Who has a vested interest in downtown Bloomington?

by:  Diane Benjamin

It seems like an organization charged with managing downtown Bloomington would at least be mostly downtown business owners or residents.

The people with a vested interest in the success of downtown should be the leaders.  From the DBA website, the Board consists of many people who aren’t downtown business owners.  The DBA site has many pages of shops, restaurants, and business services, but only 2 are on the Board of Directors.

Maybe the DBA wouldn’t be wanting another $90,000 tonight if the people owning businesses downtown were actually directing and investing in their futures with this organization.

Why do employees of State Farm and Wesleyan  have prominent roles?  Add in developers, architects, real estate professionals, and banks – are businesses promoted or use of taxpayer money for redevelopment?


See this link:  http://downtownbloomington.org/about-us/about-the-dba/board-of-directors/

Board of Directors

The DBA Board of Directors has the final responsibility for the success of the Downtown Bloomington Association. It is responsible for all of the finances of the organization and establishes program policy. The board is responsible for maximizing volunteer involvement in downtown revitalization efforts. Collectively, the board makes decisions about the program’s direction and civic stance. It oversees the work of the executive director and staff; has primary responsibility for raising money for DBA programs, and supports the work of DBA committees by volunteering time and expertise to their efforts. The board of directors is also responsible for fulfilling the legal and financial requirements in the conduct of its business affairs as a non-profit organization. The board may delegate some of its duties to one of the four committees.

Board Members

Troy Clark, President – Illinois Wesleyan University

Nora Dukowitz, Secretary – City of Bloomington

Carl Teichman, Ex officio – Illinois Wesleyan University

Gemma Billings – State Farm Insurance

Georgia Bouda – Bloomington Public Library

Martha Burk – Illinois State University, Retired

Bobby Castillo – Illinois Wesleyan University

Graham Cowger – McLean Co.  Museum of History

Valerie Dumser – West Bloomington Revitalization

Ruth Haney – Real Estate Professional

Chuck Stuckey, Vice President – State Farm, Regional Planning

Stephanie Dutko, Treasurer – Commerce Bank

Russel Francois, Historian – Francois Associates Architects

Dave Park – Park –Stoutamoyer

Jan Lancaster – Lancaster’s Fine Dining, The Bistro

Steve Parker – Developer

Karen Schmidt – Illinois Wesleyan University-Bloomington City Council

Tim Tilton – Monroe Centre -Fox & Hounds

Bobby Vericella – RJV Properties



5 thoughts on “Who has a vested interest in downtown Bloomington?

  1. Stare Farm does have a pretty sizeable presence in their downtown building. That doesn’t mean the people on the committee are representing State Farm though.

    It doesn’t matter how much we pump into downtown. It will never be what they want it to be simply because people in the Midwest will not go somewhere for entertainment/dining out if they have to pay for parking or if it is difficult to find parking. Same reason the Peoria riverfront isn’t exactly booming (OK I haven’t been there in a few years, so please correct me if it has become vibrant). That is my theory based on my own choices and talking to my friends and family.

  2. Hi Diane,
    I’m leaving writing this because I received an email that you needed some additional clarification on the members of the DBA board and why they choose to be a participants in the health of our city:

    Troy Clark, President – Illinois Wesleyan University – owns a condo Downtown, president of his association
    Nora Dukowitz, Secretary – City of Bloomington – communications liaison to City
    Carl Teichman, Ex officio – Illinois Wesleyan University – IWU is 2 blocks north of Downtown – they are very interested in its health
    Gemma Billings – State Farm Insurance – lived downtown for 5 years until just a few months ago.
    Georgia Bouda – Bloomington Public Library – the library is located in the Downtown.
    Martha Burk – Illinois State University, Retired – owned Gallery 404 on Main Street until recently, planning to finish her term.
    Bobby Castillo – Illinois Wesleyan University – IWU student liaison.
    Graham Cowger – Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (recently at McLean Co. Museum of History)
    Valerie Dumser – West Bloomington Revitalization – Val has also for years organized the DBA Adopt a Pot program to encourage businesses to plant and beautify the downtown. The health of the Downtown area affects the WBRP also.
    Ruth Haney – Real Estate Professional – Haney Plumbing is Downtown on Front Street. She and her husband also own multiple properties in Downtown.
    Chuck Stuckey, Vice President – State Farm, Regional Planning – owns and lives in Downtown.
    Stephanie Dutko, Treasurer – Commerce Bank – located Downtown
    Russel Francois, Historian – Francois Associates Architects – located Downtown
    Dave Park – Park –Stoutamoyer – Co-owner of Park Plaza, located in downtown.
    Jan Lancaster – Lancaster’s Fine Dining, The Bistro
    Steve Parker – Developer – Owner of Paxton Building apartments in Downtown.
    Karen Schmidt – Illinois Wesleyan University-Bloomington City Council – most of Downtown is located in Ward 6. The unrepresented part of Downtown is in Ward 4.
    Tim Tilton – Monroe Centre -Fox & Hounds (and 3 other family businesses located Downtown – lives Downtown.
    Bobby Vericella – RJV Properties – owns multiple buildings Downtown.

    There are of course a ton of other people who have served on the DBA board (or its predecessors over the years) who have rotated in and out over the years. Just a few off the top of my head:
    Darrel Hartweg – Hartweg Turner & Wood
    Pat Fruin – Flingers Pizza
    John Wohlwend – Jack Lewis Fine Jewelers
    Jonell Kehias – Pantagraph
    Steve Wannamaker – Heritage Enterprises
    Julie Kubsch – Specs Around Town
    Jerry Martin – Hobby Lobby
    Jack Batoel – Blueline Nightclub
    and of course me (Jamie Mathy) – Kelly’s Bakery and Cafe and Mavidea Technology Group.

    The DBA board mostly consists of individuals who either live, work, or own in the Downtown, and yes a few others that have interest in downtown and who was to participate in our community to make Downtown, and all of Bloomington, a better place to live.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

    Jamie Mathy
    [email protected]

    1. Jamie, That’s all well and good, however those of us who do NOT live/work or have a vested interest in the downtown are still footing the bill for your/their agenda. I would much rather see that $90,000 being used to fix some of the horrendous streets in the city.

      1. The only agenda anyone has at the DBA is to make Bloomington a better place to live. If you read Diane’s next post, and my comments, you can see that you actually do have a vested interested in Downtown – money invested there has a positive return to the city.

        But I do understand your point. The roads are in bad shape and need to be repaired.Every penny of spending is sacred. I can think of multiple places that I think money could be trimmed from the budget. But we have to be careful to balance all needs. As someone who does not have kids, I could say that because I don’t have a vested interest in funding parks or schools that we should cut them from the budget. Long term it would be shooting myself in the foot, but I could make that argument quite easily.

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