All over Bloomington-Normal, no one is talking about the worst kept secret. It seems almost everyone knows, but no one is talking. State Farm is planning to downsize, likely before year-end. This is no secret. In fact, it’s echoing throughout the halls of the insurance giant, as well as the local business community and the governments of both Bloomington and Normal. Yet, there is no public conversation. Why?! Well, because to do so would require admitting the weaknesses and flaws in our local economy and the failed actions (or inactions) of the gilded business and political class of Bloomington-Normal.
Indeed, the Chamber of Commerce, EDC, and business community narrative is one of positivity. “Let’s focus on our wins,” they say. “Per capita, Bloomington-Normal has the largest number of restaurants,” they say. Worst still, the attention seems to have focused on government-led projects like a new multi-million dollar sports complex, rec center, hotel (with views of the courthouse), and bike paths, as well as the newest fast food chain coming to town. Not one conversation about attracting and nurturing the growth of new non-retail businesses to help offset the decline of the bread-and-butter of our economy, State Farm. This is not a critique of State Farm, nor its antiquated business model – that’s well documented in “The End of Bloomington/Normal as We Know It”. In fact, State Farm has been relatively upfront about its desire not to grow in Bloomington-Normal and, internally, its pursuit of “flattening” the org chart and acting “leaner and meaner”. We all wish them luck. But luck is never enough. And it certainly won’t save Bloomington-Normal.
The problem I speak of is the lack of openness, transparency, and dialog between business and political elites and the residents of Bloomington-Normal about our new economic reality. It’s hard to talk solutions if we aren’t talking at all! Let’s be honest with each other and start having conversations now, as uncomfortable as they may be. Waiting until the date and time of announcement with a carefully scripted statement might make for safer politics, but it’s selfish and will only postpone the repairing efforts and any potential regrowth within our local economy. How much longer can Renner, Koos, and friends pretend they don’t know what’s coming? Let’s not let them off the hook. It’s time they admit the truth. After all, what good is “quality of life” if no one lives here to enjoy it?
19 thoughts on “The silence is deafening”
“How much longer can Renner, Koos, and friends pretend they don’t know what’s coming? Let’s not let them off the hook. It’s time they admit the truth. After all, what good is “quality of life” if no one lives here to enjoy it?”
I think they know what is coming as I also think that they are taking advantage of their knowledge to somehow enrich themselves and their cronies as that what the “science” of politics has become. A crooks paradise. > They’ll never admit the truth as to enrich themselves the battle cry is – decieve to achieve. > As the producers they dispise move away, they rejoice in expanding their kingdoms of arriving dependent sheeple who praise their disastrous policies. >>> in my humble opinoin, Koos and Renner have made it quite clear that they do not want to hear from the citizens by doing all that they can to squash public comment and to ignore the rule of law for however it suits them.
Many locals, especially the elected officials and EDC believe the SF employees who are being moved from the offices that are closing in other estates will be moving back here. Wishful thinking…
The future of every company is doing more with less employees. Robots and humans working together to get more done at a lower cost than people alone.
I guess a smaller State Farm is better than an out of business State Farm.
More companies are implementing work flow and State Farm started this back around 2003 I believe. An example would be if you applied for home owners insurance all parts of the application would be digitally assembled, automated underwriting, etc. Fewer people are involved in the process. It is computerized work flow.
In addition more employers are letting employees work from home. Good gosh why would SF or any company want to own buildings which are an expense. It’s gong to take some mind set changes to achieve this across many companies but it is slowly being accepted as the norm for work/life balance. What do you suppose SF has tied up in buildings and parking lots? Why spend money on that when it can be used to leverage the company in other ways. Makes sense to me.
It’s been a LONG time coming! Just ask yourself WHY don’t UPTOWN have a farmers market anymore-SUCH a simple thing, lack of interest they say! Wonder WHAT will happen when that is multiplied by 10 or 20 times. Lack of interest they say.
And you WILL pay. The garlic press closing their cafe SHOULD wake those idiots up. but I guess not! Koos will be buying Tari lunch at Portillos? Proper?
then they can cruise the countryside and see how their mowing job at the old MMMI plant is coming along. Then they can stop at Green Gables and talk about annexing that place.
Downsizing as in totally leaving?? More transfers to Texas, Arizona, etc?? This is the first I have heard this news!! Scary!!!!
Not leaving, just fewer here
Everyone needs to read the article referenced in the essay “The End of Bloomington/Normal as We Know It”. This is the beginning of what will be a series of contractions that State Farm will be forced to make in the near future (5 years or less). All legacy insurance companies are under assault from the newly forming InsurTech industry. State Farm will eventually be a mere shadow of what it is today. This of course has profound implications for our economy here. The ripple effect alone of the upcoming years of downsizing will close service/supply businesses all over the area and cause many people to lose their jobs. Our leadership is doing a great disservice to our towns and our people by deliberately ignoring the wave of change that is coming at us at 100 mph. We cannot wish what is happening away. We cannot solve this with 20th Century solutions like promoting retail growth and bringing in new restaurants or hotels or Sports Complexes. We need to promote the growth of start-ups and bring new businesses into our area. There is no more time to waste. Our economic future is at stake.
I have a relative who works at SF. They are firing/retiring help already .
If Koos/Renner cant see the writing on the wall they are dumber than we thought they were. My guess, they know and they dont care!
Downsizing. I think in SF’s case it has more to do with world politics than our State economy. Oh sure it has some impact on that decision, but if you look back to the late Eighties and early Nineties, SF wanted to centralize it’s offices, now with all the upheaval of soft targets and terrorists, this might very well have a bigger factor in this decision.
So, you didn’t read the referenced article about technology?
State Farm’s downsizing has nothing to do with our state or national economy. They like all legacy insurance companies will suffer a death by thousand cuts made by the InsurTech industry. Lemonade is a perfect example of what is to come and how legacy insurance is powerless to combat it. Google Lemonade… download their AI powered iPhone app and you will see the future of insurance. FYI – it doesn’t involve agents or lots of people or big buildings.
There is an interesting group on Facebook about Bloomington’s past. It’s interesting to see what businesses were here and long gone never to return. This area definitely isn’t flourishing like it once was.
I have been in Technology most of my work life. Automations is what it’s all about. Been there, done that on the legacy platform. One might just say I automated myself out of my own job. They already have robots that can build bridges…
Rivian automotive employs 10 people in Normal now (according to a pjstar article). Discuss.
They’ve sold things in the plant, Normal taxpayers pay for mowing, snow removal etc, they are storing cars and probably making money doing it. What do you think?
I returned from a business trip to Peoria and intentionally drove down Mitsubishi Parkway about 3:00PM. I saw, literally, two cars in the admin building parking lot with one driving out. What is going on there anyway?