De-funding Economic Development

By:  Diane Benjamin

Woodford County is dropping how economic development has been funded:

The Logan County Board will decide soon whether to cut all funding for their economic development council.

Monday night Bloomington wants to go in the opposite direction.

The council will hear presentation about funding BN Advantage and a Small Business Development Center on the Illinois Wesleyan Campus.  Maybe they can explain BN Advantage is just another group of elitists who think they can create prosperity.

Funding anything on the campus of a private university is ridiculous, I can’t wait to hear the spin.  

What does Bloomington, Normal, and the County spend on economic development now?

Normal:  Economic

Economic Development Council  $100,000

Sally Hefferman $153,150 


Economic Development Council  $100,000

Austin Grammer $98,679


Economic Development Council   $100,000 PDF page 2

(County website is close to impossible to find information, I don’t know if they have an economic development person)

All of them may also be giving money to BN Advantage, but that number is hard to track down.

The total is $551,829 spent for what?

The EDC sites Rivian as a success.

The EDC was involved with bringing Brandt if the tax rebates are approved.

The document at the link below is an EDC presentation to the County Board.  Many of their claims are subjective.  Others, as a small business owner myself, would get them kicked out the door if they wanted to advise my business.

PDF Page 38

Allowing the free market system to work is the only course to property.  How many potential businesses have been turned away because they aren’t a good “fit”?

Government intrusion through unaccountable agencies does more harm to the economy than good.


Something else I found while looking for this information:

Page 2

The appointment to the vacated Buchanan seat on the County Broad was fixed.  I don’t know anything about Mr. Scritchlow, but the other two who applied never had a chance.  This Republican was supported by a Democrat member, Segobiano, and Rich Buchanan and his wife.    Buchanan, Caisley, (both Republicans), and Segobiano all endorsed Scritchlow AND all voted to raise your property taxes instead of dipping into reserves.

I hope Mr. Scritchlow does better.




17 thoughts on “De-funding Economic Development

  1. “BN Advantage is being led by six organizations – each of which have a vested stake in ensuring that Bloomington-Normal’s economy remains robust, resilient and competitive. These organizations recognize that successful communities work vigorously to shape their own economic destinies:
    Connect Transit
    Chamber of Commerce
    Economic Development Council
    Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
    McLean County Regional Planning Commission”

    Each of the above entities already receive subsidized funding from the City.
    One more person who receives a salary is Kyle Ham, CEO of the EDC.


      1. I forgot—BN Advantage was the group who went to Arkansas to find out about the sports complex development.


  2. It wont matter much longer… as the beginning of the decline of State Farm unfolds and we learn about the true numbers to be laid off, the towns/county will no longer have the money for this crazy spending by entities and people who really do nothing to help our economic situation. Now remember, State Farm is being disrupted by InsurTech companies and will have to continue to downsize for the foreseeable future. We are seeing in the next few months just the beginning of the thousands they will eventually have to lay off. Do we need new companies to come here? Yes, but these organizations and idiots employed by them will continue to do what they do best… talk and talk and produce more jewels like Rivian. How much has Normal spent so far on mowing their grass for them? Really it is hard to make this up: They attracted an auto company who needs someone to mow their grass for them? I’m sorry but that is embarrassing!


  3. The EDC has a terrible record. They’re constantly looking for the longshot bet, think Rivian and their futile application to Amazon. The EDC has not taken any steps to work with or encourage local businesses already in and around BN. Their budget goes almost entirely to payroll. For what?! Worse still, they rely on significant funds from Bloomington and Normal, which steer their ideology accordingly. Speaking of which, wasn’t it Austin Grammar who told the Pantagraph that the closure of Macy’s would pave the way for all the tier 1 retailers that have had their eye on Bloomington-Normal? Kyle Hamm is just as bad. He sounds like a broken record of sound bytes. He sounds like a pull string doll with those recent quotes in the Pantagraph regarding the proposed deal with Brandt. The Small Business Development Center on IWU campus is a single office staffed by an ex-executive of a Fortune 500 who works 4 days a week and is gone after 4 or 5. Not very startup- or small business-friendly. They have held a few events locally for small businesses, which charge a fee and provide minimal value at best. BN Advantage is another in a long line of failed “private-public partnerships” and futile attempts at spurring economic development. Sadly, nearly all of the agencies involved (see list above) lack innovation and are themselves relics of a bygone era, not to mention they each already benefit from government subsidies. Instead of taking field trips, creating more committees, paying salaries, cutting ribbons, and making deals with out-of-state longshot companies, perhaps the EDC and BN Advantage should begin preparing to address State Farm layoffs, which have only just begun.


  4. So depressing. Time to boot these individuals to the curb and stop funding government waste. Losing about $800,000 a month on Connect Transit should make everyone pay attention.


    1. Right. How is Connect Transit in the same conversation with economic development? It’s bleeding millions in losses, runs empty buses, is bloated with administrative costs, is a logistical nightmare, and doesn’t make any sense for a population this small. It’s a horrible business model! They should have no voice in economic development!


      1. Connect Transit has a “vested interest” in keeping B/N economically robust. I believe some of the qualifications for federal/state funding has to do with size of metro area. Not to mention, one of the Board members of CT is Mike McCurdy, a well connected (no pun intended) member of the local elite.


  5. Economic development should be responsibility of privately funded Chamber of Commerce. Taxpayer funding inefficient and just reduces revenues for businesses to grow.


      1. True. They accept dues from the government and endorsed big government leaders Renner and Koos last election, despite both having increased taxes and the regulatory burden. The Chamber is also beholden to State Farm, which, I’m told, tells the local government that they need to make it more exciting to live here because the company can’t entice employees to relocate and stay in BN.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The Chamber here is a good old boy’s club… join if you want to play…join if you want to sell or do work locally… otherwise you are on the outside. Businesses join and continue their memberships because they are afraid to alienate the Chamber. This is an antiquated 20th Century organization which the majority of the members say is out-of-touch with the real world and does not serve their interests. You can expect nothing from the Chamber of Commerce here except parroting the establishment’s line and doing nothing to bring businesses into our area. They are really good at meeting with each other at luncheons, patting each other on the back with photo ops that they post on Twitter/Facebook and giving each other awards. Yes their black tie Gala is coming up soon featuring all the self-importance that could only be found in room full of 4 star Generals (at least the generals are actually important and deserve respect).


      1. Haha! I’m with Lawrence451. I made a sound business decision not to join the Chamber. The gala makes me throw up! These delusional first-class passengers on the Titanic that is the Bloomington-Normal economy partying into the night, while the ship is sinking. By the way, black tie event, really? I’m sure all those millennials that we’re trying to keep in the Twin Cities will be clamoring for a ticket to listen to a bunch of old farts giving each other awards and patronize them because they aren’t experienced.


      2. Yes, you know all of those super smart Millennials who spend their lives creating the future through innovation and hard work really look forward to hobnobbing with 20th Century (its still 1986) Boneheads from the Chamber of Commerce at pat-ourselves-on-the-back-give-ourselves-awards-for-nothing Galas. I’m sorry but none of the millennials that I know would be caught dead at the Chamber’s Gala or any of their other events. You see the Chamber and its devoted members think that going to their events with the same old people is networking! Yes, this is like going to a family reunion to pick up chicks… So they go to the same events with the same 50 or so people to get new business and (network)? The outskirts of Rome are blazing in the distance (State Farm is being disrupted and declining) and our Chamber of Commerce celebrates its blindness, backwardness and ignorance with Galas? If they weren’t so serious about who they are and what they do, it would be laughable. But since they are serious, they are truly an abomination that needs to go away permanently.


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