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Business and Economy

Downtown Can Be A 'Go-to' Location In Central Illinois

Cristian Jaramillo
File photo of Downtown Bloomington.

Editors note: This article is part of a series of interviews with newly elected council members in Bloomington and Normal. Ward 1 Alderman Jamie Mathy was interviewed May 25. 

A new downtown task force is setting priorities. The group has three more meetings before an initial report is due on Aug. 31. 

In the Sound Ideas series of interviews with newly elected Town of Normal Council members and Bloomington Aldermen, Ward 9 Alderman Kimberly Bray, who serves on the task force said the task force members are studying "where we've been" and examining the work of past plans and committees. Bray, who ran on working to identify areas for economic growth, said she excited to serve on the task force. 

Credit Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT
Ward 9 Alderman Kimberly Bray takes the oath of office, May 1.

"How that connects to my desire to bring about economic growth is to find those pockets within in our city, in particular focusing on our Downtown and say 'where can we encourage economic development,'" said Bray. "If we have a city that is vibrant and robust then we all benefit from those centers and become a go-to location of all of central Illinois." A strong downtown, she said, benefits Ward 9 constituents.

Bray said at the first meeting city staff presented highlights of what's been accomplished and discussed up to this point. She said the initial task force report due Aug. 31 will include priorities for downtown, including easy to reach goals, and action items.  At this point, none of that includes a much discussed hotel anchor in downtown.

Credit Ralph Weisheit
The McLean County Museum of History is one of several Downtown anchors.

"We've not fleshed that issue out yet. We know that we already have some significant anchors in our Downtown. We have our center for the performing arts, as well as our McLean County history museum, and then of course we have our coliseum," said Bray. 

Bray said the warehouse district, on the far southeast Downtown edge, has not necessarily been included in the task force's purview. However she said "we're only limited by our imagination" and described the area as "an exciting prospect."

Bray is a State Farm employee, serving as an in-house attorney for 31 years. She's a 16-year resident of Ward 9. She was elected April 4 and sworn into office in May. She and her husband have three grown children, one of who served as her campaign manager.  

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