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'Tis Small Business Season

Posted on 11/08/2021 at 10:36 AM
I will be honest, I'm in disbelief that it is already November - I feel like we were just celebrating the Homecoming Parade yesterday - where did the entire month of October go?! At any rate, we are gearing up for all things holiday in our office (save the date for Jingle Bell Holiday, November 19!), and excited to be highlighting many of our small business retailers over the next several weeks. 
Many small businesses were hit exceptionally hard over the past two years, while big box stores and the behemoth who shall not be named, gobbled up the market share of online sales. While Small Business Saturday is a great thing, this year we are asking our community to join us in celebrating Small Business Season -- a whole season of celebrating small, local retailers. Why settle for just one day, right? 
Did you know that shopping locally keeps money right here in our own community? For every $100 spent locally, $68 is a direct return to our local economy, according to Fundera. If that's not enough, it's often our local businesses who are the ones contributing right back into the community in so many ways, too - by sponsoring the local sports teams, supporting local fundraisers and groups, purchasing ads from other local businesses, and so much more.  
In a world where you can shop anywhere, please make an effort to shop Grinnell this small business season. And remember, when you support small businesses, you're supporting a dream! 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Honoring Heroes

Posted on 07/09/2021 at 9:22 AM
Hearing the cheers, seeing the standing ovations for our 4th of July parade Grand Marshal, Dr. Lauren Graham, was quite possibly the most heartwarming thing I have recently experienced. During Sunday evening's parade, it was clear that most everyone along the route had a connection with Dr. Graham, or another of our healthcare heroes, who has been so incredibly committed to our community. 

We received many incredible and worthy nominations for this year's Grand Marshal, ultimately choosing Dr. Lauren Graham for this recognition. One nomination read in part, "During this past year she has been the frontline for healthcare serving our community in various aspects. Dr. Graham is an internist as well as the medical staff president at UPH Grinnell. In addition to those roles, she is also a mother and raises her family in our community. If that is not enough, during the past year she has been the community go-to in just about every aspect when it comes to COVID19. She continuously and positively advocated for #Grinntogether, #MaskUpGrinnell, #BehindtheMask and so many other things, leading us through such a challenging and trying unprecedented year.”
Dr. Graham serves as a general internist at UnityPoint Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center with a focus on high-risk outpatient care. She completed her medical school and residency at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore as well as a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology at The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio she and her husband moved to Grinnell in 2013. Her husband, Andrew, is a professor of chemistry and environmental sciences at Grinnell College. The couple have twin boys; Noah & Ben. 
To Dr. Graham and ALL of our healthcare heroes: thank you for your commitment to provide high quality, compassionate healthcare for our community today and every day. 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Have You Voted Today?

Posted on 06/24/2021 at 3:58 PM

We are excited to share and debut with you our #GrinnelliansUnite video that was submitted earlier this week to the #IowansUnite CommUNITY contest. The video with the most votes will win a custom mural for their downtown district. I'm a fairly competitive person and would really like to see us WIN this contest, but we need your votes daily through next Wednesday to make it happen. Simply go to THIS LINK and vote now for the Grinnell video! 
Over the past year we have seen our community, neighbors and businesses unite in unique ways through the pandemic as well as the derecho. Today, we are asking you to unite once again by voting for Grinnell, and asking your respective circles to do the same. And as much as we want to win a mural for our community (please vote daily!), we are so very proud of our community and all the positive campaigns, efforts and initiatives that have come out of the past year to help support our businesses, organizations and fellow Grinnellians. We have creatively and collaboratively come together to see #GrinnelliansUnite and we are excited for the future and continuing our work with each of you to make Grinnell an incredible place to live, learn, work and play. 
Together, #GrinnelliansUnite! 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Did You Start With Lemonade?

Posted on 06/18/2021 at 3:36 PM
Have you ever set up a lemonade stand? How about dog-walking, mowing lawns, a hot dog stand or even babysitting? Young entrepreneurs are all around us, and finding creative ways to make money and learn the ropes of business. In fact, this year we have seen a sizable increase in the number of young entrepreneurs attending Farmers Market - managing their own booth space, product and promotion. A great learning experience for them as they get their feet wet as young entrepreneurs in our community. An entrepreneur joining us this year is Milo with his business, Sweet Castle Soaps. Milo has joined us weekly since the beginning of the season and is learning a lot of valuable lessons and would love to see you on a Saturday morning in the near future! 

We also have some pretty incredible entrepreneurs in our community - people who are willing to take risks, work hard, and often stand alone for something they believe in. They are amazing individuals, business owners and community members. Please consider supporting our entrepreneurs, both young and young at heart, when you make your next purchases in our community. Your support goes a long way, and helps them continue to work hard and dream of the next innovative, creative and fun ideas! 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Let's Dine Outdoors!

