MAIN STREET MARION RECAPS 2020
Although 2020 was an extremely challenging year, Main Street Marion was able to make forward progress in a number of ways, providing visible downtown improvements and setting the stage for more to come.
Main Street installed the remaining half of the Coretta Scott King Rose Garden, to match the first half created by the Garden Club last spring. The final plantings for this will be completed in early spring 2021. Located along the main entrance to the courthouse, it can be enjoyed by everyone entering the building, as well as those who would like to sit on the benches and enjoy the view.
The Main Street Marion Façade Improvement Program contributed several important changes to the downtown look in 2020. Several of the existing metal awnings were freshly painted early in the summer, including two at the corners of Washington St and Jefferson St, and in front of the Wilbourne Building (which is itself undergoing extensive renovation both inside and out). In the fall, the metal awning on the Mickleboro Building was exposed and painted. In partnership with United Flower Shop, a new canvas awning was completed on their building. Funding for the Façade Improvement Program is provided entirely through donations made to Main Street Marion. Watch for several other awning replacements that are planned for 2021!
The Wilbourne Building has undergone the successful completion of façade exposure and upgrades, as well as gaining an inside staircase to access the second floor. Second floor renovations are on track for completion by May of 2021, in time for the UA Honors College to use the space as their hub of operation during their planned 2021 visit to Marion. All of this work is being privately funded by Main Street Marion board members.
The downtown planters have received some much-needed refreshing through the summer and fall, including installation of new mulch which will continue in 2021. Short spurts of regular maintenance is now the key to keeping those plants healthy and beautiful, and is a goal for the year ahead.
Although COVID prevented many of the usual group events in Marion, Main Street was active with holiday events. Trunk or Treat was contactless this year, and downtown was festively decorated for Christmas with lighted store window displays around the square and a nicely decorated Christmas Tree Lane installed in the Pocket Park next to City Hall.
Promotion of our local businesses was a main focus in 2020 through improvements in our Facebook and website. By continuing to keep “Shopping Local” foremost in our minds, we all help to keep those shops thriving in Marion, as well as demonstrate why new businesses should locate here. Renovations are underway or planned in several buildings on the square, with new businesses planning to open in them in 2021.
Plans are underway to develop a driving tour of Marion/Perry County. This project will begin in January, in partnership with the UA History Department. Working with Main Street Marion and local groups, mapped highlight tours will be designed for key Civil Rights sites, antebellum architecture, and nature-based activities in the greater Marion area. This will be put into a brochure format and distributed around the state to promote our rich history and tourism opportunities.
Main Street Marion continues to work toward visible improvements in our town and to foster meaningful support for existing and new businesses in Marion. Achievement of our goals benefit everyone and help to provide better opportunities for us all. For more information on how you can be a part of this change, please contact us! Your help and your ideas can make a difference.