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Chamber, Business Owners Pitch Marion in Des Moines

Today, the Marion Chamber of Commerce as well as several business owners and community leaders, will be fighting for Marion to receive the Main Street Iowa designation.

Marion businesswoman Gae Sharp-Richardson gave me the chances of Marion winning the Iowa Main Street designation: 100 percent.

"I am a positive person and I think our chances are good," she said.

The Iowa Main Street Program, as we have previously reported, is a program from the National Trust for Historic Preservation that combines economic development with historic preservation. 

Jill Ackerman, president of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, said that this offers  a new forum of cooperation between business owners and city officials. This represents a concerted effort to revamp and retain the historic aspects the main street, Seventh Avenue. It also allows Marion to utilize resources from The National Trust, which has designers and architects on staff.

Earlier today, a team comprised of business owners, community members and chamber staff pitched Marion to be one of the next Iowa Main Street communities to officials from the National Trust in Des Moines.

Sharp-Richardson, the owner of  and Happenstance on Seventh, says to steal the show, they are going to make a puzzle out of the mosaic that currently stands in the and will put it together during the Power Point presentation.

She said she will be giving a short speech.

"I will be talking about the historic uptown and educating everyone abut the [Iowa] Main Street Program, part of the history and how Marion has grown," Sharp-Richardson said.

Ackerman’s pitch:

"I think that Marion has a track record of success," she said. "We have been successful in winning grants through the great places initiative. We have had 14 new business in the new main street boundries in the last three years, which is a very large number, especially with the economy."

Best yet, Marion faces competition from only four communities: Jefferson, Lansing, Keosauqua and Sherrill.

Sharp-Richardson said four out of the five presenters will get the designation. 

That’s a 80 percent chance, by my calculations.

We’ll check back in with them next week to hear how it went.

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