Leaders in the Bloomington economic development sector are showing strong support for an increase in the state’s food and beverage tax as a means to fund downtown development.
Cash generated by the one percent tax hike would go, in part, toward expanding the Bloomington Monroe County Convention Center.
Bloomington Director of Economic Development Danise Alano said diversity is essential to continued development.
“We need as any community to diversify our economy and we’re doing a great job attracting high wage jobs with the life sciences industry and the technology industry, but we want to make sure we have opportunities for everyone,” Alano said.
Monroe County Convention Center Director Talisha Coppock said taxing food and beverages as a means of funding the expansion seems logical.
“In order to have enough funds to expand, that’s why we needed another source of revenue. And the food and beverage tax ties in with the hospitality industry,” she said.
Coppock said additional funding will come from private sponsorships and operating revenues.
Some of Monroe County’s share of the cash would be used to fund completion of Bloomington’s B-line Trail. Bloomington Parks and Recreation Director Mick Renneisen said additional investment in the community is key to economic stability.
“This is really an investment. Any of these tax resources are being reinvested to keep jobs here and create more jobs,” he said.
Renneisen admits community members already fund upkeep of Bloomington parks and trails through taxes, but he said the trade-off is that the facilities are available for public use free of charge. Renneisen said he views keeping parks free as especially important to addressing the health concerns of Hoosiers.
“We have a tremendous health and obesity problem in our country and it’s shared in our state. And when times are tough people need their exercise and their recreation more than ever. I hope people can see the value in providing resources and amenities that you can use for free,” he said.