Bloomington's move to create its own economic development department comes as welcome news to an agency that's working to bring more business to the community.
Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council Vice President of Marketing and Communications Zach Dietmeier said Bloomington's added focus on business creation and retention will put more “boots on the ground.”
“It allows us to cover more area and it allows us to get to things quicker, essentially,” Dietmeier said. “With our EDC staff at four people right now, we cover all that ground but it’s a strain sometimes if there are multiple companies searching for information about the Bloomington-Normal area.”
The city is looking to trim its funding this year to the Bloomington-Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau by $125,000 and to BN Advantage by $75,000, but plans to maintain its annual $100,000 stipend to the EDC.
“It shows that the city indeed is a very committed partner, not only financially as they have invested in our EDC for years, but it also shows that they are committed to stepping up their game to really present a united front,” Dietmeier said.
The Bloomington City Council voted unanimously on Monday to create the new development, made up of four full-time staffers, including the new department head Melissa Hon and the city’s economic development coordinator Austin Grammer.
Alderman Diana Hauman said the city and its partners haven't done enough for economic development.
Dietmeier acknowledged the EDC can do a better job telling its story, but he contended the organization has an open door for anyone seeking information.
“It’s also a two-way street. We are always available to share that information and sometimes those calls need be made,” Dietmeier said.
Dietmeier said the EDC is still in the process of searching for a CEO, following Kyle Ham’s departure last April.
Dietmeier said the EDC previously had seven full-time positions prior to a reorganization and it’s unclear if staffing levels will be restored once the new CEO comes on board.
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