The past four years have been an enormous challenge for communities and states as it relates to economic development. Marana is no exception; several signature developments have been put on hold until the economic conditions of our state show stable growth projections.
The good news is that our year-to-date residential permits are higher than this time last year. This has not gone unnoticed by the various entities that have requested meetings to discuss their plans. “Cautious optimism” is better than no optimism.
Since adopting the Strategic Plan and subsequent Economic Roadmap, the Town of Marana has remained optimistic about its future. The Strategic Plan recognizes the importance of and provides policy direction to build a diverse and thriving local and regional economy that creates career-oriented jobs and community wealth. The Economic Roadmap is an initiative within the Strategic Plan Commerce Center Focus Area. There are two key components contained within this document: Target Industries and Activity Centers. The nine Activity Centers are defined areas of current or future concentrated development that offer unique economic development opportunities. A few of the most notable centers include the Tangerine Corridor, Downtown Marana, the Heritage Park and a Transportation Logistics Zone.
While the Economic Roadmap specifies Activity Centers, the Strategic Plan provides specific initiatives and action strategies that challenge us to find innovative ways to attract and maintain career-oriented commerce. Progress and Innovation is one of the key Focus Areas that challenges every Town department to look at its policies and procedures. Continuous improvement, innovation and best practices are part of Marana’s culture. The Business Development Center and team approach to customer service has allowed Marana to see significant improvements to the process of doing business in our community.
The Marana Job Creation Incentive Program was adopted and implemented in 2010 to spur economic development. In the spirit of Progress and Innovation, this incentive was adapted earlier this month to allow for a greater number of new and existing businesses to qualify. Reducing the requirements from a $2 million investment and 25 new jobs to a $1 million investment and 10 new jobs broadens the scope of the program.
The Town has also added a fifth element to the reimbursement program that will allow for best practices in sustainable developments. We will also be looking at an economic development reinvestment program in the coming year as another tool to make the Town and region an attractive place to do business.
The Town looks forward to collaborating with our regional partners to ensure Southern Arizona remains one of the best places to work, live and thrive.
(Editor’s Note: Curt Woody is the Town of Marana’s Economic Development Manager.)