2021 Brings Major Industry Growth to Bloomington-Normal

BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) – In the Twin Cities, 2021 has been a major year for the region’s economic growth with many major expansions from large national and international companies.

Between building expansions and new jobs created, Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe said it was exciting to see this growth happening across the city’s different industries at the same time.

“It’s been a while since we’ve seen growth in this particular way,” Mwilambwe said.

In October, Ferrero cut the ribbon and opened its new chocolate processing plant, an addition that will add 70,000 square feet to its existing Bloomington property.

“This is the first chocolate manufacturing plant that Ferrero is building in North America and outside of Europe,” said Federico Forti, manager of the Bloomington plant and vice president of industrial production.

Forti said the project was on time and should be ready for an opening in the first or second quarter of 2023. He said that at this time the existing plant was starting to ramp up production of Crunch bars, 100 Large and other candy bars.

“In the last 12 or 18 months we have installed the lines, started them up, now we have to increase production to support the growth of the company,” said Forti.

For nearly a century, Bloomington has been the home of insurance giant State Farm. Over the past year, the company recently opened its new community support center, B’Link. Media relations specialist Heather Paul said he acts as a bridge for State Farm and community nonprofits.

“It’s a space where organizations can host meetings at no cost, they can host events here,” Paul said.

Paul said 2021 has also brought “record” growth to auto and home insurance customers; the company also recently launched pet insurance policies.

“Following this, we had three virtual career fairs; We are certainly looking to hire and continue to hire more people in our Bloomington-Normal operations, ”said Paul.

Bloomington Mayor Mwilambwe said he was excited to see what 2022 brings to Bloomington and the entire region. He added that the new jobs in big companies as well as the construction jobs created by the investments of the companies are bringing more life to the city.

“You can certainly see that in our downtown area there is a lot more activity there; I was told that it was getting more and more difficult even to go to a restaurant or even to the park, ”Mwilambwe said.

In Rivian, officials did not comment for this story, but said they were continuing to scale up Normal plant operations.

From December 2020 to December 2021, the company created nearly 3,200 new jobs at Bloomington-Normal. Rivian also launched and delivered the first models of its electric truck, the R1T, and the first two models of the SUV, R1S.

Rivian also went public on the New York Stock Exchange, trading on the NASDAQ under the letters RIVN.

Mwilambwe said the attention of an international company like Ferrero and others like State Farm and Rivian is putting the region on the map.

“Chocolate is something that is relatively affordable for most people and as a result the town of Bloomington will be in the homes of many, many people. It’s a great way for us to promote the city, ”said Mwilambwe.