MonroeCountyCOVID-19.org is a collaborative effort of many organizations across the entire Monroe County community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The site is hosted by the Chamber and updated daily by Chamber staff.
The site provides information from federal, state and local sources about economic assistance, help for nonprofits, virtual meetings, basic services, HR and legal resources, and more. We are also gathering information on ways to give back and stories of resilience and care from our community.
We are in this together, and we are here for you. If you have suggestions for other resources to include, please click here to fill out our resource submission from. If you have any questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letter to the Bloomington/Monroe County Community from the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Staff
Over the past week we’ve witnessed some amazing acts of community. Competitors joining forces. Restaurant owners scrambling to take care of employees, despite not knowing how their business will survive. Organizations and individuals banding together to support our community’s most vulnerable residents. Local coalition-building to address a global crisis that’s hitting close to home.
That gives us hope during these frightening times. Collectively, we are watching a slow-motion train wreck that we can’t easily control or stop. We don’t know what’s coming next, and that’s the most frightening feeling of all. If we knew, we could prepare. It’s easy to feel helpless.
The next few weeks – and possibly months – will be very painful for many of us, as the economic toll of the COVID-19 outbreak continues to build. At the Chamber, our priority right now is information-sharing. We are working with others to ensure the community can find resources necessary to weather this unprecedented period. Our website is gearing up to be a source of dependable information for the community, and our staff are ready to adjust roles and duties depending on what the community needs.
We are here for you. If you have a need, are struggling with a problem, or just want to vent, we are here. Please let us know how we can help.
We value all our Chamber members. But right now, our most important member is the Bloomington/Monroe County community. We are committed to providing whatever support we can to help our community survive this threat.
We will get through this because we’re capable of amazing acts of community. We witness them every day, and we know you do, too. We’re grateful to be part of such a special place.
In collaboration with other Bloomington and Monroe County organizations, the Chamber has created a resource site to help businesses navigate the impact of COVID-19.
In addition to guidance from the Small Business Administration, Centers for Disease Control and others, the site provides legal resources, economic recovery resources, and links to updates from the Monroe County Health Department, City of Bloomington, and local educational institutions.
We've also compiled a listing of updates, information and resources provided by our Chamber members. The resource categories include food, kids activities, housing and utilities, among others. Do you have an update to include? Click here to submit your information and we'll add it to the list.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to make government at all levels more transparent, consistent and accountable. As part of our advocacy efforts on this issue, the Chamber has launched a transparency initiative to track the work of local government and to identify ways that openness and access can be improved.
“Open government gives our members and the broader community the ability to be more informed and to influence decisions, which in turn will help build economic equity, equality and accessibility,” said Erin Predmore, the Chamber’s President & CEO.
The City of Bloomington and Monroe County government already take actions related to these goals. Many public meetings, but not all, are recorded by Community Access Television Services (CATS) and are broadcast live or available later on the CATS website. The agendas, packets and meetings for many public meetings, but not all, are posted online. Many meetings, but not all, are noticed in a timely and accessible way.
The Chamber is tracking 82 councils, boards and commissions that govern and advise the City of Bloomington and Monroe County. We are tracking whether meeting minutes, agendas and packets are posted online in a timely way, and whether contact information is posted for these entities. As of January 2020, 45 are in the “red zone,” with up-to-date information unavailable in at least two of the four categories that we’re tracking. We will continue to monitor these groups and post updates on our Transparency in Government site.
We can do better. Here are some ways that local government can improve.
“Elected officials often encourage residents to get involved in local government, but don’t remove the barriers that prevent people from engaging,” Predmore said. “Easier access to information, a true commitment to transparency, and systemic changes are needed as we aspire to more inclusive decision-making for our community.”
As our community works to strengthen public transit, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce urges the Bloomington City Council to take an initial step: Amend Chapter 2.76 of the Bloomington Municipal Code, enabling Bloomington Transit to provide service outside the city limits.
According to Erin Predmore, President and CEO of the Chamber, “This is a small but necessary step to make our community’s public transit system even better for city residents, including employers and people who work in urbanized areas of Monroe County.”
The current code states that the boundaries of the Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation, which operates Bloomington Transit, must be “coterminous” with the city’s boundaries. Lifting this restriction, by itself, does not mean that Bloomington Transit will immediately start operating buses outside the city limits. But it does provide flexibility for BT to adjust its routes in the future, if BT staff and board find it to be financially viable.
BT is undergoing a route optimization process. Consultants for this project recommend that BT provide service out to Ivy Tech and Cook Group, located just beyond the city limits. However, this service would not be possible under the current city code. Nor can BT offer service to Ellettsville, under current constraints.
“Most of us don’t constrain our lives to the city limits, even if we live within them. Many city residents need to attend Ivy Tech, or work at Cook Group and other businesses located slightly outside the city, or shop on the western edge of our community. We need a transit system that reflects the realities of our community and serves the needs of city residents,” says Predmore.
Providing reliable public transportation helps all city residents. A recent report by the Bloomington Affordable Living Committee – “Working Hard, Falling Behind” – includes this feedback from Amethyst House, a local nonprofit: “Affordable, reliable and accessible public transportation is critical to many in our community as they work to sustain employment, fulfill basic needs, gain access to social services, and engage in our community.”
The Chamber recognizes there are many challenges to expanding transit, including financial resources and political issues between the city and county. Looking at how to improve public transit in other ways should also be a goal for our community. There’s hard work to be done. But changing this city ordinance is an easy step, and we urge council to take it.
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.
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 email@example.com.
As we look to 2020, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is seeking input on issues that take priority for our members, local businesses and others throughout our community. Results from this 2019 Public Policy and Legislative Survey will help guide our legislative priorities and shape our advocacy in the coming year.
Please click the button below to weigh in – and thanks for your feedback!
Thomas Curry has joined the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce as a Public Policy Specialist.
Thomas is currently studying for a Master of Public Affairs degree at Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, formerly known as SPEA. He will be working with the Chamber for two years through the O’Neill Service Corps Fellow program.
Thomas earned his undergraduate degree in international relations and political science from the University of Indianapolis. After graduation, he worked as a journalist covering the Indiana legislature. Most recently, Thomas returned from Mongolia where he spent two years as an English Teacher Trainer for the Peace Corps.
Thomas is part of the Chamber's Advocacy Team, which includes Mary Morgan, Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, and Jim Shelton, Government Relations Manager. Please join us in welcoming Thomas!
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy