The Grant County Economic Growth Council presented two projects designed to provide a positive narrative about life in Marion that reverberates throughout the county.
Mikayla Marazzi, marketing committee member with the growth council, presented Project Front Door at the council’s meeting Tuesday morning. The project would bridge the gap between new residents or business owners in the county and resources that may be helpful to them, according to Marazzi.
Marazzi said this would be accomplished through virtual front doors, which would be portals on the corresponding city’s website leading users to websites for local school systems, public library, event calendar and job listings. She said the project may be most effective if each community had its own portals posted to their website to connect new residents to resources close to home.
Marazzi said connecting potential business owners to local groups, like the Growth Council and the Chamber of Commerce, would also be possible through the online portals.
“Part of why I really want to do this is because I think it’s really important to create a positive narrative for our community, so we can begin that with our new residents who move into our community,” Marazzi said. “We can bring them right to things that are happening in their area and give them something to be proud of, something to participate in. We think that will have a huge effect in our community as a whole.”
Tim Eckerle, head of the Growth Council, said a possible obstacle with the initiative may be in the distribution of the availability of these portals to newcomers. He said the idea was generated from data gathered from the Grant for Grads surveys, which reflected that the area “lacked connectivity.”
The council is currently planning on utilizing local utility companies to make the information known to customers in the county, and members discussed the possibility of distributing the information about these portals by using local realtors. Eckerle said locals get “caught up in the negative narrative about living here,” if they don’t get connected with the right people when coming to Grant County.
“One of the things we found when we did our commuter survey is that there is a narrative in the community, and some people are running into a positive narrative in the community and with the people they interact with, and other are running into a very negative one,” Eckerle said. “The negative one tends to not be fact-based and has and exaggerates minor things.”
Marazzi said the Growth Council recently connected with local vendors who created merchandise representing Marion and Grant County with the idea that local promotional items may create a positive outlook on the community as well.
Victoria Herring, director of business development and operations for the Growth Council, also presented The Charm Grant during the Tuesday morning meeting. The Charm Grant is an idea for a quarterly grant that offers an incentive to local business owners to refinish their storefronts to add new life to downtown areas.
The grant would match up to $1,000 of funds that business owners spent on remodeling their storefronts. While Herring said they weren’t sure on the details of the grant yet, such as how they would choose one business each quarter, they opened up the idea for discussion among other member