Community Passion Meets Big Ideas

posted 11/30/2018 in Community

Angela Harrington is bursting with energy and passion. Having served as President of the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce and Grinnell Visitors and Convention Bureau, her energy has been focused on her community. In those roles, she was well aware of the assets the community had to offer, and also had a unique position to see where community resources fell short. Angela recognized Grinnell needed a revitalized community events center, and she took on the challenge to make it happen with gusto.

Repurpose for New Purpose

One of small towns most valuable assets is its unfilled buildings. Why not breathe new life into these buildings and use them to fill emerging needs while simultaneously sharing history?

Built in 1921, the building that is now Hotel Grinnell was previously a junior high school. In the late 70s, the city tore down the high school portion of the original building and a new school was built for the junior high. The former junior high portion of the building was remodeled into a community center, which it remained the for nearly 40 years, housing city offices, an art gallery and athletic and church event rental space. However, only 10 percent of the historic building was being utilized. Angela, seeing the character and charm within the building, felt she could find a way to preserve the history of the building and better utilize the idle space while creating a destination location for the city of Grinnell. 

Pick your Partners Wisely.

Renovating the building to fit her vision of a boutique hotel with a vibrant community events center was no small undertaking. Angela knew that to be successful, she needed the right partners on her team.  With Angela serving as creative and operational mastermind, she assembled her dream team:

Steve Holtze.  Steve’s industry expertise in boutique hotels and his personal passion for Grinnell as a Grinnell College graduate made him the perfect fit.  

Jake Christensen with Christensen Development. Jake has built a solid reputation around handling complex historical renovation projects, so was therefore the obvious choice for handling the building renovations.

Dan Downs with Lincoln Savings Bank. Dan’s unparalleled knowledge of historical tax credits and years of experience helping businesses with their financing needs made him a great partner when it came time to get real about how to make the financial side of this project work. 

Open and Honest.

Harrington cautions that no dream can come to fruition without financial support and a community bank partner that is vested in the success of the community. “Without a great community bank, projects like this could never happen. Access to capital is in short supply and an engaged lender is critical in growing the local economy.” Angela explains.

She understands the people at Lincoln Savings Bank are a vital resource for local entrepreneurs and provide the expertise needed to make a project work financially. “You need a financial partner you can trust- someone you aren’t afraid to show your true colors.” Angela continued. “You need to be comfortable being an open book. Dan creates that comfort. He is now a regular partner. I share my financials and with his expertise, is able to foresee trends both good and bad, some that wouldn’t be immediately apparent to an entrepreneur that is entrenched in day to day operations. Having him on my team has proven invaluable.”

“Transparency is key to fully utilize an experienced lender like Dan.” stated Angela. “I share my troubles and my triumphs. He offers sound advice and honest feedback which is critical in the business being successful.”

Historic to Boutique

Hotel Grinnell boasts 43 guest rooms, many with original maple floors from the 1920s. The former gymnasium serves as the hotel ballroom, which has become a go-to spot for many corporate as well as social events, especially weddings. The auditorium is now an event center and 400 seat public performance venue. The hotel restaurant, “The Periodic Table,” is located in the old locker room and showcases the original scoreboard from the gymnasium.

No detail was overlooked in the guest experience. The custom wrought iron beds and furniture was designed by local company just 20 minutes from the hotel and the luxury linens are from socially-conscious company, Parachute. The special touches are also felt throughout the hotel, from chalk boards in guest rooms, to room keys envelopes called hall passes.

We can do More Together.

“I know if I want to stay in business, I need Dan. He has time-tested experience in business financing, and the amount of information and ratios constantly running through his head is baffling,” joked Angela. “I know I’m receiving value with each discussion we have. He is my checks and balances.”

“I’ve already been talking with Dan about my next project…and already he’s firing those tough questions at me, but I know this is an exercise that makes or breaks the success of an endeavor,” shared Angela. “My next project will be even stronger because I will have had Dan at my side from conception.”

When it comes to making her dream a reality, Angela acknowledges that it takes an army. “I love that Tracey and everyone at Lincoln Savings Bank knows me, they all know me by name, they are all upbeat, friendly and genuinely nice,” she said. “They sincerely want to know how my business is doing. I know they are in my corner.”

At Lincoln Savings Bank, we understand that being successful in today’s environment requires planning, strategy and action. Our goal is to be your lifelong partner, helping you achieve your business goals as your business grows and changes. To learn more about how we can put our knowledge and experience to work for you, contact us today.

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