Monroe County Commissioners are holding a public forum on Monday, Nov. 16 to get input on the future of the Monroe County Convention Center expansion. That project, which has been in the works for several years, was put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year.
In announcing the forum, Commissioner Julie Thomas said: "Given the pandemic, given the pause, it's just a good time to review where we're at and where the community's at before we make any further decisions."
In a press release, the county posed these questions:
The Nov. 16 forum starts at 6 p.m. via this Zoom link. Or email your comments to CCR@co.monroe.in.us.
The proposed $44-million expansion is being funded by a countywide 1% Food & Beverage Tax, which was levied by the Monroe County Council in 2018. Since the pandemic struck, proceeds from that tax have been used to support tourism-related businesses.
The City of Bloomington is holding a second public forum about the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) mapping process to focus on the new student housing zone. The meeting on Thursday, Oct. 29 starts at 5:30 p.m. via this Zoom link.
The city is continuing a two-year overhaul of the UDO, the city's main zoning document. In addition to updating its zoning map, planning staff are bringing forward text amendments related to duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes. The proposal, if approved by city council, would allow such structures as either conditional or permitted uses in more residential districts.
More information, including an online survey, is available on the UDO mapping website. You can watch a recording of the city's Oct. 27 forum, which provided a general overview, here. The planning staff is expected to present a formal proposal to the Bloomington Plan Commission in early 2021.
Miah Michaelsen and Valerie Peña were named co-chairs of the Waldron Recommendation Committee, a group appointed by Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton to give advice on the future of the Waldron building at 122 S. Walnut Street.
Ivy Tech, which has owned the former city hall for several years, is returning it to the city. That transaction is expected to be completed in early 2021, according to Sean Starowitz, the city's assistant director of economic development for the arts. He gave an update on the process at the Bloomington Arts Commission's Oct. 14 meeting.
Michaelsen is Deputy Director of the Indiana Arts Commission. Peña is Assistant Vice President/Chief of Staff for the Office of Government Relations & Economic Engagement at Indiana University. According to the city's press release, the city will be seeking nominations for other committee members. To nominate or self-nominate, contact Mary Catherine Carmichael, the city's Director of Public Engagement, at email@example.com or 812-349-3406.
In addition, IU Professor Mark Levin is leading a Capstone class of graduate students to do a feasibility study of the Waldron. And a coalition of Cardinal Stage, Bloomington Playwrights Project and Pigasus Institute submitted a proposal to manage the Waldron. You can find a video describing that proposal here.
The City of Bloomington has released a draft zoning map as the last phase of a two-year overhaul of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), the city's main zoning document.
A public forum will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 5:30-7 p.m. with a presentation on the proposed changes and a Q&A session. There will be at least four more meetings in the coming weeks to seek public input, as well as opportunities to provide feedback via online surveys.
A website for the mapping project also contains a proposed housing diversity story map, an interactive map where residents can enter their address, and information about opportunities to provide feedback over the next eight weeks. The input collected during this period will help city staff prepare for public hearings in early 2021 to consider and adopt the new zoning map for the city, along with text amendments.
Chamber CEO Erin Predmore joined a panel and Bring It On! hosts William Hosea and Cornelius Wright to discuss the state of black-owned businesses and the entrepreneurial resources available to them. The show aired on Oct. 19, 2020 on WFHB 91.3 FM. A recording is available here.
Other panelists were Virginia Githiri, lecturer at the IU School of Health and owner of Popcorn Kernels with a Twist; and Jim Adams, III, the territory sales leader for State Farm Insurance.
The Chamber has been working with a Black-Owned Business Affinity Group to help support and grow black-owned businesses in our community.
During a weekly joint press conference on Friday afternoon, Mayor John Hamilton announced plans to close sections of Kirkwood to vehicular traffic 24/7 through the end of the year. Those sections are between Dunn and Grant, and from Washington to Walnut. The block between Indiana and Dunn will be closed weekends only. North/south cross streets will remain open.
Since this summer, sections of Kirkwood have been closed from Thursday through Sunday to allow restaurants to set up tables for customers in the street. It allows for additional seating with distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some restaurant owners have been advocating to keep the closing throughout the week so that they can set up tents with heaters during inclement weather.
Erin Predmore, CEO of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, was a guest on the Oct. 16, 2020 WFIU Noon Edition, focused on how COVD-related festival cancellations are impacting southern Indiana.
Other panelists were Judy Epp, Spencer Pride fundraising director; Diana Choate, Monroe County Fall Festival president; and Elaine Bedel, Indiana Destination and Development Corporation secretary and CEO.
Click here to listen to a recording of the discussion. Read the WFIU report: "Bloomington Chamber CEO Talks Effects of Local Event Cancellations."
Monroe County is now offering reimbursements for expenses related to COVID-19 for up to $20,000. The previous limit was $10,000.
The reimbursements are made possible with funds from the federal CARES Act. Examples of approved expenses include cleaning or disinfection supplies, personal protection equipment (like face masks), and costs associated with changing your business model (such as restaurants that started offering curbside or take-out).
Details and a reimbursement form are available here.
The Bloomington-Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has approved a new regional transportation plan through 2045, with new emphasis on safety, transportation equity and climate change. Approval came at the group's Oct. 9 meeting.
Pat Martin, City of Bloomington senior transportation planner, noted that this marks the first MPO in Indiana to endorse a "Vision Zero" action plan, with a goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. "Now the hard part comes in implementing the policy," he told MPO members.
The plan will be submitted to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) for their review and concurrent approval with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
Click here to view the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
NOTE: This "It's Your Business" column by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore was published in the Oct. 9, 2020 Bloomington Herald-Times.
This year, the presidential election is sucking all the oxygen out of the room as we head toward Nov. 3. It’s certainly a crucial race and not just for the business community.
But here’s the thing: While presidential candidates receive much-deserved attention and scrutiny, many of the down-ballot races go virtually unnoticed. How many times in the past have you filled out your ballot and wondered: “Who the heck are these people?”
The candidates we elect for local and state offices have a direct impact on our daily lives. They make decisions that impact businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and individuals. They decide how our tax dollars are spent. They make policies and regulations that affect how your business can operate and whether you can thrive. They hire and oversee our school superintendents. They determine how laws are applied. And most of them do this in relative anonymity.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is working to help our members and others in the community be more informed voters. We’ve launched an online, nonpartisan guide for elected positions that represent all or parts of Monroe County. Please check it out at ChamberBloomington.org/2020-general-election.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy