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Chamber Rebuffs Kirkwood Plan; Mayor Claims Survey Skewed

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan is fighting back against the city's Chamber of Commerce, which says it opposes a plan to limit downtown chain businesses.

Chamber Rebuffs Kirkwood Plan; Mayor Claims Survey Skewed

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Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan is fighting back against a survey conducted by the city’s Chamber of Commerce which attacks his idea to limit the number of chain businesses in the downtown area.  170 of the Bloomington Chamber’s 850 members returned a survey asking whether owners would support a plan outlined by Mayor Kruzan in his state of the city address to keep chain stores off of Kirkwood Avenue and the courthouse square.  70 percent of those responding — or about 14 percent of all local businesses — say they do not support such an ordinance.  Chamber President Christy Gillenwater said those responding to the survey appear to reject the mayor’s notion that more chain stores could threaten the viability of locally-owned businesses.

“What we’re hearing from them is ‘We support a diverse business climate — one that is market-driven,’” Gillenwater said. “Many of them see chain businesses often as resources to pool and attract more people.”

Kruzan, though, was blunt in his reaction to the poll, saying “This survey has no impact whatsoever.”   “I expressed concern when the survey first went out that it did not in any way ask members to have meaningful input,” said the Mayor, himself a Chamber member.  “It instead listed all the reasons the Chamber was opposed to it and then asked people to express whether they were opposed to it or not.  That’s just not the way you would think a sincere effort to participate in a process would work.”

The mayor says he’s dismayed the Chamber would come out against a proposal which has not been written yet and which is being discussed by a committee with Chamber members on it.  Gillenwater says Chamber leaders do not see an existing problem with chain businesses and therefore do not see the need for an ordinance regulating the issue.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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  • Claire

    It would be important to note how many communities have already done this around the country. I know when I lived in Cincinnati in the 80’s, the Clifton neighborhood (a gaslight district near the university) did the same thing and they are thriving today. The chains have lots of places to go. Let’s protect a small stretch for local restaurants and flavor!

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