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Uniting Together: Rural, Suburban & Urban

Posted on 06/12/2024 at 3:59 PM

 

In case you missed it, our President & CEO Rachael Kinnick attended the Greater Des Moines Partnership's DMDC fly-in back in May along with a few others from our community.

 

Much of our organization's work is spent strengthening the local Grinnell community right here in our five square miles. But we also work with other communities in the Central Iowa region. Our Chamber of Commerce is a regional affiliate of the Greater Des Moines Partnership (GDMP) and we work with them and their 23 affiliate chambers of commerce towards a common goal of strengthening central Iowa as a great place to do business and raise families.

 

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 Iowa. This year, GDMP is working to launch initiatives that better support and connect rural, suburban and urban, and we are thrilled to be part of that work to better connect our community and its businesses with others. With so much of rural Iowa beginning to see economic downturns, many federal programs are instrumental for continued community development in these places.

 

Not only did we have the chance to talk with our elected delegation and their staff about a number of 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 inspired by the support and encouragement from our peers and are excited to work with them in the coming months as we continue to strengthen many newfound relationships.

 

As a chamber of commerce, we spend much of our time collaborating with others. Not only in our community, but within our region to continue building rural, suburban and urban relationships in an effort to make Grinnell and Central Iowa a great place to live, learn, work and play.

Water Improvements in Process

Posted on 05/01/2024 at 11:58 AM

Many of you will recall that a little over a year ago, the Build a Better Grinnell project surveyed community members in an effort to better understand some of the key issues community members believe to be most critical to the Grinnell community. Seven top responses were identified, and while there will be more information coming soon about each of those, one of the key issues Grinnellians noted was improving drinking water quality. At the time of the information gathering and its subsequent release, the City was already in the process of designing a new water treatment plant to help address the issue. 

 

Much progress has been made since that time, and as you can imagine, projects like these take a significant amount of legwork to structure, design and develop - not to mention time and money. The city just recently completed the 95% design meeting with project developers, indicating components of the project will soon be put to bid and visible progress will soon be made. You can read more about the status of all the water improvement projects in a recent update on the city's website HERE.

 

The city was also recently notified they are the recipient of a federal grant through the Community Project Funding process, secured by Congresswoman Hinson, to help fund the efforts. This earmark will provide $3M towards the scope of the project. Additionally, the City has applied for state revolving funds (SRF) and are exploring other funding options that could also be used toward the project's completion. 

 

I encourage community members to follow along with the Grinnell Herald Register as they provide regular and in-depth updates on this important community project. And in case you missed it, the Chamber Ambassadors visited the City of Grinnell's Water Treatment Plant over spring break (thus the smaller group photo!) to learn more about the progress being made on these efforts to address the water system(s) in the community. You can read more about that visit and find some of the photos HERE

Learning From The Next Generation

Posted on 04/05/2024 at 10:39 AM

 

Our team had the pleasure of attending Grinnell High School's Reverse Career Fair this week. It was an opportunity for us and our business community to visit with the Career and Technical Education students and see what they've been learning in class and how these skills can help them in a future internship or career. There were over 30 different classes represented by 50+ students from all four grades. 

 

From business to ag science, culinary to manufacturing, robotics to theater and more, each student we talked with shared their successes and challenges in what they've learned this school year. Our team was impressed by the student's communication skills and their passion for sharing what they learned, and we even learned a thing or two! Some key skills they've developed include; project management, problem solving, teamwork, communication, time management, public speaking and so much more. The CTE program plans to do this again next year and we strongly encourage anyone interested to attend.

 

Hats off to Amy Skouson, Ashley Wolfe, Jerry Hulsing, Sam Watts and the rest of the GHS faculty and staff for their hard work in preparing Grinnell students for the future. We appreciate your dedication and thank you for the opportunity to visit with students. And to all the students that participated, thank you for sharing your passion and experiences with us. We can't wait to see what you do next!

Unlocking Success Together

Posted on 03/01/2024 at 1:15 PM

We strongly believe in regional collaboration and we also believe in tapping into resources outside of our own community, when possible. We were proud to host team members of the Iowa Economic Development Authority/Iowa Finance Authority in Grinnell yesterday. Joined by Director Debi Durham and Main Street Director, Michael Wagler for a morning visit, we spent a quick visit touring them through the community. We used the opportunity to not only thank them for the investments the State of Iowa has had in recent projects in Grinnell, but to also ask for continued support and assistance for future projects. 

