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Rachael Kinnick
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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.

Share the Love

Posted on 01/25/2021 at 11:15 AM
Share the Love
For those of you, like me, who haven't given it much thought yet: Valentine's Day is only 19 days away! If you celebrate Valentine's Day, we hope you'll consider ways to do it locally. Many of our businesses rely heavily on Valentine's Day as a major source of income for their business (think flower shops, chocolates, wine, desserts, etc) - even more so than the holiday season. And with many things still looking quite a bit different this year, we need your help to continue to support them! Given that many of us are still not in our pre-2020 routines (back to the office, in school, etc.) it may be easy to overlook sharing the love this Valentine's Day; however, we encourage you to find ways to continue to show your appreciation and love for those in your life while also supporting our locally owned businesses. 
Why not pick up a bouquet of flowers, a boutique experience, a new book, a gift card for dinner, a bottle of wine and/or some wonderful dessert from any of our restaurants? There is much to offer for the loved ones in your life this February, but get your orders in early so you can help our businesses plan ahead and staff appropriately! 
I hope you'll find ways to continue to share the love in the next few weeks! 
Rachael Kinnick

BYOB - Bring Your Own Blanket!

Posted on 12/04/2020 at 1:54 PM
This week's warmer-than-normal December days have us excited for all the ways to get out and embrace this beautiful weather. We encourage you to bring your own blanket to enjoy some outdoor time and support our small businesses in the process! Take some time next Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday (forecasted to be the warmest) to enjoy lunch in Central Park (or anywhere outdoors!) - order lunch from a locally-owned restaurant, bring your own blanket and enjoy it outdoors where you can more easily physical distance. What a great way to help support our restaurants, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet and could really use our support!
While you're at it, find a day to head to many wonderful shops right here in Grinnell as you enjoy the weather and get more of your holiday shopping completed. And if that's not enough, make plans to enjoy our beautifully decorated Central Park this holiday season. The weather will be perfect for it in the next couple weeks and the park looks wonderful thanks to an amazing team of volunteers. Most certainly something to give you some holiday cheer this season! 
As you do each of these, please make sure to do it safely while masking, maintaining physical distance and not participating if you do not feel well or are awaiting COVID test results. 
I hope you'll take some time to embrace this winter weather and support our small businesses. They NEED our support now and in the days to come. 
Mask Up & Support Grinnell this holiday season! 
--Rachael Kinnick

Giving Tuesday

Posted on 12/01/2020 at 11:37 AM

We talked with Jennifer Cogley with the Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation about how you can give locally this year. Below are the specific organizations discussed in our Facebook video but please know there are so many great organizations beyond these here in Grinnell. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions. You can call us at 641-236-6555.  

Grinnell Food Coalition: This organization was launched at the beginning of the pandemic to help address the needs of food assistance as a result of job loss, hour reduction, etc. They're currently serving over 290 families and over 700 individuals. Click HERE to learn more or donate.

Poweshiek Housing Assistance Fund: This fund was started pre-pandemic but expidiated to help those who are housing insecure. Monetary donations through the Ahren's Foundation can be made HERE or donations to care packages can be made at Drake Community Library. Call the library at 641-236-2661 for more details.

Grinnell Area Mental Health Consortium - JPK: Helps those seeking mental health care or assistance with prescription costs. Providers apply for individuals. Mental health needs continue to grow and more individuals will need help as we move through the pandemic and the winter months. Learn more and donate HERE.

Other Ahren's Family Foundation program information including Tiger Packs, S.H.E. Counts, and more can be found HERE.

Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation has over 200 local funds including the Grinnell-Newburg School District Foundation (helping students get access to internet services) and the Non-Profit Emergency Relief Fund. Learn more about all of their programs and donate HERE.

Small Business Relief Fund: Started by the Chamber to help our small businesses survive the pandemic. Click HERE to learn more and donate.

Chamber Champions: Support the Chamber of Commerce and our work supporting area businesses. Click HERE to learn more about this program and donation options.

Grinnell Area Arts Council: Not only can you purchase directly from local artists through their website, you can also support the organization in continuing to provide programing and opportunities for all ages in the arts. Click HERE to learn more.

Ministerial Association: Donations coming in this year have been reduced and the asks for assistance has increased. They help provide for lodging, food, gas, and other needs for people in Grinnell. To learn more and donate, call 641-236-4136.

Healthcare Organizations: All our healthcare organizations in Grinnell are non-profits. They're on the front lives of the pandemic fight. Learn more about the GRMC Foundation HERE, the St. Francis Foundation HERE, and the Mayflower Foundation HERE.

Don't forget to denote your local chapters of national organizations to make sure you donations have the biggest opportunity to support your local community.

Special thanks to the Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation for joining us to discuss these opportunities to and for their partnership as a premier investor in the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Grinnell Gift Guide

Posted on 11/20/2020 at 4:30 PM


We created a collection of gift ideas to inspire you to look local this holiday season. With great retail options, beautiful home decor, fresh local food and more, there's something for everyone right here in Grinnell. Click HERE to view the gift guide.









Saluting Small

Posted on 09/24/2020 at 4:01 PM
It's Small Business Week! Generally celebrated in May and recognized by the Small Business Administration, this year's promotion was moved to September due to the pandemic. Regardless of timing, we are excited to celebrate our small businesses this week and every week. There is no question our businesses, particularly our small businesses, have experienced one of the toughest years imaginable. 
The statistics are bleak. I've been on several calls this week with organizations that support small business across the country, and the outlook is concerning, at best. Several of them noted that approximately 30% of small business owners they support do not have the cash flow or business to keep them open through the end of the year. These numbers are even more-so concerning if you're one of the individuals who have poured your heart and soul into owning and operating a small business. 
Small business owners are entrepreneurial by nature - they take risks, they are independent, they drive growth and innovation. They are resilient, tenacious, creative and inventive. But they are tired, and they need us to rally around them. Just this week a few of our small businesses announced changes to their daily operations in an effort to help keep their businesses open for the long haul. Please do what you can to help support our small businesses this week during Small Business Week and every week thereafter. 
To the small business owners in our community: We see you trying to make ends meet and hold it all together. We are in your corner to help you get through these challenges, and are hoping for better days ahead. We salute you! 
--Rachael Kinnick 
p.s. If you'd like to support above and beyond your regular purchases, we are still accepting donations to the Grinnell Small Business Relief Fund which has helped provide support to more than 50 small businesses in Grinnell, and is continuing to make grant financial support as this pandemic continues. 

Article 1, Section 2

Posted on 09/17/2020 at 2:36 PM
It's Constitution Day! On this day, in 1787 the Constitution of the United States was signed. Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 articulates the need to count people on a regular and routine basis*. We are rapidly nearing the end of September which has been marked as 2020's last day to collect census data. If you have not yet done so, I strongly encourage you to take the next ten minutes to complete your 2020 Census by clicking here or by calling 844-330-2020.  
As of yesterday's date, Grinnell's response rate was reported at 72.2% and Poweshiek County is at 65.3% completion. These numbers have a huge impact on our community for the next ten years. If we have a large miscount, we will likely be fighting an uphill battle for the next ten years when it comes to receiving funding for things like roads, bridges, healthcare and education, among others. Additionally, the census is important from a business recruitment and retention standpoint - people are looking at these numbers on a routine basis when making decisions about whether or not to move to a community, starting a business or relocating a business. 
It is so important for our community to have a high response rate, and you have the power to make an impact. Please, please if you have not yet completed your 2020 Census, take time today on Constitution Day to be counted for Grinnell, for Poweshiek County and for Iowa.
--Rachael Kinnick 
*Verbiage from the Constitution: "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."  

