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Photo by Jim Headley

Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Jan. 9 to urge the state Legislature “to provide sufficient funds to Pinal Agricultural Enterprises to access the ground water necessary to allow the Pinal County agricultural economy to continue when Colorado River water is limited.”

To make its case, the resolution cites statistics on the agricultural importance of Pinal County from a 2018 study by University of Arizona’s Department of Agriculture and Resources Economics.

Top 1% in U.S. counties in cotton, cottonseed sales, milk sales, inventories of cattle and calves
Top 2% in U.S. counties in total value of agriculture sales
Top 4% in U.S. counties in acreage for barley, corn, forage crops
Top 7% in U.S. counties in vegetables, fruit and nuts production
3,804 direct jobs
1,343 indirect jobs
45% of Arizona’s cattle and calf sales

41% of Arizona’s cotton production
39% of Arizona’s milk production
33% of county’s manufacturing wages paid
25% of all manufacturing jobs
$1.1 billion in sales (2016)
The study estimated damage of $94 million to $104 million if irrigation decrease were a hypothetical water loss of 300,000 acre feet.


Source: University of Arizona’s Department of Agriculture and Resources Economics

This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Bob Ledbetter left an IT career to go back to school put his knowledge and talents to a different use. opening a recording studio. Photo by Jim Headley

A midlife crisis usually means buying a new sportscar, but Bob Ledbetter is singing a different tune in his mid-40s.

Ledbetter decided to take on a new career as a sound engineer.

After working for years as an IT guy, he just wanted more out of life. With his daughter moving out and going to college, the single-parent was left with an open mind, musical talent and deep knowledge of technology. It all combined into a soon-to-open recording studio named MuthaSuckaSound.

Ledbetter has the beginnings of his studio up and running in his Maricopa home.

“It is functional,” he said. “I decided to paint and redesign as I am learning more about how sound travels through a room.”

His main studio is a nicely converted bedroom in his house, complete with a rack of guitars, a drum set, keyboard and computerized, multi-track sound mixing station.

A collection of electronic guitar pedals decorates the floor and colored LEDs backlight his MAC-based computer mixing station using Pro Tools software. He also uses other parts of his home as “sound rooms” including his living room and even a walk-in closet that is converted into a sound booth for “something more intimate.”

Ledbetter said he was motivated to open his recording studio by his love of music.

“I have always dabbled a little bit with recording – as a musician and as an IT nerd. I have always been fascinated by the process,” Ledbetter said.

About four years ago he decided to go back to school to get a degree for business management at Central Arizona College.

“I had been an IT contractor for 12-plus years and working in IT in some form for over 20,” he said.

Retirement just wasn’t a goal in his life.

“When I hit 40, retirement is not really an option, not as a contractor. I change companies every couple years, which means the 401Ks change every couple years. Some companies match, and some don’t. It’s a joke. By the time the government allows me to retire, Social Security will be gone,” he said.

Instead of looking at retirement, Ledbetter set his mind on doing something he loves to do that can sustain his lifestyle. While going to business management classes, one of the elective courses he took was the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

Ledbetter did very well in the class.

“The instructor said I would be very good in the EIT (Entertainment Industry Technology) program at CAC,” Ledbetter said. “I was just taking classes here at the campus. When I looked deeper at the EIT program – they had a recording engineering program. I thought, ‘There it is.’ What better way to take my 20 years of IT experience and my passion for music and put them together?”

Education in sound engineering is something Ledbetter takes very seriously.

“Bob Ledbetter is a shining example of a student who takes full advantage of what the EIT program has to offer,” said Dan Bush, professor of Recording Engineering at Central Arizona College and E.I.T. coordinator.

After talking to his daughter, Ledbetter jumped into being a recording engineer a little more than two years ago and changed his major at CAC. She has been part of his music since she was a toddler. While living in Washington, D.C., he would take her with him to perform at “open-mic nights” at local venues when she was 3 or 4 years old.

“A lot of them were family restaurants that just happened to have an open mic randomly on a Tuesday night. She’s sitting on a stool with an unplugged microphone singing along while I do a 20-minute set.”

As a musician, Ledbetter plays guitar and sings as a solo act. He’s his own recording client as well.

Recording is only one of the skills needed to be successful with a studio, according to Bush. “Bob has also learned the ‘business side’ of the music industry, particularly entertainment law, copyrights and how to actually make money by leveraging performance rights organizations to generate income from music royalties,” Bush said.

“My midlife crisis is a new career,” Ledbetter said. “I would rather get a sound board. My friends are out there buying all these really cool cars. Nah, I could get like an 8-track mixer and put it right here. Let me drop two grand on that. That’s my midlife crisis.”


Photo by Jim Headley


This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

All 13 restaurants and eateries inspected by Pinal County Environmental Health from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 received a clean bill of health.

EXCELLENT [No violations found]
Barro’s Pizza
Culver’s of Maricopa
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
Francisco’s Mexican Food
Gyro Grill
Maricopa Head Start
The New HQ
Panda Express
Pizza Hut
Rosati’s Pizza
Tacos ‘n’ More

SATISFACTORY [Violations corrected during inspection]

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]

UNACCEPTABLE [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]

This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

A core group of Maricopa businesses has signed up for the city’s new Business Registry, eliminating the old business licensing process. These businesses signed up from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 at Maricopa-az.gov/web/Business-Registry.

Accounting: Accounting Advocate, The Affordable Accounting Firm, Trafelet Accounting

Arts & Crafts: ArtiSands, Diane F. Hebert, Red Nebula Studios, Stormwind’s Creations

Automotive: Big O Tires, KB Glass Repair, Knight Towing, Maricopa Auto Glass, Mel’s Auto/NAPA Auto, Moehr Tinting, T&R Roadside Services, A&E Auto Glass

Childcare/Preschool: Cara’s Kids Preschool, Child Care by Tammy Houser, Little Charmers Preschool/Childcare, Nana’s House of Childcare, Tiny Feet Preschool

Chiropractic: A-1 Health and Wellness, New Conversations – Joanne Siebert

Churches: Community of Hope, World Outreach & Bible Training Center

Cleaning: 1st Glass Window Cleaners, JD & Son Carpet Cleaning

Cosmetics: Ana’s Creations, Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay, Marisa McDonald Independent Beauty Guide Limelife

Computers: Gemini Mapping, North Suburban Office Services, Ungatech LLC

Dental: Oasis Oral and Facial Surgery, Treasured Smiles Children’s Dentistry

Entertainment: Eagle Entertainment, Gabriel Magno Entertainment, Twisted Vision Racing

Food Service: Aliberto’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Dinner at Your Door, Kona Ice, Li’s Garden, N2Frybread, Pizza Hut, Plaza Bonita Family Mexican Restaurant, Sonora Hotdogs, Tastee Pak, WingStop

General Contractor: AAM Plumbing Services, Carpenter Guitar and Ampworks, Negev Design-Build, Rockridge Construction, Solcius LLC, Zomark Construction

Handyman: Bradley Goering Maintenance, Maricopa Pool & Spa Services, Rent-A-Vet Services

Health: Fit N-Motion, Healthy Habits with Brittany Holistic Mental Health, Many Healing Hands, Maricopa Eye Care, Maricopa Foot and Ankle Center, Massage Me, Sun Life Family Health Center, Sun Life Pharmacy, Maricopa Veteran Care Center, Vitamins4Vitality

