BY LYNN HOUSER
The Bloomington downtown of today is nothing like the downtown of Talisha Coppock’s IU student days. Back then, she says, the downtown was practically lifeless.
At IU, Coppock studied in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, majoring in urban administration and public finance. Fortunately, she says, she managed to pursue a career in her field and, at age 27, became the executive director of Downtown Bloomington, Inc. (DBI), a corporation formed to revitalize the city center. In 1991, DBI became the management company overseeing the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center, placing her in charge of that facility.
Remembers Coppock of those days in the late 1980s, “Half the downtown was empty parking lots. Only the bottom floors of the buildings around the square were occupied. There were 7,300 residents, primarily renting larger, older homes surrounding the core downtown; 1,500 employees; and 20 restaurants.”
Now, she says, rhyming off statistics by heart, “there are 8,900 residents and 13,000 employees. There are 23 buildings on those empty lots and 112 restaurants within a 10-minute walk.”
Also, she points out, in those days there was no Canopy of Lights, Taste of Bloomington, Fourth of July Parade, permanent venue for the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market, Buskirk-Chumley Theater, WonderLab science museum, or Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. Coppock has been there through it all and takes great satisfaction in how the city, and particularly the downtown, has evolved.
A native of Boonville, Indiana, population 6,000, she and her husband, Rick, relish both country and urban life. Ten years ago, they purchased a 67-acre farm in Monroe County with friends. “We live in town but use the farm to escape,” she says. They are the parents of two grown children, both civil engineering graduates of Purdue University.
With the children gone, the job “has almost become my hobby,” says Coppock. “I like that it is so social, with interesting subjects that move our community forward. I like meeting people with diverse interests. I am constantly learning. I could be working on downtown development issues or the downtown Easter egg hunt, working with a small cooking business or helping bring a convention to town. I love new challenges in Bloomington.”