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.
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.
Monroe County is in the process of selecting a consultant to overhaul the county's zoning code.
At their Dec. 18 work session, Monroe County Commissioners heard from Larry Wilson, the county's planning director. He said that staff and the county Plan Commission recommended hiring Clarion Associates for the new County Development Ordinance (CDO).
Clarion recently did the City of Bloomington's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The firm also has done work for Indianapolis/Marion County, Fort Wayne/Allen County, and hundreds of other communities nationwide.
Wilson said that $105,000 remained from the previous CDO appropriation. The county previously hired Calfee Zoning, but that firm was unable to complete the project and reached a settlement with the county to end their contract.
Commissioner Julie Thomas, who also serves on the county Plan Commission, said she preferred the other finalist, Clearzoning, because she thought their writing was clearer. "But I'm happy to go with the majority of my colleagues," she added.
Wilson reported that Clearzoning, which is based in Michigan, had no experience with projects in Indiana, and would need to learn Indiana statutory requirements.
The three-member Monroe County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on the contract at their Jan. 8 meeting. The seven-member County Council would then be asked to appropriate funds for the work at their Jan. 14 meeting. Wilson told commissioners that he hoped the bulk of the CDO could be completed in 2020.
Click here to watch the Dec. 18 working session on CATS.
The May 5, 2020 primary election is months away, but Monroe County Elections is already recruiting poll workers. These are paid positions for Election Day.
To be a poll worker in Monroe County, you must meet these requirements:
For more information about the various jobs available – including the student poll worker program – check out Monroe County Election Central or contact their office at 812-349-2612.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
The Tobacco-Free Coalition of Monroe County is looking for 5 youth between the ages of 13-18 years old who would like to participate in VOICE, a youth advocacy campaign.
VOICE is Indiana's statewide youth empowerment program, an initiative to engage, educate, and empower teens to celebrate a tobacco-free lifestyle.
Do you know a teen who might be interested? Contact the coalition's Youth Coordinator, Patricia Colon, at email@example.com for more information.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Tobacco-Free Coalition. Click here to learn more about our community's tobacco cessation efforts.
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!
An 11-county study of workforce housing needs has been released this week, assessing the regional housing market and proposing strategies for addressing challenges.
The 339-page Indiana Uplands Regional Housing Study includes the Bloomington/Monroe County community. Reports for individual counties also can be downloaded on the housing study's website.
Six main strategies are identified by the report (pp 318-337):
ROI is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, and is funded through a $25.87 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
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!
On the third Thursday of each month, Downtown Bloomington Inc. hosts a breakfast meeting that's open to the public. This month, the event drew about two dozen people who gathered at the Bloomington Cooking School.
These meetings primarily consist of updates from everyone who attends. Here's a sampling from the Sept. 19 session (* = Chamber member):
Monroe County* is replacing its downtown canopy of lights on the square with roughly 4,000 LED bulbs. Cassady Electrical Contractors* will be hanging the new strands during the third week of October. The change is estimated to cut electricity costs from $70/day to $15/day.
Downtown employers will be receiving an online survey soon to distribute to their employees as part of the City of Bloomington* Transportation Demand Management (TDM) initiative. The survey will gather information on how employees get to work, parking needs, and incentives they might use for taking alternative transportation, such as public transit.
Malcolm Abrams, publisher of Bloom Magazine* reported that Nov. 1 is the deadline to submit nominations for the monthly magazine's Community Awards, recognizing local business, charity, the arts and diversity. The awards will be presented at a gala in December.
The city's new Switchyard Park will be opening on Nov. 1. The new clubhouse at the Cascades Golf Course will be opening soon as well. It will include rentable space that's available year-round, according to Mary Catherine Carmichael, the city's director of public engagement. She quipped that the previous structure had been "rode hard and put away wet."
Adam Wason, the city's director of public works, reported that "surgical" demolition of the 4th St. garage will begin soon. The next hearing of the eminent domain lawsuit against the city is scheduled for Oct. 7. The city hopes to reach a settlement with Juan Carlos Carrasquel, Wason said. Site plans for the new 4th St. garage won't be reviewed by the Plan Commission until the situation is resolved.
CFC Properties* has launched a new website for Fountain Square. Two additional event spaces are now available for the public. CFC also is looking for a new tenant in the Wicks Building on the square at 116 W. 6th St.
The Bloomington Cooking School* is offering corporate teambuilding sessions for 8-20 people. Groups can come in a prepare a meal together – then eat it! – while getting to know each other and strengthening their business relationships.
The city's tree inventory has been released and "the general impression is not good," according to Julie Roberts, gallery director for the Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center*, who also serves as president of the city's Utilities Service Board. She urged everyone to be observant of the condition of Bloomington's trees. (Read a report about the tree inventory here.)
The DBI's next breakfast meeting is on Thursday, Oct. 17. Sign up for the group's e-newsletter here.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy