Business | WGLT


Staying Out Of Debt

Nov 29, 2016
Keoni Cabral / Flickr

It makes sense to keep your debt load low, but what's the best way accomplish that?

During Sound Money, Edgar Norton, director of Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis, said credit cards are a main culprit.

"We need to get spending under control. Part of that is looking at, 'what am I spending money on now? And what's really necessary, and what can I cut back?'," Norton said.

Sean McEntee / Flickr

Five thousand people in Bloomington Normal are out of work and looking for a job.

That's according to the state Department of Employment Security. The unemployment rate for the twin cities actually dropped slightly from October of a year ago. The rate last month was four-point-eight-percent.

There are eleven-thousand-jobless workers in the Peoria area seeking employment. The rate for Peoria is five-point-nine percent, which is down a full point from year ago levels.


Sales of newly-constructed single family homes remain down and the head of the Bloomington-Normal Realtor's Association says regulatory issues are mostly to blame.

Ed Neaves, President of BNAR said, a decade ago, as much as 27 percent of the market was new construction. He says that segment has struggled since the great recession of 2008.

"The regulations, the federal banking issues, financing, cost of construction, new construction sales have (dwindled) down to about eight or nine percent of the market," Neaves said.

Pug50 / Flickr

Retirement is the ultimate career goal for many people. Some are fortunate enough to consider early retirement.

During Sound Money, Edgar Norton, director of Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis said it's best to start early and save often if you would like to retire before age 62.

"Start saving as soon as you can. Hopefully, right out of college you'll get a job and even if you have student loans to pay back, start squirreling away a hundred bucks or so a month, and then increase that as best you can over time," Norton said.


Bloomington has been on the right track, even when it has been on the wrong track over the last several decades as it has struggled to preserve and revive its downtown.

That's according to Urban Historian Alan Lessoff of Illinois State University. Lessoff is the fall arts and sciences lecturer Thursday evening at the Bone Student Center.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

The unemployment rate in Bloomington Normal rose a half point last month.

The State Department of Employment Security says the five-point-one-percent jobless rate for the twin cities is the fourth lowest of the major cities in the state behind Champaign-Urbana, Lake County, and Springfield.

State of Illinois employees have always had a pretty good package to rely on as they consider retirement. But that may no longer be the case.

During Sound Money, Edgar Norton, director of Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis said there are ways employees can guard against the effects of a possible bankrupt State University Retirement System (SURS).

Earlier this year, SURS' Chief Investment Officer Daniel Allen said the state will run out of assets to pay retirement costs within ten years.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

The industrial salvage company that owns the closed Mitsubishi plant in Normal has put off an auction to break up the equipment, building, and furniture.

This is the third delay for the auction originally scheduled for August. The latest date had been the 18th of October.

Lauren Barker / Fix It Friday

One way to save money is to save things you own, like clothing.

"Fix It Friday," which is scheduled for Oct. 7 in Uptown Normal, is a cooperative effort at Illinois State University between Fashion Design and Merchandising students and the Office of Sustainability.


The long-time owners of McDonald's restaurants in the Bloomington-Normal area say they will retire early next year.

Bob and Julie Dobski have agreed to sell the ten restaurants they own to other owners by February of 2017. They will remain as owners/operators through January. / Flickr

Most metro areas in Illinois saw unemplyment go down last month.  But that doesn't tell the whole story.

12 of the 14 areas had numbers in August better than a year earlier.    But the State Department of Employment Security says most of the job growth has taken place in the Chicago area.

Bob Gough is a spokesman for the agency. 

"They are up over the year more than 4,600 jobs. But the statewide number is up only 3,700 plus jobs.  That means the rest of the state is lagging behind," Gough said.

Illinois Supreme Court

A federal judge in Saint Louis has granted class action certification in a civil racketeering case against Bloomington-based State Farm Insurance.

The Clifford Law Office in Chicago alleges State Farm employees ran a dark money campaign to elect Lloyd Karmeier to the State Supreme Court, believing he would support the insurance company once a certain case reached the high court.

Daniel Oines / Flickr

Health care costs are a major concern for everyone, but especially those planning for retirement. While incomes may be fixed, the numbers on medical bills aren't.

