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Rachael Kinnick
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Service Business of the Year

Posted on 03/22/2019 at 11:06 AM

Our Service Business of the year continually shows their dedication to the Grinnell community, and can often be found working nights, weekends and holidays. First opening their business in 1907, this business began in Grinnell just 94 years ago, and is an anchor institution which shares a long history of compassion with the Grinnell community. 

Serving generations of Grinnellians, they too, are in their fifth generation of the family business and for more than a century have provided compassionate, dignified and affordable services. They go above and beyond to help families that are going through the toughest time of their lives.  

Their service is certainly not one many are anxious to engage with, but it is most appreciated by the many families, friends and loved ones who come in contact with their unmatched kindness and caring. They are hard-working, dedicated and loyal individuals working together to establish a high quality business in Grinnell. 

Congratulations to Smith Funeral Home, our 2019 Service Business of the Year. 

Restaurant of the Year

Posted on 03/20/2019 at 9:25 AM

This year’s Restaurant/Retailer of the Year award recognizes someone on the food and beverage side of the category. This business has been on the scene in Grinnell for almost five years to the day. This entrepreneur was able to marry her passion with a unique and destination business model which has ensured community interest and support. 

From hosting wacky parties and fancy dinners, to political events, trivia and bingo, she supports and builds community in fun and entertaining ways. Her artistic talents are not only on display throughout her establishment, but she recently assisted with a public art endeavor as well.  


With a selection of over 150 different wines and beers, you’re guaranteed to find something that will delight your palate. Over the past year, the wine bar saw a transformation to include more of her delicious homemade desserts (and fresh from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies!) as well as freshly concocted flatbreads focusing on fresh, local foods and flavors. 

The last year has been a tough one for her, but she has made such an impact on this commun​​​​​​​ity that her customers and friends stepped up to help this one-woman dynamo keep the business​​​​​​​es’ doors open during a brief leave. Through this, she’s realized how important it is to support others and recently opened the doors of her home to host a fundraiser for the staff of El Molcajete following their recent fire late last year.  

We are sure it’s places like this that contribute to Grinnell’s recent naming as the ‘Most Badass town in the Midwest’ by Matador Network. World-class wine in small-town Iowa. Colleen, we’re glad you chose Grinnell for this adventure.

​​​​​​​Congratulations to this year’s Restaurant of the Year, Solera! 

And the Award Goes to... 

Posted on 03/14/2019 at 2:02 PM

Each year, we host the Chamber's Annual Celebration and while it is certainly a time to engage and share about our most notable achievements over the past year and outline the work we're setting out to accomplish in the coming year, it's also an opportunity to celebrate the many businesses, organizations and individuals doing wonderful things in our community. We received many, many deserving nominations this year but ultimately had to narrow the selection. Congratulations to our 2019 award recipients who were recognized Wednesday evening:  

From left: Wade Stoaks, Paisley Pagliai, Haylee Pagliai holding Greyson, Joey Pagliai holding Camden & Tim Willis.


Business of the Year: Pagliai's

Restaurant of the Year: Solera

Service Business of the Year: Smith Funeral Home

Entrepreneur of the Year: Kevin McAlexander

Community Betterment Award: The Stew Art Studios

Volunteer(s) of the Year: Central Park Holiday Committee led by Jennifer McAlexander and comprised of Michelle Butler, Daniel Clements, Gailanne Dill, Jill Hollingsworth, Kevin McAlexander, Kerri Olson, Dodi & Dennis Reilly & Jim White

One to Watch Awards
1. Cheryl Juhl, Hair of the Dog Salon
2. Bill Kostow, Lincoln Savings Bank & Community Youth Volunteer
3. Susan Schmidt, Suzi's Boutique
4. Katy Wells, Double You Marketing

