(BLOOMINGTON) – 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):
- A package of sidewalk replacement projects valued at $250,000 is currently in final design and will be out to bid next week, with a bid award expected at the December 8 meeting of the Board of Public Works.
- A package of sidewalk grinding projects valued at $50,000 is eliminating more than 1,100 sidewalk potential trip hazards in the downtown area. This cost-effective solution has so enhanced pedestrian mobility that the Public Works Department has executed another $50,000 contract using existing funds to continue these improvements this year. A full and detailed report with pictures will be available in the coming days on the Street Division website.
- A package of asphalt sealing and multi-use sidepath repair projects valued at $50,000 will repair bike lanes and resurface on Longview Avenue from Pete Ellis Drive to Glenwood Drive. Additional small scale projects are being identified for the $20,000 that remains for these efforts.
- Two $25,000 smaller sidewalk packages for panel repair damaged by roots from trees in city-owned tree plots have been contracted out, with work beginning on these efforts.
Sidewalk/Path Improvements for BT Stops ($250K): A package of approximately 25 bus stop accessibility improvements are in final design and expected to be out to bid by the end of this week, with a bid award expected at the December 8 meeting of the Board of Public Works.
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):
- Re-entry support: The City’s departments of Public Works and Economic and Sustainable Development have worked in collaboration to execute two contracts for direct employment support of up to 15 individuals with Centerstone ($100K for up to 10 clients per day) and Made Up Mind ($50K for up to five clients per day) to assist with city-wide maintenance efforts in coordination with the Department of Public Works’ Street and Facilities Divisions that will continue into 2021.
Additional funds ($50K) allowed the Department of Parks & Recreation to expand its existing Centerstone Service Agreement Program Partnership (piloted in 2017 in the high-volume parks in the downtown area) this season to hire additional clients of Centerstone as crew assigned to park maintenance, Switchyard Park landscaping, playground sanitation, and maintenance at several Sport Division facilities, including Winslow Sports Park, the Frank Southern Center, Twin Lakes Softball Park and Twin Lakes Recreation Center.
- Building Trades: Additional funds ($100K) will allow the City to partner with Ivy Tech Community College to bring the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) curriculum and essential equipment to the Ivy Tech Bloomington campus to train 50 students over the course of 2021. This program offers a direct response to the call for skilled workers within the growing building trades sector and will seek to serve underemployed or unemployed residents.
- Direct New Job Support ($75K): These funds will offset a portion of the costs associated with the permanent, full-time hiring of individuals who have participated in any of the Recover Forward Re-Entry Support programs.
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.