BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — In the Twin Cities, 2021 was a major year for economic growth in the region with many major expansions from large national and international companies.
Between building additions and new jobs created, Mayor of Bloomington, Mboka Mwilambwe, said it’s exciting to see this much growth happening within the city’s different industries at one time.
“It has been a while since we’ve seen growth in this particular way,” Mwilambwe said.
In October, Ferrero cut the ribbon and broke ground on its newest chocolate processing facility- an addition that will add 70,000 square ft. to its existing Bloomington property.
“It is the first chocolate manufacturing facility that Ferrero is building in North America and outside of Europe,” said Federico Forti, the Bloomington plant’s manager and Vice President of Industrial Production.
Forti said the project is on time and looks to be ready for opening in the first or second quarter of 2023. He said right now the existing plant is beginning to ramp up its production of Crunch Bars, 100 Grand and other candy bars.
“In the past 12 or 18 months, we’ve installed the lines, started them up, now we have to scale up production to support the growth of the business,” Forti said.
For nearly a century, Bloomington has been the headquarters for insurance giant, State Farm. In the past year, the company recently opened its new community support center, B’Link. Media Relations specialist, Heather Paul said it acts as a bridge for State Farm and the community’s non-profits.
“This is a space where at no cost, organizations can have meetings, they can have events here,” Paul said.
Paul said 2021 also brought “record” growth to auto and home insurance clients; the company also recently started pet insurance policies.
“As a result of that, we had three virtual career fairs; definitely looking to hire and continue to hire more people in our Bloomington-Normal operations,” Paul said.
Bloomington’s Mayor Mwilambwe said he’s excited to see what 2022 brings to Bloomington and the entire region. He added the new jobs at major companies as well as construction jobs created by the companies’ investments are bringing more life to the city.
“You can definitely see that in our downtown, there is a lot more activity there; I’ve been told it’s becoming more and more difficult even going to a restaurant or even park,” Mwilambwe said.
At Rivian, officials did not comment on this story, but said they continue to ramp up operations at the plant in Normal.
From Dec 2020 to Dec 2021, the company added nearly 3,200 new jobs in 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 attention from an international company like Ferrero and other companies like State Farm and Rivian puts the area on the map.
“Chocolate is something that is relatively affordable for most people and therefore, the City of Bloomington will be in the homes of many, many people. It is a great way for us to promote the city,” Mwilambwe said.