20 Under 40 Awards

1. Amy Sebring, Brownells
2. Andy Molison, Grin City Bakery
3. Ashley Schaefer, Grinnell College
4. Chelsey Kolpin, Grinnell-Newburg School District
5. Clay Harrold, Grinnell-Newburg School District
6. Clinton Follette, Charnetski, Lacina & Clower
7. Daniel Rodrigues, TL Baker & Company
8. Dave Arsenault Jr., Grinnell College
9. Erin Bustin, Grinnell Children's Choir and United Church of Christ
10. Felicity Meads, Ramsey-Weeks
11. Jared Tokle, Key Cooperative
12. Jason Carberry, Grinnell State Bank and Sips Coffee Company
13. Jason Inskeep, Peace Tree Brewing Company
14. Jessica Dawson, Re/Max Partners Realty
15. Josh Ellis, Grinnell-Newburg School District
16. Julie Smith, Unity Point Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center and AnnaKayte's Boutique
17. Keira Wilson, Grinnell College
18. Matt Blankenfeld, West Side Family Restaurant
19. Nikki Laug, Grinnell Connected
20. Zach Weiderspon, Unity Point Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center

To read more about the award winners, click here

Thanks to Jennifer Weinman Photography who took photos throughout the evening, and of our award winners. Special 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 newsletter, thank you for the work you do to make Grinnell an amazing place to call home. 

--Rachael Kinnick


p.s. We debuted a new logo during last night's celebration. Check it out in the header! 

Shout-Out to Entrepreneurs

Posted on 02/26/2019 at 4:01 PM

Entrepreneur -- it can be a tricky word to say but you'd better practice it often because in small communities we have the privilege of saying it a lot! And this week, during National Entrepreneurship Week, we want to take the time to give all our amazing entrepreneurs in Grinnell and surrounding areas a shout-out. Entrepreneurs are forward-thinking, hard-working, dedicated, passionate and resourceful. They often spend as much time anticipating the 'next big thing' as they do in the daily grind but they always spend an incredible amount of time and passion bettering themselves, their business and their communities.


During this week of recognition, I encourage you to take a quick minute to nominate an Entrepreneur(s) for the hard work they're doing in their business or organization -- maybe it's a start-up or a long-standing entrepreneur that deserves recognition. Whoever it may be, we want them to be nominated to receive the Entrepreneur of the Year award during the Chamber's Annual Business Celebration. Nominate an entrepreneur (and all other award categories) here


It truly takes a village of entrepreneurs to make small communities so successful and I'm incredibly grateful to live in a community that values and encourages entrepreneurship.  

--Rachael Kinnick 


p.s. The nomination period for the Annual Celebration Awards closes This Thursday, February 28 at 5pm - submit your nominations today! 

Explore the Smithsonian

Posted on 02/14/2019 at 3:13 PM

Have you had the opportunity to explore the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.? Is it a favorite destination for you? We all have favorite vacations we've taken, places we're excited to visit next or trips we're currently planning. We often look to get out of town for the weekend, but did you know that many of us find ourselves doing more stay-cations in the State of Iowa? The Iowa Tourism Conference was held last week, and statistics were released showing that 62.4% of 'tourism visits' are from Iowans alike! We know we have unique places to see and things to do across our great state and we take time to check them out. 


Speaking of interesting things to do and see, I invite you all to become tourists in our own community over the next couple months. Grinnell College is excited to announce a new partnership with the Smithsonian to bring SITES (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service) exhibitions to Grinnell this spring and summer! This partnership will allow Grinnellians and Iowans to have access to the cultural resources of the Smithsonian. 


'Hometown Teams' is the first exhibition and will be on display beginning tomorrow, February 15 through Saturday, April 20. Nowhere do Americans, and Iowans, connect more intimately than sports in their hometowns. This exhibition will be at Drake Community Library in Grinnell, and features photographs, artifacts and interactive components to capture the stories that have unfolded for decades on neighborhood fields and courts, recognizing the underdogs and the legends, and the rivalries. 


