After six years of service to the Marion community as director of the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mark Holbrook has announced his plans to retire at the end of January, 2022.
Holbrook was named executive director in January of 2016. During his tenure at the Visitors Bureau, the organization:
• Increased revenue generation an average of 9.7% annually.
• Developed the Cultural Corridor project to initiate Marion’s downtown revitalization.
• Increased marketing spending from 20.5% to 45.5% of the annual budget.
• Created the Cultural Corridor Walking Map to assist visitors in the downtown.
• Created the Eaterarian Trail to feature Marion’s unique dining locations.
• Upgraded web presence and social media impact.
• Helped to recruit a new hotel that will keep more visitors staying in Marion.
• Helped to found the Marion Community Coalition — a partnership between the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, Marion CanDo!, Downtown Marion Inc., and the Regional Planning is in the process of moving the Visitor Center and offices from its current location near U.S. 23 to the historic downtown.
Holbrook and his wife Melissa recently moved to Marengo, where they look forward to becoming more involved in community activities and local ministries.
“I have greatly enjoyed my time here in Marion. And I am grateful to have been here to watch this community rise up to meet challenges and create their own future. The courage they have shown to take responsibility for their community is the reason why it is growing and thriving today. And it is those attributes that help make Marion a great place to visit,” he said.
Current Visitors Bureau board chairperson Ellen Messenger said, “Mark’s love for history, background in television and radio, years with the Ohio History Connection, business acumen and his expertise in marketing helped to guide the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau to new heights.
“He has been a change agent. But, most of all his passion to tell Marion’s stories has drawn tourists to our area and helped our community to grow and be proud of our past and excited for our future. We thank him for his leadership and wish him the best in his new adventures.”
Bev Ford will become the new director at the CVB.
Upon Holbrook’s announcement of his coming retirement, the Visitors Bureau executive board began the process of seeking a replacement. A local candidate with the experience and skills became available when Ford announced her retirement as director of the Marion Palace theatre.
Messenger said, “Bev is going to pick up where Mark left off. We have no doubt that it will be a smooth transition and that she will use her leadership abilities, marketing skills and connections to continue to grow and enhance the CVB much the way she grew the Palace with wise decisions, hard work, a strong vision and a heart for doing what is good for our community.”
The Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote the Marion area to potential visitors and assist local businesses and organizations in attracting business from outside the county.