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Chamber of Commerce

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.


The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce put out a call for applicants in May.

Its executive director position was left vacant in April after the resignation of Terri Crain, who returned last year.

In 2006, Crain (then Terri Kingery), was the Chamber’s first director. She held the position until the end of 2010 when she resigned amid a swirl of resignations on the board of directors.

In the midst of upheaval for a variety of reasons, the board identified a conflict of interest when they discovered Crain’s assistant, whom she hired, was her boyfriend. The situation was a violation of Chamber bylaws.

Crain later announced she’d accepted a position directing a chamber in California and would resign. The local chamber went without a leader to fill that spot for more than a year.

Since then, the Chamber staff position has brought with it high turnover and personnel scandals.

After Crain’s first departure more than a decade ago, the Chamber hired Jim McMichael and titled the position chief executive officer and president.

Two members of the board asked McMichael to resign six months later, citing “philosophical differences.”

John Kennedy was brought in as his replacement on an interim basis. That lasted only months, however, after police arrested him on stalking and second-degree burglary charges. Kennedy was later indicted for harassment and criminal trespass.

A vacancy in the Chamber’s top position followed. Five months after the Kennedy criminal investigation, the Chamber hired Charlie Deaton, a veteran chamber director in Mesa to assist as an interim CEO while it searched for a new leader.

The Chamber hired Dave Moss as its CEO and Marla Lewis as its chief operating officer in May 2013. Moss groomed Lewis to take his position and left a few months after his one-year contract was up in 2014.

Lewis spent nearly two years as CEO following her year under Moss. She abruptly resigned in 2016, expressing “a desire to pursue other opportunities.”

A two-month search resulted in the hiring of 20-year-old Sara Troyer, at the time the youngest in the nation to direct a chamber.

The Chamber of Commerce was subject to a civil suit by one member whose husband applied for the position, but was passed over for Troyer. The case argued access to the Chamber’s hiring documents and process. The Chamber eventually won in court.

Troyer left one year into her tenure to accept a position in Illinois.

The Chamber came full circle in April 2017 when it announced the re-hiring of Terri Crain. She’s volunteering part-time at the Chamber while the Board reviews applications for her replacement.

In a recent meeting, the Chamber pondered its relevance and even considered closing the organization.

Members said closing is not an option.

“We are open to ideas; it’s just how do we get these ideas done with the budget that we have and without a captain running the ship?” board President Chris Cahall asked members during a meeting May 10.

This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa. 
This version has been corrected to clarify that two board members, not the entire board, requested Jim McMichael’s resignation in 2012.

About 10 percent of the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce's membership attended the Thursday morning breakfast. Photo by Michelle Chance

The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce is in transition as it once again searches for a new executive director.

Members are brainstorming the Chamber’s evolution and plotting its own survival.

“We are open to ideas; it’s just how do we get these ideas done with the budget that we have and without a captain running the ship?” Chamber Board President Chris Cahall asked members during a meeting May 10.

Former Director Terri Crain resigned last month and is volunteering part-time until the Chamber finds her replacement.

Cahall prompted suggestions from members on who would they would like to see fill that role.

However, in talks about the Chamber’s future, Cahall revealed what’s next could be more complicated than a simple personnel search.

“Everything is on the table,” Cahall explained. “Even closing the chamber.”

Working with a $100,000 annual budget, the Chamber sinks most of it into rent, utilities and the director’s salary, Cahall said.

It’s left with a $20,000 chunk to invest in member services every year.

Cahall urged membership and the Board to innovate the chamber to become a relevant asset to local business owners. There are up 250-300 chamber members; Nearly 30 attended the meeting Thursday morning.

Members answered back with a variety of suggestions, including leaving its space on Honeycutt Road to alleviate overhead costs, increasing the salary and insurance package for its future director and lending an olive branch to local chambers in an effort to combine membership dues, among others.

Chamber member Tom Buessing offered to donate office space from his own company, Highway 238 Industrial Park.

“We can’t dissolve this chamber; it’s not an option,” Buessing said.

UltraStar Multi-tainment Center General Manager Adam Saks suggested adding health insurance to the future director’s benefits package to attract a highly qualified applicant.

Saks echoed other members who said they’d like to hire a candidate who will end the revolving door of high-turnaround hires that have plagued the Chamber in recent years.

Saks also took aim at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Maricopa Power Networking Group, describing the separate chambers as “the biggest detriment to what’s been going on” with perceived fragmentation among the groups.

“Much as the community and the city work together to always weave that fabric tighter, the chambers are just shooting holes in each other, and the fabric is falling apart,” Saks added.

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Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board Member Julia Gusse was in attendance. The Maricopa city councilwoman is also a member of the Maricopa chamber.

Gusse said the Hispanic Chamber was created, in part, to break down language barriers she said the Maricopa Chamber could not tackle.

She said Latino business owners in the city felt disenfranchised.

“I made this recommendation (in the past) to the Chamber that they needed someone who spoke Spanish and not someone necessarily who’s Hispanic,” Gusse said.

Cahall responded to Gusse, saying the Maricopa Chamber offered a seat on their Board to the Hispanic Chamber, but the offer was not taken.

County Supervisor, Anthony Smith, a former Maricopa mayor, suggested the Chamber find ways to compromise with its counterparts and combine.

Smith also voiced his concern over what he called the city council’s “lack of support” toward the Maricopa Chamber.

“I think any city that wants to have strong economic development must have the coupling between city leadership and the business community, and I don’t see that 100 percent from the Maricopa City Council,” Smith said. “To be honest with you, that is unhealthy.”

Mayor Christian Price, a Chamber member, suggested revolutionizing what the Chamber has grown accustomed to in its practices by unifying chamber factions.

“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and we’ve got to tear it all down and restart it. That doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bath water,” Price said.

“It’s going to take all of these groups coming together, and that will help us as a chamber on how we need to function and operate.”

The Chamber Board will meet next week to review director applications.

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Different MCE outcome could have impacted decision

Terri Crain. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Terri Crain announced Friday she will soon leave the organization.

Crain is slated to become the Chief Operating Officer of her cousin’s event lighting and sound business based in Tempe. Crain said she will remain a resident of Maricopa and retain her recent appointment on the Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee to the Pinal County Regional Transportation Authority.

The Chamber will hold onto its president part-time until at least mid-May, or until it can find a person to fill the position.

Crain, in her official capacity as Chamber president, bid to operate Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship last year.

The city council didn’t take the chamber up on its offer. However, Crain said if the deal could have been struck, she’d likely stick with the Chamber.

“I guess the conversation with my cousin would have been different,” Crain said. “I absolutely would have still found a way to help my cousin, but maybe not on such a full-time level.”

Crain’s announcement comes just shy of her first anniversary of re-joining the Chamber. The Board announced it hired Crain April 18, 2017, after former Executive Director Sara Troyer resigned.

Before that, Crain previously ran the chamber in 2006 and left under controversial circumstances in 2011.

In a news release, Crain said the decision to leave the chamber did not come easily.

“I have a passion for Maricopa and the Chamber, and Chamber work in general,” Crain said, citing her new opportunity to help her cousin’s business grow as the reason for her departure. “The Chamber Board has been very supportive and open to new ideas. I want to thank you for the opportunity and faith you extended to me in my transition back to Maricopa.”

It’s unclear when and how the search for Crain’s replacement will begin.

Chamber Board President Chris Cahall could not immediately be reached for comment on this story.

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InMaricopa Publisher Scott Bartle

The Maricopa Chamber bestowed a great honor upon InMaricopa at its annual awards banquet Jan. 20. We are very proud to be named Business of the Year by our fellow chamber members.

We joined the chamber 15 years ago and have been working tirelessly to serve our community since. Our journalists are passionate about informing Maricopans and our advertising team is equally passionate about helping local businesses succeed. It’s awesome for them to be recognized by our fellow chamber members with this prestigious award.

Raquel, Michelle, Mason, Vince and Chance, congratulations and thank you! You deserve this honor, and I hope you are as proud of yourselves as I am of you. I also celebrate the work of your predecessors, from Joyce to Dick and everyone in between who helped lay a positive foundation for our company.

Though our analytics and survival skills – not many pre-recession Maricopa startups are still serving and employing Maricopans today – indicate our publications are well-read, it is extremely gratifying to be recognized by the community in this way. Our team’s intrinsic rewards come from fulfilling our mission of informing readers/viewers and enriching advertisers. Being recognized publicly for those efforts is exceptionally meaningful.

Without our readers supporting our advertisers, and our advertisers supporting us, we would not be able to provide what we believe is an invaluable benefit to our community. We are proud our first two sponsors, Orbitel Communications and Harrah’s Ak-Chin, still see value in advertising with us today, and we cherish every new relationship developed a decade and a half later. Thank you for your support!

We are proud to be the recipient of an accolade named after the late Bill “Waz” Wasowicz, who contributed selflessly to his community and chamber. We appreciate The Maricopa Real Estate Company for sponsoring the award, the chamber for hosting it, Terri Crain for nominating us and all chamber members who voted for us.

Thank you for all your readership, and support.

Scott Bartle is founder and publisher of InMaricopa.

Recipients of Community Awards from Maricopa Chamber of Commerce: (from left) Chris Cahall, Steve Durkee, Scott Bartle, Robert Ki.stler, Adam Saks, Brenda Campbell, Paul Shirk and Terri Crain.

Half the recipients of awards Saturday night had something in common.

When the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce presented the 11th annual Community Awards, three plaques went to one table: Maricopa Historical Society. The group itself was named Nonprofit of the Year. Its president, Paul Shirk, received the Renate Chamberlin Volunteer of the Year award.

Chamberlin herself was seated at the MHS table and received a standing ovation for her years of service.

Brenda Campbell, a city employee who also runs a Lularoe business, was named the Sonny Dunn Citizen of the Year, receiving the award from several members of the Dunn family. Campbell is also on the board of the historical society. Nominated with her were former mayor and board member of several organizations Kelly Anderson and Jason Crandell of CVS Pharmacy.

“Wow, what a night! To be honored by our peers in the Chamber means a lot to us as individuals and as a group,” Shirk said. “It helps inspire and energize us to move forward with plans for an even better 2018.”

Other nominees for Nonprofit of the Year were the American Legion Auxiliary and Copa Shorts Film Festival. Also nominated as Volunteer of the Year was Terry Sperry.

InMaricopa.com received the “Waz” Business of the Year, an award presented to publisher Scott Bartle by Patti Wasowicz and the Maricopa Real Estate Company.

“We are very proud to be awarded business of the year by the Maricopa Chamber. We joined the chamber 15 years ago and have been working tirelessly to serve our community since,” Bartle said. “Our journalists are passionate about informing Maricopans, and our advertising team is equally passionate about helping local businesses succeed. It’s awesome for them to be recognized by our fellow chamber members with this prestigious award.”

Also nominated for the Waz award were Global Water and 911 Air Repair.

Impressive Imaging was named Small Business of the Year, presented to owner Robert Kistler by Adam Saks, general manager of UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. Saks, stepping down from the chamber board, was also recognized for his service to the chamber.

Others nominated for small business of the year were Alternative Heating & Air and Stormin’ Norman Termite & Pest Control.

Steve Durkee received the new Chairman’s Award from Chamber Chairman Chris Cahall.

The event was hosted by Chamber Director Terri Crain at Elements Event Center with Will Dunn as emcee.

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Who will be community award-winners this year?

Maricopa Chamber of Commerce will host its 11th annual Chamber Awards Jan. 20, and this year the Chamber is offering up something new.

With a night of food, dancing, raffles and awards, the Maricopa business community will celebrate recent achievements at the Elements Events Center from 5:30-11 p.m. The Chamber’s chairman is adding a sixth award to recognize an individual who went above and beyond to support the community.

In the past, awards have been limited to the five the chamber’s board collectively votes on; The Waz Award, Small Business of the Year award, Sonny Dunn Business of the Year Award, Non-Profit of the Year Award and the Renate Chamberlin Volunteer of the Year Award.

The Chairman’s Award, Maricopa Chamber director Terri Crain said, is a way for the leader of the board, Chris Cahall, to hand-pick someone who has done something extraordinary for the community.

“It can be given to anyone for doing something good,” Crain said. “It’s at the sole discretion of the chairman.”

The awards serve not only as a way to recognize past achievements, Crain said, but also as a way to “build a bridge to the future.”

