Recover Forward projects to expand access to jobs, housing, transportation options, renewable energy, social services, local food, the arts, and digital services are underway. As proposed by Mayor John Hamilton and approved by the Bloomington Common Council on August 12, these projects are the first steps in a multi-phase strategy to protect and strengthen the community as it grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic fallout, the climate crisis, and longstanding racial injustice.
“These local investments are connecting residents with opportunities for a better quality of life,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “It’s been a hard year, 2020, and I’m grateful to council for reallocating these reversion funds and to our community partners for their roles in activating these opportunities through expertise and programming.”
Updates on Phase One Recover Forward projects follow:
The Mill Code School ($100K): The first cohort of 40 participants will graduate on December 11 from the 10-week program in digital skills—and particularly software development—to access better employment options. Gener8tor, a nationally recognized accelerator, has provided instruction. Participants will participate in mock interviews the week of November 30, in preparation for their future career searches.
Affordable Home Ownership ($450K to be shared between Down Payment Assistance ($100K) and Shared Appreciation Home Ownership/2nd Mortgage Assistance ($350K)): The Department of Housing and Neighborhood Development is currently promoting the availability of these funds to income-eligible participants in the department’s Homebuyers’ classes and discussing this funding source with local lenders in an effort to promote the program. One prospective homebuyer has already applied to participate in the Shared Appreciation Homeownership Program, and others are in the pipeline.
Sidewalk and Path Enhancements ($400K):
Jack Hopkins: ($200K): On October 26, the Jack Hopkins Social Services Funding Committee made an additional round of appropriations to 25 area nonprofits to support the work these agencies are doing on the community’s behalf as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Projects were prioritized that allow agencies to provide direct relief to clients for 1) food, 2) shelter/housing, 3) personal safety/hygiene products/personal protective equipment, and 4) childcare.
Net New Job Incentives to Small Businesses and Organizations ($375K):
Life Sciences Support ($50K): Ivy Tech has concluded a 28-student cohort of the Biomanufacturing Apprenticeship Program supported by Recover Forward, a free three-week training in skills needed to gain employment in the region’s robust biomanufacturing sector. The 110-hour, three-week course features two weeks of biomanufacturing-specific content and one week of soft skills content and includes an interview process with local manufacturers. The fall cohort had a 100% graduation rate and the Ivy Tech Office of Workforce Alignment anticipates nearly all graduates will receive jobs with the three interviewing employers: Catalent, Boston Scientific, and Baxter. A second cohort to be supported by Recover Forward will take place next March. The program was developed by Hoosier Hills Career Center, in partnership with Ivy Tech, WorkOne, and industry partners Catalent and Boston Scientific. Click here for more information.
Energy Efficiency—Commercial & Residential Improvements ($250K): This program will reduce energy burden and operational costs for eligible homeowners, renters and small businesses, through energy-efficiency loans and grants primarily targeting income-restricted homes or small businesses as well as multi-family units managed by property management companies with greater than five units. A grant agreement with a community partner to provide weatherization assistance is currently under review and will be announced soon.
Farm Stop ($75K): Efforts are currently underway to establish a location for a consignment-based retail establishment that will be cooperatively owned and operated by the local growers who supply it. Its opening forecast in spring or early summer 2021, the farm stop will serve both individual customers and institutional clients on a daily basis. This project will increase the availability of locally produced food and provide area farmers with improved market access.
Arts Community ($100K): The City has announced nearly $50,000 in new grants to 21 arts- and culture-focused initiatives that foster the arts and cultivate community in Bloomington, to help to support fall/winter programming in the face of the challenges and fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant recipients’ names will be shared in a forthcoming press release. Provided through the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Area (BUEA), another round of grant funding is planned in early January, with applications accepted starting Friday, November 20.
Digital Equity Grants ($35K): The Digital Equity Grants program is currently accepting proposals from Bloomington-based nonprofits for projects that build capacity in the community to bridge the digital divide and increase digital resources for residents. Proposals will be accepted through Wednesday, December 2 at 4 p.m. Awards will be made before the end of the year.
The Recover Forward phase one initiatives are funded primarily through a reallocation of $2 million of 2019 reversion funds requested by Mayor Hamilton and approved by the Bloomington Common Council in August. A similar amount for Recover Forward phase two was approved in the 2021 budget as well.