Home Interior/Exterior Design: Café Design & Architecture, Dawn2Dusk Sun Screens, Southwest Landscaping

Home/Office Repair: 911 Air Repair, Felix Appliance Repair, Mr Appliance of Maricopa

Insurance: American Family Insurance – Chris Cahall, State Farm Insurance – Courtny Tyler, WFG Maricopa – Bill Boone

Jewelry Sales: DC Enterprises, Rikki Sparkles with Origami Owl

Law Firms: Law Office of Jack Pritt

Manufacturing: Pazii Cigars

Marketing: Actually Social, Impact Video Cards, Social Baboon, Thomas Promo Products

Martial Arts: Desert Tiger Martial Arts, Sunrise Taekwondo/ATA Martial Arts and Karate

Nonprofits: American Legion Post, Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics, F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank, Zion Foundation

Painting: ACP Painting, Arvin’s Painting, Chris’ Quality House Painting

Party Rentals: Boodle Bouncers

Pest Control: Maricopa Bug Busters

Pet Services: Buddy’s Pet Care, Michelle’s Professional Pet Grooming, Romp and Roam Pet & Home Sitting

Photographers: News of Maricopa, Sunshine & Reign Photography, Yvette Lincoln Photography

Printing: Howard Industries, VinylWorks

Real Estate: 5X Gusse Properties, Comfort Realty, Costa Verde Homes, Duke Plaza Shopping Center, East Family Trust, Guardian Mortgage, HomeSmart Success, Pat Lairson Realtor, So EZ Mortgage, Sunbelt Home Watch, Tena Dugan – Berkshire Hathaway Homeservice

Retail: Adobe Blinds and More, Arizona Law Dawgs, Black Wolf Industries, CVS/Pharmacy, Fizz Envy, FS Artistic Concepts, Gatten’s Honey Farm, Go Wireless, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, Joia Gift Baskets, Kameo Monson, M and D Signs & Designs, Maricopa Shooting Service, Maricopa Solar Window Screens, QuikTrip, Skelys Tees and Moore, True Hearts II

Salons: Hair Focus, Massage Life

Services: AZ Legal Mobile Doc, ITranslateSpanish.com, Juniper Personal & Professional Development, Medical Coding Instruction, Movin Maricopa, Pioneer Title Agency, ProCopy Office Solutions, Guardian Transport, Recycle Today Maricopa, Trophies Plus, TRR Consulting, True Justice, Tupperware – the Fanatics, UPS Store, Women of the Breakthrough

This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Dutch Bros. received a commercial permit for its 1,280-square-foot property at 20232 N. John Wayne Parkway, which includes a drive-thru and patio. Construction is expected to be under way in February.

Maricopa Shell at 19680 N. John Wayne Parkway received a permit to re-install four new fuel dispensers at a value of $12,000.

Sports & Cuts Barber Shop was permitted for a fire alarm system in newly constructed space at 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, Building 14, Suite 2. In the same building, State Farm was given a city permit to use existing signs and move the signs from its old location.

Red River Cattle LTD received permits for grading and drainage at the new site of Sacate Pellet Mill, 38743 W. Cowtown Road.

Brakes Plus, being constructed at 20555 N. John Wayne Parkway next to IHOP, received an onsite-improvement permit.

Heritage Charter had a hydrant flow test for its construction at Adams Way and Conner Drive in Desert Passage.

This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Jim Mickelson was elected to the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and Glenda Kelley was re-elected.

Maricopa Chamber of Commerce filled two seats on its board of directors in January. Glenda Kelley of Uniquely Sewn was re-elected to a second term. HomeSmart Success Realtor Jim Mickelson, a former chamber director in Imperial Beach, California, was also selected for the MCC board.

“As a newly elected director of the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce, my goal is to assist the Chamber in creating transparency and communications with our members,” Mickelson said, “and to super-charge the promotion of our members in Maricopa through community involvement and promotions, networking opportunities, training and development of solid relationships with elected local officials and their staffs.”

Kelley said the chamber has helped her business succeed, and she want to help other businesses the same way.

“I am looking forward to a great new year,” she said, “to see the chamber moving forward, to see the chamber become bigger and better, to become even more involved with the city and our community, to show our support to the current businesses and any future businesses. We want them all to succeed.”

This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Sponsored Content

Estatesales.org has recognized Liquidate AZ of Maricopa as one of the Top 10 estate companies in Arizona for the month of December 2018.

Liquidate AZ holds regular biweekly online estate auctions on Thursdays (www.LiquidateAz.com) items including coins, jewelry, knives, tools, collectibles, furniture, hardware and more.

Auctions start at $1 and are starting at 10 a.m. There are also upcoming special auctions and sales located in the Mesquite Building at the Santa Cruz Commerce Center since relocating to Maricopa in July. Liquidate AZ deals mostly in reverse logistics – and sources much of its items from major retailers. It also auctions private estates and consignments.

“An auction is a process of buying and selling goods or services by offering them up for bid, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder,” said Liquidate AZ auctioneer Nathan Guilford. “Auctions are the purest form of buying and selling. Auctions bring buyers and sellers together to determine fair market value through competitive bidding.”

Liquidate AZ specializes in the quick disposal of excess inventory, both business and personal . For more information visit www.LiquidateAz.com or call 480-415-9869.

Fueling station shades are in place for the new Circle K. Photo by Kyle Norby

The last four months of 2018 saw five businesses receive commercial permits in Maricopa at a total value of over $3 million. IHOP completed its construction, and Dutch Bros. are ready to begin, and the following three are in the throes of construction.

Work is moving quickly at the future Circle K convenience store at 41433 W. Honeycutt Road. The property includes seven fueling stations to serve up to 14 vehicles. The store is to be 5,881 square feet. It received its commercial building permit in October and is being constructed by Alexander Building Company.

Brakes Plus’ framework went up quickly in Edison Pointe. Photo by Kyle Norby

Brakes Plus is building at 44510 W. Edison Road in the Edison Pointe Complex. Sitting on a little more than half an acre next to IHOP, the building is approximately 4,886 square feet. DG Fenn is in charge of the construction.

Signal Healthcare medical offices have made steady progress this winter. Photo by Kyle Norby

Directly across the street from Brakes Plus, Signal Healthcare’s future medical offices at 44565 W. Edison Road are also progressing steadily in Edison Place. The project, which is 9,000 square feet, is two buildings connected by a breezeway. The construction is west of Big O Tires.


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Sunrise Preschool, owned by Legacy Charter, is in the late stages of construction on Porter Road.

The following briefs appeared in the January issue of InMaricopa.

T&K Contracting received a permit for grading and drainage at the northeast corner of Costa del Sol Boulevard and Honeycutt Road for Tortosa Homeowners Association. Tortosa also was approved for right-of-way use for a waterline extension for a proposed lake and a lake pump.

Rosati’s Pizza opened Dec. 12 at Maricopa Station, 21423 N. John Wayne Parkway. It previously received permit for sprinkler system remodel as it took over the space from the former Zoyo Yogurt.

Escape Room Maricopa opened Dec. 7 at Stagestop Marketplace, 44301 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy., in space once occupied by the former Camino Montesssori charter school.

On the other hand, Carl’s Jr. abruptly closed its doors Dec. 13 in anticipation of a change in franchise ownership. It was removed from the corporate map, and no formal announcement has been made about a re-opening.

Sacate Pellet Mills, 38743 W. Cowtown Road, received a zoning change from CI2 to CI1 as it moves its operations to Maricopa from Laveen.

IHOP, 20429 N. John Wayne Parkway in Edison Pointe, was permitted a wet fire sprinkler system Dec. 10 and a fire suppression system Dec. 14 before opening New Year’s Day.

Also in Edison Pointe, WingStop opened its doors Nov. 15, and Wynn Nails & Hair Salon opened next door Dec. 7.

Legacy Charter’s Sunrise Preschool, under construction at 19287 N. Porter Road, was approved for four shade structures at $4,320 each. It also received the OK for a monument sign.

East Valley Cardiology, 20924 N. John Wayne Parkway, was given a commercial tenant improvement permit for a project valued at $188,960.

Walmart and Fry’s Marketplace were given permission to sell fireworks in anticipation of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Fry’s was also permitted for Christmas tree sales in its parking lot.

Dutch Bros., planned for Sonoran Creek Marketplace at 20232 N. John Wayne Parkway, received an on-site improvement permit, valued at $147,388.

The City of Maricopa was permitted a real estate sign for Copper Sky Commercial Development.

Rehoboth Residential, a group home, received a zoning permit for a Rosa Drive residence in Santa Rosa Springs.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart shows MEDA and the city council plans to develop Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley

Millions of dollars are about to be invested into the Copper Sky Commercial District.

Wednesday, Denyse Airheart, Maricopa’s director of Economic Development, announced plans for an 18-acre development around Copper Sky that will include La Quinta Hotel, 620 units of multifamily housing, a 172-unit Morning Star Assisted Living Center and 53,000 square feet of new retail space.

Airheart unveiled the $146-million plan at Wednesday’s special meeting between the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) and Maricopa City Council.

“The southern parcel will include a hotel with about 85 rooms,” Airheart said. “That is going to be the very first project on this site. Phase one will continue to include about 320 units of multifamily housing and then retail with about 16,000 square feet.”

She said the northeastern corner of the development will also include assisted living housing.

“This is a segment of our population that we are not able to cater to today,” Airheart said. “The developer that we are working with is interested in being in and out with construction within three years. The developer is investing money and he also has to work to attract investment dollars to this project. We hope this will go on to expand the critical relationships that we are working on.”

Airheart said La Quinta Hotel is a $10 million private investment and will be four stories tall with 89 rooms. It will have a $1 million annual operating budget and create 20 jobs according to Airheart.

She said it will provide an annual payroll of $390,000 to the local economy, as well as property, bed and sales taxes.

Hopes are the hotel will be operational by the end of 2020.

Those attending the MEDA meeting were extremely excited by Airheart’s release about the development.

“Ummm, so this is confirmed?” one man asked.

Photo by Jim Headley

Airheart replied it was about to become reality and the developer is ready to start on the project soon. Businesses going into the open retail spaces at the new development will be “market-driven.”

City Manager Rick Horst told the crowd the developer of the hotel is Shea Connelly Development, a national developer with a long and prestigious track record.

The hotel is separate from the multifamily housing and retail complex going into the Copper Sky development. Airheart said the same developer has built a similar project in Fountain Hills.

The Copper Sky Commercial District will include a $100 million private investment into a complex with 53,000 square feet of retail space and provide about 150 new jobs.

The Copper Sky development is almost twice the size of the Fountain Hills development.

The proposed Morning Star assisted living facility is a $30 to $35 million private investment providing 172 units with 82 as independent care, 56 as assisted living and 34 dedicated for memory care. Morning Star is expected to provide 225 jobs to the Maricopa community, according to Airheart.

She provided images of the company’s development at Fountain Hills showing a large and luxurious 91-unit care center that is nearly half the size of what will be built in Maricopa. Fountain Hills was a $21 million investment.

Horst said, in all, the new development could house up to 3,000 more people and will leverage larger events to come to Maricopa, increasing tourism and jobs.

City Manager Rick Horst talks to the joint session. Photo by Jim Headley

Maricopa is in the middle of changing from business licensing to a business registry. Here are businesses that applied for a business license and/or registered with the city between Nov. 16 and Dec. 15.

Registered businesses: Ageless Cycles, Graybar Electric, InMaricopa, Jazzy on the Spot Mobile Grooming, Rosati’s Pizza, So EZ Mortgage, Sunbelt Home Watch. See more

Commercial license: Collins Comfort Masters, Foroudobus, Holistic Mental Health, Oasis Oral and Facial Surgery, Victoria Puckett

Home-based license: Adam Knutson, Ageless Cycles, Castle Sign Group, Elain Glasgow, Felix Home Repair, Get Up and Move Kids Fitness, The Sharp Solution, Small Town Treasures, Suzette Gilbreath, Las Tostaditas

Out-of-town license: Aeos Energy, Cholla Pavement Maintenance, Fatbeam, Seamless Flooring, Sledge Concrete Coatings, Universal Solar Direct, Waite Arizona

Special-use license: Redemption Tattoo

Nonprofit license: Winged Hope Family Advocacy Foundation


The gradual increase of the minimum wage in Arizona is supposed to help those at the lower edge of pay scales, but it’s also impacting the bottom line of business owners.

Under Proposition 206, the so-called Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, Arizona minimum wage increased from $8.05 to $10 per hour in 2017, then to $10.50 in 2018 and increased again to $11 per hour on Jan. 1.

In 2020, it will jump to $12.

“I feel like there’s nothing wrong with it,” said Antonio Gonzales, a senior at Maricopa High School who also works. “More money is more money, and it’s not that big of a jump like [$8.05] to $10 was. I think it’s a good change.”

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, the Arizona minimum wage will increase each year by the cost of living rate (or Consumer Price Index).

“Before that passed, we always took pride that we never started anybody at minimum wage,” said Mike Richey, owner of Maricopa Ace Hardware. “Today we have to start at minimum wage pretty much defensively because of how fast the rise (in minimum wage) is. When you couple that with some of the issues with margin and prices, especially with what’s happening with tariffs because everything comes out of China, it has an accumulative effect.”

Voters approved the increases 58 percent to 41 percent in 2016, but even those who benefit from the increase are divided about the issue.

“That’s more money for me to pay for college and stuff,” said Kamille Boyce, a Denny’s employee and a junior at Maricopa High School.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” said fellow MHS junior Douglas Moulton. “When minimum wage goes up, people can stay at a minimum-wage job and never better themselves. It makes people lazy.”

One of the hurdles in this scenario is businesses cutting costs. Big-box stores have numerous self-checkout lines, eliminating the need for cashiers. Fast-food restaurants are installing touch-screen ordering systems that don’t involve an employee in the order-taking process.

Employers are finding creative ways to eliminate higher paychecks and, ultimately, jobs.

Richey said the set increases are not the big problem looming on the horizon. He worries about what will happen when minimum wage is tied to the cost-of-living index.

“My concern is the tariffs that we’re looking at now may well cause an increase in the CPI (Consumer Price Index), and now we’re dealing with CPI increases on wages and not just a fixed amount,” Richey said.

