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EDC: Economic indicators robust for Bloomington-Normal

Patrick Hoban of the BNEDC painted a positive development picture at a quarterly economic briefing held at ISU.
Charlie Schlenker
Patrick Hoban, CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, painted a positive development picture at Friday's quarterly economic briefing held at Illinois State University.

The head of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council said the local economy has a lot of encouraging signposts, including that consumers are buying a lot, based on year-to-date sales tax receipts.

"You are talking about being around $300,000 in 2020 in local taxes for the entire county now past $600,000 last month. That might have something to do with disposable income and new wages," CEO Patrick Hoban told the audience at the B-N by the Numbers quarterly briefing Friday at Illinois State University.

Hoban said the size of the local workforce is up and the unemployment rate is down.

He also said new data from a private firm tends to show people are more willing to drive to Bloomington-Normal for work than previously thought. Rivian employees are driving to the plant in Normal from as far away as Kankakee. Hoban said that's according to a tracking firm called Placer.ai. Hoban said that's useful to show business prospects they will be able to find workers in a larger catchment area if they locate in McLean County.

"It's not necessarily a 60-mile laborshed now. It's getting up to a 90-mile laborshed," said Hoban. "Our 60-mile laborshed is about one million people. We cannot support who we have right now with our own population. We rely on that type of data to show all the people that come in every single day."

About 57,000 people live in the Twin Cities and work in town; 28,900 people live in Bloomington-Normal and go outside the urban area to work, said Hoban, adding roughly 34,000 people live outside of McLean County and commute to the Bloomington-Normal area for employment.

Hoban said the number of people out of work and looking for a job is down about 1,000 from this time last year. There are about 3,865 unemployed in the McLean County labor market. And he said the $286.2 million in construction permits recorded in the Twin Cities so far this year surpass the total from all of last year.

Hoban said not all of that total is tied Rivian and Ferrero, the candy maker that also is expanding its plant operations here.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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