August 10, 2005 - Oro Valley Mayor Paul Loomis said he was "quite surprised" to hear the news earlier this year that the town had been selected to play host to the 2005 Governor's Rural Economic Development Conference.

That's because the town had courted the conference a few years ago only to be told that Oro Valley did not qualify as rural.

The town of about 40,000 is on the outskirts of Tucson, has little to no farming or ranching, and is full of housing communities.

But Loomis didn't accept the initial rejection. He asked for the definition of rural and insisted that, though it is not agricultural and is on the high end of the population requirements, Oro Valley's ratio of business to population, the large amount of state lands within its boundaries. and its goals and visions for development keep it "right on the fringes of qualifying as rural," Loomis said.

"It's in the way we have established the community, our goals," Loomis said. "We are certainly right on the edge, but we're there."

Loomis said having the conference choose Oro Valley as its destination this year is important because it is one of the larger local government conferences in the state, next to the annual League of Arizona Cities and Towns conference.

"It's always exciting to be a host to your colleagues," he said.

More than 500 participants are expected in Oro Valley for the Governor's Rural Development Conference, held in partnership with the Arizona Association of Economic Development Conference, according to information released by the Department of Commerce. This is the 31st year the annual event is being presented by The Arizona Department of Commerce and the third year in partnership with the Arizona Association for Economic Development.

The theme of this year's conference is Regional Partnerships: Expanding Opportunities.

The Tucson Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort will play host to most of the guests at the conference and will serve as the site for all the conference sessions and banquet events.

Oro Valley, as the host community, chose this year's opening reception theme, Focus on Excellence, for the Wednesday evening welcome reception, which will be held poolside at the hotel. The event is presented as a way for towns to get information on economic development and network with statewide economic developers and business contacts.

"It has been an effort by the state to bring the state communities together to talk about economic development and economic impacts to the entire state and various regions within the state," Loomis said.

The mayor and several other council members plan to attend the conference, which will be held Aug. 17-19. Town staff members, including employees in the town's water utility and water conservation departments and the police department, plan to make presentations.

Loomis said there will be sessions on many economic development topics that will be relevant to the town, including using economic development incentives.

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