Development chief tells about 1st impressions

News editor

Roger Holter, Marion’s new economic development director, updated Marion Economic Development Inc. on his first two weeks on the job Tuesday.

There has been a lot of work familiarizing himself with the city’s economic development history. He has also been studying economic trends for rural areas, including the differences between successful and unsuccessful communities.

One area where successful and unsuccessful rural communities differ is in the percentage of the population composed of retirees. Successful communities had an average of 12.8 percent retirement, while unsuccessful ones had a 3.8 percent retirement rate.

Todd Heitschmidt said there is probably a point of diminishing returns, as Marion has more than 30 percent retirees.

Holter is surveying businesses and residents about their priorities for economic development. He said he plans to coordinate entrepreneurship training and an ambassador program for the city.

Holter said he thinks specialized agricultural processing is an opportunity for growth. He said he thought tax incentives could help attract businesses, but that incentives pale in comparison to a good labor market and ability to move products in and out of a location.

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