Muscatine Startup Grind kicked off their 2017-2018 season last week with Andy McLellan from the Merrill Hotel. Jim Elias, the president of Startup Grind, was excited to have McLellan. “Our organization is all about linking entrepreneurs together and sharing ideas. Andy has been in the hospitality industry all his life and has always had an entrepreneur spirit to everything he does,” Elias said.

McLellan talked about the process of building the hotel. “I got to know Jim and Rebecca [Howe], and we started to think about how could we invest in the downtown. We put together a feasibility study. The study came back that our proposal for the hotel was not only needed, but we probably could build a bigger hotel than what we had planned for,” McLellan said.

The Merrill Hotel will have 122 rooms, with two presidential suites and 14 junior suites, as well as a 12,500-square-foot banquet facility. The hotel will also include an adjacent parking structure and public greenspace connecting the Muscatine riverfront to Second Street.

“The economic impact is significant. In the construction phase, we have provided over two hundred jobs to local workers, and are estimating an estimated 80 million dollars being funneled back into the local economy,” McLellan said. “Our goal with this project has been to create an economic engine and culturally important facility for downtown Muscatine. We want our guests to leave the hotel and explore the boutiques, restaurants, and tourist attractions Muscatine has to offer.” McLellan concluded, “This community has so much to offer, and this hotel will provide opportunities for new businesses and services to be created in Muscatine.”