City To Cut CVB, BN Advantage Funding To Create Own Economic Development Department | WGLT

City To Cut CVB, BN Advantage Funding To Create Own Economic Development Department

Feb 25, 2019

Bloomington plans to spend $200,000 less on funding for the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and BN Advantage next year.

The city will drop funding for the CVB from $475,000 to $350,000, and funding for BN Advantage from $125,000 to $50,000.

City Manager Tim Gleason announced the cuts during a FY2020 budget presentation to the city council Monday night.

Gleason said the city sees the $200,000 as “seed money” to create its own economic development department. The city currently has an economic development officer working under its community development department.

Gleason also pointed to calls from public leaders last year for greater transparency and effectiveness from the Economic Development Council and BN Advantage.

“I know that the funding levels have been questioned by the council in the past, so this was one that I was told about and we just explored it further,” he said.

However the city will keep funding for the EDC at $100,000.

Gleason said the city wanted to be a “good partner” as the organization continues the search for a new CEO.

“We feel that it would have been far more detrimental to reduce the funding at this time,” he said.

Gleason also noted the city, the Town of Normal and McLean County all contribute equally to the EDC’s budget.

Meanwhile the city’s current funding for the CVB alone is four times that of Normal’s, Gleason said, adding that even the reduced funding amount is still a “substantial contribution.”

Gleason said the reduced funding doesn’t mean the city is abandoning the CVB and BN Advantage. He said both organizations were involved in discussions leading up to the announcement.

Gleason called the CVB “well-run,” saying the organization has several years’ worth of contracts already in place, giving it a kind of “reserve.”

“If we were to do this, this seemed like the time,” he added.

In speaking with representatives from BN Advantage, Gleason said both parties felt $50,000 was enough funding to allow the organization to meet its goals as it focuses on workforce development and marketing in 2019.

Gleason said the move will also help the city be a stronger partner with the CVB, EDC and BN Advantage as well as the Town of Normal and McLean County.

“We see this as an opportunity where we actually strengthen our partnerships with the funded entities, with the Town of Normal and with McLean County, that we’re going to provide a level of expertise and give more emphasis and effort on the city’s economic development; that includes the region as well,” he said.

The council will consider approving the new economic development department at its March 11 meeting.

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