Work With John

Book Reading/Signing


John regularly speaks and signs his books at functions such as book club meetings, public library events, conventions, bookstore readings,  community gatherings and festivals.

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Rural Development


John accepts a limited number of speaking requests from rural communities in North Carolina that are looking to spur innovation and promote business growth through his propriety REV concept.     

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Homestead Gardening


As a certified Square Foot Gardening instructor, suburban homesteader and outdoorsman, John offers talks and demonstrations on sustainable home and community gardening.

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Award-Winning Author

With five published books and more than 100 articles online and in print, John is an acknowledged thought leader on topics relating to rural economic development and advocacy, homestead gardening and sustainable living.

No matter your zip code or birthdate, John's writing is relatable. Raised in rural Ohio and transplanted to North Carolina in 1995, he has developed a voice and style that blends the finest attributes of his native and adopted homes - authentic and adventurous with a splash of humor. 

His nonfiction titles include Secrets of Neighborhood Marketing, Breakfast At Midway: A Lean Marketing Journey, and Ben and the Art of Lawnmower Maintenance, along with his short fiction collections The Bug Jar and Other Stories and Ocean of Storms. His work has also been featured in numerous online and print publications, and his story, "Bandito," won the 2016 ACWC award for Best Adult Prose.

Book Reading/Signing

If you would like to have John speak and/or sign books at a function you are involved in, such as a book club meeting, public library event, convention, bookstore reading, community gathering or outdoor lifestyle festival, he would be pleased to accommodate you. 

Book events can be of flexible length, from 30 minutes to two hours, and can include audience Q&A.

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Rural Advocate

Rural economic developers face a myriad of challenges not shared by their urban and suburban counterparts.  A widely dispersed and generally low-skill workforce, limited broadband connectivity, poor access to health care, scarcity of start-up and small business funding and declining and aging populations are just a few of the unique issues rural developers grapple with on a daily basis. 

At the same time, rural communities are not all cut from the same cloth, and tactics that work well in one town might be ineffective or even disastrous in another.  

John B. Marek has spent the last 20 years developing and refining economic development strategies specific to rural and Micropolitan communities and putting them to the test across North Carolina's rural landscape. 

Over those 20 years, he has assisted communities in the creation of more than 1,500 jobs and nearly half a billion dollars in capital investment, while helping them maintain and enhance their own unique rural character.  

The Statesville Region, where John served as Director of Business Retention and Expansion from 2007 to 2016, was named Site Selection magazine's #1 Micropolitan for new and expanding industry four times during his tenure and was twice named to the publication's list of Top 10 Economic Development Organizations.

As Executive Director of the Anson Economic Development Partnership since 2016, he has built an economic development organization from the ground up and led an economic revitalization in one of the state's most distressed rural counties.

As a strong advocate for rural North Carolina and a widely acknowledged thought leader on rural economic policy, John's articles are considered "must read" by many in the development community and he is a popular speaker and meeting facilitator for local EDO boards, county commissions and town councils. 

Redefining Rural for a 21st Century Economy

John accepts a limited number of speaking requests from rural communities in North Carolina. 

The "Redefining Rural" half-hour presentation demonstrates how rural communities can spark innovation and promote business start-ups through a variety of creative methods, and explores strategies for funding and promoting entrepreneurship and small business. A longer-form presentation is also available and can be customized to community needs.   

If you have an interest in John speaking at your EDO board meeting, local government retreat or professional organization meeting, please click below and fill out the request form. 

John does not charge a speaking fee, but does request mileage reimbursement for engagements outside the Charlotte region. 

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Homestead Gardener

John and Janet Marek established their suburban homestead on a half-acre lot in the Wynfield Creek neighborhood of Huntersville, North Carolina in 1995, and have continued their pursuit of a simple, authentic life there ever since.  

In 2014, John became a certified Square Foot Gardening instructor and frequently offers talks and demonstrations on the subject. At Wynfield Creek, he maintains a homestead garden of Square Foot beds which produce bountiful crops of lettuce, carrots, beans, squash, tomatoes, strawberries, spinach, radishes and kale.

John is currently exploring opportunities to partner with nonprofit and faith-based organizations to launch a community/market garden in the Huntersville area in the spring of 2020.

Square Foot Gardening

 John currently accepts a limited number of speaking requests from garden clubs, home centers, and community groups in North Carolina. 

The one-hour seminar-style Square Foot Gardening program teaches the basics of the method pioneered by Mel Bartholomew. Learn how to grow more in less space, using less water and with less work.

John does not charge a speaking fee, but does request mileage reimbursement for engagements outside the Charlotte region. 

Book John As A Speaker