He said he’s not ready to say his company will be hiring fewer employees because of the wage hikes.

“Service levels are key to our business. It is not something that we are considering at this point. Once we start looking at CPI and it’s not a moderate increase, we’d have to consider it at that time,” Richey said.

He added while big-box stores have self-checkouts and fast food has touch-screen ordering systems, “It’s not going to happen here. Service is king. It is what we do. It is how we identify ourselves.”

With minimum wage increases after 2021 tied to the CPI, wage increases “go on forever. If we can’t settle this thing with China and the CPI goes up by 12 percent, it’s going to be tough on businesses.”

The food service industry has been hit hard by increases in minimum wage.

Pat Kieny, owner of Native Grill and Wings in Maricopa, said, “This is the third time we’ve been though it in the last three years. It’s not as much. The initial one had the largest effect. We always have to plan to price ourselves right between the ability to earn money running a business and paying the increased costs that the minimum wage brings.”

He said the increases are leading to fewer and fewer employees to cover shifts.

“We mostly try to keep our turnover really low and have highly experienced people. They are twice to three times as good as new employees. Which is our case in Maricopa. We have lots of veteran employees. So, it doesn’t affect us as much here as it does in some of the other restaurants throughout the Valley,” Kieny said.

Five of his servers/bartenders are former managers with Native.

“They know everything, and it is just awesome to have them,” he said, adding Native corporate offices are looking at integrating technology into the restaurant to decrease costs.

“We are less likely to do that because the full-service restaurant industry has a lot of interaction between the employees and the customer. We are more likely to buy some things that are more pre-prepared on the food side of the business,” he said.

Kieny said adding more sales is the best way to cover increasing costs.

“Everything always goes up,” Kieny said. “The rent goes up. Labor costs go up. Food cost over a 10-year period is pretty equal but you can have spikes. With all the bad stuff going on, it’s really great to have positive feelings I get from working with people in Maricopa.”

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa saw several businesses come to town in 2018, many of them in new buildings. Our readers expressed excited anticipation over the possibilities of more shopping or dining opportunities and possible jobs as well as a bit of impatience with the whole process. Here are some of our top-read economic development stories:

5. Denny’s Restaurant caused much curiosity during its construction on a seemingly small lot and then more enthusiasm when it started hiring. It finally opened its doors in February near the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road.

4. Those involved weren’t happy about the situation, but readers were amused when the new Dollar Tree opened in May and then immediately had to close for a couple of hours as city inspectors did their job.

3. With the many businesses opening, there were also some closures. That included Zoyo Yogurt in Maricopa Station. However, readers were happy to see Rosati’s Pizza immediately announce its intention to take over the spot. It opened in December.

2. Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino was majorly transformed in 2018 in its continuing expansion. It added a skybridge to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, opened the restaurant Chop Block & Brew and opened a spa. It is also adding ballroom space and 200 hotel rooms.

1. Hands down, the most reader interest garnered by an economic development story was the series of business openings in Edison Pointe, developed by Vintage Partners. 2019 sees the openings of IHOP and BrakesPlus there as well.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Darwin East and his daughter Cammy Brown purchased the Maricopa Business Center on Dec. 21 for the East Family Trust. Photo by Jim Headley

Darwin East, of Chandler, purchased the Maricopa Business Center on Dec. 21.

East, the leader of the East Family Trust, purchased the center with his three daughters, Carrie Lynn East, Cammy Lynn Brown and Catharine Lynn Bolton.

“I have three wonderful daughters,” he said. “Someday it will be theirs.”

Darwin lived in Maricopa before moving to Chandler a few years ago. He said he purchased the Maricopa Business Center to consolidate some of his investments and get them closer to home.

He recently sold his commercial property in Peoria, leaving an opening for a new investment.

“This opportunity came up and we felt like they had lived in Maricopa and it’s not far from home. We decided that this was a good fit for what he wanted to do,” Brown said. “He has property in Washington, also. We are selling that to have one local place that is closer to home. He wants to have some involvement. The two places he had – he wasn’t able to go and see the property.”

East said he’s owned and developed 61 pieces of agricultural property in the Fallbrook, California, area, before building a nine-house subdivision in Washington state.

“With the profit off the nine houses, I built an office building in Sequim, Washington. We’re trying to sell that now and put it in on this too,” Darwin said.

East descends from a family of Oklahomans, though he was born in California. He spent most of his life as an agricultural entrepreneur, growing avocados and kiwis but also branching out to spraying, farm supply and even asphalt.

“I had eight different businesses in California,” East said. “I worked about 80 to 90 hours a week. I always made sure that I was putting my family first. We went to church on Sunday. I always took them on a vacation. I started by developing and managing avocado groves – and citrus and kiwi.”

Because “a wise old man” once told him not to put everything in one basket, he diversified into landscaping and grove management for others, including the Walt Disney family.

“I had about 3,500 acres that I managed,” East said. “I couldn’t get people to do the spray work, so I went into the spray business. I couldn’t get people to do the tractor work, so I did weed abatement for about five different towns. People wanted paving done, and I couldn’t get a good contractor, so I started an asphalt business. The Disneys wanted to buy fertilizer, so we said, ‘Let’s start our own farm supply.’”

He said his company was the largest kiwi grower in Southern California at one point.

“Family comes first,” East said, adding he sees Maricopa as a very good investment.

“I see the future, and Maricopa is very good. You drive down the main street out there, and it is very busy most of the time,” he said.

Brown said her father’s approach to life is family, church and community.

“He likes to be involved in the community,” she said. “Even though at his age, he’s probably not going to get involved in city council, but he recognizes the importance of community, supporting your community and being involved. That has been the story of his life.”

InMaricopa offices are in Maricopa Business Center.


IHOP is preparing to open its doors on New Year’s Day.

The restaurant is at 20429 N. John Wayne Parkway, the northeast corner of the intersection with Edison Road in the Edison Pointe shopping plaza. The 4,767-square-foot restaurant was designed by Studio B Squared and constructed by Straightline Builders.

Meanwhile, across the street at 20232 N. John Wayne Parkway, Dutch Bros. received its commercial license Friday to start building on an empty lot north of Fast & Friendly Car Wash.

The Dutch Bros. building is designed as a 1,280-square-foot drive-thru, which includes 440 square feet of patio space. The project is valued at $155,259.

Sacate is moving its mill from Laveen to Maricopa. Phot oby Kyle Norby

Sacate Pellet Mills Inc. is relocating its main pellet processing plant to Maricopa.

Sacate, now located in Laveen in southwest Phoenix, has been forced to move due to major road construction, the 202-connection project. The main problem in Laveen, where Sacate employs 75 people, is encroaching housing and traffic congestion.

The new Maricopa facility, which is being built in phases, will employ about eight workers at the completion of phase 1 but is expected to eventually grow to exceed 75 employees, according to a Project Narrative presented to the Maricopa City Council that was written by Olsson and Associates of St. Louis, Missouri.

David Stueve, general manager of Sacate, said the new mill project in Maricopa should be completed by June.

The new facility will be used to process a standard 4-by-4-by-8-foot hay bale, which will produce 3/8-inch diameter by 1.5-inch pellets. The hay pellets will be wholesaled to multiple local businesses and retailers.

The plant, located on about 50 acres southeast of Maricopa, near the intersection of Cowtown Road and White and Parker Road, is expected to operate 24 hours per day, according to the Olsson report. The proposed location will house a feed pellet milling operation and office.

The report states: “The work will adhere to Zoning Code … and will occur in three phases. Phase 1 will include grading of the parcel to ensure proper on-site drainage and retention, construction of one fire access road, building of the warehouse, hay canopy, and electrical building. Phase 1 will also see the construction of a security fence and gate to restrict site access and the installation of truck scales. Phase 2 will include an extension to the warehouse and erection of cubing system equipment to the north of the hay canopy. Phase 3 will see the building of an open bale processing canopy and office building with associated parking and sidewalks.”

Sacate is highly respected for producing some of the best quality livestock pellets in the Agriculture industry. The company first produced pellets in 1985.

Construction crews are busy on the overpass project between Honeycutt Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Photo by Jim Headley

“I don’t think people realize that they can still get into the plaza by just continuing on down the road. It has been slowing us down a little bit.” Rose Murrufo, employee, Maricopa Business Center

Let’s face it, no one likes driving through construction zones.

Early this week Honeycutt Road was closed from Pershing Street to John Wayne Parkway to allow for the construction of the new railroad overpass. It will remain closed until summer.

While it does cause a lot of problems and navigation nightmares, the people of Maricopa are taking it all in stride.

One of the most seriously affected businesses is Mel’s Auto/NAPA Autocare Center. Owner Tena Dugan is getting ready to close their location and move somewhere else in Maricopa. She is unsure where or when the business will move.

The NAPA dealership has been at the corner of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and State Route 347 since the 1950s.

“Right now, we have three different locations that we’re looking at – it kind of depends on which one pans out the best,” Dugan said.  “It’s not just prices, it’s utilities. Infrastructure is a big deal in Maricopa when you’re trying to put in a business. While it may be the right price for the land, the cost to get that land to where it needs to be to build a building is so prohibitive that the more expensive piece of property is the better deal.

“Maricopa is such a relatively new town that the infrastructure is just not there in a lot of these vacant areas.”

Dugan has owned the store since 2002.

“It was a great location when we bought. It was a corner with lots of land. We don’t own it – we have a landlord. The City actually took a portion of the back and we’ve had our fence moved several times. Right now, this is not an optimal location,” she said. “My employees still come to work every day. We do the best job that we can do, and we rely on our loyal customers who keep coming back. They are the ones who keep us in business right now. We knew it was coming for a long time. We just didn’t know when.”

Businesses in Maricopa Business Plaza on Honeycutt Road have been affected by the traffic detours. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


With detours and construction everywhere around the store, NAPA’s business has suffered.

“It has been a substantial punch to my business. People can’t get to us. This is the absolute worst traffic nightmare I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I know you have to go backwards to go forwards. Sometimes you wonder,” she said, adding, “People are creatures of habit. You do what is habit. This is a very large traffic control change.”

With the construction still going on all around her, Dugan offered some advice.

“You have a choice in life. You can either adapt and overcome or you can worry yourself into the ground. I have a lot of employees who are relying on me to keep this business going – so that’s what we are going to do,” Dugan said.

Businesses in the Maricopa Business Center on Honeycutt Road are all still open, and there are still access points into the business plaza.

“I don’t think people realize that they can still get into the plaza by just continuing on down the road. It has been slowing us down a little bit,” said Rosa Murrufo, an employee at Metro by T Mobile.

Carol Steinke, a Maricopa north-side resident, said she is looking forward to the new overpass.

“If it means that will fly over the railroad tracks, I am all for it. I’ve been here 12 years and I go to that side of the railroad tracks a lot. I play bingo. I go to church. All of that’s over there and I live on this side. I’ll be happy. Sometimes we wait 20 minutes for a train that has people on it to go by,” Steinke said.

Joe Templin, owner of Joe’s Barber Shop in the Maricopa Business Center, said he was slow on Tuesday but added it’s not unusual to be a little slow on Tuesdays.

“I really haven’t found it too inconvenient. Of course, it is inconvenient, but it could be worse,” he said, adding the businesses in the plaza are very popular and established places to frequent.

“I just don’t see it hindering the business too much,” Templin said.

He is also looking forward to how traffic will flow in front of Maricopa Business Center after the overpass is completed. With the addition of Plainview Street, traffic coming from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will flow over to John Wayne Parkway right in front of the plaza on Honeycutt Road.

“Six months of construction, but it’s worth it in the end,” Templin said.

InMaricopa is a tenant of Maricopa Business Plaza.

At the State of the City event in October, Mayor Christian Price announced changes in the business license process for the City of Maricopa.

That amounts to eliminating business licensing and creating instead a business registry.

Nov. 6, staff detailed how a registry would work. The process is set to go into effect Jan. 1.

“We believe that good, business-friendly regulations, while ensuring public safety and strong customer protections, just make good business sense,” Price said.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the state’s transaction privilege tax process now makes city licensing redundant. The registry, she said will allow City Hall to track the types of businesses in town.

“This is a voluntary program,” she said.

The Business Registry Program will be an online process. Instead of $50 for a business license, companies can register for $10 annually. The BRP will not eliminate the necessity of permits and zoning.

Information asked on the one-page, online Business Registry Program:

New or existing business
VA or Nonprofit
Full name of business owner/representative
Primary phone
Primary email address
Business name/DBA
Physical address of business
Business sector
Description of business
Transaction Privilege Tax identification number
Acknowledge legal disclaimer

“The goal is to make conducting business in the City of Maricopa as easy and simple as possible,” Airheart said. “So the businesses and entrepreneurs of the community drive innovation, and we want to make sure their experience here is a positive experience.”

The current system captures “a ton of data,” she said. “It’s very deceiving but it’s multiple pages with multiple attachments, and it could be a little bit frustrating for individuals.”

The hope is that the new BRP will make the process as simple as possible for the business owner while still capturing key information for City Hall.

Price called it, “User-friendly, less expensive and much faster.”

Nonprofits and veteran-owned business are exempted from the $10 annual fee.

When questioned about the verification process for businesses claiming to be veteran-owned or nonprofit, City Manager Rick Horst said, “We’ll take them at their word… Frankly, if they’re not honest, it’s going to catch up with them sooner or later.”

In December, the City will notify active and inactive business license holders about the change. It will also be notifying chambers of commerce and business-resource groups.

“One of the biggest things we’ve heard from the local businesses is ‘Marketing, marketing, marketing. How can people find out about me?’” Airheart said. “This is going to be a great way. If we know about you, we can be a great tool to get your information out to the public because this is going to be accessible to everyone.”

While business licensing is no longer deemed necessary, it did provide information the city still needs, such as “accurate revenue projections for budget preparation,” Price said. The registry is expected to provide that kind of information.

He said the City should expect speed bumps with any new process and has asked staff to report back a year after launch to discuss what does and does not work.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Economist Elliott Pollack says 2019 will be a good year.

Economist Elliott Pollack is bullish on 2019.

“Enjoy yourself,” he said. “It’s going to be great year.”

The CEO of Elliott D. Pollack and Company presented his annual economic forecast to Pinal Partnership at Rawhide Friday morning.

