A vacancy has opened on the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners, following the recent resignation of Lisa Simmons Thatcher. Her resignation was announced at the board's Jan. 28 meeting.
The Chamber encourages our members to join advisory groups that guide the City of Bloomington and Monroe County government. Click here to apply for the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners. Appointments are made by the mayor.
This is the second change in membership over the past few months on the 4-member Board of Park Commissioners. Last year, long-time member Joe Hoffmann stepped down. Israel Herrera was recently appointed to that seat.
The Board of Park Commissioners meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. at Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton. The group oversees the city's Parks & Recreation Department, which includes the Community Farmers' Market.
Interested in serving on other boards or commissions? Click here for information about the City of Bloomington's advisory groups. For a list of Monroe County boards and commissions, click here.
Jacinda Townsend Gides was sworn in on Jan. 28 as the newest trustee for the Monroe County Community School Corporation, representing District 6. She replaces Lois Sabo-Skelton, who resigned in late 2019.
Gides was appointed by a vote of the MCCSC board during a Jan. 21 closed session that followed interviews with six candidates for the position. Click here to watch her interview on CATS.
Click here for a map of MCCSC board districts.
Trustees of the seven-member MCCSC board serve four-year terms and are paid $2,000 annually plus $112 for each regular meeting, among other compensation. Gides will serve out the remainder of Sabo-Skelton's term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2020. If she wants to continue serving on the board, she would need to run for that seat in 2020.
Other trustees are: Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer (District 4 – president), Sue Wanzer (District 2 – vice president), Elizabeth Ruh (District 1 – secretary), Martha Street (District 3 – assistant secretary), Keith Klein (District 5) and Brandon Shurr (District 7).
Four of the 9 Bloomington councilmembers held constituent sessions in January, with plans to continue regular meetings in the coming months.
As she has for several years, Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 5) met with residents on the last Saturday of the month, Jan. 25. In addition, three new councilmembers – Kate Rosenbarger (District 1), Sue Sgambelluri (District 2) and Matt Flaherty (At-Large) – all hosted constituent sessions this month. Jim Sims (At-Large) attended the Jan. 28 session hosted by Rosenbarger.
Upcoming sessions scheduled so far in February:
More information about the Bloomington Council is on its website at Bloomington.in.gov/council. Find contact information for city councilmembers and other officials on the Chamber's Elected Officials Directory.
Not sure who represents you on Bloomington Council? Go to myBloomington and enter your address to find out!
Four state legislators shared their insights about the current Indiana General Assembly Session and answered questions from residents at a Jan. 25 Legislative Update forum. The event was organized by the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.
Legislators in attendance were Sen. Mark Stoops (District 40), Rep. Peggy Mayfield (District 60), Rep. Matt Pierce (District 61), and Rep. Jeff Ellington (District 62).
Upcoming forums will be held on Saturday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, March 21. Each forum runs from 9:30-11 a.m. at Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton.
Click here to watch the Jan. 25 forum on CATS.
Read the Herald-Times coverage here (paywall): "Area lawmakers discuss healthcare, redistricting and more at forum."
Read the B Square Beacon coverage here: "State legislator to Bloomington redistricting advocates: 'Show us on a local level.'"
Stressing the importance of a strong public transit system for the business community, Chamber CEO Erin Predmore was a guest on WFIU's Jan. 24 Noon Edition.
She highlighted several actions that our community needs to take to improve transit for employers and residents:
Click here to listen to the Jan. 24 Noon Edition. Other guests were Lew May, Bloomington Transit's general manager, and Beth Rosenbarger, the City of Bloomington's planning services manager. Bob Zaltsberg moderated the discussion.
Jane Kupersmith, co-owner of Hopscotch Coffee and Rainbow Bakery, has been hired as the City of Bloomington's Assistant Director for Small Business Development.
