By Deirdre Ryan | Marion Times | June 16th, 2016
On Wednesday, June 8, the Marion Chamber of Commerce, the Marion Economic Development Corp (MEDCO), Uptown Marion, and a variety of Marion City Officials hosted the second annual High Five! MARION program and lunch.
This special event was held at the Marion Airport, located at 1710 Marion Airport Road, and it was intended to present all attendees with some wonderful information and the many accomplishments that Marion businesses have achieved within the past year. The Marion HyVee provided a boxed lunch for High Five! guests, and a collection for the Churches of Marion Food Pantry also took place, as this entity is crucial to the survival of the thriving Marion community. Final totals note that about $1,400 was raised for the food pantry!
A variety of speakers held the podium that day, including Nick Glew; President of MEDCO, Jill Ackerman; President of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, Nick AbouAssaly; Marion Mayor, Cole Norton; Marion Airport Manager, and a variety of business officials. These professionals shared stories and successes with the crowd; all noting how Marion is taking flight and reaching higher every day!
“Marion is about ready to take off,” commented Mayor AbouAssaly. “The sky is not the limit!”
With that in mind, many of the Marion projects already in place, as well as the continuous progress being made, were all equally noted … purposely presenting the crowd with the countless ways that Marion is on the up and up. The possibilities truly are endless!
For example, on May 27, 2016, Governor Terry Brandstad signed into law Senate File 2312, allowing a state sales tax rebate for the Prospect Meadows project coming to 128 acres of county land at Highway 13 and County Home Road, north of Marion. Prospect Meadows will be a destination for regional and national baseball/softball tournaments and events, including 17 playing fields, a miracle field for players with a variety of disabilities, and many other amenities. The facility is projected to attract more than 120,000 attendees each year, including 60,000 visitors filling up to 80,000 hotel-room nights.
The power of this project is anchored by Perfect Game USA, a local company that recently located to new offices in the Marion community. Each year, Perfect Game operates the largest full-field baseball events in the nation with nearly all of their tournaments now hosted in other states across the country. Until now, the state of Iowa lacked adequate facilities to host this caliber of events here at home. Perfect Game is providing a guarantee of bringing more than 1,024 teams annually to the complex.
It is known that 80 percent of these teams will travel from outside of the state of Iowa. The complete financing strategy is currently in its final stages with groundbreaking anticipated in 2017.
Prospect Meadows is not just a win for Marion, it’s a win for our region. That’s why the City of Marion is joined by the Linn County Board of Supervisors, City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County Conservation and many private donors in providing critical financial backing.
Marion also continues to soar through a variety of other community and commercial projects and plans:
The new Marion YMCA Fitness Center is slated to break ground in the spring of 2017. This will be the largest project to come out of the Imagin8 community visioning process, that began in 2009. The new facility is to be located off of Tower Terrace Road, and it will feature a full-service recreation area, with aquatics education and a variety of therapies.
Imaginart in the Alleys continues to pave the way, and once completed, it will bring much vitality and art to the Uptown Marion area. “This project symbolizes rebirth,” noted Nick Glew, President of MEDCO. Imaginart in the Alleys will transform the historic alleyways of Uptown Marion through a combination of infrastructure improvements and the installation of creative projects. This should be all ready to roll out to the public by the Fall of 2016.
The Central Corridor Reconstruction Project (the 7th Street and 7th Avenue Roundabout) was about 25 percent completed as of Saturday, June 4. It is currently in Phase 2, which should last about 10 weeks if the weather is favorable. Planning for this reconstruction project began over a decade ago, and soon, Marion residents and visitors will be able to see the vision become a reality.
By the Fall of 2016, the 19th Hills Bank and Trust Co. location will open its doors at 3200 7th Avenue in Marion. This new facility is located right next to the new Marion Goodwill store, which opened to the public in early May 2016. Hills Bank and Trust Co. will still continue business in its current location (800 11th Street in Marion), but this expansion will allow the company to provide even better services to the soaring community of Marion. The location will feature drive-up banking, an ATM, as well as all full-service banking needs.
Another Road Brewing, Marion’s own local nano-micro brewery, will soon be moving locations in order to better host their booming business and returning customer base. The new brewery home will be on the corner of 9th Street and 6th Avenue in Marion, and it will allow Another Road Brewery to almost triple its capacity. Once settled into the new building, Another Road will not only feature their unique beer selections, but outdoor seating will be available, along with a kitchen … serving up delicious and hot hors d’oeuvres.
And last but certainly not least is the Marion Independent School District’s rebuilding of the Longfellow Elementary School. Construction on this new facility begins this summer, and should be all finished by the Summer of 2017 … ready to house students for the 2017-2018 school year. The new Longfellow building will hold kindergarten through second grade classrooms, administrative offices, a media center, kitchen, and gymnasium. A special ground-breaking ceremony for the Longfellow Elementary project will be held at the site (2900 8th Avenue in Marion), on Monday, June 27, at 6 p.m. (Some project information courtesy of MEDCO).