Business & Industry

McLean County boasts a variety of businesses and industries including home-grown insurance giant State Farm and the production facility for the iconic Beer Nuts.

There are three wind farms, a tire manufacturing plant and several agricultural-related businesses and manufacturers.

It’s the headquarters of Country Financial, a group of insurance and financial services companies with customers in 39 states.

The list goes on and on – and it’s far from finished.

Electric-car startup Rivian Automotive recently chose Bloomington-Normal for its plant that will produce the recently revealed, all-electric, five-passenger pickup truck and an all-electric sports utility vehicle.

The company purchased the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant and invested $1 million. It expects to eventually employ up to 1,000 workers.

“We initially were looking at this facility from the point of view of equipment assets – not necessarily to buy the whole thing,” Rivian Chief Executive Officer R.J. Scaringe said during a 2017 welcoming ceremony with former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and local leaders, including the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council.

“What we immediately started to see is that this was much more than a plant; it was a community in line with how we viewed the world,” he added.

McLean County also was chosen by Canadian-based agricultural manufacturer Brandt Group of Companies for its first-ever U.S. facility.

“Brandt has been selling in the United States for many years but it didn’t have a physical location,” said Hans Rasmussen, the company’s northeast sales manager. “With the growth the company was having, it needed a U.S. site.”

Brandt purchased 45 acres in Hudson, Illinois, including the site formerly used by Kongskilde Industries, a Denmark-based agricultural manufacturer.

Rasmussen said the location was perfect because the facility had a new completely automated paint system; the site has room for expansion; and it is located in the center of the Midwest with easy access to three Interstates and rail lines.

The company, which manufactures grain-conveying and grain-handling equipment, is up and running with 80 employees with plans to increase that workforce to 150 by 2019 and up to 300 in the future. It is working with Unit 5 School District and Heartland Community College to attract and prepare future workers for its skilled operators.

Kongskilde also remained in the community after its owners sold the agriculture manufacturing arm of the business. The company moved its plastic, paper, and packaging industries to another location in Normal.

A long-time Bloomington-based candy manufacturing plant Nestle-Beich also got a new lease on life when it was purchased by Ferrero USA.

“The company was trying to increase its presence in the U.S.,” said Scott Goheen, human resources manager, adding the purchase gave Ferrero USA brands that are readily recognized, including Butterfinger and the Nestle Crunch Bar.

On the other side of the community, longtime Bloomington manufacturer Bridgestone Americas unveiled plans to invest $12 million in the local plant to expand its production to include multiple sizes and patterns of off-the-road tires previously only produced by Bridgestone in Japan, according to company officials in a news release.

The expansion will increase the Bloomington plant’s workforce by 30 people.

“It will allow us to deliver on our global commitment to develop innovative new products that will meet our customers’ needs, but it wouldn’t be possible without the outstanding teammates we have here today – some of whom have worked here for decades,” said plant manager Monty Greutman.

Meanwhile, State Farm Insurance, whose headquarters has been based in Bloomington since its start in 1922, remains committed to the community, according to Chris Pilcic, company spokesperson.

“As the fifth largest employer in the State of Illinois, and the No. 1 employer in Bloomington, State Farm has a vested interest in the current and future economy,” said Pilcic.

State Farm offers about 100 different products including auto, fire, life and health insurance and State Farm Bank. The bank was started in 1999 and is now the 101st largest bank with $16.7 billion in total assets.