Business seems to be improving and sprouting in new forms in Marana, from restaurants to health care facilities, and food markets to personal services providers, according to the Marana Chamber of Commerce.
Ed Stolmaker, president and chief operating officer of the Marana chamber, said in the last six months nearly two dozen business have either started trading or remodeled and moved into new facilities in the town.
"Some of them include the Station Pub and Grill at N. Wade and N. Silverbell roads, the Arizona Youth Partnership Open Doors Community School on Sandario Road, the Aeris Family Dental facility on N. Wade and N. Silverbell roads, the 5 Guys Burgers and Fries on N. Thornydale Road, and the Marana Health and Wellness Center on N. Marana Main Street," Stolmaker said. "We're very pleased to have them as members of the Marana chamber and also as prospering businesses in the town."
Stolmaker also noted a number of other new and expanded businesses in Marana, including Desert Dental Studio, being built on N. Lon Adams Road; Sprouts, which was converted from a Sunflower Market; Jack Furrier Western Tire and Auto Care being built on the Frontage road south of Cortaro Road; Firehouse Subs on W. River Road; Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market on W. Ina Road near Thornydale Road, Sports Clubs at W. Arizona Pavilion Drive; and Fast Auto Loans at N. Cortaro Road.
Amy Pappas, owner of the Station Pub and Grill, has worked in the restaurant business for 10 years, but this is her first time as a restaurant owner.
"The Marana chamber helped us in meeting contacts and getting acquainted with the different businesses in the area, as well as those people in the town who could help us get through the process," Pappas said. "Our location is nestled into the edge of a residential neighborhood so we were a little leery about the business prospects at first, but business has been awesome on the Northwest side. We talked with the Sunflower, Continental Reserve and Continental Ranch neighborhood folks before we opened and have gotten good support from them."
JoEllen Lynn, a spokeswoman for Fry's Food, said Fry's Fuel Centers have been added to two Fry's Food locations in Marana.
"At Fry's store 36 at 3770 W. Ina Road, we opened a fuel center with six double-sided pumps six months ago and it's been doing well," Lynn said.
Fry's twelfth fuel center in the Tucson region, at the Fry's Food at 7870 N. Silverbell Road is expected to be open in about two months, Lynn pointed out.
"Our fuel centers are open to the public, but Fry's customers are part of a fuel rewards programs that offers discounts accumulated through shopping at Fry's," Lynn noted.
Daniel Stolzfus, executive director of the Arizona Youth Partnership, said his organization was founded a dozen years ago to serve rural underserved communities as a prevention focused group dealing with substance abuse, teen pregnancy, healthy marriages and parenting programs.
"Our group applied to become a charter school — the Open Doors Community School — and was approved as a charter school to open in January of 2013 in the Old Marana Health Clinic building at 13644 N. Sandario Road," Stolzfus said. "We will start with kindergarten through fourth grade as a tuition-free charter school for Avra Valley, Picture Rocks, Red Rock and Marana residents, and have been chartered as a K through 8 school."
Stolzfus noted that he hopes to open the K through 4th grade program with 125 students in the fall of 2013.
Arizona Youth Partnership, which has its headquarters in Marana, with offices in Globe, Kingman, Ajo and Springerville, operates in nine counties in the state, serving 14 school districts with programs for students and families.
Curt Woody, Marana's economic development manager in the Development Services Department, said that taking a new business from inception to grand opening takes a great deal of time.
"But business creation, retention and expansion, and recruitment are the buzz words that we live with," he said.
"Development, retention and expansion should be the most important thing we look at in these times," Woody said. "We have to identify and help businesses establish and grow here. We need to foster the spirit and culture of entrepreneurship in Marana."
Marana has a job creation incentive program whose goal is to stimulate the development of sustainable, career-oriented jobs and commerce in the town, Woody noted. The program is designed to encourage both new business attraction, as well as retention and expansion of existing businesses.
Woody said his department also has done a number of Marana Business Walks where staff members talk face-to-face with business owners about the things the town can do to help businesses.
"One of the recent issues that came out of business walks was concern about updating the town sign code," Woody said. "We formed a task force on the issue and portions of the sign code are now being rewritten."