#MaskingUp to Stay Open

Posted on 09/03/2020 at 4:12 PM
There is no question 2020 has been a year for the books. So much has happened over the past several months, and the end isn't quite in site yet!
Last week, Governor Reynolds ordered immediate business closures in six counties in Iowa. These businesses were not given much time to prepare or create a plan for how they would navigate the next few weeks to keep their businesses viable. We've joked a bit that 'pivot' should be the keyword for 2020, but the truth is our small business owners have had to pivot nearly weekly for the past six months. 
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Iowa it seems somewhat likely that business closures may be extended and more may be on the way. Let me tell you something -- many of our small businesses may not be able to endure another round of closures. It has been a tough year and another mandatory shutdown may just be the writing on the wall for more of them to consider permanent closures. We do not want to see that happen in our community -- our small business owners are resilient and innovative, but there's only so much that is in their hands. 
Today's newsletter is not intended to debate our differences of opinion as it relates to the pandemic; however, we know this one thing: masking up will allow our businesses to remain open and it will allow things to get back to 'normal' - whatever that may look like. Will you join us and many of our partners in wearing a mask to ensure our businesses are able to stay open? Grinnell small businesses are friends, family and neighbors to many - let's do our part to continue to support them. 
This is the fundamental reason we support the #MaskUpGrinnell campaign - to ensure our businesses are able to stay open. 
--Rachael Kinnick 
p.s. If you are in need of additional masks, or would like to purchase some #MaskUpGrinnell themed masks, visit and secure your order at a discounted price today. Hurry, prices increase this Saturday, September 5! 

Giving to Grinnell

Posted on 08/20/2020 at 4:23 PM
Post-Derecho. I cannot say enough amazing things about this community. Rallying together to help neighbors and strangers, supporting businesses in unique ways and now, finding additional ways to give back. 
Our office, along with our partners at Claude & Dolly Ahrens Foundation, Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation and Grinnell United Way, have been contacted multiple times over the past week and a half inquiring about ways to support disaster efforts. We quickly determined that many organizations and funds already exist to support a multitude of efforts that are likely to surface post-derecho and, as a result, have opted to direct folks to these funds already in existence. 
The initial funds identified include: Grinnell Food Coalition, Grinnell Small Business Relief Fund, Grinnell United Way, JPK Grinnell Area Mental Health Consortium, Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund, and the Poweshiek Housing Assistance Fund. Each of these funds or organizations are doing great work in the Grinnell community, and this is by no means an exhaustive list; however, we hope it will help reach the organizations and efforts that are most likely to be impacted post-derecho and/or have most flexibility within the organizations to get dollars to the highest need individuals and businesses. 
We know many of you have family and friends outside of the Grinnell community who are not able to physically be here and contribute volunteer hours, but still want to support our community. We hope you will take a look at these funds, and ask your family and friends outside of Grinnell to consider supporting them. 
--Rachael Kinnick 
p.s. To find more information about each of the aforementioned funds, and to read the press release in its entirety, please click here.

Now Playing: Grinnell!

Posted on 07/30/2020 at 5:18 PM

We are always creating shop local campaigns as a way to drive traffic to our local shops and eateries. But this year, it's different. In no uncertain terms, our businesses need support now more than ever, and we are working like crazy to support them in whatever ways we can. But at the end of the day, we need that support to come from all of you reading this newsletter - as dedicated community members - to ensure our businesses make it through this incredibly rough patch. 


Our business community has been incredibly transparent with our team and continues to report staggering decline in sales, with several down between 35-50%, consistently. Simply put, that is not sustainable for a very long period of time. And while restaurants and retailers were able to reopen in mid-May, many of them (especially restaurants) are still finding their footing in this new normal and trying to find ways to bring in revenue to simply stay afloat. 


I've been amazed at our business owners' resiliency and tenacity - they're an incredible group. Many of them are innovating their business models (pick up a picnic from Solera!), introducing new products (BLT pizza from Pagliai's or gluten free wraps from Dari Barn), and working on new and creative ideas to safely serve customers amid the pandemic. Last week, City Council asked the Chamber of Commerce to pursue a collaborative effort that could address some of the challenges restaurants are facing, and we are excited to be researching streateries (aka street dining) as one potential concept. Would you take just a couple minutes to complete this brief survey to help us gauge the community's interest in outdoor dining concepts? 


We know it's possible that some businesses may not weather this storm, but we hope that creative and innovative ideas and solutions, paired with a community willing to support its local establishments, will ensure many prevail. 


Join me as we continue to #GRINNtogether to support local. 

--Rachael Kinnick 



p.s. Thank you to all who have supported our efforts through the Chamber Champions program - we are so grateful! To learn more about the program or donate today, click here.

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