Located 35 miles east of Asheville NC on Interstate 40, Marion has a population of just under 10,000 full time residents, and is the county seat which serves nearly 50,000 permanent residents. Seasonal population numbers fluctuate throughout the year due to the area’s mild year around climate. The greatest increase occurs in the summer when seasonal residents take up residence at Lake James. Marion is one of 25 designated Micropolitan Areas in North Carolina and one of 536 in the United States, and was named one of the Top 100 Micropolitan Areas in the United States, in terms of economic growth, in 2014 by Site Selection magazine.
Marion offers well maintained and managed utilities including a $6 million dollar waste treatment upgrade in 2014, and is one of only two cities in NC to receive the State’s Optimization Award for Outstanding Performance of a Water Treatment Facility for 12 consecutive years.
In 2015, McDowell County invested $6.9 million to convert a former industrial site into the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Campus, a 50,000 square foot training facility with additional space to house new or expanding industries. With assistance provided by McDowell Community College, the campus offers customizable training programs for industries seeking to train their workforce in computer integrated machining, welding, electronics and electrical systems, industrial systems, HVAC and solar technologies, PLC, CNC, Robotics, or other specialized services.
Ideally situated for commercial freight, Marion is located on I-40, which provides direct access across the U.S. Secondary highways include US Route 221, NC Highway 226, and US Route 70. Both CSX and Norfolk Southern Railroads operate through Marion, and both Asheville Regional Airport and Charlotte International Airport are located within an hour and half drive.
Marion is consistently named one of North Carolina’s fastest growing towns and one of its best towns to retire. The area’s mild climate and access to abundant natural, cultural, and recreational resources makes it not only ideal for year round residency, it is quickly becoming an attractive location to both seasonal “Snowbird” and “Sunbird” residents.
The City of Marion has been experiencing significant commercial growth over the last year. Recent development figures show a 56% increase in commercial permit fees over the previous year, and a 6% increase in the number of new certificate of occupancies issued for commercial development. In addition to these figures, a $43 million hospital project recently broke ground on Sugar Hill Road, and two new industries have announced relocation or expansion to the community.