Business and Economy | WGLT

Business and Economy

Ryan Denham / WGLT

Several breweries from across the state will compete during a new attraction at this year's Illinois State Fair that's tied into Illinois’ upcoming birthday.

Ryan Denham / WGLT

The wafting smell of a Cinnabon. The madness of Black Friday shopping. Getting dropped off by your parents so you can meet your friends at the arcade. Your first job as a 16-year-old.

For many Americans, malls aren’t just a collection of stores. They’re a collection of memories. And so when malls struggle—or close—it hits harder than, say, when a Circuit City goes under.

Bloomington-Normal Restaurant Scene / Facebook

Bloomington-Normal is known as an area where people like to dine out ... a lot. And that's inspiring a rash of entries into the Bloomington-Normal restaurant scene.

bytemarks / Creative Commons/Flickr

Bloomington-Normal's jobless rate fell again last month, with the area adding more jobs than other metro areas in the state, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported Thursday.

Ryan Denham / WGLT

The new Destihl Brewery in northeast Normal has put Bloomington-Normal on the craft beer map. But another smaller but growing brewery is taking off across town—inspired in part by Destihl’s success.

Shelby Dietz and boyfriend Drew Ison
Courtesy

Like many couples who decide to buy their first house, Shelby Dietz and her boyfriend, Drew Ison, were sick of throwing away their money on rent.

Now in their mid-20s, secure in their jobs at ISU, and ready to build some equity in a starter home, Dietz and Ison were eager to buy in Bloomington-Normal. But they ran into an unexpected problem: There weren’t a lot of options.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

After almost a decade of dormancy, there's new life on the north Normal hotel landscape.

Holiday Inn failed. So did Sheraton Inn. And Staywood Inn, as well. Now the new Radisson Hotel hopes to rise from their ashes on the north side of Normal to turn the location into a success story.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Editors note: This article is part of a series of interviews with newly elected council members in Bloomington and Normal. Ward 1 Alderman Jamie Mathy was interviewed May 25. 

A new downtown task force is setting priorities. The group has three more meetings before an initial report is due on Aug. 31. 

'BN Advantage' Works To Build BN Excitement

Jun 6, 2017
Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Normal has a lot going for it in the competition for a stable and perhaps growing economy. That's according to the head of the Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives. Mick Fleming spoke during a B-N Advantage event at the Rivian Automotive Plant.

Staff / WGLT

The City of Bloomington Downtown Task Force, approved Monday evening by aldermen, will look at economic development, infrastructure, and more, according to the task force chair. Amelia Buragas, who also serves as Ward 1 Alderman, said during Sound Ideas that it's important to keep in mind what the task force will not do.

McLean County Museum of History

Route 66 Tourism grew by 50 percent in Bloomington last year.

That's according to attendance figures for the Cruisin' with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center in the McLean County Museum of History.

City of Bloomington / Smith Group, JJR

Parking lots in the northeast part of Downtown Bloomington purchased by the city may not remain as parking lots for long. 

"The Frontier lots are critical and they're critical to economic development and frankly, from the stand point of the city, control over the property," said Mayor Tari Renner during Sound Ideas. "We're finding, obviously with the Front 'n' Center building, if you don't have control of the property there are limitations in how you can operate." 

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

The walkable downtown of the past isn't an anachronism, it's a future model for economic development.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The face of retail is changing drastically, but there is still a place for brick and mortar stores. That's according to Rob Karr, the head of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Karr spoke in Normal before the Economic Development Council saying there are parallels with the past in the way technology is changing retail.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hopes Rivian Automotive will help boost employment in central Illinois.

Rauner joined many state and local elected officials at Rivian's opening ceremony Tuesday afternoon. Rauner said he's excited to see entrepreneurs like R.J. Scaringe take risks to start business in Illinois.

Staff / WGLT

The Bloomington and Normal dispute over the Metro Zone agreement on tax revenue and infrastructure sharing is not necessarily a black eye for the community.

That's according to Kyle Ham, the head of the Economic Development Council.

Construction Progress On One Uptown

Jan 20, 2017
Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Construction of One Uptown on the circle in Uptown Normal is progressing with workers assembling the steel skeleton. A town official said construction is on schedule. 

The five story building will include Town of Normal offices on the second floor, 21 apartments, and a basement parking garage. A first floor restaurant has yet to be determined. 

The $14 million building could be complete as early as October of 2017. 

 

John Yates poses niside Arcadia
Ryan Denham

Most entrepreneurs use their passion to try and make a buck. John Yates is only looking for your quarters.

Yates is the creator of the Arcadia Playable Arcade Museum in McLean, less than 20 miles southwest of Bloomington-Normal. Yates has turned his massive collection of vintage arcade games and pinball machines into a destination for nostalgic visitors.

LENDINGMEMO.COM / FLICKR VIA CREATIVE COMMONS

The State Department of Employment Security says unemployment rates remained higher than the national rate in November. But, Department Director Jeff Mays noted metro areas outside of Chicago have experienced more job growth recently.

Bloomington-Normal saw gains in financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government. Peoria's biggest growth came in professional and business services. 

Staff / WGLT

Millenials are changing the definition of "starter homes" in the Twin Cities. That's according to Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors President Ed Neaves. 

Neaves said the traditional "first home" market sits at around $90,000 to $130,000. He said a large percentage of millenials are spending between $100,000 to $280,000 on their first home. 

Staff / WGLT

The CEO of Rivian Automotive calls the community surrounding the Mitsubishi Plant "something special." 

Mike Miletich / WGLT

There has been a surge of small business optimism coming out of the presidential election. That's according to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Economist J.D. Foster.

Foster said small businesses have been reluctant to invest and hire because of policies coming from the Obama administration. Foster said businesses feel the federal government won't be such an oppressive force under President Elect Donald Trump. 

Emma Shores / WGLT

A candidate for Bloomington mayor wants to sell the U.S. Cellular Coliseum and is willing to sell it for less than appraised value to "get out from under the yearly subsidy."  Robert Fike is a 58-year-old retired firefighter. He says the annual subsidy amounts to $900,000.  

Rivian Automotive.

State and Bloomington-Normal Economic Development officials have found a probable buyer for the former Mitsubishi Auto plant.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Circumstances on the existing plot of land targeted for a Portillo's requires public participation to draw the restaurant that is one of "the most talked about things in the last 3 or 4 months in the community," according to the Town of Normal Mayor.

Staff / WGLT

Interest in converting dilapidated downtown Bloomington buildings into a potential hotel and conference center could be renewed now that the city has bolstered the area as a Tax Increment Financing district. 

Mike Miletich / WGLT

A new era of public transportation is driving into the Twin Cities. Connect Transit is launching a completely redesigned bus system with new routes, increased bus frequency, and for the first time ever, Sunday service. Connect Transit General Manager Andrew Johnson said the new system is a "game changer" for Bloomington-Normal.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Workers are feverishly putting the final touches on the thirty five million dollar Center for Integrated Wellness just north of the airport in Bloomington.

The Center combines several services and business entities in one place, a fitness center managed by Advocate BroMenn, METHOD Sports Performance, and McLean County Orthopedics. Such facilities are becoming a trend across the U.S. 

WGLT

The parent company of the Bloomington Pantagraph Newspaper says it has made substantial inroads in paying off its debt.

In the latest quarterly financial reports, Lee Enterprises says it continues to use all its available cash to reduce debt, more than sixteen million dollars in the last quarter and eighty six million dollars in the first three quarters of the year. Lee still owes more than 640 million dollars.

Staff / WGLT

Normal's mayor still likes the chances of improvements to Main Street despite the federal government's rejection of a grant proposal to improve the corridor.

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