MarionMade!– the community pride program that encourages all local residents to appreciate the people, places, products, and programs that make Marion unique–has , as of February 14, passed its second birthday. In that amount of time, volunteers have contributed 254 stories, covering all facets of community life in Marion County.
“If you live, grew up, work, or even just moved here, you are MarionMade!” said Dean Jacob, president and CEO of Marion Community Foundation, the organizational home of MarionMade! “MarionMade! started as a communications initiative to promote good news about Marion, Ohio, but it’s more than that,” he said. “It’s a way to love where you live, to develop relationships, and to invest in the area by doing something good for the communities all across the county.”
The people behind MarionMade! include a leadership advisory board and a program manager, Vicky Branson, at Marion Community Foundation, as well as a large and loyal following of volunteers. Community organizations which have supported MarionMade! since its inception include the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Marion Public Library, Downtown Marion, Inc., Marion CANDO!, Love, Inc., OhioHealth, United Way of Marion County, and Marion Community Foundation, among others.
“MarionMade! recognizes our amazing past, but is focused on the present and future of our lively and remarkable community,” said Branson. “MarionMade! was started with the goal of increasing community pride by sharing a wide variety of positive stories about Marion. We wanted to get the message out that the greater Marion area is a rebounded and vibrant community; that it’s a positive place to live, work, play, and visit. I hope we have done a good job of getting the word out.”
A large number of people appear to be listening to those messages. In its first two years, MarionMade’s social media presence has exceeded 5,000 followers on Facebook, 1,400 on Instagram, 500 on Twitter, and growing audiences on LinkedIn and Pinterest. That is in addition to more than 21,000 visits to the marionmade.org website.
It’s no wonder the creative originator of MarionMade!, Bryan Haviland, president of communications firm FrazierHeiby, entered the initiative in the Public Relations Society of America’s Prism Awards in 2017, and won. MarionMade! is Haviland’s brainchild and gift to his hometown. As president of the communications firm FrazierHeiby, he was engaged by Marion’s economic development office, CANDO!, in late 2016 to develop a compelling claim for marketing Marion to business and industry. The study was paid by a grant from Marion Community Foundation. At the Foundation’s request, FraizerHeiby also addressed the need to reawaken pride in the Marion community. Haviland will be a featured speaker at the 2019 Celebrate Marion Gala on June 1. This annual gala at the Palace Theatre celebrates the best of Marion by featuring MarionMade! entertainers and honorees.
“We continuously encourage businesses and organizations to become part of the MarionMade! movement,” said Branson. “It’s a way of showing both community pride and unity. It shows we’re all on the same team.”
To date, more than 100 local organizations and sponsors have joined the effort, assisting MarionMade! in sharing stories of local industry, advanced manufacturing, thriving small businesses, recreation, entertainment, educational opportunities across the spectrum, historical sites, the arts, and generous people. According to Jacob, such stories enable people to rediscover Marion or discover it for the first time.
Those who join the effort receive updates about positive happenings throughout the county via an electronic newsletter. The website also offers a multitude of suggestions which people and organizations can use to contribute to the MarionMade! effort. Some of the recommendations include creating and promoting messaging that supports Marion, sharing positive news about Marion with current and former residents, getting to know the community–restaurants, businesses, recreation, etc.–and sharing that knowledge with others, and using the MarionMade! logo in business communications and at community events to generate awareness, pride, and unity.
“Those who participate in MarionMade! do so for the cause, not the applause,” said Jacob. “We operate under the philosophy that a ‘rising tide lifts all ships’ and what’s good for the community is good for all of us. If we can promote a sense of togetherness and pride among Marionites, then we are making a positive impact through MarionMade! ”
Further information on MarionMade!, including hundreds of local stories, can be found on its website – www.marionmade.org – and social media. Individuals and businesses are able to join in the effort and show pride by displaying MarionMade! window decals or MarionMade! buttons and by submitting or recommending stories about Marion, Ohio.