The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Economic development in Grinnell

By Louise Carhart

The Chamber of Commerce has established a steering committee to help drive revitalization efforts in the downtown area of Grinnell. The Committee is currently looking for members of the Chamber and other organizations to participate in focus groups and discussions on the best methods for approaching the continued development of downtown.

“Developing a downtown improvement action plan is a joint priority for the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Grinnell,” according to a press release put out by the Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve recently begun working together to pull a plan together. We are working with a steering committee who will ultimately help assemble information gathered to develop a downtown action plan for recommendation to both the Chamber and City.”

The Chamber has put out an open call for information, asking what has worked for business owners and Grinnellians in general in developing businesses, products or areas.

“Staff from the Chamber and City have spent much of this week meeting with focus groups to ask a series of questions related to downtown vitality, and have received some invaluable feedback that will aid in creating our plan,” the press release details. “We have begun to hear some trends that could be ‘big ideas’ or potential issues that need to be addressed to move forward downtown.”

Appeals to those willing to participate in focus groups are central to development planning as of now, but the Chamber and City hopes to put the information gleaned from these events to work as they move forward. The Iowa Reinvestment Act granted to the City of Grinnell by the State Government has provided a refund of all sales taxes within most of the downtown area.

For students at Grinnell, one of the main focuses of downtown development is the so-called “zone of confluence” which connects the City and College. The Alumni Recitation Hall (ARH) renovations were included in the Reinvestment Act application and college students should expect to see a change in interaction with the community in the coming years. Both the College and City are hoping for a more integrated town, where both students and City residents feel a sense of shared community.

The main concerns for focus groups relate to individual desires for the downtown while maintaining a larger picture focus. Those interested in attending should contact Rachael Kinnick at or stop by the Community Input Session on Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at Drake Community Library.

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