Let me start by saying my thoughts and prayers are wholeheartedly with our neighbors in Marshalltown & Pella as they clean up from yesterday's devastating storms. A few of you have reached out to me regarding the subject line of yesterday's email newsletter, so let me explain. Our system schedules emails and often takes several minutes to send through to our full list; I was not aware that tornadoes had hit these areas until after the email had been sent. It was certainly not my intention to be tongue-in-cheek with such a serious situation, and honestly only meant to say I'm amazed by the generosity and helping-ness of our community.
Fast forward to today, and I'm even more astounded at the generosity of our community. So many of you have reached out to see how you can help those in need. Here's what I can tell you: We're in touch with our colleagues in both Marshalltown & Pella. At this time, we ask that people wait to assist until they've had a chance to fully assess the damage and implement a call for volunteers. Please refrain from driving to these communities to see the damage. As soon as we're made aware of ways Grinnellians can assist, we'll share it here -- we appreciate your eagerness and generous offers to help our neighbors in need!
I'm Blown Away
Community means different things to different people at different times. Today, this is what community means to me: sharing goals, working together and helping one another. And that's just what our Farmers Market vendors did this afternoon. As the weather started rolling in from the west, we made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of today's market as our priority is always safety. Within minutes, our vendors began breaking everything down (that they had literally JUST finished setting up!) and packing up vehicles. But what happened next was more amazing. Our team came out to help, customers started helping pack things away and vendors began helping each other until everyone had packed up and driven away.
We may not always agree with one another, and we may not always agree with the decisions someone else makes but let me tell you it was rewarding to see everyone pitch in to help their fellow Farmers Market Community. The amount of time, effort and work each of these vendors put into their day today to prepare for, setup and tear down market was immense, and they won't even see a penny of profit from it because they weren't open long enough to have any sales. Would you do me a favor and come downtown this Saturday morning from 10a-noon (several of our Thursday-only vendors will attend this Saturday's market due to today's storm!) and next Thursdayfrom 3-6pm to support these wonderful people?
I'm proud to be part of this community every day, but this afternoon I'm blown away!
Hi everyone! I will be starting my fourth, and final, year at Iowa State University this fall. I am majoring in Communication Studies, minoring in Event Management and working towards a certificate in Leadership Studies. You may have seen me around the Grinnell area as I've had two previous Communications internships with Grinnell Regional Medical Center and Brownells; I've really discovered that I'm headed towards a career field that I absolutely LOVE! My hometown is Montezuma, just down the road from here. My close hometown and internship experiences have really allowed me to make some amazing connections in Grinnell.
Being at the Chamber has been a fun experience thus far. After recently adding Event Management as my minor, I've gotten the opportunity to truly explore all that I can do with it. Helping organize events like Friday Night Live, Grinnell Games and Fly Iowa have been the highlight of my summer internship. I'm also gaining experience in social media, marketing, website usage, design and many other skills that will be helpful in my career.
Here's a question I'm asked a lot - What do I want to do after I graduate from Iowa State? Well, I just hope that all of the contacts I've acquired from my internships and leadership experiences will help me in acquiring a job in the Communications field. I have truly found a passion in writing press releases, social media posts, blogs, etc., while still getting to branch out into the community and plan events. I'm very interested in non-profit organizations and how hard they work to serve the community. I am hopeful that I can use my communication skills to be a part of a nonprofit in my career someday.
It has been an awesome summer so far working with Rachael and Kendra; I learn something new from them almost every day. They work tirelessly to do so many things for this community, and I hope I can have as much of an impact as they do someday!
p.s. Enjoy all the activities and live music taking place in Grinnell this weekend, beginning with today's Farmers Market and Music in the Park, Friday Night Live tomorrow, bull riding at the fairgrounds. There's something for multiple interests!
Next week we celebrate Independence Day, a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation. While many of us will be gathering with friends and family enjoying parades and fireworks, I encourage you to think about the meaning of freedom.
Freedom likely means different things to each of us, but our freedom as a country has allowed us to grow, explore and imagine the impossible. Our founding fathers took important steps towards freedom, and as a result we have opportunities we would not have been afforded otherwise. Because of their commitment and vision for freedom, we are a diverse country, state and community. With diversity comes entrepreneurship and without freedom in entrepreneurship the Grinnell community would not be what it is today.