 

The department oversees an incredible number of programs and initiatives including economic development, housing, tourism, downtown resource center and several others. We were able to share some progress of their most recent financial commitments to Grinnell in action. A few of those included the completion of the second round downtown facade project, the Grinnell Historical Museum - which was recently awarded a $200,000 CAT grant, several housing projects including the now-completed Reserves at South Lake (nearest WalMart), a downtown building rehabilitation project for the School of Music, and concluded with a visit to the UnityPoint Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center's OB department who was recently awarded $600,000 through a CDBG program. 

 

Our office and many of our partners are constantly looking into opportunities - whether grants or loans - that may help move projects and businesses forward in our community, and we feel fortunate to have partners at IEDA who are willing to engage and assist us along the way. We can't wait to have them visit again soon as we more projects come to fruition! 

Is the Grass Greener? 

Posted on 12/15/2023 at 10:30 AM

 

The grass always seems greener on the other side, right? It's often easy to look at someone else, another business or perhaps community and want something they have. But the grass isn't always greener on the other side; from time to time I think it's important to take stock of the great things you do have. Earlier this week we were able to do just that as we hosted the Empower Rural Iowa/Iowa Rural Development Council joint meeting here in Grinnell. It was a fantastic day - the weather cooperated - and we were able to showcase the Grinnell community to approximately 120 community leaders from across the state! 

 

But we didn't do it alone - we had the help of more than a dozen member businesses and organizations to help showcase our community! From hosting a community panel focusing on rural vitality, sharing ideas about how rural remains relevant, to hosting a walking tour with multiple stops around downtown. Attendees enjoyed their time in Grinnell and we loved hosting them here! 

 

It also served as a great reminder of the many amenities we have here that other communities would love to have. While we must never lose sight of community betterment and future projects, it's okay to pause to celebrate our collective accomplishments from time to time. 

 

Celebrating Holidays! 

Posted on 12/08/2023 at 10:32 AM

Our community is composed of people from all different backgrounds and religions. It is our hope that all Grinnellians truly feel welcome here. As such, we are excited to announce a new effort intended to raise awareness of different winter holidays and cultural celebrations recognized between November 17 (the date of this year's Jingle Bell Holiday) and December 31. Thanks in part to a grant from the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, you can learn more about various holidays including Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Christmas and Kwanzaa, among others. Additionally, you can find this information available in Central Park as we celebrate the holiday season via our Holidays in Grinnell programming. 

 

Speaking of programming, there are a number of events taking place now through the end of the year and we encourage you to check them out via our community calendar. Groups and organizations have committed time and resources to bring fun activities and events to the community, and now need people to experience the excitement! And please do whatever you can to shop local this holiday season - it truly does make an impact! If you're still needing some inspiration, check out our Gift Guide, featuring many local businesses and organizations to support this season.  

If You Could Do Anything... 

Posted on 12/01/2023 at 10:33 AM

If you could do anything, what would you do? Have you ever dreamed about doing something different than the work you're currently doing? Perhaps you are considering a change in the new year, but aren't sure where to start. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and are ready to turn your hobby into a side gig, we encourage you to take that drive seriously!  

 

December is recognized as National Write a Business Plan Month - a perfect time to think about the coming year and lead yourself to a new path of fulfillment. Writing a business plan serves as more than just a tool for identifying investors - it truly is a roadmap for a business, identifies goals, opportunities and challenges - and encourages you to think about how you can overcome them. If you're just looking to get started, here's a template we often use with new entrepreneurs. Running a business is not for the faint of heart (ask any of our business owners!) but it can be very rewarding. 

 

Even if you're already in business, we encourage you to spend some time this month reviewing your business plan for the coming year. It is important to update the plan frequently to make sure your roadmap is still taking you down the right roads. 

 

Grinnell could always use more businesses and business owners. If you could turn your passion into a side gig (or a full-time business!) for some extra income, what would you be doing? Give it some thought, and reply to let me know. I'd love to hear your ideas, and see if we can help turn them into action! 

♫ City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks

Posted on 11/17/2023 at 10:34 AM

The weather is certainly taking a turn today - in hopes to get us more in the holiday spirit, perhaps? As I sit here listening to some holiday tunes as we make final preparations for tonight, I can't help but sing along to 'Silver Bells' as we dream about the busy sidewalks downtown this evening.

 

Jingle Bell Holiday is always a personal favorite of mine, and we are so excited to celebrate our business community tonight with many of you! We have over 35 businesses and organizations participating in some capacity this evening, not to mention the 20+ Winter Farmers Market vendors who are slated to host market this evening and tomorrow morning from 10A-Noon. 

 

This fun-filled evening will again feature our Central Park lighting, horse-drawn carriage rides circling the business district thanks to Kading Properties, business open houses, unique and handmade gift items, hot chocolate galore, live music, wine tastings, Winter Farmers Market, visits with Santa and so much more! Most activities are set for 5 to 8PM this evening (Friday). Many businesses will be open late with added activities - you can find the full lineup HERE

 

Our Central Park Holiday team has also been hard at work over the past few weeks, and will be officially helping kick-off the holiday season with the lighting of Central Park! Holiday dance performances featuring area youth are slated before and after the park lighting, and we'll begin approximately 5:155PM from the stage in Central Park. 

 

A special thanks to Kading Properties, Grinnell College, Community 1st Credit Union, Edward Jones - Mark & Paul Kolpin, DJ Cox Entertainment and Aircut Studio for their support of Jingle Bell Holiday activities. For the full list of activities and participants, check out the list on our website. I hope to see you downtown tonight for this fun and festive holiday tradition! 

Brrr, It's Feeling Like...Halloween?! 

Posted on 10/27/2023 at 10:36 AM

We're turning our attention to all things holidays, and the weather is simply doing its part to get our minds shifting to colder weather. There are so many activities taking place this weekend for Halloween; we encourage you to get out and enjoy several of them! You can find all the details on our community, calendar, but kick things off tomorrow morning with the Trunk or Treat event at Ahrens Park featuring more than 40 decorated trunks! Following that event, head over to HyVee for some in-store trick-or-treating, kids' maze and prizes. There are still a few seats available for Saturday evening's rendition of 'Frankenstein' put on by Grinnell Community Theatre. And if that weren't enough both Grinnell Pub and Grinnell College Golf Course are hosting costume parties for those 21+. 

 

After this weekend, our attention shifts to holiday promotion as many of our small retailers are already gearing up for what we hope will be a strong fourth quarter. As you make your shopping lists, we encourage you to shop Grinnell first! And save the date for Jingle Bell Holiday - one of my favorite events of the year - slated for Friday, November 17! More info will soon follow, but we want to be sure this one's on your calendars as it's always a beautiful evening in downtown Grinnell. 

 

If Halloween is your favorite holiday, we hope you find time this weekend to bundle up and get out to enjoy some of these local activities! And, of course, community-wide trick-or-treating will take place on Tuesday, October 31 from 6-8PM. Be sure to say thanks to those businesses and organizations who are helping to plan so many fun events over the next several days. 

 

p.s. Special shout-out to the City's Public Works team for their help this week to begin our transition to a winter wonderland - they were able to take advantage of the last few days of warm weather, and we certainly appreciate their help! 

Surpassing Goals! 

Posted on 10/13/2023 at 10:36 AM

Imagine Grinnell and its 1000 Trees initiative are about to surpass their goal of planting 1,000 trees tomorrow! Between the derecho and the emerald ash borer, nearly 30% of Grinnell's trees have been lost over the past few years. What felt like only days after the 2020 Derecho, a group of community members came up with a goal to plant 1,000 trees as a way to replenish trees in the community. 

 

I'm sure there were many times in those early days that 1,000 trees felt like an incredible lofty - and perhaps unattainable - goal, but with perseverance and dedication from the organization, its volunteers and community supporters, they will be planting the 1,000th tree tomorrow, Saturday, October 14. A public event will take place at Merrill Park beginning at 11AM, and community members are invited to attend and celebrate this special planting. 

 

This is yet another example of the good that can happen when people rally around a common goal, and I'm so grateful to groups like these folks who had a vision to improve our community and gain back some of its precious tree canopy. Kudos to the IG team and its army of volunteers for meeting their goal, in turn beautifying our community for generations to come - we hope! ;) 

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