Crain started the awards banquet in 2006 with the guidance of then-board member Bill Wasowicz, and it has proven to be a major source of pride for the business community, she said.

“It’s a great way for the community to come together and support small businesses and recognize our volunteers,” Crain said.

Having recently rejoined the Chamber, Crain sees it fitting to be a part of the tradition she helped create more than a decade ago.

Expected dignitaries include Mayor Christian Price, County Supervisor Anthony Smith and his wife, City Councilmember Nancy Smith. Tables of 10 can be reserved for $500, and reservations can be made until Jan. 18.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Maricopa Chamber of Commerce

Transparency claims filed against the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce last year were recently dismissed by a Pinal County Superior Court judge, according to court documents.

The lawsuit filed in May 2016 by Kimberly Diedrich, owner of a local nonprofit, requested the court force the Chamber to reveal documents surrounding its hiring process of former Chamber Director Sara Troyer.

Judge Brenda Oldham instead ruled in favor of the Chamber and dismissed the “complaint and all claims in this case with prejudice” in August 2017, while also enforcing a settlement agreement initially proposed by the Chamber earlier this year.

Court records state Diedrich and her husband Carl are ordered to pay $18,577 in attorney’s fees and related costs.

A press release sent by the chamber last week stated, “there was no evidence of ethical violations or impropriety presented through the process that involved the Chamber.”

Diedrich said that statement “could be misleading.”

“Since there was no evidence presented, I guess that statement is true, but because the settlement agreement prevented answering those specific questions before discovery began, it could be misleading,” Diedrich said.

Diedrich said part of the settlement agreement between her organization, Home is Where the Hound Is, and the Chamber included the dismissal of the initial lawsuit.

“Any characterization of the dismissal as anything else would be misleading,” Diedrich said.

Court records show the path toward reaching a settlement was difficult.

Prior to the final ruling, it appeared the Chamber, represented by its attorney, had reached a settlement agreement with Diedrich in late February. Court documents state Diedrich allegedly agreed to the settlement through email communication, but “refused to sign the settlement agreement in an email dated March 29, 2017.”

The chamber motioned the court to enforce the settlement in June, which the court granted.

Aug. 4, Diedrich challenged the court’s decision alleging, in part, the Chamber’s attorney failed to communicate with Diedrich and her husband Carl, also named in the case. Carl Diedrich was a candidate for the Chamber directorship when Troyer was hired.

“Ms. Diedrich believes the court should grant relief (…) because there was never any agreement made to the final settlement agreement and no binding contract was created because all parties were not informed of and/or agreed to the final settlement agreement,” according to court documents filed by Diedrich.

The court denied the motion for relief in September.

Chamber President Chris Cahall said the board would not consider changing its hiring process in the future to prevent similar lawsuits.

“The Chamber has always looked to partner with the city and its business community members to facilitate growth and will continue to do that in the future,” Cahall said.

In April, Troyer resigned in from her position at the Chamber to pursue a job prospect out-of-state. The Chamber then re-hired Executive Director Terri Crain.

Crain said she could not comment on the lawsuit.

Photo by Michelle Chance

The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2017 Biz Expo at the Central Arizona College Maricopa Campus Saturday. As live music entertained potential customers, the business expo gave residents an opportunity to meet local companies and organizations. Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, Maricopa Ace Hardware, Ahwatukee Realty and Property Management, and InMaricopa sponsored the event.

Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith talks to members of the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Oct. 12. Photo by Michelle Chance

Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith and Maricopa Mayor Christian Price urged local business owners to “solve the problem of misinformation out there” regarding transportation Propositions 416 and 417 Thursday morning.

During a Maricopa Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Smith and Price detailed the project’s relevance to Maricopa, including the addition of lanes to State Route 347 and the proposed East-West Corridor.

On Nov. 7, Pinal County residents will vote on a 20-year transportation improvement plan and a half-cent sales tax to fund the projects.

“When we moved to Pinal County, you all signed up to be pioneers,” Price said. “If you are all truly pioneers along with me and you don’t like taxes like I don’t, but you believe in investing in your future, you believe in economic development, you believe in growing — then our jobs are to get out and spread this word to solve the problem of misinformation out there, and there’s a lot of it.”

