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A Community Promise to Marion
by Sarah Olberding Editor · March 16th, 2017

Last Wednesday, March 8, Marion Economic Development Corp. (MEDCO) hosted its annual luncheon at the Cedar Rapids Marriott. MEDCO President Nick Glew spoke on a number of topics, both from last year and what the Marion Community will expect to see in 2017. However, one of the most important messages was the support of growth and retention as the number-one priority.

MEDCO introduced a new project, a new promise to keep young talent in the Marion community. The Community Promise is a program that will teach and invest in students in Marion who want to develop required skills in a certain career. It will then connect the students with companies in Marion, which will then turn into potential job opportunities within the community.

This program includes five steps and will start when the students are in middle school. It will continue until high school graduation. According to a news release from MEDCO, "It (Community Promise) is a unique tool that invests in students who are the future workforce and future leaders of our community."

The first step is exposure. This starts in middle school where MEDCO will expose students to unique industries and careers and will include having the parents or guardians involved in the exploration. This phase includes guest speakers, career fairs, and an expansion of MEDCO's current Career Explorers Club program with Vernon Middle School. MEDCO President Nick Glew explained that this step will aid in promoting jobs that lead to a desired life here in Marion.

Phase Two is experience and will take place during the student's beginning years of high school. This phase will include field trips, job shadows, and guest speakers. In junior and senior years, the students will participate in Step Three, pursuit. Glew stated that this is where a connection is made with the student and the job profile, which will, in turn, create a custom academic plan for the student.

The investment phase occurs during the student's senior year in high school, when "some employers may choose to advance students into formal apprenticeship programs or support student enrollment into unique career academies and certification programs ..." offered at a local college or university. []

Not only will this step connect the student with a potential long-term employment relationship with businesses in Marion, it will also outline a financial plan for the training required.

Last, but certainly not least, is the most important part of the Community Promise to keep talent in Marion. Part of the fourth step of pursuit, is a contract between the business, student, and MEDCO. According to the website, " partners agree to fund a portion of the final certifications or courses needed for an employee to be fully trained for a specific role in their company."

After a student is contracted with the business, grants are available for the student in support of the transition from school to the business. MEDCO stated that the grants would be up to $4,000 per student, and those grants will potentially be reimbursed to MEDCO if the student decides to choose a different career path and location of work.

At the luncheon, MEDCO made the first donation to the Community Promise pursuit grants, amounting to $50,000.

To learn more about the Community Promise program, visit or attend MEDCO's upcoming event held from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 30, at ESCO Group, 3450 3rd St. Marion, IA 52302

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