NORMAL — The Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council has work to do to win back the trust of local government officials.
A few days after the McLean County Board's executive committee approved a document requesting more transparency in exchange for the nearly $100,000 it gives EDC annually, the town of Normal's staff is asking the Normal City Council to do the same — and deny part of a new request for funding.
"(The staff recommends) the council approve the annual contribution of $100,000 to the (EDC), but that the town follow the lead of McLean County and require monthly progress reports from the EDC," wrote City Manager Mark Peterson in a memo. "It is further recommended that the $100,000 be paid out in monthly installments so that, in the event that the town council feels that the funding to the EDC is not being used effectively, it can be discontinued."
Peterson also recommended denying part of a request for funding for BN Advantage, a local economic development partnership involving EDC and the McLean County Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber would receive a requested $35,000, including $25,000 for workforce development and $10,000 for quality of life, but EDC would receive only $32,000 for marketing and communications out of a total request of $82,000.
"Town staff is concerned that there has not been enough detail provided as to how the additional funding for the EDC is going to be used," wrote Peterson. "Further, there are concerns about the EDC’s capability of moving forward on projects related to entrepreneurship as recommended by the BN Advantage plan."
Peterson told The Pantagraph those concerns include a lack of progress in entrepreneurship so far as compared to workforce development and marketing, which have gotten off to strong starts.
"We're two years into it and it's, to the best of my knowledge, nowhere," he said. "We're concerned the organization is not proactive enough."
The council will consider the funding when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the fourth floor at Uptown Station. The meeting was moved from Monday due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Bloomington approved a $100,000 annual contribution to EDC with no such strings and the requested BN Advantage funding for the rest of this fiscal year, through April. The county has not approved BN Advantage funding.
BN Advantage "called for the creation of a number of special task force groups to develop strategies to improve our community in a variety of areas, including workforce development, business marketing and communication, quality of life/quality of place, entrepreneurship and data tracking and analysis," Peterson wrote.
In other business, the council will:
• Meet in executive session to discuss hiring a public official. The council is working to hire a successor to Peterson before he retires March 31.