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.
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.
Two board members for the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce – Lisa Abbott and Cindy Kinnarney – have been appointed to the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission and the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission, respectively.
Lisa Abbott is executive vice president of the Bloomington Board of Realtors. Cindy Kinnarney is market president for First Financial Bank and serves as first vice chair on the Chamber board.
The Monroe County Redevelopment Commission, on which Lisa Abbott serves, is a five-member board that oversees projects in the county's tax-increment finance (TIF) districts. Three members of this commission are appointed by the County Commissioners and two members are appointed by the County Council. Jim Shelton, the Chamber's government relations manager, is also a member of the county RDC.
Cindy Kinnarney is the newest member of the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission, which oversees the city's Department of Housing & Neighborhood Development (HAND), including the city's TIF districts. Three members of this 5-member board are appointed by the mayor. The other two are appointed by the Bloomington Council.
The Chamber encourages our members to serve on advisory boards and commissions for local government. Click here for more information on how to find vacancies and apply.
Redevelopment of the 24-acre Bloomington Hospital site is taking a step forward with the selection of a master planning team to oversee the project.
Last fall, the City of Bloomington issued a Request for Information (RFI) and received responses from 23 organizations in December. Of those, eight were selected for interviews by a Technical Review Committee on Jan. 16-17. The committee is chaired by former state Senator Vi Simpson and is a subset of the Hospital Re-Use Committee, on which Chamber CEO Erin Predmore serves.
Click here for details about the proposed work of the master planning team. Click here for more info about the redevelopment project.
At a swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 1, members of Bloomington City Council, the mayor and city clerk took the oath of office for new four-year terms. Watch the ceremony on CATS here.
Four new councilmembers were seated for their first terms: Kate Rosenbarger (District 1), Sue Sgambelluri (District 2), Ron Smith (District 3) and Matt Flaherty (At-Large). They replaced Chris Sturbaum, Dorothy Granger, Allison Chopra and Andy Ruff on council.
Returning to the 9-member council are Dave Rollo (District 4), Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 5), Steve Volan (District 6), Susan Sandberg (At-Large) and Jim Sims (At-Large). In addition, Mayor John Hamilton and City Clerk Nicole Bolden were also sworn in during the Jan. 1 ceremony, following their re-election on Nov. 5, 2019.
Click here for the Chamber's directory of elected officials.
The fate of the Monroe County Convention Center expansion will likely be decided within the next 48 hours. We need your help in ensuring our elected officials work together to agree on a governance structure so that this important project can move forward.
The Monroe County Council is poised to consider possibly repealing the Food & Beverage Tax, which funds the expansion, if no concrete progress is made by Friday afternoon.
The Chamber supports the creation of a Capital Improvement Board (CIB) as the governance structure for an expanded convention center. We support equal representation between the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, which has been agreed upon by both sides. The county commissioners have begun the process of creating a CIB and could make that final decision at their Dec. 11 meeting.
We are concerned that the palpable bitterness and distrust between the county commissioners and city administration could ultimately derail this project.
Please contact our Bloomington/Monroe County elected representatives to urge all parties to move forward with this project. Click here for contact information. See below for additional background, as well as information about upcoming public meetings where you can speak in person. Questions? Contact Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, at email@example.com or 812-336-6381.
Timeline of Upcoming Meetings
Here's a timeline of upcoming meetings and possible actions. For additional background on recent actions, read this article from the B Square Beacon.
Bloomington Transit is holding its final session in a weeks-long series of public input sessions about its proposed route redesign. The session runs from 1:30-4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Downtown Transit Center AP Room, 301 S. Walnut.
The proposed changes are part of BT's Route Optimization Study, which began in 2018. More information about this effort is available on BT's website.
BT is also looking for feedback on these service changes via an online survey. Click here to take the survey.
The City of Bloomington is conducting a survey to assess the space needs of organizations and individuals in the Bloomington Entertainment & Arts District (BEAD) .
The survey takes about 3-5 minutes and will close on Nov. 27.
BEAD is a state-designated cultural district that's overseen by the City of Bloomington's Department of Economic & Sustainable Development. It is an area in downtown Bloomington that includes a variety of cultural venues, including the Bloomington Playwrights Project, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater (where the BEAD Info Shop is located), WonderLab Museum, Arts Row and more. Click here to view a walking map of the district.
For more information, go to VisitBEAD.com.
On Nov. 6, Bloomington City Councilmembers Susan Sandberg and Chris Sturbaum released the final report of the Affordable Living Committee that they've been working on since 2015.
From the introduction: "This report is not intended to be the authoritative word on affordability in Bloomington. Instead, it is intended to point out the need for a systems view of affordability – a vision that is bigger than just housing. It is our hope that as the community conversation about affordable housing continues to evolve, that it does so mindful of a comprehensive approach to the problem. One that includes, but is not limited to: wages, housing, child care, health care, and food. "
Click here for a copy of the report.
Thanks to Chamber Ambassadors and staff for helping out Monroe County Election Central on Election Day!
At the request of Election Director Karen Wheeler, we placed signs to alert voters in districts where elections weren't held this year, to help avoid confusion.
Results of the Nov. 5 local election for Bloomington City Council: In District 2, Democrat Sue Sgambelluri defeated Republican Andrew Guenther. In District 3, Democrat Ron Smith prevailed over Independents Nick Kappas and Marty Spechler. No other local races were contested.
Thanks to Ambassadors Kelsey Haislip (right, at Summit Elementary) and Michele Tierney, as well as Chamber staffers Jim Shelton, Stacy Bruce, Tammy Walker and Rachel Levy for helping out. Look for more nonpartisan election support in 2020!
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy