Grinnell Chamber

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Rachael Kinnick
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Two Years Already?

Posted on 11/07/2019 at 4:44 PM

Is anyone else in disbelief that it's already November 7? I mean, how did October come and go so quickly?! I spoke on Let's Talk this morning for KGRN's morning show, and Tim reminded me that Jingle Bell Holiday is only 15 days away - hard to believe! 


Speaking of time flying, Peace Tree Brewing Company (PTB) will be celebrating their TWO YEAR anniversary in Grinnell this weekend. It seems as though we were just completing our initial downtown focus group sessions (which means I was also about to have a baby for those of you who remember that!). We often get consumed in the day to day, and forget to stop and think about all that's been accomplished in a short period but in reality we've had several areas of progress over these past three years, including the addition of PTB and other downtown businesses and initiatives.


There are more initiatives to come out of our efforts with the downtown planning, and we're excited to continue working with many of you, and hearing from even more, on the possibilities for our community! If you've not had a chance to follow the progress from these meetings or simply have questions about the process and the information learned and projects started since that time, please give me a call or send an email as I would love to share more. 

--Rachael Kinnick

It's Drive-Thru Weather!

Posted on 10/31/2019 at 11:25 AM

While the calendar may say it's the last day of October, the weather seems to be a bit confused! Winter decided to arrive in Grinnell this week (I'm hopeful we'll have a 'fall' reprieve soon as I'm not a big winter fan!), which has caused Grinnellians to dig out winter gear, clear snow and ice and prepare for the next several months of the same. If you've been in the vicinity of 5th Avenue & Highway 146 this week, you may have also noticed increased vehicle traffic there as more people have been taking advantage of the new drive-thru coffee shop, Lucky Cat Coffee! The timing couldn't have been more perfect for entrepreneur, Sam Cox, to get her new venture opened up in preparation for these cold morning (and afternoon) temps! 

We were happy to have played a small part in this particular venture. Beginning in the fall of 2016 our office, in conjunction with our partners at the City of Grinnell, co-hosted a number of focus group sessions in an effort to gain a better understanding of some of the things business owners and community members wanted to see in Grinnell. We heard many different things, from enhanced marketing for businesses and hospitality training to gathering spaces and destination events. We also heard some very specific businesses that were desired in the downtown which included a brewery (enter Peace Tree Brewing Company) and a bakery (enter Grin City Bakery) as well as a pharmacy and activity center. 


In the spring of this year we reconvened this process, meeting with more community members to give them an update of our progress since the fall of 2016 while also asking for their feedback and next steps. In those meetings, we continued to hear about several specific businesses, including the desire for a drive-thru coffee shop. Enter Lucky Cat Coffee! While neither our office or the city recruited this business, the legwork completed through the focus group sessions gave reassurance that it was a venture worth exploring and one that would seemingly be supported by the community. 


So now's your chance to support this new business venture, especially now that the weather has turned colder! Enjoy a cup of joe from one of Grinnell's newest businesses. 

--Rachael Kinnick


p.s. If you're interested in learning more about our downtown planning process, or are interested in exploring a possible business venture in downtown, please let me know as we'd love to share more and work with you!

Planning Ahead

Posted on 10/28/2019 at 10:28 AM

We took time last week to connect with our board of directors as we begin to craft our agenda and scope of work for the coming year. It's always so exciting to begin to think about next steps and new projects, and I have no doubt the coming year will be full of exciting things for our organization and the Grinnell community. As we took a look toward the future, we also took time to recall the projects we've accomplished and worked on over the past twelve months, and it's safe to say we've certainly kept ourselves busy! From fiber to childcare, and support for education and workforce development, to downtown planning and technology improvements, we have convened many meetings and made much progress in many of these areas, with more work to come. 

When asked by a group of students just yesterday why developments often take so long, I reminded them that community development efforts seem to take about 2 steps forward to take 10 steps backward (very normal in that line of work!), but it's often the relationships built that help forge projects ahead. Relationships take time to build and nurture, but when they get to that point, they can be incredibly powerful. We are thankful for strong relationships with many of our members and board members as we work to identify our upcoming projects, knowing our work is strongly influenced by our membership at large. 

What are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Any big projects at your business or in the community? Let us know by responding to this email! 

--Rachael Kinnick 


p.s. Have you registered for our Grow with Google workshop and Marketing Power Hour yet? These events will both be held THIS week, and RSVP's are required. Sign-up for both today!


I'll Google It...

Posted on 10/17/2019 at 4:02 PM

Have you ever said this phrase? I feel like I do this far too often in my daily life! But the reality is, many of us turn to Google whenever we want to gather more information - from how to get from one location to another, to learning how to help with math homework, to searching for businesses - and that number is increasing every day. Do you know how to get good 'search results'?  Is your business or organization well-represented on Google? 


The Chamber is hosting a one hour 'Grow with Google' session on Tuesday, October 29 at 8:30AM, facilitated by Google-supported trainer Erin Bemis, to learn more about the tools available to businesses and organizations to help ensure those of us who are actively 'googling' on a regular basis can find you and your information! This session is free and open to anyone in Grinnell and the surrounding area to attend (need not be a chamber member to attend). If you represent a business or organization, this session is for you! You can learn more and RSVP here.  


We're excited to be bringing this session to Grinnell to offer our businesses and industry the opportunity, which are often targeted to more metro-areas, to learn how to get better recognition on online platforms. At the end of the day, internet platforms are not going away, and we want to ensure our businesses have the same playing field, and having accurate, up-to-date online listings is the first step! Join us as we Grow with Google. 

--Rachael Kinnick


p.s. Erin will also be leading our Marketing Power Hour the following day (October 30) on e-newsletters and blogging. You can register for the educational session here!

Mark Your Calendars for Prairiepalooza! 

Posted on 09/11/2019 at 4:16 PM

You may be wondering, what on earth is Prairiepalooza? It's a new, one-day music festival being held in Central Park the end of this month. Mark your calendars now for Sunday, September 29 for this fun event!  


Nearly a year and a half ago, our organization along with our colleagues at the City of Grinnell, began brainstorming ways to enhance and better utilize Central Park as the space was just getting ready to re-open after its major renovation. We and other organizations have done a number of things in that space since that time, but have always dreamed about a music festival that could be compelling for community-members, surrounding communities and tourists alike. Enter Prairiepalooza. The event is designed to be a day filled with music, activities, food and beverage and great conversation with community, and the genre can change year after year keeping it fresh and exciting. 


While our team is furiously working to finalize more details and bring the event to fruition, we are very excited to announce that our headlining act for this inaugural show is Love & Theft, a country-music duo out of Nashville, Tennessee with several hits including Whiskey on my BreathAngel Eyes, and Runaway


Prairiepalooza is an event open and free to the public; VIP ticket options are available and food, beverage and some activities may require a fee. Learn more and stay updated with event details by liking the facebook page and event here or visiting! We'll plan to see you on Sunday, September 29 in Central Park for the first-ever Prairiepalooza! 


p.s. We are seeking organizations and groups to provide kids' activities (can be as a fundraising opportunity!) for this event. If you're interested, click HERE for the application or call our office at 641-236-6555

One Year Ago...

Posted on 09/03/2019 at 9:39 AM

As I was looking back through past newsletters this week, I realized that a year ago last week we launched a follow-up survey to the childcare feasibility study to gain a better understanding of the before-and-after-school care needs in the Grinnell community. Fast forward nearly a year to the date, and I'm excited to share the news of a new program being developed to help address this community need. 


It has been a lengthy process that our organization has helped lead along the way, from conducting a community-wide feasibility study, to actively convening a working steering committee since hearing the study results, and spending the better part of the past year completing due diligence in an effort to help address the ongoing challenges facing childcare in and around Grinnell. After spending time and energy working to help address this issue, I am very proud to be serving as an inaugural board member for LINK Grinnell, an organization committed to support the community's long-term and ongoing efforts for childcare and youth development in the Grinnell community. LINK's mission is to lead, inspire, nurture and keep children enriched, engaged and educated in the Grinnell community and will begin by launching an after-school program (next week!) housed at Davis Elementary School. 


The organization learned this week that the LINK program is authorized to commence next Tuesday, September 3! If you know of someone in need of after-school care, please encourage them to complete the interest form found on LINK's website. Together with our business community, we are excited to be addressing this ongoing community need and look forward to convening similar projects and efforts in the future!

Extend Kindness

Posted on 08/22/2019 at 9:44 AM


International Student Pre-Orientation Program enjoyed a scavenger hunt around downtown this week. Ninety-four students from around the globe join the Class of 2023.

Our office and the community-at-large has been a flutter of activity this week as we slowly begin to welcome the many new members of the Class of 2023 to Grinnell and Grinnell College's campus this week, and all their peers returning for their remaining years as Pioneers. As they begin to arrive, I encourage all of us to take the time to go out of our way to be welcoming to our new community members and their families, and extend kindness as they become acquainted with Grinnell. 


They've never lived here - they're not familiar with our community. They'll likely make our wait times a little longer in restaurants, our drive time slightly increased as we have more pedestrians around town but let's be thankful and patient for all of it. These students (and their families) are vital to the economy and growth of this community we all love. They may become employees in many of our businesses and organizations, they will get involved to help make a positive impact during their time here, and it's possible many may never leave this community as they fall in love with it just as we have. 


So let's remember to be kind, helpful and patient this week and the next few weeks to come especially. Our educational institutions bring a beautifully young and diverse community that many communities would do anything to attract. Let's all do our part to extend kindness to help make them feel welcome here for years to come. 

--Rachael Kinnick

Calling All Entrepreneurs!

Posted on 08/15/2019 at 10:49 AM

Are you an entrepreneur looking for a great opportunity? Or an entrepreneur at heart waiting for the right time to take a leap of faith? There are some great opportunities in Grinnell right now, from purchasing an existing business and making it your own, to starting something new, and our office wants to help you succeed.  


Last month the Iowa Secretary of State's office announced that Iowans set a record for most new business filings in a single month, for the second month in a row, with over 2,500 new business ventures filed in the State. These business filings are a very positive economic indicator for the State, and Grinnell is prime for business development.


With a few existing opportunities, and several ideas and priorities for the community in the future, we encourage any entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs to contact our office to see how we can help you in your next steps. Simply reply to this email or contact us at 641-236-6555 to learn more and get started today! Click HERE for a list of available businesses and spaces in Grinnell!

Exploring the Way We Worked

Posted on 08/05/2019 at 1:24 PM

Grinnell College and the Drake Community Library have again partnered to bring the latest Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibit available for viewing at the Library. This partnership allows Grinnellians and Iowans to have access to the cultural resources of the Smithsonian right here in our community. The Way We Worked is a tribute to the workforce, and features stories about how we worked, the way we did it, who worked and the why behind working. 

As we explored earlier this week for a Chamber Ambassador visit, the group was enthralled by the interesting facts and photos donning the display, sparking interesting conversation about tales from previous generations. Fran Conn, retired from Starnes TV & Appliance, noted that her father started the business in 1952 when televisions were just hitting the market, and recalled large groups of people standing outside the downtown storefront to watch the television for the first time. What a fun memory! 


Grinnellians have their chance to share more memories of the way we worked in our community as the next Smithsonian exhibit (Winter 2020) will be taking elements of the current feature and molding into a uniquely curated display for Grinnell using bits and pieces of our own history and work culture. As you explore the exhibit currently at the library, I encourage you to jot down memories or ideas that come to mind so they can soon be shared with the team working to curate our own exhibit. You can submit your stories HERE.


In the meantime, make a trip over to the library to explore the current Smithsonian exhibit to learn more about the history of the way we worked. 

Have Your Tickets?

Posted on 07/18/2019 at 2:36 PM

Whew, it's a scorcher out there today! Here's hoping it's not quite as warm during our Farm to Table Dinner which will take place Sunday, July 28 beginning at 5pm (don't worry, we'll move indoors if it's this warm!). Have you reserved your seat(s) yet? This event is a great way to support two organizations in the Grinnell Farmers Market & Local Foods Connection while enjoying a fantastic meal, supporting our local farmers, producers and chefs, and getting to meet and mingle with other community members. 

Guests will enjoy an evening dining near the beautiful outdoor atrium of the new Humanities & Social Studies Center on Grinnell College's campus. The evening features a five-course meal that will introduce you to many of the products sold at the Grinnell Farmers Market or produced by Local Foods Connection farmers. Each course is derived and prepared by local chefs and aspiring chefs. Farmers will be dining with guests and engaging guests about their products and sharing more about their operations.  


Guests are encouraged to sit with someone they've not yet met in an effort to form relationships and build community. Tickets are limited and going quickly, but you can still reserve yours today at Hope to see you in a couple weeks as we host a fun event to highlight two local organizations committed to feeding our community. 

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