It’s a good time to be a Marionite.
While typically overshadowed by neighboring Cedar Rapids and Iowa City to the south, the Corridor’s third-largest city has been on a hot streak as of late, attracting thousands of new residents and nearly $150 million in development and investment over the past few years, according to Mayor Nick AbouAssaly, who highlighted Marion’s progress during his second State of the City address on Jan. 26.
Once a sleepy town known more for its schools and slow pace, Marion has gained a reputation as a great place to do business. The Chamber of Commerce welcomed 26 new and expanding businesses in 2016, while the Marion Economic Development Corp. (MEDCO) supported industrial and commercial projects creating or retaining more than 240 jobs. The city’s long-term Central Corridor infrastructure project has helped create attractive new gateways to the city, while new developments such as the $50 million 13 and 151 project proposed for the east edge of town promise to help grow the city’s commercial base. (Read our full recap of the speech here.)
Perhaps more importantly, the city’s business and cultural boom has ushered in a new confidence and pride among residents and officials, helping the city to reach Mr. AbouAssaly’s stated goal of “reaching higher.” The State of the City address was actually moved from Marion’s Longbranch hotel to the Cedar Rapids Marriott in an effort to accommodate the large number of registrations for the event, and the mayor spent a good portion of his remarks of highlighting the city’s newfound verve.
“Something is changing. Call it newfound optimism; call it increased confidence in Marion,” Mr. AbouAssaly said. “I see it, hear it and feel it everyday.”
We’re heartened to see the myriad of changes underway in Marion, as we believe that its continued development will only help the Corridor become the most attractive and diverse region in the state. We must continue to attract new residents and businesses to our region if we are to prosper in the decades to come. As one of the fastest growing cities in the state, attracting more than 2,800 new residents since 2010, Marion appears to be doing more than its share in accomplishing that goal.
We would also like to salute Mr. AbouAssaly for using his address to reinforce the importance of a collaborative approach to governance during a particularly polarizing time, telling attendees that “with today’s political environment, it’s more important than ever that we, here on a local level, work together.”
As ardent supporters of regionalism and free enterprise, we agree with the mayor that big things are possible if all stakeholders – government, citizens and business – can gather to debate the issues and find solutions. As Marion grows in its size and influence in the Corridor, we hope that the mayor’s message takes root, and sets the stage for even greater achievements ahead.