Kupersmith will be part of the city's Economic & Sustainable Development Department. Her responsibilities include small business and entrepreneurship advocacy as well as retention and recruitment activities for the city. She also will serve as Executive Director of the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association. She has served on the BUEA board since January 2016 as a mayoral appointment.
The BUEA provides grants, tax incentives and other support for the "economic, physical and social environment for Zone residents and businesses." For example, the BUEA provided a $1 million capital grant commitment to CDFI-Friendly Bloomington last year. The executive director of CDFI-Friendly Bloomington, Brian Payne, previously held the job now filled by Kupersmith.
Kupersmith will retain her ownership in Hopscotch and Rainbow Bakery, but will not be involved in day-to-day operations of those local businesses.
Read her January 2020 column in the Herald-Times (paywall): "It's Your Biz: City's new assistant director ready to tackle small business development."
At the Chamber's 2020 Legislative Preview luncheon, six of the seven state legislators who represent parts of the Bloomington/Monroe County area were on hand to provide updates on the current Indiana General Assembly session, which began Jan. 6. The event was held Jan. 17 at the Bloomington Country Club.
Legislators on the panel were: Sen. Mark Stoops (District 40), Sen. Eric Koch (District 44), Rep. Bob Heaton (District 46), Rep. Peggy Mayfield (District 60), Rep. Matt Pierce (District 61), and Rep. Jeff Ellington (District 62).
Click here to watch the event on CATS.
Click here for the Herald-Times report: "Legislators discuss economic development challenges at chamber luncheon."
Listen to the discussion in a special episode of the Chamber's 3 Things Podcast: "Local Legislators Sound Off."
As part of our advocacy efforts on behalf of members and the community, the Chamber develops annual guidelines for local public policy and state/federal legislation.
Our 2020 Local Public Policy Agenda provides specific priorities for a positive business climate (regulation, infrastructure and civic engagement) and quality of life (including housing, public safety, parking, parks and the convention center expansion).
Our 2020 State & Federal Legislative Agenda includes priorities for economic development and job creation, quality of place, environmental infrastructure, civic engagement and government accountability, education and workforce development, health care, and business taxation/regulation.
These guiding documents are developed through a member-driven process with our Chamber Advocacy Council and Chamber Legislative Council, and are approved by the Chamber's board of directors. Questions? Contact Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three forums to hear updates from state legislators during the 2020 General Assembly session have been scheduled by the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County. This year, the Chamber is partnering with the League for these events.
The forums will run from 9:30-11 a.m. on the following Saturdays: Jan. 25, Feb. 15 and March 21. All forums will be held at the Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton.
The Chamber is tracking legislation as it moves through the General Assembly. Click here for weekly updates.
At their quarterly meeting on Jan. 14, Arts Forward Bloomington held a forum focused on transportation issues that affect local arts organizations.
The group heard from Michael Shermis, the City of Bloomington's special projects coordinator, about current transportation-related activities, including a grant from ADA Indiana used to train people who are elderly or with disabilities how to use Uber.
Beth Rosenbarger, the city's planning services manager, discussed transportation issues in the context of the city's comprehensive plan and transportation plan.
The group discussed what kind of incentives might be offered by local arts organizations to encourage patrons to use alternative forms of transportation when coming to events, rather than driving a car. Ideas included offering free concessions for people who walk, bike or take the bus. The possibility of changing three parking spaces in front of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater into a drop-off/pick-up zone was also discussed.
In general, Arts Forward Bloomington wants to make sure the voice of the arts community is heard on a range of issues affecting the health of that sector.
Arts Forward Bloomington will hold its next forum in April, focusing on space needs for arts organizations. The group's steering committee includes Danielle McClelland, former director of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater; Gabe Gloden, Managing Director of Cardinal Stage; Ken Buzzard, President of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra; Susan Swaney, Artistic Director of Voces Novae and Founder of Sing for Joy! Senior Choir; and Kay Olges, Board President for Windfall Dancers.