Join us in Grinnell as we celebrate our freedom with the annual Fourth of July parade which will be begin at 5pm next Wednesday, the Fourth. Please note we are using a new route this year due to road construction. You can find route and signup information here. At dusk that evening, fireworks can be viewed from Ahrens Park. We'll wrap up the celebration on Friday, July 6 with Friday Night Live in Central Park from 7-11pm featuring Grinnell's Nick Wallace and Whiplash. FridayNight Live is supported by ASI Signage & Grinnell College. If your group or organization is looking for a fundraising opportunity, please reply to this email to see how you can be involved in next week's Friday Night Live.
As you enjoy your time with family and friends next week, please take a few moments to think about what freedom means to you and its impact on our community.
p.s. Please remember as you enjoy your festivities next week that fireworks are not permitted in Grinnell's city limits.
Our office works with our members and community partners in a variety of ways and has been fortunate to be included in many conversations that pertain to large-scale economic development efforts in our community, including those in Grinnell College's Zone of Confluence. If you're not familiar, this is the physical area between the north edge of downtown and Grinnell College, and is largely between Fifth & Sixth Avenues and Park & West Streets. The goal of this collaborative effort is to create a better physical connection between campus and community through new mixed-use development, encouraging pedestrian traffic between the campus and downtown, and strengthening social and economic vitality in the downtown.
The Zone of Confluence is an important economic development effort as it aims to better enhance community and campus and increase 18 hour vitality in the community. It was and is an integral component in Grinnell being recognized as an Iowa Reinvestment Act District, with developments generating new retail sales eligible to begin receiving a tax rebate on sales they generate beginning in year 2020.
While there's still much work to do to finalize details, including a refined timeline, the College has signed a Memorandum of Understanding and is negotiating final lease options with Ludwig & Associates, a development team working to build the first project in the Zone on the former McNally's site (1021 Main Street). Their team has also begun working with City officials to draft a development agreement. The Grinnell Promenade is slated to be mixed-use and looks to include nearly 30 residential units on the upper floors with commercial space on the main level and parking behind the building.
We have been pleased that the development team has engaged local leaders and constituents to help identify possible opportunities for the space. At the end of the day, their team is responsible for 'signing the deal' so to speak, but we feel assured they understand the culture of Grinnell and are committed to finding the right mix of retail to achieve the overarching goal of integrating campus and community in this space.
We'll continue to use this email newsletter as a way to keep you informed of further developments in the Zone of Confluence and with other projects outlined in the Iowa Reinvestment Act. It truly is an exciting time to be in Grinnell and we're grateful for your support to make our community such a wonderful place to live, learn, work and play.
Much of our organization's work is spent strengthening the local Grinnell community right here in our five square miles. But did you know that we also work with other communities in the Central Iowa region? Our Chamber of Commerce is a regional affiliate of the Greater Des Moines Parternship (GDMP), which is a regional chamber located in Des Moines. We work with the Partnership and their 23 affiliate chambers of commerce to work toward a common goal of strengthening central Iowa as a great place to do business and raise families.
A couple weeks ago, I attended the Greater Des Moines Partnership's Annual Des Moines to DC fly-in event, along with a couple others from our community. While many of GDMP's members are located in metro areas and are advocating heavily for their communities, we take the time to advocate on behalf of Grinnell and rural communities. After all, if we aren't the ones out telling our story and asking for support, who will? With so much of rural Iowa beginning to see economic downturns, many federal programs are instrumental for continued economic development in rural places. While in D.C. we advocated for rural set asides for various programs including broadband opportunities, historic tax credits, affordable housing and more. We also encouraged the GDMP to add language for rural set asides, where appropriate, into their federal policy agenda.
Not only did we have the chance to talk with our elected delegation and their staffs about a number of these issues which are critical to the continued growth and vibrancy of Grinnell, but we were able to network with nearly 200 business and industry leaders from the Central Iowa region. We were encouraged by the support and encouragement from our peers, and are excited to work with them in a variety of ways in the coming months as we continue to strengthen many newfound relationships.
As your chamber of commerce, we spend much of our time collaborating with others. Not only in our community, but within our region and across the nation, making Grinnell and Central Iowa an amazing place to live, learn, work and play.
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!
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 www.GrinnellFarmersMarket.com.
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!
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 grinnellgames.com.
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: https://www.
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!
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!