Economic Development | WGLT

Economic Development

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Downtown revitalization figured strongly in answers during the GLT Bloomington Mayoral candidates forum.

Alderman Kevin Lower said during the event at Illinois State University's University Galleries, the city is not paying enough attention to the periphery of the community.

Rutgers University

In the era of smart phones and smart cars, empowering women can be a gender smart way to achieve economy wide gains.

That's according to this year's Eckley lecturer at Illinois Wesleyan University.

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.

Karen Stauffer

The Mayoral race in the town of Normal is in one sense a referendum on a whole slew of town council decisions to stimulate development and work on the quality of life.

Staff / WGLT

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

Normal Town Council
Staff / WGLT

Skepticism and opposition surfaced quickly on social media after economic incentives were announced to attract Rivian Automotive to the former Mitsubishi auto manufacturing plant.  The Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, the Town of Normal, and Mayor Chris Koos helped lead the effort to pass an incentive package which includes property tax abatements from area taxing bodies. 

Mike Miletich / WGLT

There has been a surge of small business optimism coming out of the presidential election. That's according to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Economist J.D. Foster.

Foster said small businesses have been reluctant to invest and hire because of policies coming from the Obama administration. Foster said businesses feel the federal government won't be such an oppressive force under President Elect Donald Trump. 

The Mayor of Normal said twin cities officials checked into negative news reports about Rivian Automotive and there is nothing there.

Koos made the case for proceeding with a million dollar cash grant and five year tax abatement to encourage Rivian to buy the former Mitsubishi plant.

State and Bloomington-Normal Economic Development officials have found a probable buyer for the former Mitsubishi auto plant.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Circumstances on the existing plot of land targeted for a Portillo's requires public participation to draw the restaurant that is one of "the most talked about things in the last 3 or 4 months in the community," according to the Town of Normal Mayor.

Google

Oakbrook, IL based food chain Portillo's will be located on a lot currently occupied by a Motel 6.

The restaurant, serving Chicago-style food, will build along Parkway Plaza Drive, between Landmark Drive and Veterans Parkway in Normal. 

The Town of Normal Council is expected to address the Portillo's development on Monday evening. Council will vote on an incentive package rebating $1.825 million dollars in sales tax revenue over approximately 7 years.  

Fruin Not Running For Re-election

Oct 24, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Bloomington Alderman Jim Fruin recieved a standing ovation following his announcement that he will retire from representing Ward 9. Fruin made the announcement at Monday's council meeting. He said he'll finish up his term that ends in April.

Renner Re-establishing Cuban Sister Cities

Oct 19, 2016
Tari Renner

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner flew south last week to reconnect with Caibarien, Cuba and Remedios, Cuba, which were originally established as Sister Cities to Bloomington and Normal in the early 2000s.  

No City Funding For Creativity Center

Oct 18, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

A proposal to phase-in upgrades to the Creativity Center is receiving support from the Bloomington City Council. However, Aldermen want to use privately-raised money to pay for the project.

Alderman Amelia Buragas said she supports a resolution that says the council supports the Activity Center and will engage in a public-private partnership, but it doesn't commit city funds to it.

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.

Farnsworth Group

The Law and Justice Center is expanding to increase support for people with mental health issues. The Bloomington City Council approved an agreement allowing city property to be used for the expansion. 

Retro Arcade Bar Could Open In Mid-November

Oct 10, 2016
Kari Sullivan / Flickr

8 Bit Beercade, which currently has a location in Peoria, plans to open in mid-November pending the approval of a liquor license by the Bloomington City Council.

John Alltop / Wikimedia Commons

Normal Town Council members will be asked to consider a redevelopment agreement for two buildings at a military orphanage that opened in 1869 and closed in 1979. 

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

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.

Bloomington Moving Forward With Downtown Development

Aug 15, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Bloomington will continue taking steps to bring economic development to the downtown area, despite the informal rejection of a proposal to build a hotel there.

Bloomington Aldermen To Discuss Downtown

Aug 14, 2016
Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Aldermen will meet as a committee to learn more about the hotel proposal that was rejected by city officials last month.

Staff / WGLT

City of Bloomington officials are mulling over two new proposals for a downtown hotel, following last month's collapse of a plan to locate an upscale hotel and conference center near the coliseum. Both proposals come from developer Jeff Giebelhausen, who's been working with the city for more than a year to redevelop a dilapidated building and the Commerce Bank facility.

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.

Research from Illinois State University's Department of Economics is being used to support legislation increasing the statewide requirement for renewable energy sources, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS.

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.

Gravity Aided / Wikimedia Commons

The Normal Theater could see an upgrade to its lighting system, allowing it to be used for more live performances and community events. The town council will consider spending $57 thousand on the energy efficient upgrade for the venue.

Town of Normal

The Normal Town Council will vote Tuesday on whether to take the next step in relocating four department offices to a new development in Uptown Normal. Engineering, Inspections, Planning, and Facilities Management are slated to move there in late summer or early fall 2017.

Ralph Weisheit

Bloomington's mayor said a sales tax sharing proposal is "dead, in the short term at least" after a majority of aldermen decided against further discussions. 

However, Mayor Tari Renner said the proposal could resurface after the April 2017 municipal elections.

Ralph Weisheit

An ad-hoc committee of elected officials from the Town of Normal and the City of Bloomington is still working on developing a sales tax sharing agreement.

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