The opening ceremony celebration will be held tomorrow from 4:30 to 6:00 PM at Drake Community Library with remarks from Grinnell Mayor Dan Agnew, Grinnell College President Raynard Kington and Grinnell High School Football Coach Brian Sauser. Docents will be on-site during this time to answer any questions and guide guests through the display. 


I hope you'll take time from now through mid-April to become a tourist and explore the Smithsonian! 

--Rachael Kinnick

Love Local

Posted on 02/07/2019 at 10:44 AM



With our busy lives, we often to forget to take time to appreciate those who make our lives worthwhile. Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to take a few minutes and recognize the loved ones in your life. This year as you look to show your love to your partner, family, friends, four-legged buddies, or neighbors, we want to remind you to show some love locally as well. Winter in the Midwest can be harsh as we’ve all seen the last few weeks. What many of us forget about is how that harsh weather can affect many of our small businesses in revenue and foot traffic. So don’t forget to share a little love with our wonderful shops and services in town; many have special promotions going on just for Valentine’s Day!


Week long promotions:

Bates Flowers by DZyne: Of course you can always get your loved one flowers but don’t forget their great selection of plants, chocolates, candles and other home decor!

Bill’s Jewelry: Get a gift certificate to Vonda’s for a free rose with every purchase.


Brown’s Shoe Fit: $14 off any regular price item $80 or more (excluding Birkenstock) and they’ve got new sandals for spring and summer. And for the gift that always fits, a gift card!


Hair of the Dog: Get your four-legged friend some Valentine’s Day themed treats!

Hotel Grinnell: Get tickets to Saturday’s show featuring comedy by Mike Marvell and music by The Sundogs. They’re also offering buy one menu item at full price and get a 2nd at 1/2 price on Valentine’s Day!


Lil’ Miss Chic Children’s Boutique: Get additions on your purchases February 9th - 16th with their “heart drawing”!


Loralei’s Giftshoppe: Valentine’s Day cards and many heart themed gifts. If you’ve got an Iowa lover, stop by and check out their great Iowa themed gifts!

Medicap Pharmacy: Find the perfect Valentine’s Day card and a great selection of tea for your loved one.


Stepping Stones Christian Bookstore: Save $5 with a $25 purchase, $10 with a $50 purchase, $15 with a $75 purchase or $20 with a $100 purchase when you mention you saw this listing or their Facebook ad!

Suzi’s Boutique: 20% off in store Tuesday through Friday, Free rose with every $50 purchase!

Tassel Ridge Winery: Make reservations for Saturday’s Valentine’s Day Wine Dinner or join them early Saturday for their Wine and Chocolate Pairing event!


Total Choice Shipping & Printing: Customized Photo Canvas Prints and Photo Prints, Sweet & Snarky Valentines Cards, or ship Grinnell's famous pizza to your out of town loved ones!

UnityPoint Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center: Register your loved one for the Winter Wellness Getaway to get them recharged and refreshed.

Valentine’s Day!

Grinnell Chamber of Commerce: Register the business owner, blogger, phone photo lover in your life to our Photography and Videography Marketing Power Hour course!


Los Griasoles Mexican Restaurant: Valentine's Day special is mixed Fajitas for two, two glasses of home-made sangria and a small so papilla all for $24.95!


Peace Tree Brewing: Valentine’s Day Cupcake & Beer Pairing starting at 4pm.


Relish: Live music by Violinist Esme. Specials include; Brie melt with marmalade, surf and/or turf, Lamb chops, fish of the day, and passion fruit mousse in chocolate cups.


Solera: Stop by for a pre-dinner drink, try one of her tasty pizzas, or finish your night with a great glass of wine and a turtle cake or fresh baked chocolate chip cookie!


Strand Theater: Spend the evening catching a great new movie. Click here for showtimes.


What's 1%?

Posted on 02/04/2019 at 1:58 PM


Did you know the average small business invests about 1% of its revenues into advertising each year, with about half of that spent on traditional marketing and the other half spent in digital platforms? As marketing avenues continue to change it is important for businesses to change their approaches at the same time which is why the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce will again be hosting our Marketing Power Hour with the first event kicking off February 14. 


