Economic development director hired

Marion employs former hardware store manager

Staff writer

The City of Marion has hired an economic development director — Roger Holter of Topeka.

Holter currently works as the general manager of Lowe’s Hardware stores in the Topeka area. City Administrator Doug Kjellin said Holter has about 30 years of experience in the business world, at least 25 years based in retail.

“A full understanding of the retail environment, for our current makeup of businesses, is what we need,” Kjellin said.

Kjellin was the last full-time economic development director for Marion before taking the city administrator position in 2010 and taking on the economic development duties part time.

Although Holter does not have any previous experience as an economic development director, Kjellin believes his business experience will be vital for Marion. Along with a comfort in retail, Holter also has experience with warehousing and wholesaling.

Holter will have an established base of business contacts and relationships with economic development representatives at conferences. Kjellin said Holter’s stability, having worked the majority of his career at Lowe’s, is a point of confidence for Marion business owners.

“We need that individual that can communicate well with a strata of individuals,” Kjellin said. “It’s easier to bring experience to a younger environment.”

Holter has experience with Marion. He has a home at Marion County Lake. Kjellin said Holter’s adjustment, moving from Topeka and from a corporate behemoth, would not be much different from any one taking on a new job. The difference of course is that Holter has experience in other areas.

The starting salary for the position is $32,000 a year. Holter will start June 3, but might be available for the May 28 city council meeting.

While it was not the primary reason for the hire, Kjellin said Holter might have the ability to recruit a hardware store to Marion.

“If there was an individual that did have a base of knowledge for hardware, it’s just gravy,” Kjellin said.

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