We generally start to talk about shopping local around the holiday season (which is only 20 weeks away if you're curious), but this weekend is a different sort of holiday. The State of Iowa hosts its annual Sales Tax Holiday Friday & Saturday this week. No sales tax, including local option sales tax, will be collected on clothing or footwear priced under $100, giving you a great excuse to do some shopping this weekend.
I recently saw a sandwich board that said 'Keep your money closer so your community can go further'. Don't miss your opportunity to save some money today and tomorrow while you support our local business community. Additionally, many of our retailers are offering some great back-to-school specials in addition to your tax-free purchases. Check out the tag sale at Phase 2 Consignments, the Under Armour sale at Giggles & Bows, and the backpack sale at the Pioneer Bookshop, just to name a few!
Whew, it's another warm one out there today! Make sure you take advantage of some great community attractions and events to beat the heat this week, and the remaining days of summer. (Side note: can you believe school will be starting in just under a month?!) Here are our staff's top picks:
1. Grab a popsicle or an iced coffee from the Farmers Market
2. Relax on the lazy river at the Grinnell Mutual Aquatic Center
3. Cool off by taking in a movie at the Strand Theatre (remember, the Big Sick is showing tomorrow)
4. Take a dip in the Grinnell College Golf Course pool
5. Experience some great events at Drake Community Library over the next several weeks
6. Keep the house cool by turning the oven off, and letting our restaurants do the cooking for you!
7. Visit the Faulconer Gallery
8. Snag a cool treat from Dari Barn
And finally, remember Grinnell Regional Medical Center has a cooling station anytime the heat index reaches 95 or above. Stay hydrated and stay cool, friends!
"A doctor, a policeman, a fireman!" These are the answers I hear when I ask my now 5-year old what he wants to be when he grows up, and I can only imagine the variations I will hear throughout the years. After all, how are we expected to know what we want to be at such an early age? Heck, there are probably some of you reading this still wondering what you want to be when you 'grow up'! And while it may be a challenge to figure it out, remember to always reach for the stars and never lose sight of your dreams.
You may remember a couple months ago, Kumail Nanjiani, a Grinnell College alum, addressed the Class of 2017 at Grinnell College's Commencement, and encouraged students to reach for their dreams. Several years ago he came to Grinnell as a student majoring in computer science, but along the way discovered a passion for comedy. Getting his start in Bob's Underground Cafe on campus, he determined one of his dreams was to become a comedian and an actor, and he made it happen. In theatres this week (and coming to Grinnell next Friday) is a film written by Nanjiani, The Big Sick.
In celebration of the national release of The Big Sick, starring Kumail Nanjiani '01, Grinnell College has purchased 100 tickets to this featured film playing at the Grinnell Strand Theatre. Fifty lucky winners will win two tickets for showings starting Friday, July 28. If you would like to be included in the drawing for tickets, please send an email by 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 27th to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether this film is of interest to you or not, I encourage you to use it as a reminder to pursue your own dreams, whatever they may be.
p.s. Remember that if those dreams include opening or growing a business in Grinnell, our office is here to help you take the next step!
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 what freedom means to you.
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 241 years ago, 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 our community would not be what it is today. For well over two hundred years, people from all walks of life have been pursuing their 'American Dream' and are able to do this because of our freedom as a nation.
Today we celebrate freedom as John Adams, the second president of the United States, had anticipated: "I am apt to believe this day will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other."
Join us in Grinnell as we celebrate our freedom with the annual Fourth of July parade which will be begin at 5pm on the Fourth (find route information here). At dusk that evening, fireworks can be viewed from Ahrens Park. We'll wrap up the celebration on Friday, July 7 with Friday Fest on Main Street from 7-11pm featuring Grinnell's Nick Wallace and Whiplash.
So as you enjoy your time with family and friends this weekend, please take a few moments to think about how our nation's freedom has impacted your life, our community, our state and our country.
p.s. The State of Iowa legalized fireworks earlier this year, and while you can purchase fireworks at designated locations in Grinnell, please be aware they are not legal to shoot within city limits, pursuant to city code.
A little over a month ago, I received an email from a high school senior who had worked in our office last year. He told me he was in the midst of finalizing his capstone project, something every Grinnell-Newburg student is required to complete prior to graduation, and was hoping he could meet with me to discuss it more. We set up a meeting a few days later, and he told me more about his project and ultimate goal - incorporating a tennis tournament into Grinnell Games. Without much hesitation, I said we would be more than willing to consider adding it to the event, but would need his help to pull it off. He was excited to help it come to fruition, and helped organize the event in a matter of a few weeks. He reached out to other colleagues and mentors to assist in the planning, recruited volunteers and was on-site all day to manage the registration and tournament itself (photos below).
