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Imagining what's next for Marion

The Marion Chamber of Commerce launched its ImagiNext campaign at its 80th annual meeting. (CBS2/FOX28){ }

The Marion Chamber of Commerce is launching a new initiative to help grow the community and they want your ideas.

Between now and January 15th the Chamber of is looking to get at least 3,000 ideas for community improvement through the ImagiNext campaign.

The effort is part of Marion’s bid to be designated as an Iowa Great Place, it is a designation that they have received in the past.

“This year we're allowed to apply for a five-year designation and community wide visioning is a requirement of that process,” says Jill Ackerman, President of the Chamber.

Nearly 10 years ago a similar effort generated ideas including the new Marion Library project and plans for a new YMCA.

“Last time we had a lot of infrastructure projects and so I don't know it just depends on what the people ask for," says Ackerman.

Des Moines-based Community Planner Zachary Mannheimer thinks development or "place building" should focus more on people than business.

“How do we incentivize people? That starts with what do people want in the community that doesn't already exist? also what do people want to participate in?” asks Mannheimer.

So how can Marion attract and maintain young talent? Mannheimer says community input is key.

"The more ownership you have from the community's perspective on the project the more successful it's going to be.”

Restoring and preserving old buildings and using existing spaces as cultural or social centers is a big draw.

Some ideas already submitted suggest creating a public art or performance space in the old Methodist Church building that is currently for sale.

If the city is successful in becoming an 'Iowa Great Place' those types of projects will become easier.

“You're in a much smaller pool of other designees that get to compete for those grant dollars and that really excites people and it makes those projects come to fruition,” says Ackerman.

You can submit your ideas online by following this link.

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