June 1, 2020
Midwest roots run deep and for a bi-coastal couple. Brent and Katie Grinna of Boston, Massachusets call McGregor, Iowa, their home away from home. Fiber-optic broadband connections deliver the quality of life they dreamed about for their young family.
Brent Grinna is the founder of EverTrue, a software platform that helps colleges and universities engage alumni and raise money. Brent is a native of rural Postville, Iowa, and his parents instilled in him a strong work ethic. Ivy League Brown University recruited Brent to play football. Life led Brent to Chicago as an investment banker, Harvard Business School, Mexico, and ultimately settling in Boston, Massachusets, the headquarters for EverTrue. Notably, Grinna named EverTrue after his alma mater’s fight song.
But as the saying goes, you can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy. Brent married his high school sweetheart, Katie, whom he met at the Sports Unlimited Campground in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. After ten years in business, the Grinnas looked to Iowa to establish roots for their family of five. Brent shared, “As our kids were getting older, we wanted to come back and give them exposure to a place where we both grew up and meant so much to us.”
They returned to Iowa each summer and connected with their families. Still, as the family grew, it was challenging to find long-term lodging. Grinna weighed his options and invested in a bed-and-breakfast in McGregor, Iowa. The home suits their family’s desire for space and access to outdoor adventures.
Grinna’s decision to land in McGregor is, in part, due to fiber-optic broadband services from Alpine Communications. “Fiber was an influencer in getting more comfortable with the idea of working from Iowa and getting plugged in with my team. We love to hike, and we love the river. In McGregor, we get all of that balanced with staying connected and productive in the high-growth technology environment,” explained Brent.
“My Eero mesh network broadcasts WiFi throughout our home, which means I have better WiFi in McGregor than I have in Boston,” he said. The growth of video conference calling has accelerated over the last decade. Fiber broadband helps Grinna feel more comfortable with connecting to his company, colleagues, and customers. “I can be as productive as Boston, if not more so, in my office with great WiFi in McGregor. I don’t miss a beat. That has influenced our decision to spend two months here in the summer,” he stated. Grinna attributes broadband technology for helping him feel far less pressure to be in the office.
Access to virtually unlimited broadband means untethered potential for the Grinnas and other working professionals. Brent shared his passion for growing rural Iowa, “Anyone who has visited knows this is a special place. We can attract the next generation of workers to the area if we offer people flexibility in location and the ability to work from home.”
Grinna believes broadband internet is the great equalizer for McGregor and other small towns with fiber-optic networks. At EverTrue, when employees needed to relocate for various reasons, he noted how his organization responded. “In nearly every circumstance, we have said ‘absolutely!’ Why wouldn’t I want to retain my employees?” He shared enabling remote access for his employees has been successful in all levels of his organization, as long as there is a quality broadband connection.
Many companies, including EverTrue, are embracing more flexible work policies for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This could further support growth for regions like Northeast Iowa that offer a great quality of life with strong technology connectivity.”
Grinna shared his experience with regional economic development leaders and community stakeholders at Alpine Communications Connected Communities Summit in October 2019. He encouraged community leaders to leverage fiber-optic broadband services to grow rural Iowa. When asked what connectivity means to him, Grinna explained, “My ability to work from home was one of the considerations in making an investment in real estate projects in the area (McGregor). So it was an absolute thrill to find out there was better internet in McGregor than in my neighborhood in Boston. It has made it feasible to spend many weeks of the year in Northeast Iowa.”