Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce weighs in on local, state-federal policy agendas

BLOOMINGTON – Ensuring the strength of Bloomington’s business climate begins at home. At the local level, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is focused on removing barriers to business growth and proactively improving the business climate of Bloomington and Monroe County.

Each year, the Chamber Advocacy Council and Legislative Council members meet to discuss changes to its local and state-federal policy agendas.

All of the issues that the Chamber weighs in on are put through a thorough member-driven process and approved by the Chamber’s board of directors.

The Chamber is proud to present its annual local public policy agenda for 2023.

Positive Business Climate

Regulation – Advocate for government regulations that are efficient, simple to understand and implement, and provide certainty and predictability for local businesses

  • Advocate for policies and projects that foster the creation of new businesses, sustain existing businesses and build an environment for current businesses to grow
  • Support efforts to modernize and streamline permitting, reporting, and application of business regulations
  • Support zoning and policies that advance the development of housing
  • Recruit business leaders to serve on key government advisory boards and commissions, such as Boards of Zoning Appeals, Plan Commissions, and Redevelopment Commissions, to ensure the business community is represented
  • Encourage the maintenance and improvement of existing assets, such as buildings, parking garages, roads, etc.

Public Safety – Support initiatives and projects that enhance capacity for enforcement and improve the perception of safety across our community

  • Advocate for a holistic approach to our local criminal justice system, including supporting and increasing resources for mental health and substance abuse services for those incarcerated.
  • Advocate for hospitalization and imprisonment diversion strategies involving the STRIDE Center to support residents experiencing substance use and/or mental health crises.  
  • Support the creation of a jail facility that will include needed wrap-around services to address chemical dependency and mental health disorders
  • Support robust public engagement for input on implementing recommendations in the Monroe County Criminal Justice & Incarceration Study
  • Support funding and policies to ensure retention and recruitment of well-trained, responsive law enforcement
  • Advocate for increased presence and visibility of police officers and patrols throughout Bloomington and the implementation of strategic community policing initiatives within the downtown boundaries.

Workforce Talent & Recruitment – Advocate for policies that are designed to sustain workforce planning and development.

  • Support legislation that improves the overall well-being of existing and potential residents by addressing their changing and growing needs
  • Advocate for the construction of housing at all price points that accommodate our growing workforce
  • Reinforce businesses and entrepreneurs that build a strong, visible, and engaged Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community
  • Encourage local government officials to draw on sources of funding provided by state and federal governments to stimulate workforce talent and recruitment

Infrastructure – Prioritize the maintenance of our community’s infrastructure and transportation system, which is important for economic growth and the quality of the community

  • Encourage investment in infrastructure that accelerates development
  • Advocate for better connectivity and usability of roads, bike paths, sidewalks, trails, and other parts of our transportation network
  • Support collaboration between the city and county to address public transit and infrastructure needs
  • Advocate for continued momentum on Convention Center expansion and creation of a Capital Improvement Board that would provide equal appointments of members to the City and County

Civic Engagement – Provide resources to build a more informed, engaged community

  • Advocate for transparency in government operations, including continued access to public meetings via Zoom or other interactive platforms and timely posting of online local government meeting agendas, packets, and minutes
  • Develop nonpartisan informational material to explain the process of running for local elected officials and to inform Chamber members about local candidates
  • Advocate for cooperation among our local elected officials to continue to improve the quality of life and economic vitality in our region
  • Hold candidate forums that will engage and educate our members and the overall community on important issues in the 2023 municipal election

The Chamber is the voice of Bloomington/Monroe County businesses in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. By building effective, working relationships with members of the legislature, the Chamber is able to give its members regular access to lawmakers to discuss issues impacting their businesses.

The Chamber’s legislative agenda serves as a guide as officials weigh in on issues and advocate on behalf of members at the state and federal levels.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB CREATION: Develop and strengthen a framework that supports the needs of business

  • Advocate for policies and initiatives that address talent retention and recruitment, including support for programs that train people with disabilities and people who were formerly incarcerated
  • Promote initiatives to recruit, retain and develop innovative leadership opportunities with an intersectional lens to promote advancement for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities
  • Promote and protect Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane as a primary regional job provider, including continued support for Certified Tech Park funding
  • Support policies that incentivize investment in rural telecom for gigabit connectivity
  • Advocate for policies and legislation that address our community’s affordable/workforce housing shortage including recommendations taken by the Indiana Legislative Services Agency Housing Commission

​BUSINESS TAXATION AND REGULATION: Foster a pro-business climate to attract and retain businesses in Bloomington/Monroe County and Indiana

  • Advocate for structural changes to the Local Income Tax (LIT) adoption process that provide greater flexibility, allowing each local taxing unit the ability to set its own income tax rates
  • Support the creation of a work-sharing unemployment insurance program
  • Encourage regulatory reform efforts that lessen burdens on business and restore Congressional accountability in the rulemaking process

​HEALTH CARE: Promote education and awareness opportunities that help local businesses manage their healthcare costs

  • Advocate for an increase in the state tax on cigarettes and for taxing electronic cigarettes and vaporizers
  • Explore and advocate for ways to reduce healthcare costs for businesses
  • Support increased resources for mental health and addiction services and advocate for fully funding the recommendations of the 2022 Governor’s Health Commission Report

ENVIRONMENTAL INFRASTRUCTURE: Protect our community’s natural resources and ensure a sustainable future for the local business sector

  • Advocate for resources to protect water infrastructure, including Lake Monroe
  • Support a diversified energy policy to encourage reliable, affordable, and renewable energy sources

EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: Create educational opportunities to ensure an intelligent, high-skilled workforce
Preschool and K-12 Education

  • Expand state-supported Pre-K and childcare programs and eliminate current barriers that prevent families from accessing affordable, high-quality childcare
  • Expand state-supported Pre-K programs and eliminate current barriers
  • Promote strategies to address the statewide teacher shortage, including programs to encourage students to pursue a career in education and a commitment to equitable teacher pay
  • Encourage the development of entrepreneurship programs & vocational training for technical fields to develop a qualified workforce
  • Support continued nonpartisan elections for local school boards
  • Urge accountability for charter schools in line with public K-12 local education agencies  

Higher Education

  • Back increasing investment in higher education and its associated initiatives, particularly at Indiana University’s and Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campuses
  • Support institutional innovation and flexibility to best meet the needs of students and their future employers
  • Encourage federal lawmakers to help close the innovation deficit by decreasing the gap between needed and actual federal investment in research, through advocacy with the Business for Federal Research Funding Coalition
  • Promote mechanisms that facilitate the transfer of academic research to the business sector, including support for spin-offs and startups using university intellectual property
  • Encourage the expansion of learning opportunities for both degree-seeking and non-traditional degree programs through increased financial assistance and elimination of barriers to such programs. 

QUALITY OF PLACE: Promote the unique identity of Bloomington/Monroe County to attract and retain workers and support business expansion