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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — “If you build it, they will come” found its way into several speeches Wednesday at the annual luncheon of the Marion Economic Development Corp.
Marion’s business and city leaders filled a large tent at Prospect Meadows, the baseball and softball facility on the eastern outskirts of the city, to talk about economic development successes. Given the location, the event included a seventh-inning stretch and a home run derby.
“We are grateful that despite all of the challenges, investors are still taking on projects in the community,” MEDCO President Nick Glew said.
MEDCO, he said, is involved with projects worth $125.9 million that will bring 244 jobs to the community. In the works is another $154.7 million in projects with 405 jobs, he said.
Cheri Monahan, MEDCO’s board chairwoman, said Marion’s economic development is “stronger than ever before.”
“Today, 191 local and regional businesses invest in MEDCO, a record, with 15 new investors joining already in 2022,” she said.
New MEDCO office
Steve Neighbor, who is the incoming MEDCO chairman, said the economic development group will be moving its offices this fall from City Hall to the new Broad and Main building going up on Seventh Avenue where the Marion Square Plaza strip mall once sat.
The office will be on the building’s second floor, overlooking Uptown Marion and City Square Park.
“This building will belong to our business community with a 30-person training facility, conference rooms and a coworking business space to support entrepreneurs,” Neighbor said.
“We are also exploring a new professional development program with Kirkwood to be offered here as well.”
The Prospect Meadows baseball and softball complex, which opened in May 2019 at Highway 13 and County Home Road, is similar to Dyersville’s Field of Dreams in that both sit next to farm fields.
To date, 1,869 teams from 22 states and Canada have played there. The facility hosted 1,164 local league games, with 246,082 people coming through the gates.
The games and tournaments have resulted in more than 20,000 hotel room nights, with a $22 million local economic impact.
Prospect Meadows General Manager Steve James said this weekend kicks off the facility’s 2022 tournament season, with 60 teams visiting from six states.
“We’re finally excited to have a day that feels like baseball,” James said Wednesday.
Speakers like City Manager Ryan Waller and Trees Forever CEO Kiley Miller touted the large projects Marion has completed in the past couple of years or will complete soon, such as the new Marion YMCA and public library and the Seventh Avenue streetscape.
They, along with Glew, also talked about the increase in multifamily housing in Marion and highlighted large apartment projects, like Broad and Main, which is to be completed this summer.
Broad and Main developer Mark Kittrell, CEO of Eagle View Partners, told the crowd he’d planned to retire a couple of years ago.
“But the contagious thing that is Marion caught us,” he said. “We’ve caught the Marion bug, and we’re excited to make the Uptown in Marion really special.”
Kittrell told The Gazette previously he also has an interest in redeveloping the old public library.
Miller, the Trees Forever CEO, used a basketball reference to describe Marion’s residential, commercial and population growth as a city in its “Jordan-era Bulls level.”
“Marion gained 20 percent growth in the 2010s,” he said. “Over the same period, 68 of Iowa’s 99 counties lost population. … As any Iowan knows, if you build it they will come.”
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