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Business

Normal City Hall
Staff / WGLT

The nine candidates running for Normal Town Council split down the middle on the proper role of government in building the tax base and offering development incentives.

Rivian plant from the sky
Rivian

Rivian continues to ramp up hiring as the start of production approaches in June. The electric vehicle maker will begin manufacturing vans, trucks, and SUVs over the summer and early autumn.

State Farm HQ building
Staff / WGLT

Bloomington-based State Farm is raising Illinois auto insurance rates by an average of 4.2%. That's less than the nearly 14% drop last year because of reduced driving due to the pandemic.

The rate hike goes into effect March 29, according to a company statement.

Screen shot of a zoom meeting of the Bloomington Liquor Commission
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The Bloomington Liquor Commission fined two more establishments Tuesday for violating COVID-19 mitigation rules in January, and four others for tax violations.

a dining room
Larry Carius / Facebook

The end of COVID-19 mitigation rules that banned indoor restaurant service in Bloomington-Normal has created a new problem for Twin City eateries.

A bar and restaurant in Normal faces a $1,750 fine for violating COVID-19 mitigation protocols.

Joe's Station House, located at the Shoppes at College Hills, refused to halt indoor service when Gov. JB Pritzker's executive orders called for that measure. There were three violations -- two in November and one in December, according to a complaint against the business.

Rivian sign and plant photo
WGLT file photo

Rivian has leased the Phoenix Investors warehouse in north Normal as part of its ramp-up to production.

Bloomington City Hall
Staff / WGLT

The mayor of Bloomington said he will spend his waning months in office trying to revive a unified emergency telephone and dispatch service.

Adam Stephey

Two Normal residents are a long way from where they were in 2017 with their Toilet Timer, when they first visited WGLT.

Chris Koos
Cindy Le / WGLT

The mayor of Normal said he's had to eat his words from a couple weeks ago when he argued McLean County didn't need mitigation efforts that were as stiff as those in counties with higher COVID-19 testing positivity rates.

front of old Bloomington Fire Station that is now a restaurant
Epiphany Farms / Facebook

Epiphany Farms Restaurant Group in Bloomington laid off more than 80 people Friday. Three of its four restaurants are effectively closed.

image of State Senator Bill brady
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Bloomington state Sen. Bill Brady is calling again for Senate hearings on mitigation rules as coronavirus positivity rates spike statewide.

IWU campus building
SBDC

The Small Business Development Center at Illinois Wesleyan University has seen improvement in the last three months after a big drop in activity during the early part of the pandemic.

western exposure of hobhby lobby building
Town of Normal

There could be a new entry in the gym industry in Bloomington-Normal.

Chris Koos
WGLT file photo

It’s hard right now. Central Illinois residents have removed themselves from many of their friends and familiar activities to prevent the spread of the virus. Yet cases are climbing again in McLean County as central Illinois moved from phase 3 to phase 4 of the state's Restore Illinois reopening plan.

Steven Senne / AP

Growing up Tricia Braid didn’t envision herself running her own pet cremation business. But when an opportunity arose she realized she would be a perfect fit for the job.

beer tap room
Lil Beaver Brewery

The pandemic has hurt so many businesses in central Illinois. But not, apparently, some alcohol producers.

Green Top Grocery owners look at their new store
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Following weeks of disputes that included social media flame wars, allegations of misfeasance, and even allegations of death threats on a Facebook members group, the entire board of the Green Top Grocery Co-op in Bloomington has resigned. It follows at least two previous board resignations.

Eastland Mall exterior
Staff / WGLT

The owner of Eastland Mall says it has “substantial doubt” about its future as it’s unable to collect rent from most of its retail tenants that are struggling because of the pandemic.

Town of Normal

A decaying, unfinished industrial property in Normal could become viable again if a development agreement is approved with a Milwaukee-based firm.

PRitzker in studio
Cindy Le / WGLT

Gov. JB Pritzker released industry-specific guidelines Sunday that tell businesses what they must do in the next phase of reopening during the pandemic.

All four regions of the state are on track to advance to Phase 3 of the plan in the coming days, said Pritzker. Retail, offices, manufacturing, barbershops and salons, summer programs, various outdoor recreation activities and bars and restaurants for outdoor dining will all be able to resume business in some form under the plan.

bags of edible marijuana in chocolate
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

A half-dozen people lined up to buy McLean County's first recreational cannabis at the first opportunity Monday morning.

two people wearing masks donate money for the Bistro.
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

A young queer man walked by the shuttered entrance to the Bistro in downtown Bloomington and said to owner Jan Lancaster, “Hi Mom.” She gets that a lot.

Congressman Rodney Davis at a microphone.
Staff / WGLT

Central Illinois lawmakers have reacted to a lawsuit by a southern Illinois state representative by pointing to what it might influence rather than any legal result it might have.

Dollar Tree sign
Eric Stock / WGLT

The U.S. Labor Department said it will fine Dollar Tree $233,255 for repeat violations at a Bloomington store.

A bicycle repair stand.
Facebook

This time of year is usually a peak period for bicycle stores as warmer weather prompts central Illinois residents to buy a set of wheels or fix up what they have in the garage. Gov. JB Pritzker's shutdown order designates bicycle stores as essential businesses. And even with the pandemic, the bicycle business is, well, peaking as usual.

A screen with a virtual meeting
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

McLean County Board Finance Committee members Wednesday evening asked Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council Director Patrick Hoban to develop guidelines to repurpose money from a business creation fund to help existing businesses hit by pandemic-caused shutdowns.

Inside the Bridgestone plant in Normal
Monty Greutman / Bridgestone

The Bridgestone tire plant in Normal will shut down starting this weekend to avoid coronavirus-related problems, the company said in a news release Thursday.

Chris Koos
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Mayor Chris Koos of Normal said the town will enforce the restaurant and bar closure ordered by the governor because of the coronavirus.

Mike McCurdy / WGLT

The coronavirus is affecting businesses in central Illinois even before the first actual case comes to the region.

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