Chamber press release states Kroger threatened to close downtown market

January 14, 2021; Bloomington, Indiana: A work crew dressed in PPE removes items belonging to community members experiencing homelessness from along S. College Avenue. The City of Bloomington evicts members of the community who are experiencing homelessness from the right-of-way along S. College, which was not subject to Parks and Recreation rules that tents could be pitched until 11 p.m. Workers from Centerstone arrived around 1:30 p.m., then police and workers from the city who were dressed in PPE arrived later. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

In a document released by The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce on the organization’s news page, and also sent out to some selected local media outlets, a commenter claims Kroger threatened to close the Seminary Kroger.

 “Kroger threatened to leave that location, saying they couldn’t subject their customers to that. Things have been a little better since the city took a stand.” According to an unnamed local business owner in comments in business owner feedback released by the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce,

The Bloomingtonian has been unable to confirm Kroger ever threatened to do so and a community member said they have contacted Kroger and received a denial.

Friday Bloomington community member Renee Miller reached out to Kroger to ask about the comment distributed by the Chamber of Commerce, “Associate Communications Engagement Manager, Ethan Fager, of the regional office of Kroger in Indianapolis has made a statement that there are no plans or communications of either under performance or closing anywhere in their pipeline for this location. He stated that these statements were nothing more than rumor and lacked factual backing from their company.” Miller provided Kroger’s statement to members of the media.

The Bloomingtonian has reached out to Kroger for direct comment via telephone message, and Facebook message, but has not immediately received a response.

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce announced it opposes the proposed ordinance, “Based on overwhelming feedback from members, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce opposes the proposed Bloomington Council Ordinance 21-06 that would allow encampments in public parks for extended periods.”

In December and January, the City of Bloomington sent social workers, and the Bloomington Police to clear the park of unhoused community members. Many activists struggled to understand the city’s motivation to clear the camp during a pandemic that has killed over 500,000 Americans. Some members of the community without homes were later sickened with COVID-19 as local shelters struggled to contain the virus. The Monroe County Department of Health was unable to provide the number of unhoused community members sickened but were unaware of any deaths.

Some unhoused community members have been staying in hotels during recent cold weather but will likely be living on the streets again this spring. Currently sleeping outside overnight in Bloomington is illegal.

The City Council agreed to hear a proposal to provide space for camping in public parks when no shelter space is available for those experiencing homelessness. The meeting took over five hours Wednesday.

Here is the link where the Bloomington Chamber quoted an unnamed community member. The Bloomingtonian is unable to independently verify the existence of the businessowner.

Erin Predmore, President and CEO at The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, voices the local chamber’s opposition to “City Ordinance on Homeless Encampments” in Bloomington, Indiana. February 24, 2021:

The Bloomingtonian converted the entire five-hour council meeting from Wednesday to an mp3 file then used artificial intelligence software to transcribe every spoken word, and on a keyword search, found no mention of Kroger during the meeting. The reference to Kroger only appears to be in the comments in the material released online by the Chamber.

In Wednesday’s meeting Deputy Mayor Mick Renneisen said housing the homeless was not a core service of the City of Bloomington:

The Bloomingtonian previously reported on the proposal:

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