Smith said comments on blogs and social media made by residents county-wide expressed skepticism in the project. Specifically, Smith said some residents doubted whether the sales tax was legal and if projects benefitting their area would really come to fruition.

Over the summer, Smith said county officials sought opinions from legal counsel on the constitutionality of the tax portion of the propositions, eventually leading to a green light from Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer and other attorneys.

Additionally, Pinal County Public Works Director Andrew Smith said the plan took into consideration 2,500 pages of studies conducted by towns, cities and the county since 2006.

“We’ve done our due diligence and we’ve put together a plan, and now it’s up to the voters,” Smith said.

The improvements benefiting Maricopa are listed on the project’s first phase during fiscal years 2018 through 2022. During the presentation, Price broke down the numbers for the $640 million county project.

“Maricopans are getting almost $100 million of the projects out of the entire county,” Price said. “That’s just a little under one-sixth of the entire funds raised.”

The city is on track to complete 1,200 building projects this year, a sign of positive growth, but also a sign of an even more congested 347, Price said.

Price noted his efforts partnering with stewards of the 347: the Gila River Indian Community, Maricopa County Department of Transportation and the Arizona Department of Transportation.

“It’s about partnerships, it’s about leadership and it’s about bringing money to the table and if we don’t do that we can always fall back on this phrase that I’ve always used my whole career which is that ‘If you do nothing, you get nothing,’ period.”

Photo by Michelle Chance

American Legion Post 133 and the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce hosted an open house event at the Maricopa Veterans Center Thursday evening. Councilmembers Henry Wade and Julia Gusse also attended the networking event. Wade and Gusse are U.S. Air Force veterans.

Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce held a meet-and-greet at its office Tuesday night where members of the business community along with elected officials gathered to introduce or reintroduce themselves to the Chamber’s new director – Terri Crain.

Crain once held the position of director with the Chamber and was recently called back to her post after the most recent director – Sara Troyer –  left Arizona for another job opportunity.

The task at hand, Crain said, is one of mending and creating new business relationships in the community.

“The chamber should be, and typically is, the leading voice for business,” Crain said. “So, it is my goal to rebuild bridges between the chamber and the city and to become the place for business.”

Photo by William Lange

Maricopa Chamber of Commerce has announced the finalists for the 10th annual Maricopa Community Awards.

The awards banquet, this year a Black and White Gala, is set for Elements Events Center at Ak-Chin Circle, 16000 N Maricopa Road, Jan. 21 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., when the winners will be announced.

Chamber members vote on the recipients of the seven awards.


“The Waz” Business of the Year
Adobe Blinds & More – owned by Danielle Collazo
Pro-X Detailing – owned by Jason and Marina Love
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino

Small Business of the Year
Helen’s Kitchen and Catering – owned by Helen Ford
InMaricopa – owned by Scott Bartle
Impressive Imaging – owned by Robert Kistler

Sonny Dunn Citizen of the Year
Judith Zaimont – Maricopa Arts Council
Michelle Avery Schaefer – Maricopa Pantry
Vincent Manfredi – Maricopa “Vote Yes” Committee

Renate Chamberlain Volunteer of the Year
Carrie Vargas – Miss Maricopa/Maricopa Community Theatre
Evan Grace – Maricopa Youth Council/Relay for Life/Blue Star Moms Toys for Kids
Jamie Adamkiewicz – Cub Scouts/community sports team volunteer

Non-Profit of the Year
Maricopa Arts Council
Maricopa Education Foundation
The Streets Don’t Love You Back

Educator of the Year
Christine Dickinson – Maricopa Elementary
Lauren Miller – Sequoia Pathway
Tayna Neilson – Saddleback Elementary

Civil Servant of the Year
Marvin Brown, vice mayor, Maricopa City Council
Matthew Reiter, Fitness coordinator at Copper Sky
Steve Stahl, City of Maricopa Chief of Police

Tickets are $50 per person and $90 per couple. Attire is semi-formal. The event is for ages 21 and up. Visit MaricopaChamber.org

Sara Troyer has been streamlining since stepping in as director of the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Yvonne Gonzalez

The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce is rebuilding with its sixth director in eight years.

