Results of a monitoring program that has tested Bloomington’s wastewater for COVID-19 since August suggest that the virus can be detected in wastewater one week earlier than a hospital experiences an escalation in cases. For ten weeks, wastewater professionals from City of Bloomington Utilities (CBU) collected samples three times each week at eight sites across Bloomington, including each of the two wastewater treatment plants. Testing of those samples was conducted by multiple private, independent laboratories in an effort to gauge viral prevalence in the community.
The initial study indicates that wastewater sampling for COVID is likely most useful for identifying hot spots, identifying community trends in conjunction with viral testing results, and monitoring for new outbreaks after a vaccine is deployed.
Mallor Grodner has recently releases two articles related to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find them linked below.
First Phase of Downtown Alley Activation Substantially Completed, Among Bicentennial Bonds Projects Underway
The improvement and activation of three blocks of alleys around the downtown square is among the public improvement projects announced in Bloomington’s bicentennial year that have seen substantial progress in 2020. Proposed by Mayor John Hamilton as a gift to Bloomington’s future and supported by a $10 million bond approved by the Bloomington Common Council in 2018, these investments in accessibility and quality of life have provided additional value during this year’s public health and economic crises by expanding opportunities for safe, outdoor recreation and fostering employment. A report on several of the Bicentennial Bond projects follows:
United Way of Monroe County Announces Current Donations Top $850,000 and Urges Participation
United Way of Monroe County released the December progress update for its Reimagine 2020 annual community fundraising drive. As of December 18, donations have topped $852,042 to support the work of building resilience as United Way responds to community needs during a pandemic this holiday season.
Reimagine 2020 invites residents in Monroe, Owen, and Greene counties to rally around the goal of building a more resilient community by creating a future that works well for all and where zip code does not determine one’s future. Because of a high level of poverty right here in local communities, where nearly 50% of residents teeter right above or fall below the poverty line, it is critical to address the harsh disparities which often lie hidden in the shadows.
Donors responding to Reimagine 2020 are providing a framework for action in the months and years ahead as the community moves from pandemic relief to recovery and rebuilding.
The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced the 2020 Fast 15 MVP award winners today, December 22.
“In a typical year, the Fast 15 Awards highlight businesses with exceptional revenue growth,” Executive Director Pat East explains. “But 2020 was anything but typical, so we decided to do things a little differently.” The Mill paused the business awards program. Instead, it added a new category for MVP individuals and solicited nominations from throughout the community. The 15 winners hold a variety of positions across very different businesses and organizations. All were nominated for their ingenuity, drive, and leadership in making things happen, no matter what the obstacles. “Especially in challenging times, these folks inspire us with their energy and their achievements,” East says. “And we need a little inspiration this year.”
The City of Bloomington has published its Digital Equity Strategic Plan in service of the goal of improving internet accessibility and affordability for Bloomington residents. This plan is available at https://bloomington.in.gov/digital-equity.
The strategic plan was informed by a survey sent to a randomized sample of 6,500 Bloomington households in April 2020 and completed by 1,080 respondents, by dozens of community stakeholder interviews over the last few months, and feedback from a public open house meeting in November. The Digital Equity Plan outlines a few broad recommendations for improvement, including the following:
The 27th Annual Soup Bowl Benefit for Hoosier Hills Food Bank will be the most unusual and undoubtedly the most important to date. Due to the safety concerns with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 27th annual Soup Bowl will go virtual on 2-21-21. Even though participants will not be able to gather in person this year, the spirit of Soup Bowl will carry on. Hand-made bowls by local potters will still be available for pick up in advance of an entertaining and socially engaging virtual event hosted on the new streaming music platform, Mandolin. The program will feature music and messages from Soup Bowl regulars, including Carrie Newcomer, Malcolm Dalglish, Sam Bartlett, and Eric Schedler and many surprise guests.
After an extensive national-level search, Smithville has promoted Nicole Plunkett to vice president of commercial sales, according to Darby McCarty, chairman and CEO of Smithville. Plunkett previously served as a top-performing enterprise account executive for Smithville since joining the company in 2017. Before coming to Smithville, Plunkett successfully managed corporate business and client solutions as well as retail stores for AT&T, where she earned a reputation as a high-producing sales and business leader. Plunkett will report to Paul Quick, president of Smithville.
“Nicole has proven herself as a leading contributor to our team, earning the respect of her colleagues and our customers,” said Darby McCarty. “Developing top talent is a priority for Smithville. We recognize Nicole’s strong leadership ability and are pleased to have her now heading Smithville’s commercial sales and helping grow our business.”
According to Smithville Executive Vice President Cullen McCarty, the company’s investments in both talent and infrastructure have set the stage for continued growth and sustainability for the company and the surrounding region. “We are committed to making investments that create value and economic benefits for our customers and the communities we serve. Nicole and her team will work closely with our commercial customers in key markets to help maximize the economic development opportunities that can be realized through our fast and reliable high-speed broadband products and services.”
“Nicole’s proven sales experience and leadership will translate well as she leads and motivates our commercial sales team,” said Quick. “Understanding and exceeding the needs of our customers continues to be a top priority for Smithville. Nicole’s strong relationships with our customers, combined with extensive industry experience and customer-focused performance, will serve Smithville and our customers well as she takes on this new role.”
In addition to her experience in telecommunications, Plunkett has an impressive background in real estate and marketing. She attended Ball State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications. Plunkett also earned an associate degree in broadcasting from Vincennes University.
The City of Bloomington announces the completion of Southern Knoll, an affordable apartment community in downtown Bloomington serving residents experiencing homelessness and those with intellectual disabilities. Located at 1105-1107 West Third Street in the Prospect Hill neighborhood, Southern Knoll Apartments will include 42 bedrooms in 31 units serving residents at 30 to 80% of Area Median Income (AMI). A portion of the units will be reserved as permanent supportive housing for clients of Beacon and/or Stone Belt.
This affordable housing project was developed by Milestone Ventures with federal HOME funds in the amount of $375,000 administered by the City’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Department. In July 2018, the Bloomington Common Council approved a 10-year 98% tax abatement for the project as an additional incentive for the development of affordable housing.
The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced the 2020 FUSE Business Innovation Awards today, December 17. The FUSE Awards recognize the accomplishments of both companies and individuals in Bloomington's thriving technology and innovation scene.
“These innovation leaders drive growth in our entrepreneurial ecosystem and our local economy,” said Pat East, The Mill’s Executive Director. “Some of the 2020 winners, like Jeff Mease of One World Enterprises, have been bringing creative ideas to life for years. Others, like Megan Cox’s company Genie Supply, are bringing new energy, new talent, and whole new industries to south central Indiana. The Bloomington metro area is rich in experience and ingenuity, and we’re going to need both to fully recover from the economic repercussions of the pandemic.”
The 2020 winners are:
The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. The FUSE Awards were founded by the Indiana SBDC (Small Business Development Center) in 2004. The Mill rebooted the awards and has been celebrating the community's successes since 2017.
For a full list of all nominees and winners, visit https://dimensionmill.org/fuse-business-innovation-awards/
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