In a Dec. 6 article in the Indiana Daily student, Erin Predmore, CEO of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, stressed the importance of shopping locally for the holidays to support Bloomington/Monroe County businesses.
Premore also highlighted the Chamber's Holiday Gift Guide, which provides dozens of suggestions for shopping local.
Read the IDS article here.
Monroe County Commissioners have approved a new program to reimburse businesses and nonprofits for COVID-related expenses and increased the eligible reimbursements to $30,000. The previous cap was $20,000.
The previous reimbursement program, which covered non-payroll COVID-related expenses, was slated to end on Nov. 30 and was part of the federal CARES Act. At their Dec. 2 meeting, commissioners voted to create a similar program funded from $4.7 million that the county received from the CARES Act.
Click here for the reimbursement application form.
Chamber CEO Erin Predmore addressed the impact of COVID-19 on the local business community during a Nov. 27 Noon Edition on WFIU. The segment also featured Jeff Meese of One World Enterprises and Efrat Feferman of the Monroe County United Way.
Predmore talked about efforts to support local businesses, including the Chamber's online holiday gift guide, which spotlights more than 100 shops and other businesses.
Click here to listen.
Staff from Bloomington's Economic & Sustainable Development Department updated City Council at their Nov. 4 meeting about the status of the Rapid Response Fund loan program.
To date, 62 loans have been granted totaling $1,760,770 using funds from both Food & Beverage Tax revenues and the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association (BUEA). The loans are intended to help local businesses that are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chamber CEO Erin Predmore serves on the city's Economic Stabilization & Recovery Working Group, which oversees the Rapid Response Fund. Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, serves on the BUEA board.
Click here to read the staff memo on the Rapid Response Fund update.
Click here to watch a recording of the Nov. 4 presentation to council.
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.
During a 5-hour meeting on Sept. 16, the Bloomington City Council voted down an 0.25% local income tax increase proposed by Mayor John Hamilton. The vote on the 9-member council was four in favor, five opposed.
Voting against the proposal were Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Susan Sandberg, Sue Sgambelluri, Jim Sims and Ron Smith.
The Chamber also had opposed the increase, and CEO Erin Predmore spoke against it in the public commentary portion of Wednesday's meeting. “A lack of public process makes this tax proposal impossible to support,” she said.
The Chamber looks forward to working with City of Bloomington and Monroe County decision-makers, as well as state legislators and the public, to collaboratively address our community's challenges together in the coming months.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is urging the Bloomington Common Council to vote against Mayor John Hamilton’s proposal to increase the local income tax (LIT) by 0.25%.
“A lack of public process makes this tax proposal impossible to support,” said Erin Predmore, the Chamber’s President & CEO. “Adding to the community’s tax burden is an important decision and should be guided by a clear community consensus. That work hasn’t happened.”
In an online survey of Chamber members taken this week, 73% of respondents opposed the current proposal and an additional 18% opposed it at this time. Only 9% supported the proposal.
The Chamber’s concerns about the proposed tax increase include:
Lack of public engagement. The mayor proposed this tax increase in mid-July, but there was no subsequent attempt at public engagement until recently. The proposal was not mentioned during the August budget presentations, when it would have been an obvious and relevant point of discussion. Feedback from the community should be incorporated at the start of the process as a way to determine whether a tax is needed and how much is needed, not after a tax increase has been implemented.
Lack of a compelling, sustainable plan. The current proposal is a grab bag of projects, including park trails, a composting program, a new transportation demand management job and more. The projects add to the city’s financial burden while lacking a coherent vision for how the LIT investments will be sustained. Before imposing a tax increase – especially one designed to spur economic development – the city needs to ensure a measurable return on investment and a long-term plan for supporting these investments. It is irresponsible to continue a cycle of taking property off the tax rolls, raising taxes and adding to the city’s financial commitments.
Lack of collaboration. This proposal harms much-needed collaboration between the city and county, and with state legislators. The Monroe County Council has issued a statement urging the city to postpone this proposal, and we agree. Ignoring county officials risks damaging the important city-county relationship, which is already frayed. Further, city officials need to build stronger relationships with state legislators. Speculation about possible actions during the next legislative session is being used to justify pushing through this tax increase. The Chamber urges leaders of the City of Bloomington to strengthen intergovernmental relationships for the benefit of our community.
There’s precedent for a different approach. In 2016, a LIT increase for public safety was passed with broad support for a focused purpose. The current proposal does not reflect that kind of community buy-in.
“Businesses and individuals are stressed from the COVID-19 pandemic and face an uncertain future,” Predmore said. “Without a thoughtful, collaborative process and a sustainable plan, we can not support this tax increase and we urge Bloomington councilmembers to vote against it.”
Bloomington Council is holding its 2021 budget hearings from Aug. 17 through Aug. 20. All sessions start at 6 p.m. Here’s the lineup:
MONDAY, 8/17: Zoom link
Overview, HR, Clerk, Legal, IT, Council, Controller, Mayor
TUESDAY 8/18: Zoom link
Fire and Police
WEDNESDAY 8/19: Zoom link
Public Transit, Housing Authority, HAND, Economic & Sustainable Development, Community & Family Resources, Parks & Rec
THURSDAY 8/20: Zoom link
Utilities, Planning & Transportation, Engineering (new department), Public Works (includes animal control, parking, street/traffic, etc.)
The 338-page budget book with more materials is posted here.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy