Business and Economy

How To Ensure Charitable Giving is Effective

Dec 17, 2015

Princeton Public Library

'Tis the season for giving. How can you be sure your charitable donations are really being useful? Princeton University philosophy professor Peter Singer lays out a strategy for what he calls "effective altruism." His ideas are being hailed in some circles, but causing controversy in others. WGLT's Judy Valente first reported this story for PBS-TV's "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly."

The head of the McLean County Board says there have been "a very few" serious prospects for a buyer of the soon to be vacant Mitsubishi auto plant in Normal.

Matt Sorenson is one of the area leaders on the task force seeking a replacement for Mitsubishi. Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Sorenson says central Illinois leaders are not the first stop.

Sorenson says he is aware that the task force is still cultivating prospects for new plant ownership.

Bloomington Normal By The Numbers

Dec 16, 2015

BN By The Numbers

Dec 16, 2015
BN Economic Development Council

Every quarter, the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council presents its "BN By the Numbers" luncheon, spot-lightling a segment of the central Illinois economy. This quarter's event, over the noon hour tomorrow in Normal, centers on the economic development region that is the Interstate 39 corridor extending north from Bloomington-Normal to the Wisconsin border and on east to the Chicago area. The keynote speaker is Roger Hopkins, a consultant and former economic development official in Dekalb and Dupage counties.

PGVA Planners

The City of Bloomington is continuing to move forward on a TIF district for the Empire Street corridor. Alderman voted 8-1 to schedule a public hearing for the district on February 8th. Mayor Tari Renner joined Mike McCurdy to discuss the Tax Increment Finance district, a new contract with the police union, and divesting golf courses to close a budget gap.

State Farm Insurance is raising its rates for auto coverage in Illinois. The 2.6% average hike goes into effect in February. It's the second time in less than 12 months State Farm has raised Illinois rates. April's increase was less than a percent. Even together, the two hikes are less than the increase most other insurers have announced. Allstate rates are going up 5.7%. Geico has increased auto premiums significantly as well.

Job Fair Draws Hundreds

Dec 11, 2015
Jim Browne / WGLT

Hundreds of people take advantage of a job fair at Heartland Community College for former Mitsubishi workers. Several businesses had booths up in the Jon Astroth Center, including NDE/NDT Solutions. Jeff Gaines is with the metal safety company, he says folks who are willing to travel and learn could find a new career with the company.

Unseen Sector in Bloomington Normal's Economy

Dec 9, 2015

Peoria Economic Report Shows Slow Growth

Dec 7, 2015
Bernard Goitein / Bradley University CBER

The new SCOPE, Statistical Composite Peoria Economy, report shows slow growth from a year ago but troubling signs ahead. Bernard Goitein of Bradley University is the author, he says the report does contain what at first seems a contradiction, more people are working compared to a year ago, but there aren't any more jobs.

LendingMemo.com / Flickr via Creative Commons

Changes are forthcoming to Illinois' unemployment insurance program. They’re expected to please both workers ... and employers. The measure on its way to the governor would make it easier for businesses to prove worker misconduct. That could decrease employer’s costs, by exempting them from having to pay benefits. Another part of the package advantages workers. No longer will an older, laid off worker see his unemployment benefit drop because he's on Social Security. The deal took months to negotiate, and was resolved ahead of an end-of-year deadline.

Home Prices Go Up

Nov 27, 2015

Home prices are on the rise in Illinois. IPR's Sean Crawford looks at the latest numbers.

 

A Bloomington Normal Brewery has won several national medals for its products. Destihl's Dosvidanya Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and two gold medals at the Festival of  Barrel Aged Beers in Chicago. Destihl was competing against 363 beers from 157 different breweries and won Best in Show. The awards coincide with the commercial release of Dosvidanya today. Destihl is the first commercial brewery in the twin cities since Prohibition ended.

The Bloomington Normal unemployment rate edged under 5% last month. The 4.8% jobless rate is down slightly from a year ago. The Department of Employment Security says there were an estimated 4,800 unemployed people in the metro area looking for jobs. The last time the October rate was this low was in 2007 when it was more than a point below the current mark. There were job gains for the month in retail trade, and professional and business services and losses in government, construction, and manufacturing.

Supporters Cheer On Mitsubishi Workers

Nov 24, 2015
Mike Matejka

As the sun sets on production at the Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing in Normal, supporters of the workers gathered to demonstrate their gratitude in a community recognition event. Jeff Woodard of the McLean County Museum of History was among them.

MMNA, Inc.

Kent Ferguson has been looking for a job. He's one of the Mitsubishi workers losing his job with the end of production at the plant in Normal. As part of GLT's coverage of the plant transition, Charlie Schlenker visited again with Ferguson. He has interviewed in several places, a tool making test to gain entry to a pool of applicants for Harley Davidson in Menominee Falls, Wisconsin, interviews in Chatanooga, Urbana, Tesla in California, really all over the place. Kent's experience shows that in manufacturing, as in any profession, your skill set matters.

