Angela Harrington, president and CEO of Catalyst Development and owner of Hotel Grinnell in Grinnell and Highlander Hotel in Iowa City was recently appointed to the Iowa Hotel and Lodging Association Board of Directors. Harrington’s hotels are the only woman-owned hotels in Iowa.
By J.O. Parker
Angela Harrington has been named to the Board of Directors at the Iowa Hotel and Lodging Association.
Harrington, who served as the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce President from January 2008 to December 2017, was appointed to the Iowa Hotel and Lodging Association Board of Directors in January.
The Iowa Hotel and Lodging Association is a trade association that advocates for hotel operators and owners.
Harrington, president and CEO of Catalyst Development, is owner of Hotel Grinnell in Grinnell and Highlander Hotel in Iowa City and is currently working on a third hotel project in Newton.
Hotel Grinnell opened in September 2017 following an 11-month rehabilitation project that turned the 101-year-old former school building into a hotel with a schoolhouse theme. The building served as a school from 1921 to late 1978. It was then utilized as the Grinnell City Offices, Grinnell Community School District offices, a community center and community auditorium.
Hotel Grinnell features 43 guest rooms, two bunk rooms, a penthouse suite, a boardroom, ballroom, auditorium, fitness center, the Periodic Table eatery and outdoor patio area.
Harrington purchased the 97-room Highlander Hotel in Iowa City in December 2019, just three months before the pandemic hit. While the hotel remained operational and while hotels across the state and nation were taking a hard hit from the pandemic, Harrington moved forward with the $5 million, six-month renovation two phase project at the hotel and former supper club on the east side of Iowa City, turning it into a state-of-the-art destination.
“When I bought the Highlander, it was ranked dead last out of the 37 hotels in Johnson County,” Harrington said. “After it was rebranded and renovated, it hit number one and has stayed there ever since.”
Harrington is currently working on obtaining historical tax credits in efforts to refurbish buildings one and two at the former Maytag factory in Newton into a 58-room hotel and boutique. A timeline on when that project will be completed is not known.
Harrington was awarded Corridor Business Journal’s 2021 Thomas L. Cardella Entrepreneur of the Year honor for her work in keeping Hotel Grinnell and the Highlander Hotel in Iowa City afloat during the pandemic. In October 2020, the Iowa Economic Development awarded both hotels Targeted Small Business certificates. The designation allows businesses majority owned, operated and managed by a woman, a minority, a disabled veteran or person with disabilities access to resources to help overcome hurdles in starting and growing a small business in Iowa. Harrington’s hotels are the only woman-owned hotels in Iowa.
When asked what she enjoys about her work, Harrington said her favorite things are product development and bringing positive changes to the communities she serves.
“I enjoy working with my team to grow our company and their careers to turn community eyesores or under-utilized buildings into community assets and economic engines,” she said.
As for her work on the board, Harrington said hotels were hit incredibly hard during the pandemic and she is looking forward to serving on the Iowa Hotel and Lodging Board to help operators and owners get back on their feet.