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Mayor discusses economy during annual
State of the City address

By Katrina Loh | IDS |

April 30, 2009

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan focused on economic diversity, sustainability and the preservation of the uniqueness of the city during the annual State of the City address Wednesday evening at City Hall.

Kruzan emphasized the need to keep investing in the city despite the sluggish economy.

“When times are tough, there is a tendency to become overly cautious,” Kruzan said. “But history has shown that it is more important to do more than survive. It’s important to thrive.”

Kruzan outlined his “Four C’s” plan: community commerce, collaboration, condition and character.

The plan will promote economic diversity by creating jobs, modernizing tax abatement guidelines and promoting local business through the “Local First” initiative.

Each city department produced a study on city consumption and sustainability that will prepare the city for the new green building ordinance.

Kruzan also unveiled a new Web site called “Everybody’s Bloomington,” which will have a list of the city’s assets to promote Bloomington to travelers and potential residents.

A second Web site to chart the city’s sustainability initiative will also be launched this year.

The city has “aggressively pursued” federal dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment act, Kruzan said.  The city will now receive more than $8.5 million toward community projects.

The B-Line Trail, a walking pathway through the city, received additional funding that will allow for its completion in 2011. 

The city has received more than $4.5 million in outside revenue in state and federal grants to complete the project, Kruzan said.

Kruzan said supporting local businesses is essential to the city’s economy. 

“Local enterprises will get us through the recession,” Kruzan said. 

Kruzan introduced the “Local First” initiative to preserve the “uniqueness” of the city.

“Our message is not that chain businesses are not welcome,” Kruzan said. “But we want to encourage a climate that fosters ‘local first.’”

Kruzan has suggested an ordinance to possibly limit national chain businesses in the downtown area and to encourage a variety of local businesses. 

The city will also work to keep the Bloomington Hospital at its current location on Second and Rogers streets in an effort to keep more services in a central location, Kruzan said.

Kruzan also highlighted his plan for poverty prevention by doubling the Jack Hopkins

Social Service Fund, creating entry-level jobs, providing preventative health care and expanding affordable housing.

Kruzan also called for an expansion of the city’s water treatment plant and introducing tiered pricing based on usage to encourage “fairness and conservation.”

“Failing to invest in our water now delays the inevitable and increases costs to ratepayers,” Kruzan said. 

If the proposal is passed, Bloomington will be the first city in the state to use tiered pricing.

Kruzan awarded the Mayor’s Award for Civic Engagement to the Ivy Tech Community College Center for Civic Engagement for its work in the community and to Natalie Cabanaw, a server at Nick’s English Hut who began the “Third Thursday” program where she donates her tips to local nonprofit organizations the third Thursday of each month.

City Council member Steve Volan said he was impressed with the city’s progress.

“There are facets of many programs that need tweaking, but in general the ship is headed in the right direction,” Volan said.