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MAIN MARKETPLACE: Start-Up Initiative in Grinnell

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Grinnell is banking on a new idea to bring even more businesses to Iowa. City leaders are getting creative to attract businesses to its downtown.

During the economic slow times of the past few years, Grinnell lost some business, but the chamber of commerce kept getting requests from small business wanting to start up. Thus an idea was born, Marketplace on Main.

An old store was used as a sort of an indoors farmers market idea, except the products are unique niche items, artistic or unique in nature.

“I dug through hoarders houses in the blazing heat and pulled out all kinds of finds” says Jess Howard whom uses her finds to make art. She founded the Marketplace on Main after operating from her house.

In this market there are other specialty shops selling books, kid’s clothes, and fair trade items, all too small for their own shop.

Howard explains, “We do pay rent so the chamber of commerce actually manages the store and then we lease out the space to individual smaller entrepreneurs so they can test out ideas.”

Some businesses are non-traditional; Grinnell High School business students are trying their business plan selling prom dresses.

The Marketplace has seen some businesses leave the nest and launch out on their own, “When we have entrepreneurs come to the chamber of commerce this is a great place for them to get started and experiment.”

The Marketplace has been open for two years.