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Since becoming a Main Street Iowa community in 2013, the Uptown Marion District has seen significant economic growth. In just over two years, the District has seen $20M in private investments through building acquisitions, rehabilitations and new constructions projects; $855K in state grants to rehabilitate historic buildings; $350K in an ArtPlace America grant to transform the underutilized alleys behind some of our prominent buildings; 89 business starts and expansions; and 10K volunteer hours to assist in planning and implementing projects and activities.

FY 2019 Accomplishments
  • New Businesses in Uptown 12 (3 Restaurants, 7 Service, 2 Retail)
  • Added 77 new heroes banners totaling 128 banners ($6,250 raised for veteran services)
  • Received 3 awards at the Annual MSI Awards
    • Best Beautification Project – Veteran Banners
    • Leadership Award – Scott Swenson, SBDC
    • $20M Benchmark Community Award
  • 5 Businesses Pitched business growth ideas at the local Open 4 Business Competition – Roots in Bloom made it to the second round at the state competition
  • Volunteer Hours 1,068, Total Value of $27,159
  • Sold out of tickets at Eat. Drink. & Be Marion raising over $11K
  • Secured a $75,000 Challenge Grant for the restoration of the Owen Building
  • Met with 29 prospective businesses
  • Locally administered 5 grants totaling $3,053 for business improvement initiatives
  • Created a Virtual Reality History Tour of the Uptown District in conjunction with the Marion Public Library
  • Completed a 2 part community wide survey to direct future initiatives as part of the Market Study MSI Program
  • Participated in the 2019 Community Exchange Program with Mount Vernon
  • Worked with the City of Marion on a number of projects including the removal of obsolete signage in the Uptown Area
  • Hosted 10 events (Progressively Uptown, Real Estate Showcase, Volunteer Night, Ladies Day Out, Pub Crawl, Fall Fest, Chocolate Walk, Small Business Saturday, Peppermint Walk, Holiday Open House) and collaborated on 8 community events/activities
2019 District Projects

Uptown Artway Programming & Events

CMarion was awarded a $350K ArtPlace America Grant to transform the alley into a public space, focused on placemaking. This wildly successful area of the district has seen significant economic growth and increased night life and activities. Uptown continues to promote this community asset and utilizes the space for community events.

2018 Challenge Grant

In 2018, Uptown Marion was awarded a $75K Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant for the Owen Building that formerly housed the Maid-Rite Restaurant. Uptown is working with the new building owner on facade rehabilitations and storefront improvements.

Market Study & Strategies Program

In 2019, Uptown Marion completed the Main Street Iowa Market Study & Strategies Program. This program was a combination of market analysis, community/business survey, and community visioning. The end result and final plan can be seen here.

Library Project

To-date, a facility needs assessment and a cost benefit site analysis have been complete, as well as several community visioning sessions. The library plans to be constructed on the current library parking lot block. Uptown is working closely with the Marion Library (one of the districts most visited sites) to understand the needs/wants of the community and a new building that fits with the historic aesthetics of the district.

Uptown Streetscape Improvements

Uptown is working with the City of Marion on the Central Corridor Plan. The project is part of a long term traffic management plan to balance traffic, increase safety and create a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere in Uptown. Plans are being prepared for a reconstruction of 7th Avenue to allow for more pedestrian areas, additional parking, and better streets/sidewalks.

Uptown Heroes Banner Program

For the second year, Uptown Marion Main Street, the City of Marion, and Marion Chamber of Commerce invite residents to recognize and honor those who are serving or have served in the United States Armed Forces through sponsorship of streetlight banners in the community. The program was recently recognized as 2018’s Best Beautification Project in the state at the Main Street Iowa Awards.

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