Judith Valente / WGLT

In the months since Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing announced that it is closing its plant in Normal, GLT News has been checking in with three longtime employees to see how they, their families and fellow workers are coping. On Tuesday, production line worker Mick Hannah will assemble the final Mitsubishi Outlander sport vehicles at the plant.

E2 Owners Resentenced

Nov 20, 2015

The two owners of a Chicago nightclub where 21 people were crushed to death in a stairwell in 2003 have been sentenced to two years of probation. Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Daniel Gillespie also ordered Calvin Hollins Jr. and Dwain Kyles to perform 500 hours of community service.  

Hollins and Kyles thanked the judge for the sentence during Friday's hearing. The two had originally been sentenced to two years in prison, but an appeals court threw out those sentences in 2013 and ordered them resentenced.  

LendingMemo.com / Flickr via Creative Commons

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the jobless rate held at 5.4 percent in October but the state added jobs for the first time since spring. The department said Thursday in its monthly statewide unemployment report that the state added a net 14,400 jobs in October.

The total number of jobs in Illinois had declined for four straight months. Department director Jeff Mays said the state's job-creation still lags much of the country but noted the job growth was the strongest since February. The national unemployment rate for October was 5 percent.

MMNA, Inc.

Since the announcement that Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing in Normal would close, GLT News has been checking in to see how workers and their families are coping. Like most of the people working at the soon to close plant in Normal Jerry Harcharik faces uncertainty.

The Illinois Supreme Court is taking on another pension case, six months after justices unanimously tossed out the state's landmark pension law. Tuesday, they heard arguments as to whether a law affecting thousands of City of Chicago employees is constitutional or not. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports from Springfield.

The Bloomington Normal Community may not yet realize just how valuable Mitsubishi workers have been to the community. The plant is halting production at the end of the month. Mike Matejka of the Laborers Local says the United Auto Workers have been involved in many charities over the years.

Matejka urges the community to help in a salute to the Mitusbishi workers at the plant on Tuesday afternoon November 24th.

He says residents should bring signs thanking Mitsubishi workers for all they have done at 2:30 p.m. that day.

McLean County is trying again for an enterprise zone renewal. Last year's attempt did not gain approval from the Governor. On Monday, the Normal Town Council will take up the revised request. The existing enterprise zone formed back in 1982 to bring the Mitsubishi plant to Normal expires next June. All other units of government in the proposed zone must also sign off on the application.

The new plan includes local property tax abatements for prospective new businesses that create 50 jobs within the zone and involve more than $5 million in private investment.

Start Up Event Spawns Businesses

Nov 13, 2015
Jim Browne / WGLT

During an entrepreneurial event at the Uptown Normal Marriot, 18 businesses, and people who want to run a businesses pitch ideas to a group of judges.

The owner of the Pantagraph Newspaper in Bloomington is highlighting some financial results ahead of its fiscal year end reports next month. Lee Enterprises reports it cut fourth quarter costs more than revenue fell.

Total revenue was down 4.4% for the quarter ending in September. Cash costs dropped 7.8% or nearly $10 million. Lee says the decline in overall revenue is an improvement from the previous quarter.

For the full year, Lee has paid down nearly $79 million in debt. Its principal debt remains about $726 million.

OSF Healthcare

OSF Healthcare is raising the lowest wage it is paying workers to $10 an hour. That's $1.75 per hour higher than the minimum wage in Illinois. Kristin Williams is the OSF's Vice President for Compensation and Benefits. Williams says the move stems from the religious organization's social justice values.

She says the federal poverty line for full time workers with families was one of the guides used to establish the new minimum.

Devyn Corp., Tarter Construction, Farnsworth Group

David Bentley has been active in downtown Bloomington for 20 years, buying property, rehabbing it, and running it. His latest proposal includes developing the Pantagraph building into a boutique hotel. Bentley tells GLT's Charlie Schlenker he partnered with the city in 2007 and 2008. He agrees with Mayor Tari Renner that a downtown hotel will help the coliseum as it has the economy in Uptown Normal.

The city working with consultants SB Freidman to vet a proposal from Bentley's Devyn Corporation and Jeff Giebelhausen plan for the Front and Center block.

Todd Ryburn / Wikimedia Commons

The Bloomington City Council voted to contribute $50,000 over the next five years to the McLean County Museum of History's $3 million capital campaign. During his regular Sound Ideas interview, Mayor Tari Renner said the museum is of strategic importance in future, possible downtown redevelopment plans.

John Lloyd

Other than a house or a college education, buying a car is the largest purchase many Americans make. There's a lot of stress associated with it. WGLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with Dan Deneen, a McLean County Attorney who frequently represents car buyers against dealerships. To buy a car the low stress way, Deneen says approaching a car purchase should be done systematically.

When you go to a car lot, Deneen also says, take an extensive test drive.
 

Urban Land Institute

One of top urban planners in the U. S. gives high marks to the way Normal planned its uptown redevelopment. Tom Murphy, former Pittsburgh mayor and now with the Urban Land Institute, says the neighboring Marriott and Hyatt hotels are obviously a part of a well-thought out plan.

Pages