Marks, who took the job in May 1999, said his retirement will be effective in late July. He came to Prescott Valley from the Cushing Industrial Authority and Chamber of Commerce in Cushing, Okla., after hearing about the PVEDF position from a friend.
"He told me (Prescott Valley) was a great town, ready to explode. I did some research and within three hours, I faxed my resume," Marks said.
Marks said his first impression of the town was that it was "young, undeveloped, and had all kinds of potential."
He has seen some soaring highs and sobering lows during his years in Prescott Valley, working through a housing and construction boom, and then watching that market dry up during the recent Great Recession. But Prescott Valley managed to hold its own, Marks said, and aside from the construction industry, which became virtually non-existent for four years, the Town actually saw a net increase of 187 jobs during the recession.
Among PVEDF's greatest accomplishments under his leadership, Marks said, are the successful recruitment of eight new companies, including Lockheed Martin and Superior Industries. PVEDF assisted in bringing the Mountain Valley Rehabilitation Hospital and several new bank branches to town, and worked with the ACE Hardware Distribution Center and Superior on major expansions. At last count, under his tenure, he said, the town has gained more than 1,100 new jobs, and 15 companies have expanded their operations in the community.
PVEDF also has been successful in bringing in more than $1.2 million to enable business growth in the town, with the latest being a half million dollars for the Enterprise Parkway that will add direct access from Highway 69 to the Big Sky Business Park.
Through PVEDF, the park also contains the first Gold Certified business site in Arizona, meaning that all infrastructure is in place to make it "shovel ready." Five more of those sites are in the process for Big Sky, Marks said.
Prescott Valley Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said the community and its workforce has greatly benefitted from Marks' professional experience.
"His hard work over his 15-year tenure has put Prescott Valley on the economic development map, and he has been able to clearly communicate to potential employers that Prescott Valley is a great place to bring job-creating industry," Tarkowski said.
Longtime Prescott Valley businessman Steve Rutherford was on the PVEDF board that hired Marks. He said Marks brought economic development to a new level.
"Gary Marks has done more for economic development in Prescott Valley and the greater Prescott area than anybody I can think of," Rutherford said.
The Marks' plan to move back to Oklahoma where Debbie will be teaching school and where their son James plays baseball for Rogers State University, and where much of their family lives.
"It's a tough decision to leave something I enjoy doing and look forward to every day," Marks said. "I feel the community is better served and growing since I came. It's a great place for business, for people to live and work and raise families. I think Prescott Valley still has a bright future and potential for continued growth."