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Adversity is no stranger to Newton, Iowa. When Whirlpool acquired Maytag in 2006, 1,800 people lost their livelihoods at the corporate headquarters and local manufacturing plant. The closure of an American icon founded here in 1893, took a huge economic and emotional toll on the town of 15,130. In the past decade, the town rallied and shifted its economic development focus to home-grown small businesses.
When the town’s last bowling alley closed in 2015, Newton natives Brian and Lisa McKinney stepped up to support their hometown. They purchased Cardinal Lanes and invested a lot of money and tender loving care into renovations. The McKinneys worked closely with SCORE counselor Jack Maples, a former business owner, and local leader, to gain critical business counseling before opening. Today the business is much more than a bowling alley. It is a family-oriented entertainment facility and a community gathering place.
In addition to its 16 bowling lanes, Cardinal Lanes also offers a full-service bar and food area, along with party rooms, a lounge, and a pool room available for private events. On weekend evenings the business comes alive under the lights and music of its Cosmic Bowling Nights. Youth and adult leagues and the local high school bowling team all call Cardinal Lanes their second home.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Cardinal Lanes was forced to close on state shutdown orders. When the leagues canceled the rest of their season, critical income to get it through the summer was gone. It was a hard blow for the McKinneys, especially Brian, who worked at Maytag for 23 years before its closure.
With the assistance of their banker Rob Kahn at First Newton National Bank, the McKinneys secured an SBA-backed Paycheck Protection Loan. The PPP funding supports the salaries of their 14 employees, utilities, and mortgage interest during the shutdown, while they work on facility maintenance. Cardinal Lanes plans to reopen this summer with updated safety protocols for its employees and customers. It is yet another strikeout for COVID-19 when it comes to Newton’s resilient small business community.
This article was shared with the City of Newton - Community Development Department by the U.S. Small Business Administration.