Posted on 05/27/2021 at 10:32 AM
Who's ready for a new experience in downtown Grinnell? Streatery dining is coming soon! Late last summer, we worked with a few downtown businesses on a pilot program for in-street dining options to help restaurants creatively and safely serve customers in the midst of the pandemic. Less than a week after the City Council approved a pilot program, the derecho hit the community. As our staff and businesses were then dealing with other issues caused by the storm, the project was put on a temporary pause and unfortunately didn't gain traction before winter. 
We are excited to share that the streateries are once again in motion, and should be up and running soon! Within the next couple of weeks, we anticipate more outdoor dining options in our downtown district. Of course, this is in addition to the patio options already available at Relish Grinnell and Hotel Grinnell's Periodic Table. 
We know that we have a fairly short window of time to enjoy outdoor dining in Grinnell and Iowa in general, but are excited to see these spaces transform and help welcome residents and visitors alike. In polling we did last fall, nearly 82% of survey respondents noted they would dine out more frequently if outdoor dining were an option. While we know the addition of a vaccine has changed some of this outlook we believe this project is still pertinent and imperative to supporting our restaurant industry. We hope the streateries will not only help continue to boost consumer confidence, but provide an opportunity to enjoy some of the wonderful weather [present company not included ;) ] Iowa has to offer in the summer and fall. 
As soon as the streateries are up and running (hopefully within the week!), we'll be sure to let you know and will invite you to join us for a special ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate this new effort to creatively support some of our small businesses most impacted by the pandemic. 
--Rachael Kinnick 

It's Construction Season!

Posted on 04/16/2021 at 2:59 PM
As we head into the spring construction season and many are beginning or completing work left from derecho damage, we're taking time to remind you of some best practices when selecting contractors. Thanks to chamber investor, Ramsey-Weeks, for their assistance in pulling this information together. Below are some tips and things to keep in mind if you're planning to have work done.
Contractors: Local contractors are the best choice because if you encounter any issues later, they are often easier to reach and can usually help remedy any problems or future fixes. Click HERE to see a list of our member contractors.
With the amount of work needing completed in our area, local isn't always an option. When seeking contractors outside of the area, talk with others and see who they recommend. Be sure to confirm the appropriate licenses and insurance of contracts. It's okay to ask for Certificates of Insurance.
Some contractors may ask for a deposit or down payment before services begin. We recommend never paying in full until the work has been completed. 
  • Click HERE to find state licensed HVAC and plumbing contractors.
  • Click HERE to find a list of registered* contractors in the state.
  • *Note, to be registered with the state as a contractor, individuals only need to submit that they have liability insurance on file with the State.
  • Click HERE to confirm if a contractor is a licensed electrician.
Get Estimates: You don't necessarily need to get multiple estimates though it can be helpful to have a couple options. Ask for detailed estimates to compare with your insurance estimate and how it's broken down. When you compare your contractor and your insurance estimates, you need to be able to match the items. Total for siding, total for gutters, etc. If the estimate is over what your insurance estimate is, then you have to show where and why your insurance is short.   It’s easier to just get a detailed estimate up front from your contractor, if possible.
  • Additional Damage. If while doing the repairs additional damage is found, take pictures! Contact your Agent with those photos. Depending on the damage found and the extent, the adjuster may sign-off on the repairs or may need to come re-inspect before repairs are completed. 
Other Concerns: The derecho and freezing weather down south along with the pandemic have had a major impact on the construction industry. As a result, construction materials have seen a spike in costs. Those costs may not be reflected in the estimates you received last year and you may need to be in conversation with your insurance adjuster if your estimates are more than originally quoted. 
Reach out to your insurance adjuster if you've got additional questions or need guidance as you move through this process. If you're looking for insurance or wanting to switch to a new agent, check out our list of member agents.

Building Bandwidth

Posted on 04/01/2021 at 3:14 PM
In the spring of 2017 we worked with the City to jointly conduct downtown listening sessions to better guide some of our work in the downtown area, and what we heard from a number of businesses and community members was the need for better broadband infrastructure. We didn't quite know at the time what that meant, or what form it would take, but began working more diligently to develop broadband efforts in the community. 
As these efforts continue, the broadband issue has been raised more prominently on both a statewide and national scale as well. As part of our work with the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and in conjunction with Poweshiek Iowa Development, we are excited to participate in the Central Iowa Broadband Internet Survey. The survey covers 11 counties in the central Iowa region and the purpose of the survey is to measure broadband internet availability (as it stands today), and identify areas that do not currently meet consumer needs and expectations. Historically, much of our information has been anecdotal; however, this study will allow us to plot specific address points in the future to help ensure broader, and better, access to broadband for not only our area businesses but residents as well. 
The survey is open now through April 27 - it should only take a few minutes and will provide critical information to further drive the development of high-speed internet services in our area. There are two surveys: one for residential and one for businesses. Important to note: all surveys and speed tests should be taken from a computer as opposed to a cell phone, if possible, to ensure the data collected is reflective of each address and the service available to it. 
A special thanks goes to Poweshiek Iowa Development for recognizing the importance of this issue to our area businesses and residents across the county, and for their help in making it available for all in Poweshiek County to participate. 
Thank you all, in advance, for your help to ensure Poweshiek County is well-represented in this survey data. Don't live in Poweshiek County? No problem as 11 central Iowa counties are represented in the survey data including Jasper, Marshall & Polk. Please feel free to share these links with your own networks to ensure we collect as much data as possible. 
--Rachael Kinnick 

A Reflection: One Year of COVID-19

Posted on 03/28/2021 at 4:00 AM

This guest blog is from Jennifer Havens, CEO of UnityPoint Health® – Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC)


On March 21, 2020, GRMC had confirmation of our first COVID-19 positive patient. This marks an anniversary that deserves reflection. Our team members at UnityPoint Health – Grinnell have all served a vital role – whether direct or indirect – in caring for our patients and communities during this global pandemic.


