City of Marion, Iowa Named Community of the Year by Community Playmaker

Industry: Travel & Leisure

Media Platform Highlighting American Communities and Civic Leaders Celebrates 2023 Award-Winning City

Clearwater, FL (PRUnderground) January 23rd, 2024

Community Playmaker, a media platform designed to provide news, features, and trends that highlight American communities and civic leaders,” names the city of Marion, Iowa as their Community of the Year for 2023. The city of 41,864 residents beat out nearly 100 small, midsize, and large communities that entered the nationwide contest to earn this honor.

The Community of the Year Award is a celebration of cities and the visionary leaders that spark progress. It’s about innovative programs and initiatives that drive economic development, promote community engagement, provide places for residents to work and play, support public safety, amplify the arts and culture, and build open, inclusive, high-quality environments for all citizens.

Communities from around the country submitted entries for the Community of the Year Award. The size of communities ranged from towns with a little more than 1,000 residents to some of America’s largest and most well-known cities, and everything in between.

A panel of experts reviewed each entry with several criteria in mind, including the scope of the “quality-of-life” projects that were launched and the impact of each project, among other items. While we received many tremendous and inspiring entries, one stood above the rest.

“Marion is a great example of what can happen when a community, both its leaders and citizens, cast a vision for a tremendous quality of life for everyone. And the power is not just in the vision, it’s also in the determination Marion leaders showed driving these projects through to completion,” said Ashley Whittaker, editor-in-chief of Community Playmaker. “Through initiatives as diverse as their partnership to build a state-of-the-art YMCA to converting unused alleyways into accessible arts and entertainment space, we are inspired by the work they’ve done and continue to do.”

In 2007, city and business leaders in Marion embarked on a bold path toward enhancing their city. It started with polling residents for their thoughts on how to make Marion a better place. Their responses and conversations in community brainstorming sessions helped civic leaders develop a list of projects that met the needs of the community.

Once ideas were further refined, funding and partnerships were sought for a variety of projects that shape Marion today. These include:

  • A new 75,000-square-foot recreation facility in partnership with the YMCA
  • Uptown Artway- an unused, dumpster-filled back alleyway that was converted into a concert and art venue
  • A state-of-the-art library, which includes a recording studio, teen area, art studio, demonstration kitchen, quilting machine, and 3D printer.

“It is a great honor for our city to be named, ‘Community of the Year,’” said Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly. “We are grateful for the recognition as it places Marion on a national stage and endorses our focus on serving residents and giving them the best opportunities for an unequaled quality of life. Marion’s success is hard-earned by an energized team that works together and engages the entire community in moving the city forward.”

Check out our January edition of Community Playmaker (launching today) to learn more about Marion’s incredible story. And subscribe to our weekly newsletter at, for announcements about our 2024 Community of the Year, stories about cities throughout the United States, and information about our upcoming Summits.

About Community Playmaker Magazine

Community Playmaker is a platform dedicated to providing ideas and solutions for visionary community leaders, AKA “Playmakers”. These are the mayors, city council members, city/county administrators, and their teams who use their time, talent, and resources to do great things in their community. Public service is hard. Being a Playmaker is even harder. Each week, Community Playmaker provides stories from around the country highlighting how communities addressed a variety of issues from affordable housing to climate change to economic development. To learn more about Community Playmaker, subscribe to their weekly newsletter, or attend an upcoming Summit, visit

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