If you google quotes about “making your own luck,” the results all follow the same basic idea: most often, luck is the result of hard work.
Despite the pandemic, Bloomington’s economy has recently had a “lucky” streak. The community had significant cash reserves and reallocated $6 million through the Mayor’s Recover Forward initiative to make counter-cyclical investments in our community – whether through climate investments, job trainings , housing insecurity programs, increases for our police and investments in local food. . Additionally, the city received $22.1 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, which is allocated from 2021 to 2023 and supports the same priorities: climate, housing, job growth and public security.
Bloomington was also fortunate to be able to attract and develop significant employment opportunities from large and small employers during this time. We are seeing wage growth that exceeds that of our fellow citizens across the state. But our lucky streak is the result of many years of hard work and investment by a combination of people and organizations from the public and private sectors all working together to help improve our city.
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If you’re thinking about what you love most about Bloomington, your thoughts might land on our incredible park system or our growing network of bike and walking paths. You might think of our cultural assets, so disproportionate to a city of our size. You may recognize the network of community organizations supporting those most in need among us. You might point out the vast natural resources that surround us, whether it’s the Hoosier National Forest, Lake Monroe, or that neighbor’s beautiful garden down the street.
None of these quality of life gains was inevitable and all are in constant danger of decline. It took not only tremendous effort to set them up, but also tremendous effort to keep them dynamic. Like this neighbor’s garden, it takes daily care and nurturing to make our town thrive. In fact, the federal funding fertilizer that was essential to our recent dynamism during the pandemic will not continue beyond 2023.
As a result, City Council will consider increasing local income tax and setting general bonds to support the future of our city.
Residents may not place equal value on all aspects of proposed financing plans. Some residents might be more interested in helping underserved members of our community develop job skills; other residents might be more passionate about investing in climate preparedness or supporting our artists; still others might focus first and foremost on our housing issues, the transit system, or public safety. Like the diversity of people and interests in our community, the proposed new funding plans include a wide range of investments, all of which are needed.
But together, each of these plans contributes to a larger whole that helps Bloomington continue to evolve and thrive. It will help the city retain and attract the next generation of citizens who will be as committed to the future of the community as past generations were to building it.
This new funding will help us stay lucky in the future.
Alex Crowley is director of Bloomington’s Department of Economic and Sustainable Development.