Had Jean Paul never sent me an email, or picked up the phone, we would not have incorporated a tennis tournament into the event this year, but we did. He showed incredible courage and determination - both great qualities of an entrepreneur. I'm confident J.P. will be successful as he enters his freshman year at Iowa State in the fall, and am excited to see him continue pursuing his dreams.
I encourage you to use his story as a reminder: Always follow your dreams, and don't be afraid. You may be told no, but the opposite could also happen. As Beverly Sills said, "You may be disappointed if you fail, but you're doomed if you don't try." Always try, and always follow your dreams.
Jean Paul, left, poses with Heath at the conclusion of the singles tennis tournament during Grinnell Games weekend.
Occasionally I hear people say there is nothing to do in Grinnell but that is certainly not the case this weekend. There are SO MANY things going on in our community - I'm confident you can find something to do! Here's a run-down of a few of this weekend's activities.
Grinnell Games, presented by Grinnell State Bank, kicks off Friday evening with the Warrior Run at Ahrens Park beginning at 8pm. Not registered yet? Don't worry - you can still register online for all events at www.grinnellgames.com or you can sign up day-of at each event location. The Sprint Triathlon starts at 8am Saturday morning, followed by the FREE Lil' Warrior Run at 10am on Grinnell College's Campus (south of Noyce Science Center). The UV Splash 5K will take place Saturday night at 9:30pm and the event will be rounded out on Sunday morning with the 5K beginning and ending near Grinnell High School, and the tennis tournament on the new GHS courts.
Grinnell Games is also featuring several free events throughout the weekend, with the Avengers of the Knight around to pose for photos beginning at 7:30pm Friday evening. This summer's first Movie Under the Stars will be showing A League of Their Own beginning at approximately 9:30pm at Ahrens Park on Friday evening. The Lil' Warrior Run takes place Saturday morning at 10am on Grninell College's Central Campus, free face painting and family field day activities are available from 10am-3pm, plus we'll have face painting, activities, balloon animals and a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning beginning at 8:30am near the Grinnell High School's main entrance.
As if that's not enough, Grinnell College is also hosting Summerfest on Saturday from 11am-8pm. You can experience even more family fun, food trucks, entertainment, art, history, music and science. There will be lectures and workshops by Grinnell College faculty, Science Center of Iowa, Blank Park Zoo, CultureAll, and Eulenspiegel Puppets! The event will also feature Broadway's Next Hit Musical at 7pm, an improv musical comedy inspired by suggestions from the audience! You won't want to miss it. For the full schedule of activities visit https://www.grinnell.
The Jewel Box Quilt Guild has been hard at work over the past two years and will be holding their Quilt Show at Faulconer Gallery in conjunction with Summerfest. Over 100 beautiful quilts are displayed as part of this year's show. Hours are 11am to 6pm Saturday, and the show is free to attend. Quilt raffle tickets can be purchased with the raffle winner announced at 6:30pmSaturday in Haight Courtyard, adjacent to Faulconer Gallery.
The Grinnell Fire Department will also be holding Water Fights downtown, beginning at noon on Saturday. Fire departments will be competing in water fights on Park Street between 4th & 5th Avenues, and spectators are welcome! Before you head to the water fights, make sure you visit the Grinnell Farmers Market which takes place every Saturday from 10am to noon in their usual location along Broad Street at Central Park.
Finally, Ahrens Park is hosting the Small Town Baseball Tournament over the weekend, which is expected to bring in 48 youth baseball teams. If you somehow find yourself with nothing to do over the next few days you can head to the ball diamonds to catch a couple innings and support the Tiger teams competing.
Whew, what a weekend! Hope to see you out and about enjoying these wonderful activities over the next few days!
p.s. Want to see the inside of the Spaulding Lofts and new City Offices? Join us for an open house today from 4-6pm. Brief remarks will begin at 4:15pm with tours to follow.
Nearly two years ago to the day, we received news that Grinnell's application as an Iowa Reinvestment Act District was officially approved by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Since receiving this news a number of people and projects have sprung into action. While large-scale projects can take an incredible amount of time to come to fruition, some exciting things are on the horizon, with a couple of them targeted for completion in the next few months!
The application included a number of projects: repurposing the Community Center into a Boutique Hotel & Event Center, a Central Park makeover, the final phase of downtown reconstruction, Grinnell College campus improvements, and new projects located in the 'Zone of Confluence' - part of the area between campus and community. Essentially, the Reinvestment Act allows state taxes collected over a period of time to be reinvested into these projects.
As with many ventures, there always seems to be a fair amount of skepticism, but I want to spend some time today providing an update on these projects. Firstly, Central Park is really coming together and is anticipated to be open by early fall! If you've not taken the time recently, I would encourage you to check it out: the stage and shelter areas are nearing completion, and the crew will soon begin work on the splash pad, final grading and seeding the area. Downtown street reconstruction is also on the 2017 calendar - crews are currently working on 5th Avenue between Park & State Streets, and once this portion is finished, will be moving to Broad Street between 5th & 6th Avenues with anticipated completion in November.
Hotel Grinnell, the downtown boutique hotel and event center, is anticipating opening in just 60 days (and is currently looking to hire nearly 50 employees)! Having begun construction just seven months ago, this one has been in fast-forward, and is using many local contractors. This adaptive reuse project is transforming the 1921 Junior High School (most recently the community center and city offices) into a 45-room hotel, 350-seat ballroom, 550-seat auditorium, lobby bar and outdoor patio. Hotel Grinnell is independent and unique, and will strive to offer an authentic local experience.
The College continues to acquire land in the Zone of Confluence, and has swapped the land directly north of St. Mary's Catholic Church for the St. Mary's Religious Education Center across the street on Broad. St. Mary's has begun construction on their new center, and is currently leasing the building across the street from the College for $1/month until their new space is complete.
Grinnell College has broken ground on their Humanities and Social Studies Complex (HSSC) on campus, and the new portion of the building is beginning to emerge. Plans for the 196,000-square-foot complex include renovation and revitalization of Alumni Recitation Hall (ARH) and Carnegie Hall. When the complex is ready for occupancy in the fall of 2020, it will include 40 classrooms complete with advanced technology to support changes in education, 145 faculty offices, team and social spaces, and a redesigned auditorium.
All of these projects combined have great potential to attract more people to our community and downtown. We will keep you updated as these projects continue to come together. Exciting things ahead!
Much of our work is spent strengthening the local Grinnell community, and as such, it's important that we work with the other communities in our region. The old adage that we're stronger together is so true and we can accomplish great things when we work together. You may not know that our Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, which is a powerhouse regional chamber in Des Moines. We work together with the Partnership and its 23 affiliate chamber of commerces to work toward a common goal of strengthening central Iowa as a great place to do business and raise families. Our local chamber members are all members of the Des Moines Partnership, which represents over 6,000 business members and is the 4th largest chamber in the nation. I think that speaks volumes for the collaboration, and regionalism, happening in our state.
It's easy for those of us in Grinnell to look at Des Moines as a giant and opponent, but the great things happening there can have ripple effects felt throughout the region. Rather than working in our own bubble, we aim to collaborate with our counterparts and neighbors in other communities to learn from each other and grow stronger together.
Just last week, I was fortunate to be part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership's Annual Des Moines to DC trip, along with a couple others from our community. Not only did we have the chance to talk with our elected delegation and their staffs about a number of issues important to the continued growth and vibrancy of our community, but we were able to network with more than 200 business 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, making Grinnell and Central Iowa an amazing place to live, learn, work and play.
This week we celebrate National Tourism Week. We all have those favorite vacations we've taken, places we're excited to go visit next, or trips you're dreaming of planning. Most of us look forward to getting out of town for the weekend and relaxing but have you ever thought about being tourist in our own community?
We all have our go-to dinner place in town, but instead of doing a whole meal in one spot have you done a Progressive Dinner? We've got one mapped out for you on our website but with the wide range of great restaurants in Grinnell, the combinations are endless!
After months of rain and chilly temperatures, what better way to welcome summer than by getting out to one of the parks or the sweeping bike trails! Don't forget, Grinnell Games is right around the corner with a whole weekend of family fun activities geared toward getting everyone outside!
If you need a break from the great outdoors, stop in the Faulconer Art Gallery and take in some of the great collections they have throughout the year. Currently on display is Robert Hodierne's Vietnam War Photographs. This chilling collection gives you a look inside the war through the eyes of a Grinnell College student. Don't forget to stop by The Loft Theatre and catch one of the locally-produced features or a national show while you're out!
We could go on and on with ideas on how to be a tourist in Grinnell but the most important part is that you get out and experience everything our community has to offer. There's nothing more we want than to show the world how great Grinnell is but we need your help doing it. So go, get out there and take in Grinnell. And the next time someone asks you where to take a weekend trip, tell them about the Jewel of the Prairie.
They may be small, but they are mighty. Grinnell's small businesses are integral to making our community thrive. As we celebrate National Small Business Week, we recognize their ongoing commitment and thank our small businesses who work hard to serve our community. 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.
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 Small Business Association (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 this week.
In honor of Small Business Week, we encourage you to look local for 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.
As this week comes to a close, let's remember the importance of looking local. Please join me in saying THANK YOU to the small businesses that make Grinnell a more prosperous community!