Business and Economy | WGLT

Business and Economy

For Sale sign in front yard
Ralph Weisheit

The coronavirus has cut deeply into the Bloomington-Normal economy. But one area that seems to be chugging right along is the local housing market.

Cans of beer being labeled
Carleigh Gray / WGLT

Bloomington-Normal businesses and other organizations were approved to borrow at least $130 million through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, with the most money going to restaurants and doctor’s and lawyer’s offices, according to a WGLT review of the loan data.

Rachael speaks
IBEW Local 197 / Twitter

Union leaders are calling on local governments to do more to protect workers the next time they offer tax incentive agreements to companies.

beer tap room
Lil Beaver Brewery

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

'Closed' sign in business window
WGLT file photo

A McLean County pandemic-relief loan program remains unused as more options emerge for struggling businesses.

Inside empty coffee shop
WGLT file photo

A Twin City economics professor says aggressive action by Congress and the Federal Reserve helped spare an economic calamity during the pandemic. But Mike Seeborg at Illinois Wesleyan University said it will be too costly to continue these financial lifelines much longer.

Outdoor seating at restaurant
Eric Stock / WGLT

Many businesses who have been struggling since the pandemic began in March hope Illinois’ transition to Phase 4 will allow them to recover after three cash-strapped months.

Sign posted on door
WGLT file photo

Businesses, schools and other organizations are starting to reopen while reducing coronavirus risk. They also must protect themselves from legal liability if there is a breakout.

Person outside IDES office
Nam Y. Huh / AP

Another 2,800 people in the Bloomington-Normal area filed for jobless benefits for the first time in May, fewer than the two previous months but still worse than at the peak of the Great Recession, the state reported Thursday.

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.

Nam Y. Huh / AP

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago will proceed with its next stage of reopening after coronavirus stay-at-home orders despite days of unrest and violence. Vandalism and violent clashes have followed peaceful protests citywide after George Floyd's death.

Edwin Land / Flickr/Creative Commons

Illinois bars and restaurants can now serve mixed-drinks to go. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the measure into law Tuesday.

For Rent signage
David Zalubowski / AP

McLean County residents struggling financially because of COVID-19 could need up to $2.7 million in housing assistance in just the next three months—and a new community coalition says it’s got a plan to meet that challenge.

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.

For Rent sign
Nati Harnik / AP

Janis Hollins is a landlord who knows what it’s like to be on hard times.

Hollins and her husband, Andrew, were literally homeless for four days after losing their jobs and their house during the real estate crash of the Great Recession.

Raptor scanners

A Bloomington businessman says his new company’s temperature scanners may help speed up reopening the economy by giving workers and customers peace of mind.

Flexitech plant exterior
Google Maps

Flexitech Inc. plans to close its Bloomington assembly plant, putting 139 people out of work.

Madigan in a mask
Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool

The Illinois General Assembly passed a $40 billion state budget along party-line votes Saturday night in the House and early Sunday morning in the Senate: 68-44 in the House and 37-19 in the Senate.

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.

A 28-year-old Bloomington man who says he fell behind on rent after losing his hotel job because of the coronavirus says his landlord cut off his power after sending his son over to try to forcefully collect the money.

utility poles
Town of Normal

The Normal Town Council on Monday approved spending nearly $250,000 to move more Uptown utilities underground, keeping on track a new brewpub and restaurant that will help offset about half the cost of that work.

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.

Kid with hand sanitizer
Alvaro Barrientos / AP

If all goes as planned, more and more parents in Bloomington-Normal will be going back into work in June and July after months of being furloughed or working from home.

Person outside IDES office
Nam Y. Huh / AP

Another 5,200 people in the Bloomington-Normal area filed for unemployment for the first time in April —  a staggering number that exceeded March's historic high.

A scene from Summercamp in May 2019
Aaron Bradley

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the live music scene to a screeching halt.

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.

Michelle poses
Michelle Sanders / Facebook

There’s really no socially distant way to do massage therapy. That’s put Michelle Sanders out of work.

Doug Johnson
Courtesy / Doug Johnson

Those helpers on the front lines of the coronavirus economic collapse say they’re seeing more and more people seeking assistance for the first time. People like Doug Johnson.

Boys & Girls Club
Bridget Caldwell

The McLean County Ag in the Classroom program is finding new ways to engage students since classrooms are closed because of COVID-19.

Two Congressmen and a Regional HHS Director at a podium
Staff / WGLT

Two Central Illinois congressmen said they expect debate over a fourth coronavirus disaster recovery bill to be bipartisan, though they also preferred GOP drafts originating in the Senate.