Bloomfield to maximize on downtown potential

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Bloomfield Town Council was presented with information from the Executive Director of the Greene County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC), Brianne Jerrels, about revamping the ‘economic vitality pillar’ of the Bloomfield Downtown Revitalization (BDR) at it’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening.

“There is a lot of opportunity downtown, so I’d like to get this group going again,” Jerrels said, “the economic vitality pillar is the one that treats the downtown sort of like a business.”

Jerrels said information on “potential future use” of the downtown area will need to be gathered, as a sort of inventory of real estate.

“What is vacant, what is upstairs, who owns what space-- to see what kind of potential is there for usage. I know upstairs can sometimes be used for rental or living space... it’ll be interesting in seeing what needs to happen...Especially with MainSource bank leaving, to see what could happen with that building,” Jerrells said.

The GCEDC also promotes existing real estate, according to Jerrels, through a website called Zoom Prospector.

Jerrels said any available property they are aware of is posted, though she knows there are many properties which are available in Greene County, yet the GCEDC is not aware.

“Trying to get them to understand that this is free for them, at no charge and it is getting them another way to advertise their space,” said Jerrels.

Jerrels said the properties seller’s name is the name which will be listed as the contact, and the group does work with local realtors.

Regarding a new industry or factory setting coming to town, Jerrels said Greene County is often overlooked even before being considered.

“With leads that come down from the State, we’re eliminated before we even realize we’re considered,” Jerrels said.

A reason for this is because of the lack of land use management plan, as Bloomfield is not a part of the initial county-wide land use management plan, according to Jerrels.

Certain criteria must be met at a property for it to even be considered, Jerrels said.

“Total square footage, proximity to an airport, highway or rail road, sometimes they might say a building is preferred or just the property is okay, they have the whole list of what they are looking for; anytime Greene County has a site that I know of, I submit for it. I did this all of 2016 and had one response, so there is a lot of work that needs to be done as far as workforce development and infrastructure needs,” said Jerrels.

Jerrells said they have also formed an agriculture developmental alliance to pursue options for agricultural development by looking outside of the state and trying to bring business here.

“Maybe even a few states away, right now for example, they would rather take soybeans 100 miles away, so there really is no incentive for one of those plants to relocate to Greene County.”

As far as business growth from Interstate 69, Jerrels said traffic counts are being taken into account.

“Right now, the thing that is frustrating is they are looking at traffic counts, primarily, and they’re not there yet. But, one of the things we try to really drive home is that it (business) will support the base, Crane activity and Westgate activity, anything we can develop around the interstate and then that would be secondary. So if we could get a hotel there for example, then a restaurant, and a travel center could fall close behind,” said Jerrels, “Nobody wants to be first, but we have nice property progress points ready to go.”

Jerrels said she was asked to join the BDR committee, which was already formed, after attending many community development conferences, workshops and gaining a good knowledge of what kind of revitalizations are occurring in similar communities.

“We would like to see things happening, I met with them (BDR) in August and I said ‘you know, a fresh coat of paint and some planters can work wonders, someone drives through the downtown area and sees that and thinks, ‘what group is doing this, I want to be involved,’’ and then your group could just get bigger from there,” Jerrels said.

In other business:

•A technical review committee consisting of at least one qualified contractor, professional engineer and representative of the council was approved by the council to finalize design plans of the Bloomfield Pool.

•The council approved the donation of $700 to the Bloomfield Apple Festival Committee to support it’s annual Easter Egg Hunt. The council approved the hunt for April 8, with April 15 acting as a make-up date in the event of inclement weather.

• Police Chief Kenny Tharp reported 183 calls for the month of January and presented the council with requests he has heard to change traffic patterns in front of the Bloomfield Elementary School.

•Bloomfield Town Council President, Scott Yoho and the council wished the best of luck to the girls of Bloomfield Basketball in regionals, and congratulated them on their sectional win.

The next meeting of the Bloomfield Town Council will be Tuesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. in the Bloomfield Fire Station and is open to the public.

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