The Advocacy division of the Chamber often finds itself at odds with pieces of local and state legislation. We do not have the heft to support every item we would like. Many education initiatives fall into this category. Supporting next Fall’s MCCSC referendum to increase property taxes for pay hikes to the teaching and other staff members remains a great use of our limited capital. Quality of life, the largest driver of economic development begins with the value of our schools. Pushing for additional funds for transit, including opening BT to unincorporated areas has also been positive. Ushering people to work without vehicles and providing a less congested means for others enhances our lives.
Recently, I spoke to the Monroe County Commissioners thanking them for their role in several recent initiatives. This is an important aspect of my job. These are hard-working public servants. We will not always agree, which is a positive development. We need to have discourse on issues that affect our community. However, even during disagreements, it’s vital to let these officials know they are playing a positive role in our community. Below is my June 22nd statement:
Good morning, commissioners! This is Christopher Emge from the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. We often come before you to advocate a position pro or con on any number of issues. We have a role to play as a voice of business in the public arena. Sometimes we agree, other times we are at odds but then that’s healthy. Today I want to commend the commissioners on their effort, and their work on behalf of Monroe County residents.
On the judicial front, last December the county was recognized as "exceptional" by a state review for its juvenile detention alternatives initiative. The Chamber applauds this effort in reducing racial and ethnic disparities. Along the same lines, we are encouraged by the recent progress we have seen by the Criminal Justice Response Committee. Margie Rice has been an outstanding facilitator of this group. The results from this will go a long way in creating a new and innovative Justice Center. And with new funding available, we anxiously await seeing a progressive 21st-century method of incarceration with the shared goal of reducing recidivism (ruh·si·duh·vi·zm) and providing a pathway for those in our legal system to become contributing members of our community.
Finally, we were pleased to see the planned limestone heritage site coming together with the purchase of the 70 acres at the northwest side of the interchange of State-Route 46 and I-69. This is a real opportunity to develop and mold a tourist beacon that uniquely captures our history and the entire Uplands Region. I thank you for your time today.