Instead of being rivals, the towns of Oro Valley and Marana are teaming up to achieve the common goal of attracting tourists and improving economic development.
Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath said both Oro Valley and Marana have unique attractions, adding the two cities have made a pact not to duplicate them. Instead, they will be focusing on promoting what each community has to offer through a combined effort.
“(Marana Mayor Ed Honea) was one of my first contacts after I was elected,” Hiremath said. “We don’t view ourselves as rivals, but instead, see ourselves as sister cities. While Oro Valley specializes in the arts, Marana has other areas that will interest people to come to these areas and visit both communities.”
Mayor Honea agreed, stating the common goal is getting visitors into the northwest region, which in turn, will benefit both communities.
“If someone comes to Marana and stays at the Ritz, or goes to Oro Valley and stays at the El-Conquistador, it benefits both of us because there is a good chance they will spend money in both communities,” he said. “The bottom line is we want Oro Valley to do well, and they want us to do well.”
In a joint meeting last month, council members from both communities discussed the findings of a study conducted by students of Arizona State University.
The ASU study “Tourism Resources & Opportunities” focused on the qualities of both communities.
The study suggested both communities have the potential for balanced development as an “integrated tourism destination.”
From golf courses and resorts to economic development prospects, the study outlined what each community offers, and how the Tangerine Corridor can serve as the common thread.
Tangerine Road connects the two communities. With proper planning and development, Honea said, it could serve the communities well in the future.
Taking the information presented in the ASU study, Hiremath said the two communities must now work together for marketing. The towns will split the $15,000 cost to create a marketing plan.
Josh Wright, Marana’s director of strategic initiatives, said the tourism partnership is a great first step because neither town had a well-organized program.
After several joint sessions with the Oro Valley and Marana town councils, Wright said he and Oro Valley Economic Development Manager Amanda Jacobs have received some clear direction, and are implementing phase one of the plan now.
Phase one is to create a brochure that will be strategically placed to market both towns with maps, attractions, dining, lodging and other pertinent information.
“We will tailor this brochure around tourism,” Wright said. “The next step moving forward is to develop a theme or tagline for Marana and Oro Valley.”
Wright said the project includes input from local resorts, hotels and businesses as they work to create a catch phrase and logo.
While tourism is the focus, Honea said a long-term goal is working together to retain visitors. Some may visit the area, find they like it and move to either Oro Valley or Marana, he said.
Economic growth is also a long-term goal, as Honea said one community’s achievement helps the other.
Using Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., as an example, Honea said while Oro Valley may have gotten the actual facility, Marana also has benefited.
“Ventana created 500 new jobs in Oro Valley, and I would guess at least 100 of (the job-holders) are going to buy homes or live in Marana,” he said. “My philosophy is if our neighbors do well, it spills over on you.”
Honea said the towns are seen as separate entities with populations of more than 30,000. As a combined force, the region has a growing population of 80,000.