Its newest executive director is a 2013 graduate of Maricopa High School who says she’s focused on retaining members, streamlining operations and improving the chamber’s image, among other goals.

“The more up-to-date and fresh we are, the more appealing we’ll be to the community,” said Sara Troyer, formerly the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship marketing and programs development director. “A lot of what I’m trying to do is really strip the chamber down and build it back up.”

Troyer is pursuing a certification in nonprofit management and a bachelor’s degree in public administration online at Southern New Hampshire University.

Troyer said since her April 1 start at the chamber, she’s been working on streamlining office processes and finding areas to save money.

Chamber members are now able to take discounted or free business development classes at the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, she said, and chamber events get more participation.

The chamber is working to get member feedback on services. Troyer said a recent survey found successful networking events were a top priority among members.

She said the chamber is working to design programs that fit what most members want.

“We can’t do everything for everyone, but we can make connections to place them with someone that offers them,” she said.

The chamber added six members in April. Annual dues above standard membership recently rose to $500, $1,000, $2,000 and $5,000 annually for various levels.

“We never want to raise our dues again,” Troyer said.

Troyer said retention has been better in the last two months compared to years past.

“All the people who were going to renew in the last two months, we’ve retained 95 percent of them,” she said, noting previous numbers as low as 60 percent.

Troyer is the youngest and latest in a string of leaders for the chamber.

Theresa Kingery became the executive director in 2006. She and four board officials resigned at the end of 2010.

The job was unfilled until March 2012 when Maricopa business owner Jim McMichael stepped in as president.

By September of that year, McMichael agreed to resign at the request of board members. He said at the time that there were philosophical differences with board leaders who asked him to step down.

The role was again vacant after interim president John Kennedy was arrested in December 2012 on charges of burglary and stalking.

The chamber board hired Dave Moss as its president and Lewis as the chief operating officer in May 2013, shortly after the city pulled $40,000 from annual chamber funding.

Online tax records for that year show no payments for Moss, but Lewis earned $40,000 from the chamber.

Tax data show revenue in 2008 reached $214,702, and then decreased sharply for three years to less than $95,000 before starting an upswing in 2012. There was a slight drop in revenue from 2013 to 2014, according to the most recent data available.

Revenue hasn’t exceeded $120,000 since 2010.

Troyer said she’s lived in Maricopa for 12 years, and while the recession played a role in the slump, she said politics may have played a role from 2009 to 2012.

“I’m sure that some of that was due to unhappy people or people who were just sick of the politics,” she said.

She said she wants to move forward from that history.

“I know that the reputation at the time was not the best,” she said. “I don’t know the extent of that.”

Lewis was the president and chief executive officer when she resigned earlier this year.

Troyer said Lewis built great momentum for the chamber heading into 2016, and she wants to keep that going.

“2016 will be a great fiscal year for us,” she said.

Salaries for 2016 will account for about $44,000 in expenses for the chamber.

Troyer and bookkeeper Christy Fette are the only paid employees, with Troyer working 40 hours per week and Fette putting in about six hours each week.

Troyer says she’s working to update the website in her spare time, also a cost-saving measure.

“I code; I’m able to build the website myself,” she said. “I’ve been doing that on my evenings and weekends so we can save a lot on hosting fees. It’s been a lot of work, but I think it’s going to be helpful.”

This story appeared in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Jackie Gonzalez

This is in response to an article published on May 23 by Yvonne Gonzalez titled Lawsuit filed over Chamber of Commerce transparency:

I have been reviewing the Chamber of Commerce cluster that has been born since the official announcement that Sara Troyer had been named the new executive director. While I do not know who specifically was the catalyst, the face for this has been Kimberly Diedrich, head of a business and a not-for-profit within the MCOC. I feel that this article published does not paint a neutral perspective on the situation but tries to incite and sway public opinion toward someone who is upset that her husband was not chosen for the open role.

Looking at the original request that was made of the Board, Kimberly asked directly for information relating to specific ARS statutes. These statutes relate to record keeping and the specific records of members that have been in good standing. I am not sure what she hoped to gain with a list of where every member lives and what their business is, but that was the request.

