Marion, Ohio, has an illustrious past, a vibrant present, and a promising future; and, stories that need to be told. This is the premise behind a new, far-reaching, community-wide effort known as MarionMade! -- designed to encourage residents to look at Marion with fresh eyes.
“We have many good people looking at solutions and positive ways of viewing our community. MarionMade! is all about communicating the things we can take pride in about Marion, Ohio,” said Marion Community Foundation’s president and CEO Dean Jacob. Marion Community Foundation is the sponsor and driving force behind MarionMade!
“MarionMade! will recognize our history and traditions, but, more importantly, it will tell the great stories of Marion’s present and look forward to the future,” said Jacob. “Marion has an amazing past and an amazing present. We just have to reacquaint ourselves, or be introduced for the first time.”
MarionMade! is the brainchild of Marion native Bryan Haviland. As president of the communications firm Frazier-Heiby, Haviland was engaged by Marion’s economic development office, CANDO!, late last year to develop a compelling claim for marketing Marion to business and industry. The study, paid for by a grant from Marion Community Foundation, did that and more.
After numerous local interviews and extensive research, the team at Fraizer-Heiby came back to CANDO! with a recommendation to position Marion as the “Workforce Development Capital of America.” The firm recognized Marion’s manufacturing heritage and its current wealth of educational resources. That, according to Haviland, puts the community in a unique position to attract businesses with the ability to provide them with a vital asset – a workforce custom trained to meet their specific needs.
Fraizer-Heiby, at Marion Community Foundation’s request, also addressed the need to reawaken pride in the Marion community.
“Being born and raised in Marion, this was a labor of love for Bryan,” said Jacob. “With both campaigns, we feel Bryan hit the nail on the head.”
The community pride effort revolves around the theme of all things that are MarionMade, including people, places, locally made products, and many programs and services offered in Marion.
“Marion really does have it all,” said Jacob, citing things like industry, advanced manufacturing, thriving small businesses, affordable and varied housing, recreation, entertainment, major health care providers, educational opportunities across the spectrum, historical sites, the arts, and generous people.
Some of the people to be profiled over the coming months include President Warren G. Harding, Miss America Marilyn Meseke, politician Norman Thomas, sports legend Jim Thorpe, among historical figures, as well as current notables. Product features will tell the story of Whirlpool dryers, Wilson-Bohannon locks, Silverline windows, and a great number of others. Places will include favorites like the Palace Theatre, Harding Home and Memorial, Marion Union Station, the Tallgrass Trail, and a multitude of local restaurants, parks, and churches. Programs are the activities of people and organizations like Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Job and Family Services, as well as entertainment offerings at schools, the Marion Palace Theatre, and so forth.
“You’ll find that we have many jewels in our crown,” said Jacob. “The more we begin to recognize these jewels, the better we will feel about ourselves and our community. This creates a feeling of attachment to Marion, which leads, invariably, to greater prosperity.”
Jacob emphasized that MarionMade! is a community wide effort. “We have business owners and individuals all over Marion County who have become partners in this effort to spread good news about Marion,” he said. “People have been great and very generous about becoming part of MarionMade! and showing pride in Marion, Ohio.”
MarionMade! has an 18-member leadership advisory board which, in addition to Jacob, includes: Gary Branson, Phyllis Butterworth, Dave Claborn, Kate Fisher, Scot Gray, B.J. Gruber, Pam Hall, Mark Holbrook, Jenni Hypes, Beth Meadows, Ellen Messenger, Julie Prettyman, Gary Sims, Lori S. Stevenson, Nissa Stump, Tom Toney, and Amber Wertman.
MarionMade! will focus on telling the story of Marion, past and present, through traditional and social media and MarionMade!’s website – www.marionmade.org. The effort is organized into six communications hubs, each of which has volunteers to gather and prepare stories. These hubs include: Love INC providing news on faith-based organizations, Marion Area Chamber of Commerce covering business and industry, Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau covering tourism and history, Downtown Marion Inc. coordinating downtown merchants, retail, and service club news, United Way monitoring nonprofit and school activities, and the Marion Public Library covering city, county, village and township government activities. Each hub seeks to feature Marion people, places, products or programs each month. The stories—a new one nearly every day—will be shared on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, all of which have MarionMade! accounts or pages, as well as on MarionMade!’s website. The social media accounts are being managed locally by Redbrick Social Media, and the website by Marion Community Foundation.
The website was created by the local web design firm Neighborhood Image. The front page of the website will include a video about MarionMade! created by Lori Stevenson of Marion Community Foundation, Dave Claborn, Wayne Rowe, and Amana Dejonge of Ohio State Marion, and Ellen Messenger of Tri-Rivers Career Center. The video includes beautiful aerial views and scenes of Marion shot by local videographers Mark and Hayden Yannitell, David Bell, and Brian Liles. Numerous stories of Marion’s history and historical figures, alongside modern stories of family businesses and “virtually everything” Marion will be found on the website, said Stevenson.
Individuals and businesses are able to join in the effort and show pride by displaying a MarionMade! yard sign or vinyl car and window decals, printed in Marion by Storad Label.
The first public appearance of the MarionMade! logo was January 1 when the first baby of the year, Preston Carter Osborne, was wrapped in a MarionMade! blanket. OhioHealth is providing all new babies born this year at Marion General Hospital with a super soft blanket with the MarionMade! logo to celebrate their joining the community.
“OhioHealth in Marion is proud to be an early adopter of the MarionMade! brand. We have done a lot of work this year to make our commitment to the Marion community known. We are proud to be a key player in many great initiatives that are happening. Marion is on the map as an example of positive movement and change – it’s exciting to be a part of that,” said Bruce Hagen, president of OhioHealth Marion General Hospital.
MarionMade!, according to Jacob, will be a long-term effort. “We envision MarionMade! lasting for the next 5-10 years,” he said. “By that time, no one will need convincing of how vibrant our community is.”
A $54,000 grant from Marion Community Foundation is funding the MarionMade! effort in 2017. Special events, like the Celebrate Marion Gala being planned for June 3 at the Marion Palace Theatre, will help financially support MarionMade! in the coming years.