A recession is anticipated, but Pollack said it would not happen in 2019 though it is possible later.

“Not all recessions are the same,” he said. “What you’re looking at is short and shallow.”

With home prices now back above recession levels, Arizona real estate has fully recovered, Pollack said.

Taking nearly a decade, the recovery was old but strong, he said. Consumer confidence is high, and labor is coming back. The greater Phoenix area is responsible for 88 percent of the state’s job growth.

Lack of labor is a concern nationwide, however. Pollack said there are 7 million unfilled jobs in the nation. That means companies will have to pay higher wages to fill those jobs, causing the employment-cost index to rise, which leads to higher prices.

The stock market has been a roller-coaster ride this year. Pollack said though bear markets are reason to be concerned, “the stock market is a bad predictor of recession.”

In attendance, Maricopa City Councilmember Marvin Brown said he was concerned about the national debt, which is now at $21.9 trillion. It is a problem of many nations.

“The U.S. is the prettiest house on a very ugly block,” Pollack agreed. “Ultimately some generation is going to pay for all this debt, but it’s not your generation.”

With representatives of Central Arizona Project and Global Water in the room, he also pushed back on the notion that Arizona will soon face a water shortage. He said farmers and ranchers continue to turn their homes over to development, which uses less water than agriculture.

“Water flows toward money, and money is in industry and housing,” he said. “There will not be a water shortage in the greater Phoenix area in my lifetime or the lifetime of anyone in this room.”

Pollack also said the media is making more out of a trade war than it deserves. He called it a trade skirmish that “would have a minor impact on the U.S. economy.” Further, he said, China cannot win a trade war because 20 percent of its gross domestic product comes from exports while in the United States it is less than 10 percent.

Real estate in the Valley and Pinal County is in a good situation. New home inventory is low with no signs of an oversupply of homes. Builders are battling supply-side constraints, meaning production is unable to keep pace with demand.

Pollack predicted the entire demand for new housing will be from the millennial generation. “There’s going to be a lot more of them, and a lot more of them will be buying houses.”

The impact of the Great Recession on millennials is still playing out. That generation saw greater acceptance of large amounts of student debt, delayed marriage, often moved back into the parental home to save money and became less materialistic than their parents’ generation.

A new report by Bank of America found millennials now prioritize home-ownership over marriage and starting a family. No. 1 on their list of priorities is being able to retire.

While many millennials still believe outmoded information about homeownership, probably passed down to them by their parents, their buying behavior will dictate the future economy.

Pollack told real estate agents to expect millennial homebuying to “skyrocket over the next five years.”

Businesses and organizations receiving business licenses Oct. 16-Nov. 15:

Commercial: Great Escape Maricopa, Holistic Mental Health, Phoenix Sky Gear, WingStop

Home-based: Almentia KG LLC, Buddy’s Pet Care, Elaine Glasgow, Jaded Ivy, La Vie Group Home, Las Tostaditas, LaydeePink Photography, Little 6 Industries, Manila Bakery, Raven Photography Services, The Sharp Solution

Out of town: Academy Mortgage, Advanced Contract Flooring, Aeos Energy, Arizona Outdoor Recreation, AZ ATM Expert, Clear Brite Headlight Restoration, Fire Sure Protection, G Squared Building, Lakeside Pools, Modern Paving Seamless Flooring, Thistle Door, Waite Arizona LLC

Nonprofit: Against Abuse Inc., Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa, Winged Hope Family Advocacy Foundation

This item appear in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Great Escape Maricopa opens Dec. 7.


Justin Pierce received a new commercial permit Oct. 24 for a Circle K convenience store at 41433 W. Honeycutt Road at Porter Road. The store is set to be 5,301 square feet with seven fuel pumps under a 2,464-square-foot canopy. It is valued at $863,714. The site also received the OK for a lot split and on-site improvement.

Cross Fit Maricopa is taking over the space vacated by Cross Fit Stand & Battle at 21576 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 102, with new owner Scott Bradley receiving a final inspection Nov. 1.

Apex Motor Club received an at-risk grading permit and permission for a temporary construction trailer as it begins construction at 22408 N. Ralston Road.

Meritage Homes in Province received an administrative design review permit for Parcel 8 as it develops parcels 8 and 10. Province also received a permit in Parcel 15 for grading to fix erosion at Honeycutt Road and the Santa Rosa Wash.

Brakes Plus, to be constructed at 44510 W. Edison Road east of IHOP, has received approval for 123 linear feet of underground fireline.

Maricopa Auto Outlet, 19864 N. John Wayne Parkway, had its zoning request approved for an expansion Nov. 7.

Sacate Pellet Mill, 38743 W. Cowtown Road, received a permit for a lot line adjustment from 46 to 50 acres. The company also received approval for electricity for a temporary construction trailer. At the same address, Red River Cattle received a zoning text amendment to be allowed by exceed the maximum building height.

Sacate Pellet Mill

Maricopa Renovations is dividing office space as a commercial alteration for Maricopa Bookkeeping at 20800 N. John Wayne Parkway.

Leeanne Richmond has a temporary use permit to operate the monthly Second Saturday Farmers Market from Sequoia Pathway Academy, 19265 N. Porter Road.

Great Escape Maricopa, an escape room business, received a new tenant final inspection Nov. 7 as Carl Diedrich converts the former Camino Montessori space at 44301 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy. The business opens to the public Dec. 7.

CleanChoice Services is the primary contractor for an office remodel for Arizona Storage Company, 40675 W. Honeycutt Road.

Chris Cahall received a permit for a $1,000 wall sign at American Family Insurance, 19756 N. John Wayne Parkway.

Wynn Hair and Nails, 20555 N. John Wayne Parkway, was approved for coming-soon and grand-opening banners as well as a foot massage banner, all as temporary signage.

Two commercial shade structures received permits at Leading Edge Academy, 18700 N. Porter Road.

Tortosa Homeowners Association is installing a new well pump for an existing community well on the northeast corner of Honeycutt Road and Costa del Sol Boulevard at a cost of $35,000. It received a permit of major electrical work.

This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

The City of Maricopa helped Apex Motor Club break ground at 22408 N. Ralston Road. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Three years ago, Jason Plotke and Matt Williams came to Maricopa to look at land for a potential private racetrack.

Thursday, they broke ground on the $33 million project.

“We stood out here three years ago and saw some farmland, and here we are today building a racetrack,” Plotke said. “That’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.”

Two years ago, as Private Motorsports Group, they publicly announced their plans to build Apex Motor Club on 278 acres they purchased as Enterprise 238 LLC. On the northwest corner of State Route 238 and Ralston Road, the property was envisioned as a racetrack, clubhouse, garage condominium and karting complex at a cost of $33 million.

A year ago, Private Motorsports Group had a city use permit but was also battling two anti-Apex entities in the courts. One lawsuit reached the state Supreme Court, where it was denied. The second has had a petition pending before the Supreme Court since August.

The legal battle took a toll and was something “we weren’t sure we’d ever recover from,” Plotke said. “We weren’t sure if we’d be standing here.”

He and Williams were pleasantly surprised by the positive response they received from City Hall for the project from its conception.

