Ferrero ChocolateThis week, the North American chocolate company Ferrero announced an expansion of its chocolate plant in Bloomington. Ferrero will invest up to $214.4 million in expanding its chocolate processing and production right here in Illinois.

The chocolate company announced its new expansion that will add 169,000 square feet to its current plant and is dedicated to producing Kinder Bueno, a popular Ferrero premium chocolate bar. This expansion hopes to bring more than 200 jobs to Bloomington within the next four years. Construction on the new plant will begin this fall and is expected to be complete in 2024.   

Ferrero, a business operating since 1946, has had a long history of producing sweets in the United States. Ferrero is famously known for their hazelnut spread Nutella. Throughout its years of operation, it has acquired companies and brands from Fannie May in Chicago, to Nestle plants for Baby Ruth and Butterfinger, and several others.

The new Kinder Bueno production facility is an expansion of the existing plant in the Ferrero Bloomington manufacturing center, which is also under an expansion process for the chocolate Crunch, 100Grand, Raisinets, and other Ferrero products.

Read more ...

Movie theater seats and screenLincoln Theater in downtown Belleville observed its 100-year anniversary this year. Established in 1921, the theater has entertained locals for a century, offering silent films, black-and-white movie reels, and the masterpieces that shake box offices today.

Located on 103 E. Main St., the Lincoln Theater is owned by Dave and Sandy Schoenborn after Sandy’s father, Richard Wright, bought the business in 1980 and ran it with his wife, Betty. The Schoenborn family took over management in 2007. The family will celebrate the Lincoln’s 100th anniversary with “A Century of Entertainment,” a variety show with music, dance and theater reflecting the 1920s through today. It will be performed on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. This show will also be live-streamed. More information about the event and its live stream can be found here.

Read more ...

Shelf filled with products inside glass jars The Illinois Office of Tourism has announced a list of new additions to the Illinois Made program, which recognizes businesses classified as hidden gems for locals and visitors to discover. The businesses highlighted by this initiative, called Makers, are recognized because they offer unique products and experiences to their customers and passersby.

The Illinois Made program, which now features over 200 Makers from all parts of Illinois, continues to plant people into small businesses around the state by promoting the unique destinations that make the state a one-of-a-kind place. Some of the products offered by Makers include music shops, art galleries, bakeries, farms and more.

The new round of Makers provides visitors with a range of vegan desserts, crafts, candles, general wares and other products that diversify and improve the lives of people across the state. This class of Makers includes 28 small businesses from every region of the state and comes just in time for the holiday shopping season. While the majority of these 28 Makers reside in the Chicago area, a healthy handful are sprinkled in the northwest, central and southern parts of Illinois.

The IOT celebrates Illinois Makers through its road trip itineraries, which run along paths created to endorse these local businesses. The IOT also operates Enjoy Illinois through which travel magazines, events, seasonal campaigns and the annual Illinois Made Holiday Gift Guide can be found. People can nominate businesses for the Illinois Made Program on a year-round basis here. Nominations are open to all businesses, but chosen businesses must adhere to criteria regarding location, visitor experience, manufacture process and history or origin.

The contributions made by Makers shape the state. Because Makers reflect a variety of business types—restaurants, breweries and wineries, farms and orchards, and even international markets that have humble beginnings as small businesses in Illinois—the artisan nature of the state facilitates visitor attraction and boosts tourist activity. Celebrating these contributions is one of many ways to support local businesses. Discover the many available experiences in every region of the state here.

NASCARA NASCAR Cup Series auto race is coming to southwestern Illinois in 2022! The 1.25 mile World Wide Technology Raceway will be in Madison Sunday, June, 5 2022.

NASCAR events have been staged at the track, but this will be the track’s first race in NASCAR’s top division. From 1997-2010, the Xfinity Series ran 15 races at the track. In addition, the Camping World Truck Series competed there from 1998-2010 and from 2014 to present day.

Curtis Francois, owner of World Wide Technology Raceway, has worked to rebuild the track and expand its racing schedule since he purchased the facility nearly ten years ago.

Visit World Wide Technology Raceway’s website to see upcoming events.

d9ad53a36789ab905b5cbf32c259 1575605.jpgdWise Plastics Technologies, an Illinois based company, has received national Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) designation from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

“Wise Plastics Technology has gone above and beyond, proving it’s dedicated to workplace safety,” Illinois Department of Labor Director Michael Kleinik said. “The company has set an example for others in its field.”

Read more ...