Bloomington, IN – The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce held its 106th Annual Meeting and Community Awards this afternoon. This year the Chamber used a hybrid model for the celebration, with sponsors, board members, and award recipients attending in-person at the Monroe County Convention Center and Chamber members participating virtually.
“This past year has been a challenging experience for many of our members as we continue to deal with the COVID pandemic,” said Erin Predmore, President & CEO of the Chamber. “Here at the Chamber, we are glad to be a steady resource for our members as we navigate the situation together, and we are grateful to have opportunities like our annual meeting to connect with you, even if in a hybrid setting.”
Outgoing board chair and Regional President of German American Bank, Cindy Kinnarney, called the meeting to order, and noted her gratitude for the Chamber staff and her fellow board members during her time as chair. She also kicked off the Community Awards ceremony, honoring a variety of business owners and community leaders from the past year.
NOTE: This "It's Your Business" column by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore was published in the September 10, 2021 Bloomington Herald-Times.
In 2019, the Regional Opportunity Initiatives issued a Monroe County Quality of Place & Workforce Attraction Plan. The initiative hosted a series of focus groups to develop the plan, and one of the findings included this:
Minority residents do not feel the sense of welcoming community that Monroe County prides itself on. The legacy of the Ku Klux Klan in the region is remembered and felt today. Recruiters have trouble attracting diverse candidates to the region, to Monroe County and to Bloomington.
One focus group member noted that Monroe County “thinks it’s more progressive than it actually is.” Others pointed to the existence of a Black community that’s small with a strong identity and said they stay here for that reason.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce welcomes Mary Lechner and Whitney Koelling from Indiana University's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Both Lechner and Koelling will be with the Chamber for two years. Lechner is the Vice Principal with the Chamber's Success School and working with Christopher Emge, Principal of the Success School. Koelling is the Public Policy Specialist for the Advocacy team and working with Mary Morgan, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy.
Mary Lechner is a first year MPA student at Indiana University's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She was born and raised in Indiana. Lechner attended Indiana University where she studied Sociology and Spanish. After graduating, Lechner served with AmeriCorps for two years as a college advisor for high school seniors where she worked with amazing students, many who were the first in their families to attend college. This experience fueled her passion in advocating for access to higher education and providing students with all the options and resources to be successful and pursue their passions.
You can find Lechner spending her free time running and cycling around Bloomington or reading at a local coffee shop.
Lechner is excited to partner with schools and meet the wonderful volunteers who make the work of the Success School possible.
Whitney Koelling joins the Chamber from Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) Masters of Public Affairs (MPA) program. She is a Paul D. Coverdell Fellow who is using her experience from her Peace Corps service in the remote Pacific Islands of Samoa to work as part of our Advocacy Team. After having spent an extended period of time overseas, she is happy to call Bloomington her new home.
Outside of work she loves to kayak on Lake Monroe, eat at many of Bloomington’s delicious local restaurants, and take her Rottweiler puppy to Switchyard Dog Park.
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