The board however, chose not to respond because the request was not properly made and most importantly, was not made in good faith; something crucial for any of her requests to hold any standing and garner a proper response. Contrary to popular belief of hers and supporters, Boards do not have to respond to each request made. If I were to email the Board of Directors for Pepsi Co (for example), I would not expect to receive a response.

There also appears to be a misunderstanding on what information can be asked for, and what is protected. HR hiring practices are protected. What is further evident is that there was an actual selection committee who was appointed to oversee and direct the process to replace the former CEO (at the position of executive director). Every proper procedure appears to have been followed to the letter.

There is a process that members may go through if they feel that there are grievances relating to membership. One member said, “When she [Kimberly] exercised this option, she was informed that the hiring practices are sealed to allow for fairness. She was not happy with this answer so her and a few other sympathizers started looking for ways to unseal what they feel are secrets. I think that all of this could have been avoided if Carl [Her husband] had been hired, but that would have set the Chamber back 10 years at least.”

Another important, if overlooked, item is that the communication ceased between Kimberly and the Chamber when Kimberly threatened to sue in the first place. The Board, like many other boards out there, has a lawyer on retainer who is activated in case of situations that arise. When she threatened to sue, she activated that clause. A board member said this is, “Causing an undo financial burden on the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce. We do not have the money to fight frivolous legal battles like this.”

By filing the lawsuit, Kimberly opens the door to have a judge take an unbiased look at her claims and respond appropriately. She seeks relief against the financial costs that were rightfully assigned for work that she asked for. It is in my opinion that this is no longer stonewalling; they are complying to provide her the records. Since it detracts from the normal work of the Chamber, they are allowed to levy a fee. Since there is a per page fee and per hour fee, this appears to be within the realm of right and just. Kimberly simply seems to want this hard work done for nothing, and in the process find a smoking gun that will undermine Troyer.

One can only hope that she spends this much effort in her day-to-day business activities rescuing and babysitting animals as she does in tilting at windmills.

Jackie Gonzalez is a resident of Maricopa.


Sun Life Family Health Center's Director of Community Outreach Renee Louzon-Benn accepted the WAZ award (and a Maricopa High School Rams jersey). Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce hosted its ninth annual Community Awards Banquet at the Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle Saturday night.

Hundreds of Maricopa business owners and policy makers came out to the event to celebrate the community’s top companies and individuals from 2015.

“Nine years ago, the chamber began a tradition of showcasing all of the good things that are happening in our community,” Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Marla Lewis said. “We want to recognize the wonderful and deserving Maricopa organizations and individuals and businesses who have gone out of their way to make our community what it is today.”

Local travel agent Suzie Miller was awarded the “Small Business of the Year” award for her company Suz’s Cruises. However, Sun Life Family Health Center was the night’s big winner. The Chamber awarded Sun Life with the “’WAZ’ Business of the Year” award for its work among the community.

The award is named after Bill Wasowicz and is given to the business that makes the “greatest positive impact” on the community.

“Thank you so much to everyone in the city of Maricopa,” Sun Life Family Health Center Director of Community Outreach Renee Louzon-Benn said. “I don’t know if all of you know, but Sun Life has been serving Maricopa for 36 years. It seems like only yesterday, but for 36 years we have strived to serve the needs for everyone in need of high quality and affordable services.”

List of winners and nominees:

Renate’ Chamberlin Volunteer of the Year
•    Winner – Jim Shoaf
•    Nominees – Jim Irving, Tracy Davis

Nonprofit of the Year
•    Winner – Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship
•    Nominees – Mountain View Church/Food Bank, The Streets Don’t Love You Back

Educator of the Year
•    Winner – Bernadette Russoniello
•    Nominees – Chris McDonald, Lauren Miller

Civil Servant of the Year
•    Winner – Mayor Christian Price
•    Nominees – Karen S. Fierro, Richard Clore

Sonny Dunn Citizen of the Year
•    Winner – Patty Robinson
•    Nominees – Eric Lacz, Courtny Tyler

Small Business of the Year
•    Winner – Suz’s Cruises
•    Nominees – James A. Chaston CPA, Uniquely Sewn

The “WAZ” Business of the Year
•    Winner – Sun Life Family Health Center
•    Nominees – InMaricopa, Orbitel Communications