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"Shop Local and Spend Big” is my wish for this holiday season. As a chamber of commerce, we are always asking everyone to shop local, but now more than ever it is important to support our local businesses. Whether they are a small one-person shop or a large, 100-employee shop, they need us. I know we have asked you to stay home and only go out when needed, but whenever you are online shopping, remember, many of our local businesses have online stores and offer pickup and delivery. Please include them in your “Shopping List.”

Last month we held a Virtual Workforce/Transportation Luncheon. We were joined by two guest speakers, Tim Bee with Southern Arizona Builders Alliance, and Michele Bettini with Arizona Transportation Builders Association. Tim shared with us the mission of the Arizona Builders Alliance, which is to lead their members and the construction industry to greater productivity and profitability through education, networking and legislative advocacy. 

The construction industry was deemed essential by the state, so construction has not slowed down in Arizona. In fact, it has grown by 11.5%. Construction in Arizona contributed $18.2 billion to the state’s GDP of $366.2 billion. 

The construction industry also offers well-paying jobs. Four out of five construction jobs have higher-than-median wages. The Southern Arizona Builders Alliance Workforce Development Committee offers two programs to introduce students to the construction industry and possible careers. One is “Construct Your Career” and the other is “Southern Arizona Career Days.” 

Michele answered the many questions the chamber received before the event from our members and reported how the Arizona Transportation Builders Association is working on their issues. She shared how they work with the Town of Marana on prioritizing projects for our roadways, amenities and services. 

COVID has had a huge impact on the transportation industry. With less demand for gasoline and road traffic, they have had a 10% decrease from last year. 

The most important thing we can do to support transportation in our area is to share data and advocate for increased funding for resources.  One of the highest-priority items new companies look at when relocating is that the community has a good transportation system, so this is important for our local economy.

The Chamber has finally moved into our new location and we are loving our new space. We hope that you will join us on Tuesday, December 15, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. for our Holiday Open House. We will be giving tours and sharing our vision for the new space. The address is 13251 N. Lon Adams Road.

Welcome to our newest members Equitable Advisors, Sign Gypsies Northern Tucson, Kimberly K Lee, HOTWORX-Tucson, F45 Training Marana and Your CBD Store. Thank you to all our current members and for your trust in the Marana Chamber. We appreciate you and all your support.

As we get ready to close out 2020, I believe we can all say: “What a crazy year it has been.” We all have stories, some good, some not so good, some are sad, and some are happy. Whatever your story is, I hope that as we move into a New Year, we will remember all that we have learned and experienced during this time of COVID and focus on positive actions for all in our community in 2021.

All of us here at the Marana Chamber wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Holiday and all the best for 2021. We are looking forward to serving you in the New Year.

Audra Winters is President/CEO of the Marana Chamber of Commerce. For more information about our members or news in this article, go to www.maranachamber.com or call (520) 682-4314.

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