This quarterly event focuses on different marketing techniques and is intended for business owners, marketing directors or anyone with an interest in learning more about marketing options for their business or organization. This year's sessions will focus on a variety of topics including phone photo/videography, blogging and e-newsletters, social media updates, and how to get the best customer reviews. All sessions will be taught be an expert in the industry, and it is our goal that attendees leave the hour with a couple tips or tricks to improve their marketing strategy. 


The first session will focus on phone photo/videography and be taught by Drake University professor Chris Snider. Snider teaches courses in social media strategy, multimedia, digital media and web design. He has spent his career pushing for innovative and creative ways to tell and present stories and has previously worked with the Des Moines Register as editor of Juice magazine, and with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Baltimore Sun. 


All businesses and organizations are invited to attend. Sign-up today for this year's Marketing Power Hour series and click here to find more details on February's event. 

Choose Kindness

Posted on 01/24/2019 at 4:26 PM

Tomorrow kicks off a new 10 Days of Kindness initiative in Grinnell, celebrating the power and importance of intentional kindness in our community. Inspired by a Grinnell College alum, Lori Myren-Manbeck, community members are invited to a number of 'kindness' events throughout the community over the next ten days. These events are intended to provide an opportunity to bring community members together in unique and meaningful ways and encourage kindness through conversation. 


Whether you're able to attend the events or not, would you please take a few moments each of the next ten days to practice intentional kindness? Whether it be personally, professionally, or both it's safe to say our world would be a much better place if we made a purposeful choice to be more kind to our friends and neighbors. Kindness can be interpreted and shown in a number of ways -- please take a few moments to choose kindness in the days to come, and make an effort to keep the momentum going long after these ten days are over. 


To find more details on all the events and activities planned by a number of community organizations and individuals as part of the 10 Days of Kindness, click here

--Rachael Kinnick


p.s. Show kindness to businesses by  nominating them or individuals for our Annual Awards Celebration! 

Meet Mariah

Posted on 01/10/2019 at 1:23 PM

Hello all! I am Mariah and I recently started as the Member & Special Projects Coordinator for the Chamber. I grew up in Montezuma and following high school moved to Indianola to pursue a degree in public relations at Simpson College. After graduating it only took me a few months to decide home is where the heart is.

Before moving back to the area, I spent time exploring career opportunities while trying to decide what to do with my life. I knew I wanted to make a difference while using my degree, I just didn't know how to get there. When I came across the posting for this position, I knew exactly where I wanted to be.

Even though I've only spent a few weeks at the Chamber, I can tell I have found a career I love. Being able to put my passions in communications, event planning and social media towards the community of Grinnell has been rewarding already. I have loved meeting new people and look forward to building connections with many of you.

I am excited to be in the area and get to know the people and city of Grinnell more and more. I love being part of a nonprofit that puts so much effort into serving the community. Rachael and Kendra's love towards Grinnell and the chamber is evident and I enjoy working with their enthusiasm every day. 


I am grateful and excited for this new chapter in my life and look forward to being a part of and learning more about this community!

--Mariah Hirsch

New Year, New Business?

Posted on 01/07/2019 at 10:54 AM

Did you set resolutions this year? It's a new year, so it's time to get started! If one of your resolutions is to explore starting a business, make plans to connect with our office as one of your stops. Our office works with all types of businesses that are looking to start and grow in Grinnell, and aim to be a resource to businesses no matter where they are in the process. 


From brainstorms over coffee to giving feedback on business plans and connecting with community resources, we work with several prospective business ventures each year, especially around this time of year.


If you're thinking of starting a business, now is a great time to get serious about it. Whether you're ready to launch now, or just want to explore the possibilities, please get in touch with our office to see how we can assist you. It doesn't matter if you're about to open, or if you're not even sure if your idea would work here. Let us help you get started. Together, let's make 2019 the year of the Entrepreneurs in Grinnell!

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