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Uptown Marion Adds Growth

MARION, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) - Marion says it's seeing plenty of growth just a year after its Uptown area joined the Iowa Main Street District.
City leaders are contributing Uptown Marion's success to natives who wanted to restore what was missing in their community.

"Main street districts are usually the cores of a community," Uptown Program Director Nick Glew said.

Glew said the city struggled with different attempts to grow uptown but could never figure out what worked or didn't work.

The city then provided support to improve both old and new businesses.

"This is what made Marion what it is," Glew said referencing the Uptown district.

CBS2 talked with two owners who said they couldn't imagine the amount of traffic coming into their new stores now a few months ago when they opened.

Candy Mullen has seen running grow by leaps and bounds.

"It's been a friendly community for runners," Mullen said.

She knew there was a need for a place where joggers could grab new shoes on the go.

"I think it's key that we know each other," she said. "That we shop in each others stores."

She opened up a new location of the already popular running store, Running Wild in April.

"We have a lot of different tools that we can use to make sure we can get you in that right show the first time."

At Running Wild, they believe in finding the right fit that Mullen said provides an experience that's personable and has helped them bring in the bucks.

But Mullen isn't the only one finding her new business booming.

Just down the street, Mullen's neighbors have seen their own success story since they open in February.

"We've really become that community gathering spot," Louie's Scoreboard Owner Ryan Luehrsmann.

Luehrsmann said they wanted to create an atmosphere where families could go before or after games.

"They'd have fish fries on Friday and crowds of people," he said after talking about an older bar they used as a reference for their new business.

At Louie's, there's a mix of both high school and college to help the community take a trip down memory lane; something both owners and the city wanted to restore.

"Often you intentionally judge a book by it's cover," Glew said. "We feel pretty excited that we're gonna be able to offer a pretty dynamic setting uncovered to showcase who we are as an uptown community."

The growth is reaching new heights.

Uptown Marion was designed to create more jobs, restore downtown's history and put money back into the community.

Looking back on last year, according to its latest economic impact report, the district has sold six buildings, added 30 new jobs and have seen 5 new businesses, re-locations or expansions within the district. The district has also started 16 new building rehabilitation projects.

In all, more than $4.5-million have been invested into the area during the fiscal year.

Glew said they plan to continue to recruit new businesses and restore uptown's history.

Glew also said they received a $1.2 million grant to help with facade improvements that will restore and improve the exterior of buildings.

Mullen and Luehrsmann said they are both excited to be a part of Uptown Marion and to see the community grow together in the coming years.

"Everybody comes together here and I think it works really well," Mullen said.

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