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How It's Made

Posted on 10/02/2015 at 9:28 AM
This week is National Manufacturing Week, a time to highlight and celebrate the manufacturers in our community. There are more than 3,500 companies engaged in manufacturing in Iowa, employing over 211,000 Iowans with an average wage of more than $51,000. All told, the manufacturing sector contributes over $27.6 billion, or 18 percent, to Iowa's Gross State Product. 
Manufacturers play an important role in the vibrancy of a community. They create job opportunities with some of the highest-paying jobs in the state, on average. $54,420 is the average amount in wages and salaries earned by Iowa's manufacturing workers, which is 28 percent more than the Iowa wage average of $42,530. If you are looking for a job, nearly all of Grinnell's manufacturers are hiring.
Do you know what the manufacturers here in Grinnell actually produce? Since they are typically places the general public doesn't visit or buy from directly, sometimes it's hard to know what they actually manufacture. Today, we're highlighting our chamber member manufacturers so you can learn more about what they make:
1.ASI Signage manufactures interior signage, exterior signage, and digital signage for a variety of companies worldwide. The bulk of their signs are produced for businesses in the corporate, education, healthcare, and hospitality sectors. They work with a lot of hospitals and colleges, designing everything from welcome signs to restroom signs to directory signs to donor walls.
2.Engineered Plastics Components (EPC) manufactures plastic injection molded products. Many of the plastic items they make go into automobiles, appliances, medical equipment, and heavy machinery. 
3.H-W Brand manufactures cattle handling equipment, equine equipment, continuous fence systems, cattle feeders and arena systems. Their customers are farm and ranch supply retailers, rural farm cooperatives, retail lumberyards, implement stores and hardware dealers.
4.Image First manufactures fiberglass and aluminum signs for wholesale. They design, engineer and fabricate signs to meet their customers' needs.


5.Jeld-Wen has both windows and doors manufacturing facilities here in Grinnell, plus their new Customer Support Center. Their windows and doors are sold globally through retail home centers, wholesale distributors and building products dealers.
6.Natural Products manufactures high quality food-grade soybeans. They process whole, non-GMO or certified organic soybeans into ingredients for the soyfoods, beverage and baking industries. They export their product to 15 countries on just about every continent.
7.Priority Plastics makes plastic packaging solutions for a range of companies. They manufacture plastic containers of all shapes and sizes as well as wet towel wipes in canisters for variety of brands.
8. Trinity Structural Towers has a location in Newton, but they are one of our newest chamber members. Trinity manufactures tubular wind towers that are used in the construction of wind turbines.


*The manufacturing statistics we've referenced here are compiled by the Iowa State University Center for Industrial Research and Service, or CIRAS.  

A Happening Place

Posted on 09/25/2015 at 3:43 PM
Grinnell is a happening place this weekend. There is so much on the calendar including the Grinnell-Newburg homecoming parade, Grinnell College Family Weekend, the fly-in/drive-in breakfast, the Raku workshop and much more. 
I once had someone new to small town life tell me that Grinnell felt like the epitome of a classic small town during the homecoming parade. With all of the kids running around, cheerleaders cheering, crowd dressed in orange and black, and floats winding through the streets, it really is an exciting night to be in downtown Grinnell. The sidewalks are flooded with people and kids pour onto the street to wave and collect candy as floats pass them by. And the event wouldn't be complete without the pep rally, food, and farmers market all in Central Park. We'll meet you downtown for the parade tonight, which begins at 5:30
An estimated 750 visitors will be here this weekend for Family Weekend. Please make an extra effort to say 'hi' when passing people on the sidewalks and to welcome all of these visitors to our community. It's weekends like these when we really feel the effects of being a college town, when we have a substantial number of visitors filling our hotel rooms, visiting our stores, and dining at our restaurants. This visitor activity is fantastic because it brings in dollars from outside the community, which will then circulate within our city many times over. 
We look forward to a fun weekend of activity! Go Tigers!
~Emily Counts

Spreading The Word

Posted on 09/18/2015 at 3:48 PM
Did you know the Grinnell Chamber Ambassadors meet every Tuesday morning at 9:30am? Our Ambassadors visit another member business each week, whether it be a new business, new chamber member, a company experiencing growth, new products, or new management, this group is on the frontlines of learning more about our business community and sharing that message with their connections. There are plenty of places doing new things for the Ambassadors to learn about - their weekly calendar is booked through the end of December!
They each commit to over 25 hours of their time every year, just in meeting other businesses. They commit additional time on top of that to spread the word to their connections. The Ambassadors are made up of representatives from a variety of chamber member businesses. If you're interested in becoming an ambassador, please let me know. There is no additional fee to participate. And if your business has recently experienced a new product, opening, management, etc. please let us know as we would love to schedule a visit for an upcoming Tuesday.
Our group most recently welcomed Memories Maid and owner Nichole Bushong to her new location at 901 Main Street with a ribbon cutting. Nichole has a variety of gift-like items to offer in the store, in addition to her freezer meals and event planning services. Stop in and check it out soon! 
-Rachael Kinnick

Meet Tony

Posted on 09/11/2015 at 3:51 PM
I recently had the pleasure of meeting 11-year-old Tony Neeley. What anamazing, selfless kid. He is going to be a philanthropic young man, I have no doubt. Tony is currently involved with Food for the Hungry, and has committed to sponsoring a child in a poverty-stricken area in Ethiopia. 
Each month, Tony sends letters, prayers and $35 to help Shagu, an orphaned boy just four months older than Tony, have a chance for a better life. 
Tony is out collecting empty pop cans in his neighborhood each week to raise the money to send to Shagu. I had the chance to meet him last month when he collected the cans from Friday Fest. What an inspiration to all of us to get involved and make a difference! 
Have you thought about how you could give back? There are so many ways, whether to an organization like the one Tony's involved with, or some right here in our own community. We have so many non-profit organizations doing great work in Grinnell and they are looking for help, from volunteers to board members to monetary donations. Please consider getting involved in one of the many organizations here and making a difference in our community. If you need an idea of where to start, please let me know - I'd be happy to help connect you with an organization that matches your interests.


Additionally, our business community is continually being asked to be supportive of different efforts taking place in Grinnell and surrounding areas. Would you do me a favor? Next time you see a business listed as a sponsor of an event or organization, please take the time to thank them, whether with your business or a simple 'thank you'. 



Feeling Artsy?

Posted on 09/03/2015 at 3:53 PM
When you think of a vibrant community, what are some things that come to mind? Perhaps the bustle of traffic, pedestrians, bike-friendly, a multitude of community events, beautiful flowers and public art. Our community is working on many of these initiatives, and a recent grant award to the Grinnell Area Arts Council will help add public art to our town.


The Arts Council was recently awarded a grant from the Iowa Arts Council to introduce a new public art initiative in Grinnell. The initiative will commission four works of public art to be installed in the downtown area of Grinnell next summer. The new pieces will join existing artwork (murals, mosaics and a small number of sculptures) in our community and will be added to our "art walking tour" that is published on our website and in our visitor guide. An increased selection and variety of public art also opens up possibilities for including those things on group tour itineraries.
The beauty of public art from a tourism perspective is that it is free-no tickets required. It is open to everyone, and you can view it alone or in groups. Public art adds to our culture and identity.
If you own a building or land in the downtown area and may be interested in hosting a piece of artwork, please let us know. And if you're an artist who may be interested in creating a piece of work, send us a note and we'll help connect you with more information.
--Rachael Kinnick
P.S. What else comes to mind when you think of vibrant communities? Please reply and let me know your thoughts! 
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