Edgar Norton, Director of  Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis, said the average 65-year old couple will spend about $250,000 on health care. While that may seem like a large amount of money, Norton said there are ways to help reduce the impact.

Emma Shores / WGLT

McLean County residents are reacting to a new medical marijuana dispensary opening in northern Normal. The Green Solution opened their doors Friday to allow members of the public to preview the facility.

Steve Sompong of Bloomington has a prescription for cannabis to treat Fibromyalgia. He said he's had to drive to Canton and Peoria to obtain the substance.

"Now I'm three miles away. This is the greatest thing that's ever happened in the state of Illinois," he said. "I mean, help with medical, children [and] everything. Everybody benefits from this that has problems.”

Creative Commons

After more than a decade of discussion and false starts, Starbucks is coming to the Illinois State University campus.

The coffee shop opens Monday in the Student Fitness Center.

182nd Airlift Wing / Wikimedia Commons

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was on-hand Tuesday for an expansion of a food manufacturing company in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. The company’s growth in Illinois stands in contrast to Rauner’s constant criticism of the state’s business climate.

Since Rauner has taken office - he’s said there’s too many regulations, and it’s too expensive to do business in Illinois. Tuesday, Rauner took the unusual step of applauding a company for expanding in Illinois, while still criticizing the state government.

Creative Commons

Housing sales in Bloomington Normal appear to be reflecting the economy as a whole; growing over last year, but increasing slower than at this time last year.

Association of Realtors President Karent Stailey-Lander is pleased with the results through July. / Flickr

Many baby boomers are ready to retire, or are planning for retirement. There are some do's and dont's when it comes to how to spend your savings.

Edgar Norton, Director of  Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis, said the average 65-year old couple will spend about $250,000 on health care. (More on health care expenses coming in part 2.)


Summer is always a quieter time on college campuses. Most students go home for a summer job or take an internship elsewhere. Faculty and staff typically have less to do on campus. Some might even leave town for a vacation. 

For three months of the year, the local businesses and industries that profit from the needs and wants of the university community adjust.

Charlie Schlenker

Do you remember playing with little plastic blocks when you were a kid? Building Lego houses, Lego forts, gardens with little figures and animals, kits of Star Wars ships made from Lego?

What if you could do that now? Some people have all the luck.

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. 


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.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

Saving money makes sense, but it's tough to do if you don't have a plan in place. During Sound Ideas, Edgar Norton, Director of the Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis, said there are two primary approaches:

  • Top Down
  • Bottom Up

Norton said no matter which method you use, you should start now, and continue tweaking.

"It's better to start making decisions now, then adjust along the way, " Norton said.

Ralph Timan

This weekend marks a year since Mitsubishi Motors told the community and its workers the auto plant in Normal would close.

Many workers have had tremendous changes in that year. Among them Ralph Timan and his wife Mitzi.

Creative Commons

The first anniversary of the announcement of the closure of the Mitsubishi Auto plant in Normal is this weekend.

GLT is revisiting the several former workers we've followed since then.

Enbridge Fined For Michigan Oil Spill

Jul 20, 2016

Enbridge Energy Partners will pay a $61 million penalty for the costliest inland oil spill in U.S. history under an agreement with federal officials.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice announced the settlement over a 2010 pipeline rupture near Marshall, Michigan, that released an estimated 843,000 gallons of crude oil.

A nearly 40-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River was polluted as shoreline residents fled their homes.

There's a new business institute at Illinois State University. It's called the Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis and listeners to Sound Money will recognize the name of the institute's director--Edgar Norton, long time a professor of finance at ISU, is now heading up this institute.


College students and their parents are concerned about going into debt to pay for their education.

One ironic twist brought on by this situation is that kids and their parents are forced to learn more about managing their funds.

In this edition of Sound Money, WGLT's Willis Kern talks with ISU assistant professor of business education at Illinois State University Tamra Davis about some of the apps and programs she uses in her financial literacy classes.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Exelon Corp. says it will shut two Illinois nuclear plants after the Illinois Legislature declined to act on its request for financial support. The company said Thursday it will close the Clinton Power Station in Clinton on June 1, 2017, and the Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova on June 1, 2018.


Many businesses are figuring out how much new federal rules on overtime pay will cost them starting in December. The effect on Illinois State University could be in the two million dollar range.