They make me proud to be a leader at GRMC. Together, our team has faced tough challenges. We have experienced personal and professional loss, and yet in the midst of so much uncertainty and change, we stood up strike teams to care for residents of our long-term care facilities. We implemented new clinic processes to keep respiratory illness separate from other illness and injury care and from those seeking well-care appointments. 


We adjusted processes and protocols through the ever-changing guidance and information, to best protect ourselves, our patients and our communities while still living our mission to improve the health of the people and communities we serve. We expanded our telehealth options and took necessary steps to keep our hospital and clinics safe and ready to care for patients. Each day, I could count on our team members to show up with compassion and determination.


When our team felt exhausted, individuals and organizations stepped up to let us know they were with us. Yard signs, coffee cards, snacks and donations fueled us forward when we needed it most. I’m grateful for the way our communities truly sought to understand the virus and embrace mitigation efforts to protect themselves, each other and our health care heroes.


Though we are still managing COVID-19 at work and in our personal lives, it has become part of our daily operations. Our local public health team is dedicated to the ongoing administration of vaccines, leading us closer to a brighter future, where the weight of the pandemic will continue to subside. 


We will undoubtedly learn more about the COVID-19 virus and variants in the coming months and years. As we move forward with cautious hope and continued efforts to keep each other safe, I want to share my genuine thanks and appreciation to the team members at UnityPoint Health – Grinnell and to our communities and patients for rallying with us in this past year and into the days ahead.

A Year Ago This Week...

Posted on 03/26/2021 at 10:54 AM
Earlier this week, I logged into my Facebook account and was met with my memories from a year ago. A year ago this week, we were in the early days of the pandemic, and had just gotten our school supplies to begin our school-from-home adventure. While my kids were elated for what was to come (don't worry, the elation quickly faded!), I was a bit more hesitant. There was so much uncertainty with absolutely everything. Could we go anywhere or do anything? Would our businesses survive what they were experiencing and what was to come? Would I be able to balance working from home while attempting to educate three kids? 
I'll be honest, those early days of the pandemic are now a bit of a blur to me, and I'm guessing to many others as well. Someone recently asked me about a conversation that happened early in the pandemic, and I could only respond that I vaguely remember where I was while we were having the discussion (in my driveway watching the kids ride bikes!) but had almost zero recollection of the actual topics discussed. Things were moving so quickly, and we were all balancing so much - in some ways it feels like a miracle that we are where we are today. And while we're certainly not done with COVID yet, things continue to improve and we're nearing our new normal ever-so-slowly. 
I want to give a shoutout to all of you reading who held it together through whatever you have faced to be where you are today. It wasn't easy, and still isn't, but it's getting better. And I hope that it's allowed each of us to realize just how important people, relationships, businesses, health and wellness, and so much more, are to our every-day lives. 
Keep on keeping on, friends! 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Let's Eat!

Posted on 02/11/2021 at 11:48 AM
Let's Eat!
Did you know there were over 300,000* people, 1 in every 10, in Iowa struggling with hunger and food insecurity pre-pandemic? Unfortunately that number has continued to rise throughout the past ten months and we have seen a local increase in SNAP benefit usage, Double Up Food Buck participation, visits to MICA and heightened use of the recently-formed Grinnell Food Coalition grocery voucher program. It is clear that hunger has, and continues to, impact our community. 
The Grinnell Food Coalition was established soon after the pandemic took hold, and has been working to support local families gain access to food since that time. The group recently learned of the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, having participated late last year, but now has an opportunity to expand that partnership to reach more families in our area. The group will be partnering to bring 1,188 food boxes TODAY (February 11) to Grinnell to help support individuals and families around the area in need. Each box includes approximately 30 pounds of fresh foods (apples, oranges, onions, potatoes, milk, etc) to supplement individuals who may be continuing to feel the strain caused by the pandemic. There are no income guidelines or geographical boundaries to receive a box. Individuals or families interested in receiving a box can come TODAY to 2021 Hwy 6 (see map above) between 4 & 6PM to receive a box!
I'd like to give a BIG shoutout to the Food Coalition team who helped pull today's distribution together. Less than 2 weeks ago, the group had a meeting and decided to 'go for it' to help bring this much-needed food support to our area, and today they'll be working along with a number of community volunteers to help get 1,188 boxes of food in the hands of fellow community members. A truly amazing effort! 
--Rachael Kinnick 
p.s. Another truck will arrive on February 25 with an additional 1,188 boxes to help support our community so if today doesn't work for you, mark this date on your calendar! 
p.p.s. Last week we wrote to share about an exciting new program, Gifting Grinnell, and the first week's auction is now live! Check it out HERE
*Data from Feeding America.
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