NOTE: This "It's Your Business" column by Chamber CEO Eric Spoonmore was published in the January 14, 2022 Bloomington Herald-Times.
As the voice of business in our region, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is engaged and involved in many areas that impact what we love most about our community. Our belief in “Better Business, Better Community” recognizes that we collectively prosper when opportunities for professional and personal growth are available to all.
Our members believe that a thriving business sector is necessary for achieving the quality-of-life that residents deserve. We also believe that our best outcomes occur when businesses and government are working together to achieve shared community goals. For example, Monroe County Government and the City of Bloomington swiftly responded to the COVID 19 crisis by creating emergency financial assistance programs targeted for small enterprises. As a result, the responsive action taken by our local officials made a huge difference to small businesses who needed help the most.
This year, the Chamber of Commerce will continue to prioritize progress in our community through collaboration with elected leaders and by advocating for economic development initiatives that will bring Greater Bloomington to new heights. Here are a few of the key opportunities that private and public sector leaders can achieve success on together in 2022:
Housing Availability We are fortunate to have a significant number of quality job openings in our community, however, a shortage of existing housing options presents numerous challenges to our workers, employers, and local government. Economic development research demonstrates clearly that affordable and stable housing are connected to positive health, education, and economic outcomes for residents. A healthy supply of housing adds further benefits to residents in the form of enhanced local government services that are funded through the collection of additional property and income taxes.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Building a sense of community that is welcoming to minority residents is imperative to the long-term economic health and sustainability of our region. The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce along with our many community partners are committed to ongoing efforts that will make Bloomington and Monroe County a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place to live and work. The Chamber of Commerce appreciates the demonstrated commitment by local government to these initiatives, and we look forward to continued collaboration on this vital work.
Convention Center Expansion The expansion of the Monroe Convention Center in Downtown Bloomington will bring a transformative boost to our local economy. The project promises to further activate our vibrant downtown, generate new jobs, attract visitors, and support many nearby enterprises. Since 2018, the Monroe County Food & Beverage Tax has collected over $11M to support construction of the expanded Convention Center. The resources are in place to make this project successful. The Chamber is eager to collaborate with county and city officials on achieving this much anticipated community-wide goal.
Public Safety. The Chamber of Commerce agrees with local elected leaders that the most fundamental role of government is to provide for the safety and welfare of its residents. Fully funding our public safety operations and personnel across a wide spectrum of services is critical to the welfare of our citizens and vitality of our businesses. The Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with elected leaders and community members to support innovative solutions that will match existing public safety challenges with trained experts who are best equipped to solve them.
We look forward to all the work ahead of us in this new year of hope and optimism. The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and our many community partners are eager to make a positive difference here in the community that we love and call home. Together, our business community supports and cares for issues that impact us all, and we look forward to being a catalyst for continued progress in the coming year. Best wishes for a successful and productive 2022!
Eric Spoonmore, President & CEO
Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce
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