Skip to main content

Economic Stabilization & Recovery Working Group
Rapid Response Recommendations, Version 3 

Prepared for Mayor John Hamilton

 


**PLEASE NOTE:  The following language and attached document represent a draft as submitted to City Council on Monday, April 6, 2020.  Some terms and details have been updated subsequently and will be reflected in a subsequent draft of the Recommendations document.

 

Overview & Summary Recommendation 

ES&R recommends rapid responses followed by broader recovery efforts.
The brief provides Mayor John Hamilton and City of Bloomington leadership with recommendations for economic stabilization and revitalization during the COVID-19 crisis. It was prepared by the Economic Stabilization & Recovery (ES&R) Working Group, convened by Mayor Hamilton on March 23, 2020, and will be updated as the COVID-19 situation evolves. While initial drafts focus on rapid response actions the City can take to address immediate economic challenges, the ES&R team is developing mid- and long-range recovery plans and will engage partners across Monroe County and the region to develop ongoing relief efforts. 

 

Small businesses are impacted heavily, with an expected economic domino effect. 
The leisure and hospitality industries were hardest hit early in the crisis, affecting restaurants, hotels, and their suppliers. Anecdotal evidence points to an impact on other services facing closings and cancellations, everything from retail to small manufacturing. A domino effect is expected as businesses become unable to pay suppliers, landlords, and mortgages. Initial Monroe County unemployment filings leapt to approximately 1,000 claims in the week ending March 21. Nationally, unemployment filings skyrocketed to 10 million by April 2. 


Immediate response focuses on local business, followed by longer term recovery plans. 
Employment in this region is supported by two complementary halves of the economy: (1) businesses that serve the local market and (2) traded businesses that sell goods and services outside of the region. While local employers were hit most heavily early in the crisis, long term recovery will require connections to both halves of the economy and the larger economic region.  


Businesses face immediate working capital needs. 
Bloomington's business community reports its most critical need is immediate working capital in amounts under $50,000 within 1–2 months. This aligns with gaps in existing and expected capital from SBA Disaster Loans, government aid, traditional, and alternative financing sources.


City of Bloomington funding support should fill gaps.
The ES&R Working Group recommends creating small-dollar, rapidly deployed capital with short-term repayment deferral, low interest, and simple eligibility criteria. This may be combined with funding to leverage existing capital resources at lower interest rates to expand capacity in the medium-term. 


The City can leverage the following public funds:
The ES&R Working group recommends that the City leverage the following public funding sources:

  • Food & Beverage Tax funds: Leverage up to $2 million in F&B Tax funds, if approved, distributed via the Bloomington Small Business and Nonprofit Rapid Response Fund.
  • BUEA Funds: Leverage $500,000 from the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association (BUEA), if approved, with a majority split between arts grant funding and micro loans for businesses excluded from F&B Tax fund coverage.

The Working Group further recognizes limitations in capacity and expertise among City staff to administer a loan program and advises that the program be overseen by an administrative body with industry and financial expertise.

 

Wraparound support is recommended for employers and individuals.
The Working Group recommends collaboration with partners across local sectors to provide wraparound non-funding, technical assistance for employers and individuals, especially focused on navigating current and upcoming state and federal initiatives.This will create a multiplier effect for any funds spent. 

The City can support and develop non-funding aid for employers and workers such as:

  • Information sharing: Promoting access to centralized information resources and technical assistance through entities like the Indiana Small Business Development Center, so businesses know how to engage with these resources. Supporting and promoting Dimension Mill Inc.’s grant-funded COVID-19 call center and other services supporting local businesses and organizations during the pandemic.
  • Hosting procurement summits with partners to enable businesses throughout the region to learn how to sell products and services online and in other non-traditional ways, including to government entities and major industries. Assessing internal procurement practices and redirecting purchasing to local sources where possible.
  • Employment support: Promoting existing employment resources, while helping to connect the dots between employers seeking help and displaced workers.
  • Regulatory relief: Offering regulatory relief in the form of delayed licensing fees and extensions on licenses. Identifying mechanisms for short-term regulatory relief, such as extending license renewals.


Engage partners across the county and region to roll out and adapt this support.
Ongoing collaboration across the region is key to reaching employers while adapting resources amidst global changes. The duration and reach of this crisis is unknown, so these efforts must be sustainable.