Business and Economy | WGLT

Business and Economy

State Farm sign on building
Staff / WGLT

State Farm said Wednesday that it has found a buyer for its downtown Bloomington building.

Satadru Sengupta
Ryan Denham / WGLT

On paper, it looks like a battle to the death: Legacy insurers like State Farm facing off against a wave of tech startups looking to disrupt their entire business model. It’s Airbnb versus hotels, or Uber versus cabs, all over again.

State Farm HQ building
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

Lower catastrophe losses helped offset a rocky year for State Farm’s stock portfolio in 2018, leading to the largest operating profit in years for the insurer’s property-casualty business, the company announced Friday.

Gann family
Cindy Gann / Courtesy

Tax time is here. Bloomington-Normal residents are sitting down to do their taxes or lugging their W-2s and other documents to their accountants, as the April 15 filing deadline looms.

CENTER FOR BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH, BRADLEY UNIVERSITY

The Peoria metropolitan area is experiencing low layoff rates and more jobs being advertised, leading to a favorable job market.

That’s according to Bradley University’s fourth-quarter composite index.

Maywood, Pritzker, and Guzzardi at a press conference
Governor JB Pritzker / Twitter

Illinois could soon be the fifth state on the path to a $15 minimum wage.

Amazon Prime truck
Ryan Denham / WGLT

This week’s Reuters report that GM and Amazon are considering investments in the electric startup Rivian raises all sorts of questions.

Why? How much? And what does this mean for Bloomington-Normal?

RJ with SUV
Ryan Denham / WGLT

UPDATED 9 a.m. | Amazon and General Motors are considering making investments in Rivian that would give them minority stakes in the electric vehicle startup, according to a published report.

Kyle Ciani and Scott Jordan
Mary Cullen / WGLT

Women make up less than 5 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. That leaves most women to be mentored by the men who hold positions of power.

But in the era of #MeToo, some men are growing nervous about taking on a female mentee for fear of a sexual harassment or assault claim being filed against them should the mentorship go awry.

Beaufort Street buildings
Google Maps

McLean County could soon be getting its fifth craft brewery—and its first in Uptown Normal.

Fight for $15 rally
M. Spencer Green / AP

With a minimum wage increase bill awaiting a vote in the Illinois Senate, the McLean County Chamber of Commerce said they do not “outright oppose” the jump to $15 an hour.

Patrick on a roof
Patrick Laughlin

Two years ago, Patrick Laughlin was looking to make a career change.

He was doing customer service and sales in an office, but he was itching for something skills-based. He’d always been fascinated by renewable energy, so he signed up for a solar energy installer training program in Bloomington.

Lynne Sladky / AP

The jobless rate rose in Bloomington-Normal and 12 other Illinois metro areas in December, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported Friday.

Wade Jensen in the plant
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Three years ago, Wade Jensen punched the clock for the last time at Mitsubishi’s manufacturing plant in Normal.

Despite a lot of uncertainty and a weak farm economy, 2018 was a good year for sales of farm equipment. Figures from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers show tractor sales in the US rose 7 per cent, and combine sales jumped 18 per cent, compared to the previous year. 

State Farm building
Staff / WGLT

A new report says that insurance companies will have to be more proactive—and pay more—to find and retain employees amid a “talent crisis” for the industry.

Doug looks at soybean leaf
Illinois Soybean Association / YouTube

All around Doug Schroeder's farm in Bellflower in southeastern McLean County, there are remnants of a more profitable time.

 Elliot Richardson speaking
Mary Cullen / WGLT

The leader of the Small Business Advocacy Council said the near 800 day-long state budget impasse set small businesses up for a rocky relationship with Illinois government.

State Farm HQ building
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

State Farm Bank has been ordered to change its practices after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found it violated federal law by improperly obtaining consumer credit reports and failing to quickly correct bad information it was supplying to credit reporting agencies.

RJ with SUV
Ryan Denham / WGLT

When you watch Rivian’s promotional videos, their electric vehicles are always speeding across the beach, winding through a forest, or heading to some sort of adventure.

That’s not Steve Smieszek.

Rodney Davis speaks
Jeff Roberson / AP

The House on Wednesday easily passed the farm bill, a massive legislative package that reauthorizes agriculture programs and food aid.

Tricia Griffith speaks at ISU
Lyndsie Schlink / Illinois State University

An Illinois State University grad who rose through the ranks of insurer Progressive has become the first woman named Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year.

Michael Tipsord
State Farm

State Farm's CEO was named to Gov.-elect JB Pritzker's growing transition team on Monday.

Jim and RJ
Ryan Denham / WGLT

There's no guarantee of success in the auto industry, especially for an electric vehicle startup like Rivian. But there was a moment when John Shook from Rivian's board of directors knew it was in good hands.

Rivian signage
Ryan Denham / WGLT

This week in a packed LA Auto Show presentation room, the crowd hooped and hollered when Rivian’s electric pickup and SUV pulled on stage for their big debut.

Crowd swarms pickup
Ryan Denham / WGLT

The electric automaker Rivian earned a lot of good press, consumer curiosity, and even a few jaw-drops this week as its pickup and SUV were finally revealed at the LA Auto Show.

But will those translate into sales?

RJ with the pickup truck in LA
Ryan Denham

Rivian wowed a crowd of investors and other VIPs on Monday as the EV startup’s pickup made its first public appearance under—and in front of—the stars in Los Angeles. 

Truck in the dirty
Rivian

Rivian’s pickup knows how to make an entrance.

Its headlights (and really the entire front end) are signature. Instead of horizontally shaped, the oval headlights are vertical—like you’re looking down at two LED-illuminated mini stadiums. They’re connected by a horizontal bar of light stretching side to side.

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

The Bloomington-Normal area economy's unemployment rate increased by half of a percentage point between September and October, rising to 4.1 percent.

Danny Kogan

Illinois State University’s College of Business hosted its 8th annual Startup Showcase this month, with 15 student entrepreneurs competing for cash prizes to advance their business plan.

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