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A field of corn
Randy Wick / Flickr

Illinois Agriculture groups are starting to show concern about the Trump administration direction in trade policy.

During the campaign, Trump focused on manufacturing jobs. But, agriculture has been a big winner under NAFTA and other regional and global trade deals.

More than half of Illinois corn and soybeans go to Mexico and Canada. Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President David Erickson of Altona, Illinois said nervous Mexican firms are starting to look for suppliers in Brazil and Argentina.

Pictures of Money / Flickr

Even with 2017 well under way, there still some chances to hit the reset button.

This includes updating your personal finance situation. During Sound Money, WGLT's Willis Kern talked with Edgar Norton, Director of Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis.

Nelson Pavlovsky / Flickr

As central Illinois leaders try to assess the magnitude of Caterpillar, Incorporated's announcement they are moving top corporate leadership to the Chicago area, there are no sure answers.

Kyle Ham heads the Bloomington Normal Economic Development Council.

Aaron Volkening / Flickr

An Illinois State University Business Professor said it's important to keep some perspective about Caterpillar's announcement it is moving it's headquarters to the Chicago area.

Victor Devinatz studies labor and management relations. He said it's 100 executive jobs and 300 jobs overall.

Caterpillar To Move HQ To Chicago

Jan 31, 2017
Roger W. / Flickr

Caterpillar is moving its global headquarters to Chicago. The Peoria-based heavy equipment company has announced it will locate a limited group of senior executives and support functions to the Chicago area later this year.

David Forrest

Three Bradley University Students are getting into the business world a little early. They have designed a new game that will be published later this year.

It's called 'Dark Is the Night.' It's being funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

David Sawyer / Flickr

Peoria area home sales closed the year up for the fourth quarter, but down marginally for the full year. The Peoria Area Association of Realtors reports fourth quarter sales were up more than a percent and the full year down less than a percent.

Indicators are not always reliable guides to performance though. For instance, Jana Heffron, PAAR President said  there were some negative pressures on the market late last year and then November was up six percent.

Staff / WGLT

Downstate hospital executives claim repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement would cost the state more than 84-thousand jobs.

The Illinois Hospital Association argued having 1.2 million more Illinoisians with insurance has helped create thousands of new jobs downstate. They said if the Affordable Care Act goes, so do the jobs.

Staff / WGLT

The head of the Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors predicts a strong home-selling climate in 2017, from about mid-year on.

Until then, Ed Neaves said things will be steady. He said about 100 homes are under contract so far this year, about the same as at this point in 2016. Sales last year rose 2.8%.

Neaves said a lot of buyers are out there but they are educated and particular.

Bill Waller / Facebook

Tar on a bench and a spate of calls to police complaining about homeless people near businesses in downtown Bloomington last summer focused attention on the issue.

Not a lot has happened publicly since then, but Downtown Bloomington Association Director Tricia Stiller says there has ben an effort to communicate on the issue among stakeholder.

Ralph Weisheit

The realty market amounted to a nearly $486 million chunk of the Bloomington Normal economy last year. That's up more than 2% in dollars.

The number of home sales rose by 2.8%.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Be afraid. Be very afraid of losing your data.

If Presidential campaigns can't keep their computers secure, what hopes do the rest of us have?

Fernando Butcher / Flickr

Some of the top business stories of 2016 dealt with things like Robo-advising and block chain. In this edition of Sound Money, GLT's Willis Kern continues the countdown of the top stories of last year with the top five. 

The stories were selected by Edgar Norton, Director of Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis.

  • #5 Emerging international markets
  • #4 Illinois budget stalemate
  • #3 New fiduciary rule
  • #2 Brexit
  • #1 Trump election

Staff / WGLT

Macy's is closing its store in Bloomington.

The shut down by the end of the year involves 55 jobs, according to a company news release.

Staff / WGLT

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

BTC Keychain / Flickr

2016 was a very big year for news, and it also yielded some pretty big business news headlines.

In this edition of Sound Money, GLT's Willis Kern looks back at some of the top business stories of the past year, along with Edgar Norton, Director of Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis.

  • #10 Robo-advising
  • #9   Indexing wins
  • #8   Negative interest rates
  • #7   Blockchain
  • #6   Carbon energy collapse

 

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Exelon Corporation says it is hiring more than 200 people at the Clinton nuclear power plant, a significant number of them permanent positions.

The company had held off on a number of capital projects and on hiring as plant jobs came open from resignations or retirements for much of the last year.

State Farm sign on building
Staff / WGLT

State Farm Insurance has now raised its auto rates in Illinois more than in any time in the last fourteen years.

Other insurers have also been increasing premiums charged to customers.

A Quiet Workplace Heroism

Dec 12, 2016
Maria Henneberry

Fifteen minutes felt like 15 hours for a group of GROWMARK employees who found themselves in a situation no one would wish for, but they were thankful to be part of - once it was over.

It was an alarming incident that had an inspiring outcome.

Portillo's

Champaign Urbana will get a new Portillo's restaurant before the one in Normal opens.

The Chicago area chain has announced a new location in Champaign which will open next spring.

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.

Staff

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.

WGLT

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.

401kcalculator.org

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.

staff

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.

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