20 in Southern Marana. The October tally brings the number of single-family permits issued in 2017 to 655.

We celebrated our members’ successes with ribbon cuttings in recent weeks: the Marana Resource Center, Twin Peaks Pizzeria, Kiva Insurance and MOD Pizza. In addition, we welcomed these businesses to membership: PuckerUp! Party Photo Booth; Wells Fargo Advisors - Justin Dodds; Marana Mainstreet, LLC; Chef Chic; Wes Stolsek, Omni Homes International; Twin Peaks Pizzeria, LLC; Mr. Tee’s Silkscreen; Sage Desert Assisted Living and Memory Care; Tracy’s Tucson Catering; Shannon Burke Insurance Agency LLC; Sylvan Learning Center; Denny’s- JML Foods, Inc.; Small Business Solutions of Tucson; Topgolf Marana. 

I’d like to thank everyone for their support of the Marana Chamber this year. We’re looking forward to a profitable and successful New Year.

And don’t forget, Ina Road is open for business!  

Ed Stolmaker is the president and CEO of the Marana Chamber of Commerce.

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