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Rachael Kinnick
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Recognizing Small

Posted on 04/26/2018 at 11:10 AM

Grinnell's small businesses are integral to making our community thrive and next week we'll be recognizing many of them as we celebrate National Small Business Week. Beginning April 29, small businesses across the country will be featured through the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Small Business Week. We want to recognize our small businesses for their ongoing dedication not only to their businesses and their customers, but to the community as well. For many decades, this week has highlighted the impact of amazing entrepreneurs, small business owners and their employees, and we are proud to celebrate our small businesses in Grinnell.

We also want to use Small Business Week as a reminder to look local first for all the goods and services that meet your everyday needs. Although not everything you need can be found in Grinnell, pledging to look local first is a way to directly give back to our community. Our small businesses play an important role in making Grinnell a wonderful place to live, learn, work, and play. 

Small businesses are critical to the economy and viability of communities. More than half of Americans own or work for a small business and those businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. every year through their innovation and growth. The SBA has several definitions of 'small', but generally speaking they reference businesses with less than 500 employees. Of course this means the majority of businesses in Grinnell qualify under this category so while a business of 75+ employees may feel large to us in a small community, we recognize them as a small business next week.  

As Small Business Week draws near, please remember to look local first and join me in saying THANK YOU to the small businesses that make Grinnell an incredible community!

Ready for Spring!

Posted on 04/23/2018 at 3:22 PM

It FINALLY feels like spring now and believe it or not we're only 17 days from the first day of the Grinnell Farmers Market! My guess is this late spring (since it finally decided to show up) will greatly inhibit our producers' ability to get things planted and therefore push the 'produce season' back a little, but we will most definitely still have vendors with product available the first week of market. The Grinnell Farmers Market will kick off May 10 and will take place at Central Park on Thursday afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. 

The market features a variety of product including produce, breads, meats, baked goods, eggs, crafts and much more. We are currently seeking additional vendors to participate in this year's market. If you might be interested in getting involved, or know someone who would, please take a look at our rules and sign-up here. We're also in the process of identifying musicians to play throughout the season -- if you know someone who might be interested, send us a note

Again this year, SNAP benefits and EBT transactions will be accepted at the market. Users will receive tokens for their transaction amount which can be redeemed with all vendors. We'll also feature our Grinnell Market Fresh program again this year, which debuted last season and offers a great and easy way to prepare dinner and support the market. You can find more information on these programs and other offerings throughout the season at

All Things Rural

Posted on 04/06/2018 at 12:31 PM

Wow, what a week! I've met myself coming and going with so many meetings, but it's been a great week to learn something new. Yesterday and today, Grinnell hosted the Iowa Rural Development Summit, an invitation-only event to communities under 20,000 population. We have 70 communities from across the state represented at this event, and have stayed in and explored our community. Occasionally we take things for granted in Grinnell, but I was reminded as I was having conversations with many of my colleagues how fortunate we are, and how our hard work has really paid dividends.  

The Summit has been a great chance to feature Grinnell, but also make connections and learn about unique ways we can partner on projects such as rural placemaking, housing initiatives and opportunities, broadband projects, cultivating rural leaders and so much more. 

Grinnell was also one of 18 communities to receive a Community Catalyst Grant for the Beyer Block downtown which was a result of taking action from the Grinnell Downtown Plan our office helped facilitate nearly two years ago. Along with our colleagues at the City and POW I80 (they did the heavy lifting on this one!), we celebrated this announcement and look forward to continuing to move this project forward.

I was also able to learn about many fantastic projects taking place in rural communities across the state of Iowa and personally look forward to taking in a baseball game in Bancroft and visiting a new brewery in Dyersville in the coming months. What a state we live in -- make sure you get out and take advantage of the great things happening in our own community but those across Iowa as well! 

--Rachael Kinnick

p.s. The weather may be chilly this week, but we're hosting a Sprint Triathlon and Mini Triathlon next week -- make sure you get signed up at

Give It a Tri

Posted on 04/02/2018 at 2:55 PM

Grinnell Games may look a little different to many of you this year. After listening to much community feedback and weighing all sorts of options, we have made the decision to split the events over the course of a few different weekends, and we're kicking things off on Saturday, April 14 with the Sprint Triathlon, a Grinnell Games event which will be USA Triathlon sanctioned. We're hoping to more than double our numbers from this event last year - can you help us reach our goal? We'd love to have you give it a tri

This particular event will feature a 0.5 mile swim at the Grinnell College Natatorium, 12.4 mile bike on the path to Rock Creek State Park and a 3.1 mile run through downtown Grinnell. You can participate as an individual or a team of 3. And if you're not quite ready to commit to those distances, you can participate in our Mini Triathlon, an event perfect for newcomers and kids because of the shorter distances. 

April 14 is also the date for the Live Healthy Iowa 5K, so if you'd prefer to simply run a 5K rather than swim, bike and run, make plans to join us at 10am for that event. You can register here:

We are fortunate to have the support of our friends at Grinnell State Bank to help bring these fun events to the community this spring and summer, and we hope you'll join us for the fun, now spanning more weekends! 

p.s. Save the date now and start training for the 5K & Half Marathon Grinnell Games events, scheduled for June 16. And like our facebook page: Grinnell Games, to learn of additional activities and new events as soon as they're announced! 

Planning Ahead

Posted on 03/23/2018 at 11:03 AM

At our Annual Celebration last week we took the time to give attendees a quick project update regarding some of the Chamber's priorities for the coming year. While our work in large part will remain the same, and we'll continue our efforts to keep Grinnellians updated about things taking place in our community, we do have a number of initiatives we'll be working on as outlined in the strategic plan that was generated by the Chamber's Board of Directors at our planning session last fall.  

The board created three different committees: Community Growth, Business Development & Community Vitality, as they relate directly to our mission statement. Each of those committees has outlined various action items for the coming year which include: completing the childcare feasibility study to better understand potential opportunities. Our business development team will work to encourage the development of start-up and entrepreneurial businesses by creating and hosting an event to connect potential entrepreneurs with capital investors, plans to work with at least two businesses to identify and implement a succession plan, and hope to facilitate the addition of two more businesses as identified in the downtown plan. Our Community Vitality group will focus efforts on implementing a community-wide marketing campaign in an effort to attract more visitors to Grinnell, and will continue to develop and implement events that support business and increased usage of Central Park.

There's more on the agenda, but we imagine we'll have our hands pretty full with these action items for the time being. We're fortunate to have such a committed board of directors and membership, and know that by working together we can accomplish many of these exciting initiatives.

If you ever have questions about the work we're doing, please don't hesitate to contact me! 

--Rachael Kinnick

And the Winner Is...

Posted on 03/19/2018 at 9:50 AM

Wednesday evening reminded me why I absolutely love what I do as we hosted the Chamber's Annual Celebration and got to recognize our incredible business community. There are many businesses and organizations doing wonderful things in our community, and we received many many deserving nominees, which made our selection process difficult. Congratulations to our following 2018 award recipients who were recognized for their work Wednesday evening:


Business of the Year: Grinnell State Bank 

Retail Business of the Year: Anna Kayte's Boutique

Service Business of the Year: Renfrow Senior Care

Entrepreneur of the Year: Joey & Haylee Pagliai

Economic Impact Award: Hotel Grinnell

Community Betterment Award: Central Park

Volunteer of the Year: Paragon Church

One To Watch Awards:

  1. Jessica Dillon, Triangle Financial Services
  2. Paula Henkle, Hotel Grinnell
  3. Ryan McGuire, Bells Design
  4. Georgia Plumb, Rock Steady Boxing at Plumb Balanced & Fit
  5. Melissa Vine, Sunrise Bakery

20 Under 40 Awards:

  1. Amelia Nickle, Hotel Grinnell
  2. Ashley Grundler, Big Brothers & Big Sisters
  3. Brian Conway, Grinnell-Newburg School District
  4. Grant Lang, Hotel Grinnell
  5. Jacki Hicklin, Mayflower Community
  6. Jill Kilmartin, Crossfit Poweshiek
  7. Jordan Finch-Smith, Total Rehab
  8. Josh Asberry, Four Seasons Trailer & Equipment
  9. Kasey Bryan, University of Iowa Community Credit Union
  10. Kendra Tucker, Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce
  11. Lily Swedenhjelm, Unity Point Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center
  12. Mary Lindberg, Community Volunteer
  13. Matt Moyer, Monsanto
  14. Megan Farrell, Community Volunteer
  15. Peter Marsho, Family Dentistry
  16. Sam Moorman, Peace Tree Brewing Company
  17. Shawn Edelen, Grinnell-Newburg Community School District
  18. Taylor Sturtz, Sunrise Bakery
  19. Tiffany Criswell, St. Francis Manor
  20. Tim Stahl, St. Francis Manor

To read more about the award winners, click here

Special thanks to Jennifer Weinman Photography who took photos throughout the evening, and of our award winners. Thanks to Grinnell College, Hotel Grinnell and Unity Point Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center for sponsoring the event. It was a great evening! 

To everyone who attended (award in hand at the end of the evening or not) and to all of you reading this weekly newsletter, thank you for the work you're doing to make Grinnell such an amazing community. 

--Rachael Kinnick

Grinnell Child Care Survey

Posted on 02/26/2018 at 9:01 AM

Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce along with our partners and with assistance from First Children’s Finance, is studying the supply and demand for child care in the Grinnell area– and we need your help! A part of our assessment is a survey to gain feedback from those that live or work in the area that have children age 12 or younger living in their home, or are planning to have/adopt children in the next 5 years.

This brief survey can be accessed at the following link through March 15, 2018: 

Please feel free to share this survey link with other family, friends and neighbors who live or work in the Grinnell Area. 

If you have questions or would like more information about this project contact:

Rachael Kinnick, Executive Director
Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce
(641) 236-65558 or

Serving Our Community

Posted on 12/15/2017 at 3:35 PM

The end of December marks the end of an era in Grinnell as Mayor Gordon Canfield will retire at the end of this year. He has been serving our community as mayor for 18 years (just shy of the 20-year record of Floyd Beaver) and has done a mighty fine job. I'm sure there are some of you who haven't seen eye-to-eye with him and even had disagreements over the years, but we are certainly thankful for his incredible dedication and commitment as a public servant to the City of Grinnell, and I think it's safe to say he's one of the community's biggest advocates. ​​​​​​

He has received many different awards throughout his tenure as Mayor, and earlier this year was inducted into the Iowa League of Cities Hall of Fame for his outstanding service to the League and municipal government in the state. He's also been recognized by the US State Department for his contribution and support of the International Visitor Leadership Program and has been the recipient of several local awards, including the Civil Servant Award from GPCF. 

Our office has the pleasure of working with the city on many occasions, and we feel fortunate to have worked alongside Gordon on many efforts. From serving on mayor task forces to having him speak with countless groups who tour the Louis Sullivan Jewel Box Bank to greeting the WHO Tractor riders with water and even traveling across the state together to promote Grinnell, we will miss seeing him on a regular basis. We wish him the best in retirement and look forward to the new chapter that will begin in 2018.

Please take a few minutes to attend an open house to celebrate Mayor Canfield's retirement next Wednesday, December 20 at the city offices. Stop by to thank Gordon for his years of service and wish him well in retirement. 

Another One Down!

Posted on 11/30/2017 at 3:57 PM

This time a year ago I, along with city staff, was in the midst of meeting with a number of community members, gaining feedback and ideas for the future of downtown Grinnell. This joint effort of the chamber and city led to the approval and subsequent implementation of the Grinnell Downtown Plan. For nearly a year now, our staff has been hard at work to make progress on some of the items on this list: from gathering spaces to destination events, a parking assessment to hospitality training and a signage program to recruitment efforts, we have occasionally found ourselves coming and going. But we're on our way to accomplishing many items on this list, and just this week our chamber ambassadors and community members officially helped welcome Sunrise Bakery to the Grinnell business community. 

Sunrise Bakery, located at 934 Main Street, is a direct result of the feedback we received during the meetings when participants listed a bakery as one of the top new businesses they would like to see in downtown Grinnell. Along with the brewery, which opened across Main Street earlier this fall, it's exciting to see some of the ideas we heard so much about taking shape. I am anxious to continue our work in the coming months to establish more of the programs that were part of the downtown plan, and develop more of the opportunities mentioned by many of our community members. 

You may be asking 'What's Next?', and let me assure you there is still a lot to do. But if you or someone you know is interested in any of the projects we identified as priorities for downtown, please get in touch so we can find ways for you to be involved! You can view the full downtown planning document here

Pictured above: Sunrise Bakery owner Melissa Vine cuts the ribbon as chamber ambassadors and community members welcome this new business to Grinnell. 

Shopping Small

Posted on 11/20/2017 at 9:29 AM

Small businesses, like those in Grinnell, make communities thrive. They support local job creation, business vitality, local expansion and economic sustainability. 

In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday, to help elevate awareness for the small businesses across our communities, state and nation. This day is celebrated each year the Saturday following Thanksgiving (this Saturday). Many of our retailers will be open and offering special deals or giveaways on Small Business Saturday. I invite you all to 'shop small' and show love for all your favorite places, and encourage you to try a place you've never been. 

Remember, small businesses help ensure local economies stay strong and vibrant, and when small business succeeds, we all do. 

Check out these facts about Small Business Saturday in Iowa and make sure you're following our Grinnell Small Business Saturday event on Facebook or our website for all of you Grinnell steals and deals.

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