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Marathon Man: The Driving Force Behind a Community Revival

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This story appears in the September 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Barry Walker acquired the long-abandoned Marathon Motor Works auto factory for $52,000 in 1986, most people around Nashville, Tenn., thought he was throwing good money after bad.

Truth be told, "bad" barely begins to convey the fate that befell the site in the decades after the final touring cars and rumble-seat roadsters rolled off Marathon's assembly line in 1914. Not only was the factory crumbling to dust after years of neglect, but its surrounding downtown neighborhood was a no man's land plagued by poverty, violent crime and drug abuse.

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