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Rachael Kinnick
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One to Watch - Susan Schmidt

Posted on 04/03/2019 at 12:13 PM

The One to Watch Award recognizes individuals who have started businesses, expanded operations or done exemplary work as part of an organization. These individuals strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment, and serve as role models for others in the business community. 

The third One to Watch recipient is a native of Grinnell, and is passionate about the community. For years she has been inspired to consider an entrepreneurial venture and recently took the steps to make it happen. She is dedicated to growing a hometown business and is continually inspired by others in the community. 

Having opened a business in June 2018 in a downtown space, she is passionate about fashion and helping ladies feel their best while having a fun place to shop. Although her business hasn’t even celebrated one full year yet, she is establishing new partnerships and building connections with Grinnellians and other communities alike. She established partnerships with other boutiques in neighboring communities to host various shopping events encouraging women to travel and explore new stores. 

She has many exciting ideas on the horizon, and we’re pleased to recognize Susan Schmidt of Suzi’s Boutique as a One to Watch this year. 

One to Watch - Bill Kostow

Posted on 04/01/2019 at 4:04 PM

The One to Watch Award recognizes individuals who have started businesses, expanded operations or done exemplary work as part of an organization. These individuals strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment, and serve as role models for others in the business community. 

Our second One to Watch recipient is quickly developing into a true community leader. Whether through his professional role or his dedication to the youth of our community, he has committed his leadership and time to numerous organizations and leagues. 

He’s a leader with core values and understands community and faith. He teaches these values to the children in our community through his active involvement in sports teams as a coach, volunteer and supporter. His mentorship, knowledge and energy is contagious. 

His number one rule is to Have Fun and the second is to Listen. These rules albeit basic, are refreshing and thought provoking whether in a work environment or on the fields or courts. 

He is one of this year’s most nominated individuals, and we simply cannot ignore his dedication to this community.

Congratulations to our second One to Watch recipient, Bill Kostow of Lincoln Savings Bank and Community Youth Volunteer Extraordinaire! 

One to Watch - Cheryl Juhl

Posted on 03/29/2019 at 4:01 PM

The One to Watch Award recognizes individuals who have started businesses, expanded operations or done exemplary work as part of an organization. These individuals strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment, and serve as role models for others in the business community. We awarded 4 One to Watch awards this year. 

Our first One to Watch recipient is someone who is driven, caring and compassionate. Last year she responded to an advertisement seeking an entrepreneur and has certainly gotten her feet wet in business ownership over the past year. She recently started her own business in the service and retail industry and is committed to helping make Grinnell a vibrant place to call home and her business compares to something you might find in much larger cities.  

She is passionate about animals and loves spending her days with them. Alongside the building owner, she worked hard to outfit her new space to help satisfy a growing community need; pet care and supplies. 

We look forward to seeing what she accomplishes with her new business.


Congratulations to our One to Watch recipient, Cheryl Juhl, owner of Hair of the Dog Salon. 

Volunteer of the Year

Posted on 03/28/2019 at 11:53 AM

The volunteer of the year award recognizes someone or someones who have devoted significant time and efforts to community service initiatives. This year we recognize an individual who spearheaded a successful effort to gain community support while pulling in an incredible team of folks to help achieve the project. 

With a little less than nine weeks from start to finish (and more realistically about 6 weeks from the time approval was gained), this individual hit the ground running and immediately assumed a leadership role. She demonstrated incredible organization and collaborative leadership to pull all the pieces together. From a limited budget to an even more limited timeline, a vision was created and individuals from all walks of the community convened to assist in executing the vision. 

The group began meeting weekly with even more regular email check-ins to ensure the project would come together in time for the kick-off event. And thanks to this dedicated team, Central Park became a winter winterland for the holiday season, debuting in front of a full house during our annual Jingle Bell Holiday event. Community members and visitors alike found themselves wandering through the beautifully decorated space and made special trips to visit Central Park in the six weeks it was decorated. The excitement and fun photos generated from this project was unprecedented. 

And it didn’t stop there – the group helped organize Santa in the Shelter which was held every Saturday in December with community members and visitors making special trips downtown to partake in the events. Service organizations stepped up to help support and organize this well-received community event and provided hot chocolate, cookie decorating and a chance to warm by the fire. ​​​​​​​

And the great news? Efforts and planning have already commenced for this year’s holiday season! 

This group, led by their fearless leader, is to be commended for their amazing efforts to make Central Park and the 2018 Holiday Season one to remember.

Congratulations to Jennifer McAlexander and the Central Park Holiday Committee of Michelle Butler, Daniel Clements, Gailanne Dill, Jill Hollingsworth, Kevin McAlexander, Kerri Olson, Dodi & Dennis Reilly & Jim White, our 2019 Volunteers of the Year. 

Community Betterment Award

Posted on 03/26/2019 at 9:05 AM

This year’s Community Betterment Award pairs a vacant downtown building with a community need, culminating in another wonderful example of public-private partnership. While variations of this project have occurred in recent years, nothing quite this visible and collaborative had yet taken place. 

Communities across the state and nation, both smaller and larger, are envious of this public-private partnership and have reached out to better understand all that goes into making it successful to see if it can be mirrored in their own communities. This project has helped establish Grinnell as a vibrant, collaborative and hip place to live and visit. 

We believe this project will continue to aid in the creation of 18-hour vitality in our downtown and encourage entrepreneurship and artistic flair simultaneously. The downtown building has been completely renovated to house various uses and groups, including a storefront which regularly hosts events and local artists markets, studio space for artists, the MLab: a makers space collaboration for creative community, fabrication and tinkering, and a ceramics community. 


This project has brought community members together in a way that uses arts and culture as the impetus but is more widespread in encouraging community to engage in new and different ways. 

Congratulations to The Stew Art Studios, the recipient of the 2019 Community Betterment Award. 

Entrepreneur of the Year

Posted on 03/24/2019 at 11:18 AM

The entrepreneur of the year demonstrates entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, creativity, determination and perseverance. 


This entrepreneur is hard-working, dedicated and passionate. Having recently opened a storefront in downtown Grinnell to give better recognition and accessibility to his business, he also recognizes the value of involvement. He realizes he gains more personally and professionally by being involved and engaged in various ways. He is strongly committed to his work, his family, his faith and the Grinnell community. 


He recently said, “Building a business requires a lot of time and money. You need to be willing to invest both.” Perhaps it’s because he drives a very visible truck for his business or because his storefront is lit at all hours of the day, but it’s an understatement to say he invests a lot of time working and growing his business. 

Congratulations to Kevin McAlexander of Hawkeye Lock & Security, our 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year. 

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! 

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