Marana Chamber wins award, celebrates anniversary

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It has been a big year for the Marana Chamber of Commerce. They are in the midst of their 30th anniversary celebration and earlier this week they were awarded the Best Chamber of Commerce in the 2017 Arizona Daily Star/ Readers’ Choice Awards.

The award recognized the chamber for their hard work and dedication to growing the economy in the Town of Marana. The Town and Chamber have been partners since the start. According to current Marana Chamber President and CEO Ed Stolmaker, then Mayro Billy Schisler approached Phyllis M. Farenga about starting the chamber.

In a column he wrote for Tucson Local Media, Stolmaker explained that the early marketing materials were basic and low-budget.

“A yellow and blue bumper sticker sported a large ‘Marana’ with an up arrow on the N and read ‘We’re really growing places!’,” Stolmaker wrote. “The first business card for what was then called the Greater Marana/Avra Valley Chamber of Commerce featured a rising sun.

“An early map of the area given to members and visitors was hand-drawn,” Stolmaker added. “By contrast, today’s Official Chamber Map is a professionally-produced slick, full-color foldout full of pictures, information and advertising. It is updated and distributed annually.”

Today the Chamber has over 550 members and is adding new ones every month. As Marana grows, the chamber grows.

The Town partners with the Chamber to run the Marana Visitor Center, which also serves as the Chamber’s office, as well as other services like business retention. The Marana Town Council approve to extend the partnership for the 2018 Fiscal Year at a June council meeting.

“We have a strong partnership and many, many successes in working with the Marana Chamber of Commerce over the years,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson.

The Town and Chamber work side by side on the annual State of the Town, and this year they have worked hard to help businesses affected by the Ina Interchange Project, including two business walks to help determine the needs of those area businesses.

“The agreement between the town and the chamber makes a lot of sense for both of us,” said Stolmaker. “It is a good partnership, we have a great relationship and I look forward to working with them in 2017 and 2018.” 

The role of the Chamber has evolved over the 30 years. Initially they ran some of the town’s events and did much of the town marketing. Stolmaker said slowly it evolved into what it is today, a way to attract and retain businesses in the area, and grown the local economy. Not that they have completely abandoned events, in addition to partnering on the State of the Town, the chamber has their annual golf tournament, the ever evolving Marana Earth Festival, and all of their weekly, monthly, and quarterly events.

In July the Chamber held their annual luncheon and they were able to recognize several members who had been there from the start: Marana Unified School District, Marana Health Center, CalPortland–Rillito Plant, the Town of Marana, Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc., Comcast Business, Hensley Beverage Company, The Planning Center, and Marana Stockyards and Livestock Market, Inc.