Harrington Resigns Grinnell Chamber Post
President and CEO of the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grinnell Convention and Visitors Bureau, Angela Harrington, has resigned from her position effective December 31, 2014.
“Angela has been critical to our community growth in adding more variety in housing, filling storefronts and increasing vitality. Angela’s courage and tenacity are traits of extraordinary leadership,” said Craig Cooper, member of the Chamber board of directors.
Harrington’s departure leaves the organization in the hands of marketing/systems pro Emily Counts, Tourism Director, and logistics/community engagement expert Rachael Kinnick, Chamber Director.
“Emily and Rachael have both served in their respective director capacities for two years now,” said Dan Agnew, incoming chair of the Chamber board of directors. “The community is lucky to have these two women heading the charge into the future in community vitality, business support and marketing. We look forward to another great year in 2015.”
Harrington plans to remain involved in the Grinnell community.
“I am grateful to have been a part of this magical place over the past six years, and am excited to remain involved in the community,” she said. “I’m sure my future involves business development, public relations/marketing, and working on strategic initiatives of some sort. I also want to spend some of my time taking the downtown boutique hotel and event center concept I’ve been working on to the next level.”
The Chamber’s board of directors credits Harrington with a number of initiatives during her tenure, including:
- Doubling the membership in size.
- Developing Friday Fest, Monte Fest, the Central Park ice skating rink and co-chairing the RAGBRAI overnight stop in Grinnell.
- Establishing Grinnell Games as Iowa’s Sports Festival, which has won various awards, including Event of the Year and Niche Market Initiative from Iowa Tourism and Event of the Year at the Mid-America Chamber Executives conference.
- Developing the Marketplace on Main downtown retail co-op.
- Launching a housing initiative yielding 150 housing starts, including 77 new loft apartments at the Spaulding campus.
- Advocating at the legislature to level the playing field for workforce housing in small cities.
- Initiating a business makeover program with Iowa State University, providing rebranding opportunities for 36 businesses and completing storefront revitalization projects with nine.
- Assisting multiple entrepreneurs in business plan development, marketing efforts and succession planning.
- Attracting more than $30 million in new community investment.
- Launching Iowa’s Best Bite restaurant competition, attracting 48 applicants from nine states and resulting in Prairie Canary, which has attracted regional and national media attention.
“If not for the help and guidance of colleagues, a brain trust board with an entrepreneurial spirit, fantastic leadership in Emily and Rachael, and incredible community investors, we could not have accomplished what we have in the past few years,” Harrington said.
Harrington sees opportunity in people, businesses and communities where others do not.
“Angela has a knack for complex development initiatives. She researches the idea, builds a strong case for the project and gets the right people and resources together to get it done,” said Todd Linden, member of the Chamber board of directors.
“Grinnell’s low 4% downtown vacancy has a lot to do with Angela. In six years, she has filled more than 45,000 square feet of retail and commercial space in Grinnell, and 35,000 of that was downtown,” said Cynthia Sherman, outgoing chair of the Chamber board of directors.
One of Harrington’s contributions has been on the community’s marketing front. She launched the “Get Into Grinnell” tagline, overhauled the city’s digital front door with a comprehensive, image-rich website, and developed a weekly e-newsletter which now reaches more than 6,000 people. She spearheaded the community’s new way finding signage system, and expanded the community’s content delivery over multiple social media platforms.
“The Chamber has become a marketing powerhouse amongst its peers, recently winning four out of twelve Iowa tourism awards, one being the award for Outstanding Social Media Execution,” said Mary Anne Nickle, member of the Chamber board of directors.
Other recognition received during Harrington’s tenure include Best City in the Nation to Relocate to under 40,000, Outstanding New Event, Best Sporting Event, Outstanding Niche Marketing Initiative, Coolest Small Town, Prettiest Painted Place, Best Bloomin’ Town in Iowa and Top Ten College Towns in North America.
“We are proud of all of the work that Angela has done during the past six years, and we are looking forward to continuing that momentum into the coming year,” Agnew said.
The Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce exists to grow and develop the local economy and act as a hub for resident and visitor information. The Chamber operates a Convention and Visitors Bureau charged with marketing Grinnell as a destination and staffing a visitor’s center inside the Sullivan Bank. It also facilitates events and acts as a small business support center, providing marketing and publicity services. The Chamber actively facilitates investment in Grinnell and encourages entrepreneurship and business development.