Grinnell Chamber

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Rachael Kinnick
Kendra Tucker
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Let's Be Welcoming!

Posted on 08/24/2018 at 12:28 PM

As we begin to welcome the 466 members of the Class of 2022 to Grinnell and Grinnell College's campus this week, and all their peers returning for their remaining years as Pioneers, I encourage you all to take the time to be a little more friendly. 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 make our cash registers ring, they'll become our employees and 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 weeks to come. Our educational institutions bring a beautifully young and diverse community that most communities would do anything to attract. Let's all do our part to help make them feel welcome here for the years to come. 

--Rachael Kinnick


p.s. Speaking of students (Happy 1st day to the G-N SD!), if you happen to have school-aged children (ages 5-12), would you mind taking a few minutes to take this survey regarding before-and-after school care in Grinnell? This was a hot topic generated from our childcare study earlier this summer and a group of folks are working on possible solutions now, but want and need your input!

Who's Ready to Fly?

Posted on 08/16/2018 at 12:00 PM

It's finally here -- Fly Iowa 2018 is being hosted in Grinnell this weekend, and you're all invited! Our committee has been meeting for over a year to bring this event to fruition, and we officially kick things off tomorrow with the Youth Rally geared towards aviation education and outlining different career opportunities (pre-registration required). 

Things culminate with the Fly-In Breakfast and Air Show on Saturday, beginning bright and early at 6am! Join us for the Optimists' Fly-In Breakfast from 6 to 11am(tickets available in advance or at the door), kids' activities including a scavenger hunt, bounce house and rock climbing wall, the Re/Max hot air balloon tethered rides and stick around for the Air Show scheduled to begin at noon. One of our performers will also be giving paid plane rides earlier in the morning (must be 11 years old) if you want to get in the air yourself!  

We've also been learning all week about various military static displays that will be on-site and have found out a Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter will be at this year's Fly Iowa event! And our air show performers will be on-site talking with guests, entertaining, and we're so excited for you to see them all. Skydivers, formation flying, a Stearman and even a comedic act: get there early to enjoy all the fun and see the planes before the show starts at noon! 

Fly Iowa Grinnell has been planned by a dedicated group of core volunteers, and will take the help of an additional 50 people on Saturday! The event has been graciously supported by an incredible number of sponsors including Unity Point Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Bernie Lowe & Associates, Manatts, CGA, Grinnell College, Grinnell Mutual, Pagliai's, Hy-Vee, Lowry Flying Service, Grinnell Optimists, Bikes to You, Total Choice, Grinnell Herald Register, ACE Hardware, Wes Finch Auto Plaza, Ramsey-Weeks, Grinnell Outdoor Power and Service, Van Wall Equipment, CARE Ambulance, Paul Berge, Claude Spears, Chuck McDonald and Doug Rozendaal. 

For more information on the day's activities, click here. We'll see you at the Airport Saturday for this exciting (and free!) community event! 

380 Hours

Posted on 08/03/2018 at 3:07 PM

Every day has 24 hours, right? On August 18 we'll cram 380 hours into one day! This is the number of volunteer hours needed to make Fly Iowa happen between our committee members and volunteer shifts. Fly Iowa is scheduled for Saturday, August 18 and the day's events begin bright and early at 6am with the Optimists' Annual Fly-In Breakfast (until 11am) followed by an Air Show beginning at noon.  

We need help from the community to make it a success! You see, events like this don't simply happen. We've had a committee of approximately 15 individuals working behind-the-scenes for months to help pull all the details together to make Grinnell shine when we host Fly Iowa. But we still have several volunteer shifts to fill. Would you consider helping with a shift or two? It's always fun to attend events; however, we don't often give thought to the smiling faces greeting us, parking vehicles, or cleaning up after us but those volunteers are an integral part of the success of any event. Please consider making Fly Iowa Grinnell a successful event by volunteering a few hours of your time on August 18. You can reply to this email to sign-up or email


You can find more details about the Fly Iowa event here. And if you're interested in registering your child (ages 5-12) for the youth rally on Friday, sign up soon as we're almost at capacity! 


We'll see you at Fly Iowa 2018 at the Grinnell Regional Airport on Saturday, August 18 for food, airplanes and free fun! 

--Rachael Kinnick


p.s. I hope we'll see you in Central Park tonight for our final FridayNight Live of the season. Things kick off at 5:30pm wiith Gabe Burdulis, followed by The Boys. Pre and post-music will be on Hotel Grinnell's outdoor patio as well, so make it a great night of live music in downtown Grinnell! 

Christmas in July

Posted on 07/27/2018 at 8:44 AM


We're only 152 days from Christmas - have you started your holiday shopping yet?! Just kidding, it's a little too early for even me to start thinking about the holiday -- I'm loving the summer weather way too much. As we look to plan fun, community-oriented events we've been approached by community members about planning something for the holidays in the newly renovated Central Park and that's where we need your help. Everyone seems to have their own visions for an event, but inevitably several want our organization to take the lead. While we're certainly happy to be involved and help facilitate and make connections, we want this to be a true community event, and we need your help to do it.  


So here's the call: if you've got ideas for a fun holiday event, and want to be involved in bringing something to fruition, please make plans to join us on Wednesday, August 8 at 5pm in Central Park. Planning events and activities takes time and we want to be sure we get started early enough to pull something together!  We'll meet there for inspiration and brainstorming, and begin compiling possibilities along with individuals or organizations who can help bring them to life. If you're able to attend, please let me know by responding to this email! 


Speaking of Christmas in July, if some of you are ready to start thinking about holiday shopping, would you please look local first? And be sure to check out the Handmade for the Holidays pop-up retail today and tomorrow at 219 West Street for some fun holiday gift ideas. 


Will we see you on August 8 to get into the holiday spirit? I hope so! 


p.s. We're in need of many hands to help bring the Fly Iowa event to life on August 18. Would you please consider volunteering your time that day? Email Clara at to sign up today! 

Neighbors in Need

Posted on 07/20/2018 at 4:15 PM
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!  

Original Post: 

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! 
--Rachael Kinnick

Meet Clara

Posted on 07/05/2018 at 2:25 PM

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!

--Clara Johnson

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! 

What Does Freedom Mean to You

Posted on 06/28/2018 at 4:36 PM

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. 

Defining the "Zone"

Posted on 06/21/2018 at 10:18 AM

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.

Rural Advocates

Posted on 05/25/2018 at 9:04 AM

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. 

--Rachael Kinnick

Recognizing Small

Posted on 04/26/2018 at 11:10 AM

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!

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