PRESS RELEASE: Chamber of Commerce, Community Await Commissioners’ Response to Convention Center Proposal
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce along with numerous community partners plan to attend the Monroe County Commissioners’ work session on Wednesday, August 31 to discuss a pathway forward for the expansion of the Monroe Convention Center. The Commissioners’ work session will begin at noon in the Monroe County Courthouse, Nat U Hill Room.
“We are anxiously awaiting the County Commissioners’ response to the City of Bloomington’s proposal to acquire the Monroe Convention Center and begin moving forward on expansion,” said Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce President Eric Spoonmore. “We are very pleased that the County Commissioners invited City representatives to their meeting for this important discussion.”
The Chamber of Commerce, City of Bloomington representatives, and local hospitality & tourism leaders will be present at the work session to advocate for a pathway forward on the convention center expansion project. The long-delayed project was supposed to be funded by a local food and beverage tax that passed in 2017. Since then, the tax has generated over $15M in revenue, but the project has seen no progress to date.
“The lack of any meaningful progress on the expansion is deeply concerning because it could put the future of the food and beverage tax funding mechanism in jeopardy by the State Legislature during its 2023 legislative session,” said Spoonmore. “Time is of the essence, and the Commissioners’ teamwork in this process is critical to achieving a successful outcome for the community.”
NOTE: This interview with the President & CEO, Eric Spoonmore was originally aired by WGCL Glass in the Afternoon on Tuesday, August 9th.
NOTE: This article that highlights President & CEO, Eric Spoonmore's, involvement was published in the August 10, 2022 B Square Bulletin by Dave Askins. Photos are gathered from the article as well.
While a lot of details remain to be worked out, Monroe County councilors appear receptive to the basic idea of transferring ownership of the county’s convention center and related properties to the city of Bloomington.
The city’s hoped-for timeline for getting the deal done is the end of September.
At their regular meeting on Tuesday, county councilors took turns responding to a pitch from Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Eric Spoonmore, who is their former colleague, and Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin. The two gave a somewhat longer version of the proposal that county commissioners had heard during public commentary at their regular meeting last Wednesday.
The city’s pitch comes in the context of some political pressure to use the food and beverage tax, enacted in 2017 by the county council, for its lawful purpose—to expand the convention center. The hoped-for collaboration between the city and the county on a joint effort at expansion was stalled even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
One fear is that the state legislature will sunset food and beverage taxes in its 2023 session, which could be somewhat countered by action now to get the food and beverage tax revenues obligated through a bond issuance.
Bloomington’s initial convention center pitch: County transfers property, city pays debt, gets hotel tax
NOTE: This article that highlights President & CEO, Eric Spoonmore's, involvement was published in the August 5, 2022 B Square Bulletin by Dave Askins. Photos are gathered from the article as well.
The initial potential term sheet that has been floated by the city of Bloomington for the acquisition of the Monroe County convention center is now public.
The key points of the proposal include the transfer of the convention center at 3rd Street and College Avenue to the city of Bloomington—as well as other property that has been purchased by the county government with proceeds from the innkeeper’s tax.
The city wants to acquire the convention center, in order to purse an expansion of the facility independent of the county, because the joint venture between the two governments was stalled even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Under the terms, the county would also have to support an annual transfer from the county to Bloomington, or its property manager, the proceeds from the county’s 5-percent innkeeper’s tax. The tax is overseen by a five-member convention and visitors commission, which is appointed by county government. It’s the innkeeper’s tax that is used by the county to make the payments on the existing debt on the convention center.
NOTE: This article which highlights the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce was published on August 8, 2022 on Inside Indiana Business by Wes Mills.
The city of Bloomington is proposing a plan to take over ownership and operation of the Monroe Convention Center and to pay for an expansion of the venue. City leaders have submitted a proposal to the Monroe County Board of Commissioners and will present the idea Tuesday during the Monroe County Council meeting.
The plan has the backing of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, Visit Bloomington, and Downtown Bloomington Inc.
Under the proposal, the city would pay off the county’s existing debt on the convention center, estimated at approximately $2 million.
NOTE: This article which highlights Chamber CEO Eric Spoonmore was published on August 4, 2022 WFIU by Joe Hren.
Monroe County’s convention center business is back to pre-pandemic levels and city leaders are looking to revive the struggling expansion project.
Bloomington city leaders want to take over the convention center expansion project by purchasing the existing building and land from the county.
At this week’s county commissioner meeting, Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce President Eric Spoonmore presented what he calls a ‘win-win’ for all parties.
“The city is willing to reasonably compensate the county in order to do this,” Spoonmore said. “This will provide much needed resources for county government to pursue other high priority projects, such as the new quarry park that we’re excited about.”
NOTE: This article that highlights President & CEO, Eric Spoonmore's, involvement was published in the August 3, 2022 B Square Bulletin by Dave Askins.
The city of Bloomington is now interested in purchasing Monroe County’s convention center and possibly other land from the county government, in order to pursue the expansion of the facility.
That’s the message that was conveyed to county commissioners during public comment at the start of their Wednesday meeting, when Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce president Eric Spoonmore told the commissioners that “a viable path forward for convention center expansion” could “involve a transfer of assets from the county to the city.”
Spoonmore said the city of Bloomington is “willing to reasonably compensate the county.” No dollar figures were mentioned by Spoonmore or by deputy mayor Don Griffin, who followed Spoonmore to the public mic.
Griffin wrapped up his remarks in under a minute, saying, “We’re ready to talk. I’m ready to listen. And let’s move forward.”
The expansion project which was supposed to be a joint venture of the county and city governments, has been stalled since early March 2020, before the pandemic hit. The county and the city were having trouble coming to terms over the selection of members for a capital improvement board, which could provide governance for the expanded convention center.
If the city were the sole governmental entity undertaking the expansion, that work would not require the kind of close collaboration between the city and the county, which up to now has not been achieved.
This blog contains press releases and other news updates from the Chamber.