MARION — With 2019 drawing to a close, Marion Economic Development Corp. President Nick Glew is taking time to reflect on all the accomplishments the year brought in Marion.
Glew, who has served as MEDCO president for six years, recently discussed with The Gazette the long-term projects that are coming to fruition in the growing city. Looking ahead to the new year, he also talked about the development group’s 2020 legislative priorities.
Q: Many areas of Marion have been under construction for several years now. With projects like the Central Corridor wrapping up, what opportunities are there for economic development?
A: I’ve said to a lot of people here throughout 2019 that as you drive through Marion in all corners you see a lot of construction activity. I truly believe we’re just getting started. The past decade of this community has been spent doing planning activities, the Marion Enterprise Center (a 184-acre business park on the east side of Marion near Highway 13 and along Highway 151), years and years of planning along our Central Corridor project, and by the end of next year, Sixth Avenue will be completed, and we’re working with development partners to see what will play out along there in a year or two to come.
On Tower Terrace Road, Marion has been a leader in construction, but really we’re just getting started as far as development opportunities. This year we broke ground on a new YMCA and a new fire station headquarters. Those will be seeds that continue to drive new investment in the years to come.
Q: Prospect Meadows had a phenomenal first season, hosting over 300 games, 450 traveling teams from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and 2,500 hours of volunteer time. It also won two postseason awards: The Community Improvement Award sponsored by The Gazette and the Community Impact Award from the Marion Chamber of Commerce and Marion Times. How does the success of year one play into the vision for Prospect Meadows’ second season?
A: This is a project that will continue to make our community not just an average town of 41,000 people, but a destination community for people experiencing sports tourism all across the country.
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This first year, people were standing on the sideline and seeing what this increased amount of activity and traffic and hotel stays looked like. I think people are going to engage in the second season with a high amount of excitement knowing what this project is going to do for our community.
We’re awaiting a groundbreaking for a second hotel at Squaw Creek Crossing. I’m confident in the next 18 months that development is going to be fully built out. That’s all driven by not just community growth but this new infusion of out-of-town guests looking for places to eat, stay and amenities to experience when they’re in our community.
Q: What are MEDCO’s priorities this upcoming legislative session?
A: Big picture, we just want to make sure the state of Iowa is the best place companies can make investments. From an economic standpoint, oftentimes there’s misperceptions about economic development tools, whether it be tax increment financing, a multitude of tax credits out there from workforce housing tax credits, brownfield and grayfield tax credits, and programs we can leverage for workplace training. While it’s our responsibility as economic developers to make sure we’re using those tools responsibly, one of our priorities is making sure the Legislature knows how important those tools are to retaining and attracting business.
Workforce is an issue that will hold our economy back. Throughout 2019, I had meetings with business owners who said the economy is strong, our customers are doing great, I could add another shift and start growing my company, but I can’t because I don’t have people to fill those jobs.
We’re talking with the Legislature about ways to roll out the red carpet for new people who might consider moving to Iowa, and at the federal level, we need to do all we can to talk about ways we can address legal immigration.
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