Managers participate in regional discussions - The Explorer: News

Managers participate in regional discussions

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Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 4:00 am

Working as a region to stimulate economic growth was a common theme during a special event hosted by the Tucson Realtors Association on Jan. 27. Officials from Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuarita came together to discuss the outlook for 2012.

Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson and Oro Valley Interim Town Manager Greg Caton were among the featured speakers.

Newly- elected Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild opened the two-hour Community Leadership event, outlining his 180-day work plan.

Moving forward, Rothschild said a major obstacle for Tucson is getting rid of the negative image.

Rothschild said he will have a small-business advocate in the mayor’s office, and the city will be working to cross-train inspectors to avoid having different interpretations of land-use codes. The goal, Rothschild said is to make a friendlier environment for the business community.

Rothschild said a common obstacle for all cities is the gridlock at the federal level that has caused states to continue losing money. With 84 percent of the nation’s population living in cities, the first-term mayor said taking from cities means taking away from the majority of the population.

“We just have to work together,” he said.

Working together as a region was a common theme as officials from Sahuarita, Marana and Oro Valley took the stage.

Davidson expressed optimism for not just Marana, but the entire region as the economy slowly improves.

With high hopes for the future, Marana continues to prepare for more growth. Davidson outlined plans to amend the town’s strategic plan that was originally approved in 2009.

After three years, Davidson said the town has been able to accomplish many of the goals on the 2009 plan, and it’s time for a second plan.

“The theme from each of us is the importance of our business community and what we can do to keep growing it,” Davidson said. “We continue to look at how to strengthen the community. Marana is unique. It started as farm land and has expanded out.”

To continue its recent success in growth and innovation, Davidson said officials will continue to challenge themselves on how to avoid becoming the typical old government, and figure out how to cut the red tape that will allow businesses to thrive.

Davidson said part of cutting through the red tape is the opening of the town’s Business Development Center, which brings all building officials into one facility.

Instead of having planners with dueling opinions, the Business Development Center will have teams delivering consistent messages to the public.

Caton said Oro Valley wants to be able to continue investing in infrastructure and roads. Listing some examples, Caton outlined the town’s plans to build the $3.4 million aquatic center and invest in an archery facility at Naranja Park.

By expanding the pool, Caton said Oro Valley has the opportunity to bring an added $2.2 million in returned revenues. Construction on the project is slated to begin in May, and will be completed next fall.

Another concept taking hold is the Oro Valley Dollars program, which Caton explained allows more money to stay in the community. Through gift cards, OV Dollars requires that money only be spent at participating businesses in the community.

With 57 businesses participating, Caton said the town sold 480 cards worth $69,385. To date, $51,154 has been spent locally.

Caton also highlighted Oro Valley’s focus on partnerships from working with the Regional Transportation Authority on transit issues and teaming up with the City of Tucson to bring CAP water into Oro Valley.

Oro Valley will now receive 1,500 acre-feet of water through CAP, allowing the town to reduce the amount of water taken out of the aquifer each year by 40 percent.

Officials from each of the communities concluded the event by taking questions from the public, and reiterating that they are going to continue working together for the greater good of the region in 2012, and in the future.

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