Business and Economy | WGLT

Business and Economy

Couple with their smart speaker
State Farm

A new smart speaker tool aimed at older adults has become the latest example of State Farm’s growing investment in innovation—even in businesses not directly connected to insurance.

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.

Unemployment insurance claims office
bytemarks / Creative Commons/Flickr

Bloomington-Normal's jobless rate stayed in the double digits for a second straight month in May, as economic fallout from COVID-19 continued.

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.

Exterior of Rivian plant
Eric Stock / WGLT

Rivian says it plans to hire up to 40 employees by the end of the year to staff its new customer engagement center in Normal.

State Farm HQ building
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

State Farm said Monday it would lower auto insurance rates in Illinois on average 13.7% because people are driving—and crashing—less due to the pandemic.

Closed sign in a store window
Ashley Binkowski / WGLT

The Bloomington-Normal area's unemployment rate shot up to 12.8% in April, as the coronavirus shutdown took its toll on the economy, state officials announced Friday.

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.

Rivian truck on a street
Rivian / Facebook

Bloomington-Normal may soon have another insurance company: Rivian.

Mark Daniel
Carleigh Gray / WGLT

Outgoing Unit 5 superintendent Mark Daniel has landed a new job leading one of the largest school districts in Indiana.

Flexitech plant exterior
Google Maps

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

State Farm HQ building
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

State Farm says it’s cutting auto insurance rates in every state, offering another $2.2 billion back to customers who are driving—and crashing—less because of the pandemic.

The McLean County Chamber of Commerce is throwing its support behind a speedier reopening plan that its leader says is thoughtful, science-driven, and not necessarily in conflict with the governor’s own roadmap.

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.

TGI Fridays exterior
Bloomington Normal Restaurant Scene / Facebook

An industry watcher says the five Bloomington-Normal restaurants that have closed for good in recent weeks faced challenges even before the pandemic.

RJ Scaringe
Carlos Delgado/AP Images for Rivian

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said his company will not be seeking the $1 million grant that it was owed from the Town of Normal, saying “the funds would better serve our community by remaining with the municipality."

Michael Tipsord
YouTube / State Farm

With live sports on hiatus, there aren’t a lot of major TV events that can get everybody talking. Things like the Chicago Bulls documentary on ESPN, the “Disney Family Singalong” on ABC, and Thursday night’s “Parks and Recreation” reunion have been pretty much it.

And State Farm has been a big part of each.

Lincoln Motor Company logo is shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroi
Paul Sancya / AP

UPDATED 5:50 p.m. | The Lincoln Motor Co. said Tuesday it will not proceed with development of a new electric vehicle based on Rivian's skateboard platform, citing "the current environment."

Rivian Automotive sign
Eric Stock / WGLT

UPDATED 4:15 p.m. | The electric automaker Rivian will be able to claim its local property-tax breaks after meeting the minimum hiring and plant investment thresholds for the 2019 tax year, officials said.

Barba and Brownstone

Hospitals aren’t the only parts of the health care industry hurting in Bloomington-Normal.

Country Financial
Country Financial

Country Financial said Wednesday it will send refund checks to its auto customers who are driving less because of the coronavirus.

Two McLean County hotels are now among the 708 businesses set to receive highly competitive emergency hospitality grants from the state.

State Farm signage
Ralph Weisheit

State Farm announced Thursday it's returning up to $2 billion to its auto customers who are driving less because of the coronavirus pandemic.

State Farm HQ building
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

An insurance industry expert says state regulators should take a more aggressive approach in forcing companies to refund premiums to policyholders who are driving less because of the coronavirus.

Closed sign
Ashley Binkowski / WGLT

More than 5,000 people in the Bloomington-Normal area claimed unemployment benefits in March—a ten-fold increase from a year ago that offers a new view of COVID-19’s economic toll.

Workers inside the plant
YouTube / Rivian

The coronavirus pandemic will delay the launch schedule for Rivian’s first electric trucks and SUVs being made in Normal.

Gas station
Ashley Binkowski / WGLT

State Farm said Tuesday it will decide by the end of the week how to “return value” to its policyholders who are driving a lot less because of coronavirus stay-at-home orders. 

Eastland Mall exterior
Staff / WGLT

The owners of Eastland Mall in Bloomington have appealed their property’s assessed value to a state board in hopes of lowering their taxes.

Meltdown Creative Works

A new campaign aims to bring Bloomington-Normal businesses closer together during the coronavirus pandemic.