The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is holding an installation ceremony for a historical marker at Peoples Park in Bloomington to mark the location of the Black Market, a Black-owned business that was firebombed in 1968. The installation will take place on Friday, July 31 at 10 a.m. at Peoples Park, 501 E Kirkwood Ave. (the northeast corner of Kirkwood and Dunn).
This ends a process that officially began in the summer of 2019 with an application to the Indiana State Historical Society. The Chamber had originally planned to have this event and marker installation in May, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans were rescheduled for this month.
“We are looking forward to finally being able to honor Peoples Park and the Black Market that was once located there,” said Erin Predmore, President & CEO of the Chamber. “Many people in Bloomington are unaware of the history of this park and the injustice that led to the end of the Black Market, and the Chamber and our Black-Owned Business Affinity Group are on a mission to change that.”
The Chamber will be livestreaming the installation of the marker on our Facebook page. Click here for the Chamber press release.
Kirk White, Indiana University's Assistant Vice President – Strategic Partnerships, has joined the board of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. The board unanimously approved his appointment at their May 28 meeting.
At IU, Kirk is responsible for coordinating national defense and homeland security partnerships with state and federal government agencies, as well as IU’s relationships with local government and economic development organizations in southwest Indiana. He served eight years as a member of the Bloomington City Council (1988–95) and one term as Monroe County commissioner (1997–2000).
Kirk recently returned from active duty as a colonel in the U.S. Army. He was the officer in charge of Task Force Spartan – Jordan, a forward command post of Task Force Spartan in Southwest Asia, where he oversaw the military partnership between the U.S. Army and Jordan Armed Forces.
He joins the Chamber's 18-member board in June. The group meets monthly and provides oversight and guidance for the 501(c)6 organization.
Thanks to the generosity of Cook Medical, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is distributing face masks and hand sanitizer to local businesses and organizations in Bloomington/Monroe County.
Access to this PPE (personal protective equipment) is on a first come, first serve basis. Masks can be requested in increments of 50, up to 100 masks per week. Businesses and organizations also have the option of a one-time request for a 1-gallon bottle of hand sanitizer, made by Cardinal Spirits.
The PPE is free with a $5 handling fee per request.
Click here to make a request for PPE. More resources are posted on the Chamber's Back to Business site.
Need to learn more about candidates in the June 2, 2020 primary election? The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is helping inform voters with a new resource site.
The Chamber's guide to the 2020 Primary Elections includes videos of one-on-one interviews with candidates in local, state and federal races, and candidates' written responses to questions from the Chamber. You'll also find links to campaign websites and social media for the candidates, if available.
This year, there are competitive primary races for Monroe County Council at-large seats, Monroe County Circuit Court, the Indiana legislature and the District 9 U.S. Congressional seat.
All registered voters can vote by mail in the primary. Click here to apply for your ballot online.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy