Jill Hanna, 33, Marion
President @ Marion Chamber of Commerce
Jill Hanna is living proof of Marion’s slogan: “You can go home again.”
After attending the University of Iowa and working as a store director for Target for 10 years, Jill returned to her hometown in 2007 to take her current position with the Marion Chamber of Commerce and be closer to family.
One of the first things Jill noticed was that Marion hadn’t really changed much over the last 30 years. While some may appreciate this for its nostalgia, Jill was concerned that Marion wasn’t keeping up with surrounding communities.
“I have a lot of passion for Marion as a community,” Jill says. “When you look at towns like Hiawatha, North Liberty and Coralville, Marion has some catching up to do.”
Enter Imagine8. A grass-roots effort, Imagine8 is a community visioning process launched in January to answer the question “Where do we go from here?” and develop eight ideas to enhance Marion as a better place to live, work and play.
Jill emphasizes the importance of this vision encompassing the whole community.
“It can’t just be six or seven people,” she says. “It has to come from everyone.”
In August committees will begin to come up with strategies and funding plans to make each of these ideas become a reality.
Each of the eight selected ideas focuses on a way to make Marion a more functional and fun place to live.
For example, “Marion CAN!” (CAN stands for Community Activation Network) is aimed at helping both new and existing citizens connect with the community.
“I really like it because it has so many different components,” Jill says. These components include a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities, new signage to accent sites of historical significance and a tool kit to aid residents in planning community events like block parties or garage sales.
Another idea, “Park it,” could involve partially enclosing the depot in the City Park.
“We have four seasons here and the winter one seems to last a long time,” Jill says.
The enclosed portion of the depot would serve as a multiuse space for events, performing arts and a welcome center. Building an amphitheater and expanding green space are also part of the “Park it” idea.
Though she’s passionate about Imagine8, Jill’s job involves a lot more.
“It’s different every day,” she says. “Everything we do is kind of made from scratch.”
Jill says she uses a lot of what she learned about management at Target to assist Marion’s small business owners, which account for 95 percent of Marion’s businesses, and other chamber members.
One of her favorite job perks?
“It gives me an excuse to shop,” says Jill. The stores in uptown Marion are great, she says. “And I’m supporting our membership.”
DID YOU KNOW?
If Jill isn’t working she’s spending time with her family. She and her husband have four children and they enjoy having extended family in Marion as well.
WHAT SHE CAN DO FOR YOU:
Want to get involved in Imagine8 or just know where to go and what to do in Marion? Jill is your connection for all things Marion.