“I think it was three years ago Jason and Matt came and sat down with me,” Mayor Christian Price said. “They said, ‘We have this idea and we want to talk to you about it. What do you think?’ And I kind of remember the cringing look on their faces as though they were going to get this, ‘I don’t think we want you here.’ I don’t know if I surprised them or not, but I said, ‘That’s a great idea. When are you starting? We can do that tomorrow.’ I think they laughed at me.”

Making clear he had no hand in bringing Apex to Maricopa, new City Manager Rick Horst said his staff would stay a step ahead of the developers to make sure all permitting is correct.

“I feel like this is a catalytic project,” Horst said. “I feel the need for speed.”

Plotke, who is president of Private Motorsports Group, said the plan is to open Apex “early next year.”

“It almost brings me tears to stand here with all of you and share this moment with all this going on,” Plotke said Thursday morning, gesturing at active dirt-moving equipment on the Apex site. “We’re not developers that are going to move on to the next city and sell this. We want to have our kids and their kids work here and have something that a lot of people can enjoy for a long period of time.

“We want to be a vibrant part of the community.”

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

DR Horton was granted an amendment to its planned area development in lots 1 and 8 in Tortosa for coverage increase.

Chop Block & Brew opened Aug. 7 at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino with dining and a lounge. It seats 159 and serves lunch and dinner.

In a capital-improvement project, Fire Station 574 received a permit for installation of new evaporative system in the bay at a cost of $100,000.

Walmart made interior alterations to replace fitting rooms and relocate an apparel fixture and added power to the fitting rooms. The project was valued at $20,000.

Suite D8 of Maricopa Fiesta at 20924 N. John Wayne Parkway, a former veterinarian office, received a permit to be modified into an open white shell at a cost of $32,000. The required demolition also received a permit.

The overpass project on State Route 347 at the Union Pacific Railroad tracks received a hauling permit. Ames Construction is the primary contractor.

Community of Hope Church applied to install a new fire alarm system at 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.

True Grit received a general fire inspection for a planned bike event in September that may include a beer garden.

DRH Construction received a permit to turn a home garage into a sales office at 36878 W. Maddaloni Ave. in Sorrento.

Cobblestone Fiesta Center, Sorrento and the City of Maricopa all received permits for new signs. Burger King opened its doors at 20699 N. John Wayne Parkway. Along with Ross Dress for Less and Great Clips at The Wells received permits for temporary banners.

Verizon and AT&T received zoning permits to modify existing cell towers.

This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Ten of the 12 Maricopa food facilities inspected by Pinal County Environmental Health July 17-Aug. 15 received scores of excellent. Two had minor problems that were dealt with during inspection.

Dunkin’ Donuts had issues with food temperature and hygiene. Egg flats, which should have been no warmer than 41 degrees F were measured at 51 degrees and had to be discarded. The inspector also noted staff with polished fingernails, which are not allowed in food-prep, a situation that was also corrected.

The Silver Spur at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado posted a satisfactory score after observed violations in food-holding temperatures and dated food. The inspector observed a prep table holding food at 52-56 degrees instead of the mandated 41, and a walk-in refrigerator holding food at 50 degrees. Several food items were reported to be seven days past their date marking. The inspector also noted freezer equipment with icicles on the ceiling, ice on the floor and no light.

Excellent [No violations found]
Burger King
Culver’s of Maricopa
Domino’s Pizza
Gyro Grill
Papa John’s Pizza
Taco Bell
Tacos ‘N’ More
Water and Ice

Satisfactory [Violations corrected during inspection]
The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
Dunkin’ Donuts

Needs Improvement [Critical items noted during inspection cannot be corrected immediately requiring follow-up inspection]

Unacceptable [Gross, unsanitary conditions necessitating the discontinuation of service]

This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

The following organizations received business licenses from the City of Maricopa July 16-Aug. 15.

Commercial: Dollar Tree, Empire West Title Agency, Open Café Province, White’s Automotive Repair & Towing

Home-based: Avasu, Cat’s Meow Design, Clean Care, Copa Mechanical, Fizz Envy, Funnie Bizness Entertainment, Jewelry Making, Julie’s Paparazzi Gems, Kameo Monson, King’s Kids Childcare, Massage Life, Nana’s House of Childcare, Plus Electric, Rikki Sparkles with Origami Owl, Rodan and Fields, Sleek & Fabulous Clothing Boutique, Society’s Air, Sofinc, Specialized Pest Control, Sun Palms Painting, With Love Signed Nikki

Out of town: Aardvark HVAC & Home Repair, Alaskan Air Conditioning, Coin & Professional Equipment, Delta Mechanical, ExhibitOne Corporation, G&C Glass, Jackson Enterprises, Lugnut Auto Repair, MGM Wood Crafting, Outdoor Dimensions, Phoenix Patioscapes, Photovoltaic Systems Manufacturing, Resilient Drilling Services, Senegene International, Sentinel Maintenance, Service Solutions Group, Solcius LLC, VP Edison 15, Watt Masters

Nonprofit: DSPA Gems, Grace Fellowship Church of Maricopa, Troop 943 Boy Scouts of America

Peddler/Solicitor: Aptive Environmental

This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

The last five months of the fiscal year showed steady growth in Maricopa’s business activity. The city reaped more than $1 million each month from January through June and easily outpaced last year February through June. City Finance Director Brenda Hasler said that coincided with construction and the opening of more retail outlets. Edison Pointe, in particular, boasted new builds and six new openings to generate more sales tax for the city.

In fiscal year 2017-18 (Graph 1 in green), Maricopa took in $12.5 million in transaction privilege tax, often called sales tax. The previous fiscal year, the total was $11.2 million. Retail and construction continue to be the city’s highest earners.

As shown in Graph 2, the FY18 total is the highest for Maricopa since before the recession. The city has a way to go before returning to those money-generating highs. In FY08, the city collected $18.7 million in sales tax.


This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

by -
submitted photo

As Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino continues its multi-million-dollar expansion, it has opened The Spa.

The business within the complex offers massage, waxing and facial treatments and a full-service nail salon. Its grand opening was announced Tuesday.

“Our customers have told us over the years that one of the amenities that they would like to see on property is a full-service spa,” said Robert Livingston, general manager and regional president of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino. “We are excited to bring this luxury experience not only to our guests but to local visitors as well.”

The spa features four treatment rooms including one couple’s suite.  Features include adjustable beds, complimentary LED Light Therapy in each treatment room, a dedicated Esthetics Room with back bar feature, and the Signature Hungarian Face Massage. The spa uses Eminence and Farmhouse Fresh treatments.

The Spa at Harrah’s Ak-Chin is open Monday–Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Reservations are required at 480-802-3340.


Among its incubation tasks, the now defunct Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) distributed business loans funded by the City of Maricopa with a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development grant.

The loans totaled $116,000 at a 5 percent interest rate. Years later, more than $98,000 remains to be paid on the loans.

Nine fledgling businesses benefited from loan programs since 2015. Loans ranged from $4,500 to $25,000. The last loan was dispensed Dec. 16, 2016, to River Jumpers LLC.

The MCE was launched in 2013 as an incubator for start-up businesses and a resource for existing companies. It was seeded by a USDA grant of $50,000. Another $120,000 of city-maintained funds was spent that year on a management agreement with Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET).

“It may have been a little bit before it’s time,” Mayor Christian Price said.

