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Uptown Marion gets good start as Main Street Iowa community

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette | Mar 28, 2014 |

Marion only became a Main Street Iowa community three months ago but new businesses with potential to create jobs and city and state revenues are already emerging, the Uptown Marion director said this week.

Nick Glew said he was giving a presentation on the recent “Economic Impact of Main Street Iowa” report to the Marion City Council last week and there were some requests for TIF incentives for proposed renovation of buildings in the district were also on the agenda that night.

“It was really exciting to see that, considering we’re only three months in,” Glew said. “We’ve had a good Uptown district so I have no doubt that five years from now the economic environment will continue to thrive and be successful as a Main Street community.”

Glew said one of the potential businesses is a $3.5 million three-story building on 7th Avenue and 12 Street, where the old Jiffy Lube was located, which will have restaurant and office spaces on first and second floors and the third floor will be used as residential space.

Another owner plans to renovate the Memorial Hall building on 11th Street which will have commercial space on the first floor and the owner will turn the top floor into their residence, Glew said.

“What’s so great about the projects is the owners are from the area and they want to invest in the community,” Glew said. “There was just the groundbreaking last month for a three-story building being built by the owner of Phillip’s Diamond Shop. That is such a cool story because Phil High has been part of this community for years and been successful, and now wants to add more to the Uptown District.”

Glew said that’s the idea behind the Main Street program to revitalize the downtown areas and preserve the historic buildings for economic development.

According to the impact report, the program has been in Iowa for 26 years and 11,500 new jobs have been created in districts across the state. More than 3,800 businesses have been established, relocated or expanded in Main Street districts.

Other data highlighted in the report include:

-Rehabilitation projects in the last 10 years, even during a recession, have created more than 1,000 jobs each year and generated worker earnings of about $35 million.

– Local governments gain $10.8 million in revenue every year in property taxes from the rehabilitation investments.

-The new businesses and business expansions generated state sales tax revenues of $43 million in 2012.

Glew said he and members of the Uptown Marion Board have been going out to businesses and talking to the owners and other community members about the program and asking them what challenges they face and what they need to help them grow and be successful.

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