By Howard Packowitz
NORMAL – It’s called the ‘State Farm Effect,’ and lately it’s created economic anxiety as the community’s largest employer cuts nearly 900 local information technology jobs and shuts down its office building that dominates the landscape in downtown Bloomington.
However, Normal Town Councilman Jeff Fritzen says community leaders might have been complacent over the years because of State Farm’s success. As State Farm alters its business to make it more competitive, Fritzen said it’s forcing people to roll up their sleeves and work harder on economic development.
“By having them in our community, and then being successful and being the number one auto insurer in the country and all, that probably supressed some of our efforts to do economic development, and work hard in those areas,” said Fritzen.
“Now, the current ‘State Farm Effect’ is causing us to ignite a little bit.”
Fritzen is the Normal Town Council’s representative on the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council.
Normal Councilman Kevin McCarthy said there’s too much “catastrophic thinking” in the community, when people should be aware of all the good things that are happening here.
According to Fritzen, McLean County remains strong in agriculture and local manufacturing is picking up with the addition of Brandt Industries and Rivian Automotive.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org