City Council fenced with three consecutive executive directors over how MCE reported its progress, its transparency and its accountability, including for business loans.

One qualifier for USDA loan candidates was that they had been turned down by a bank or other lending source. Low-interest business loans were an important part of MCE’s offerings since 2014.

Two businesses paid off their loans. Some businesses that obtained loans no longer exist and the loans remain outstanding. Others say they are pushing forward and working at paying back the loans.

Price said those results are the nature of incubating businesses just trying to get off the ground.

“As for repayment, that’s something we’re handling internally now,” said Cassandra Brown, the city’s grants coordinator.

The federally funded loans are in the City’s name, meant for MCE programs. Now the City and not MCE has the full task of tracking the loans. “We’re supporting these new businesses, and we’re actively working with these partners,” Brown said.

WYS Education and True Reflections Boutique had loans of $5,000 and $6,000 respectively, and both wiped them out in less than two years.

Several of the loan recipients no longer have functioning webpages and have not posted in social media in more than a year. In default or merely delinquent, four owe more than their original loan due to interest and fees.

HobbyScopes LLC was the first business to land an MCE loan, which was from a revolving loan fund (RLF) in 2015. As an RLF loan was paid off, the money went back into the program to fund more small-business loans. HobbyScopes’ loan was for $6,000, but the company struggled and still has a balance to be paid.

The next two recipients, Precious Hands Healthcare ($25,000) and ProX Detailing ($7,500), have had varying success paying down their loans.

In 2016, though still questioning MCE’s accountability for the loans, City Council unanimously approved up to $200,000 for MCE expenditures. Shortly after, NACET fired the executive director, Dan Beach. Last fall, the city council effectively fired NACET, and MCE closed in spring.

Price said that allowed the city to take a step back and find a different use for money it had dedicated to MCE.

“We’ve taken those funds and beefed up our Economic Development Department and reallocated it to other departments,” the mayor said.

Price said an incubator is still a good idea for Maricopa but will probably change the approach for “growing an economic garden.”

“We’ll probably focus more on partnerships and stair-step it up,” he said. “I envision we’ll have one in the future. I just don’t know when that future will be.”

Multiple attempts to reach loan recipients for comment were unsuccessful.


HobbyScopes LLC
Research-quality microscopes for hobbyists and children

Ketalog, Inc.
Advertising, apps and analytics

K&Q Clothing
Men’s and women’s clothing and accessories

Precious Hands Healthcare LLC
Home healthcare services

Property cleanup, preservation and house watch

ProX Detailing & Auto Glass
Auto detailing, washing, tinting, windshield repairs and replacement

River Jumpers LLC
Inflatable bouncers, waterslides, rock walls and other party accessories

True Reflections Boutique
Shop-from-home women’s clothing and accessories

WYS Education LLC
Write Your Story, for self-realization, insight and inspiration

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

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Jeff Kramarczyk is closing the doors of Crate Coffee this week but will still be in business. Photo by Mason Callejas

By Fran Lyons

While many home-based businesses in Maricopa are trying to build their way into a storefront, others are taking the opposite route.

Crate Coffee Market, the highest-rated coffee shop in Maricopa according to Yelp reviewers, had a retail space for five years on Hathaway Avenue. But owner Jeff Kramarczyk has opted to close the doors Aug. 26.

“The virtual marketplace has presented an opportunity to expand more globally while still meeting and developing our goals,” he said.

In a press release announcing the closing, Kramarczyk said Crate had fallen short in one of five goals: “Build a wholly unique, economically viable, retail business on word of mouth only.”

The primary reason for leaving the storefront is to focus attention, time and effort on the virtual side of the business.

“For many customers, locally and across the U.S., Crate Coffee has only ever been a virtual market,” Kramarczyk said. “Our business began in 2013 with 60-70 percent focus on the distribution side and 30-40 percent on the retail storefront side.”

Photo by Mason Callejas

The expanded business plan does not lessen the number of hours he works. “I don’t consider hours to be relevant in the virtual market,” he said. “It’s 24/7.”

The biggest challenge, he said, “is to continue the relationship aspect with people and the personal experience they had in the store and translate it into the virtual experience. We want to engage people and enable them to interact socially online.”

Despite closing the storefront, his business plan, he said, remains the same.

Echoing that are the co-owners of CrossFit Stand & Battle, which also left its storefront space with its high overhead to literally go home in what was termed a restructuring.

Natalie Richardson and Nate Maxcy of CrossFit Stand & Battle opted to move into garage gyms. Submitted photo

“Bringing it home has its benefits,” said Natalie Richardson, co-owner and director of operations. Her garage in The Villages was converted into a CrossFit gym in July.

The change allows the team to provide the classes and hours to meet the needs of their schedules as well as the clients they coach, she said.

Their business is an affiliate of CrossFit, Inc., an internationally known elite fitness regime designed to define fitness in a measurable way. The workout goal is fitness and health through functional movement and stability.

The business plan, structured on the CrossFit model, is unchanged. It’s just the location that is different.

“Our members are our community,” said co-owner Nate Maxcy, director of coaching. “We truly believe that the relationships we develop and the care and consideration of each other is how we motivate and support each other. We work together as a group.”

Formerly CrossFit 347, Stand & Battle operated out of Suite B102 at 21576 N. John Wayne Parkway. Richardson began her fitness career in pre-natal and post-natal fitness for moms with Stroller Strides. Maxcy has trained as an athlete with CrossFit for years and is also a captain with the Maricopa Fire Department.

When asked why they left the brick-and-mortar store, Maxcy and Richardson said it fit their lifestyle and budget, and the garage gym concept aligned with their philosophy of hands-on instruction. Making the decision to take the business home came as they were approaching a deadline for a new lease agreement. They were no longer willing to put their families at financial risk.

One challenge of moving from a storefront to a virtual or home-based site is convincing customers to come along, too.

Maxcy told clients he would understand if some of them were not comfortable with a garage-gym format while he knew others were introduced to CrossFit in a home gym.

Crate Coffee’s clientele was also disappointed to lose their community spot.

“Many folks are sad that our familiar location will no longer be available,” said Kramarczyk, who, though excited about the new business platform, described his own feelings as mixed. “Thank you to everyone that has crossed Crate Coffee’s threshold. My hope is that we take our shared experiences with us for the rest of our lives and look back on them fondly.”

The Maricopa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and City of Maricopa host the first roundtable luncheon and open discussion on current challenges small-business owners face growing their business.

The event is Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Central Arizona Community College. Deadline to RSVP is Sept. 10.

The luncheon is free.

“Small businesses are important influencers of economic growth keep our economy moving,” Business Development Specialist Ayesha Maxwell said. “Maricopa has a large population of small businesses and we would like to focus on scaling those businesses to capacity and working with organizations like SBDC to help facilitate technical assistance.”

Organizers want stories and feedback from Maricopa business owners regarding their goals and obstacles they face. A better understanding of the experiences of Maricopa small-business owners will help to create strategic programming and educational workshops specifically designed to develop businesses.

The college is at 17945 Regent Drive. Click to register

Stay tuned for workshops on:

  • Marketing
  • Access to Capital
  • Financial Business Planning
  • Capacity Building Training
  • Business Planning
  • Business Certifications
  • Google: Get your business online