If you’re an entrepreneur seeking a collaborative environment to hone an idea, our door is open to you. Just want to dabble with your creative side? We’ve got something for you as well. Bloomington-Normal embraces and supports creativity with opportunities including Slingshot Cowork , B-N Tech Town, a makerspace at the Normal Public Library and the McLean County Arts Center.

Herb Eaton, Harold Gregor and Michael Dubina are among the recognized artists who call the Twin Cities home. State Farm Insurance, Steak ‘n Shake and Beer Nuts are just a few of the businesses that started here.

Create your own BN Advantage.


Founder Matt Potts began with an idea for a gastrobrewpub that has expanded into a brewery project producing 12,000 barrels a year, with current construction ongoing for a facility capable of brewing 150,000 barrels of beer annually.

Slingshot Cowork

Entrepreneurs and small businesses can collaborate in Uptown Normal in the first space dedicated to the startup community of Bloomington-Normal.

State Farm

What is today a Fortune 50 company was founded in 1922 by retired farmer and insurance salesman G.J. Mecherle in Bloomington. The insurance staple is McLean County’s largest employer and insures more cars and homes than any other insurer in the U.S.

Herb Eaton

As an artist and musician, Eaton has gain notoriety for his "He and She" theme and his use of corn and the Mackinaw River Valley as a common subject. He is also co-founder of the Children's Discovery Museum and has works featured at the Illinois State Capitol and Uptown Station, among other numerous locations. The Eaton Studio and Gallery has been located in downtown Bloomington since 2000.

Normal Public Library MakerSpace

Originally created as a Teen Mobile Makerspace for give teenagers a unique opportunity of hands-on collaborative learning, sharing, and creating through the use of technology and do-it-yourself materials, the library program has adapted with the ideas of the "makers" themselves. New materials and programs adapt constantly and offer robotics, coding, 3D printing, and countless gadgets and materials to kickstart young minds.

Harold Gregor

With his realist rural Midwestern depictions, Gregor gained notoriety in the 1970s while a professor of Art at Illinois State University.   Named a Distinguished Professor in 1988 and awarded for Lifetime Achievement by both the Illinois Academy of Fine Arts and Watercolor Honor Society, Gregor's works have been featured in the Oval Office by request of President Barack Obama. He maintains a studio in Bloomington.

Steak ‘n Shake

The idea came from Gus Belt, who turned his gas station and chicken restaurant in Normal into a stand serving steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes in 1934. Now, Steak ‘n Shake operates over 500 restaurants in 29 states.

Beer Nuts

Arlo Shirk bought a confectionery shop in downtown Bloomington in 1937.  That purchase included a recipe for a popular nut treat that eventually became known as "Shirk's Glazed Peanuts."  The name changed in 1953, and now the company is known in all 50 states and around the world for its quality and consistent product.

ISU Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies

The center was established through a planned gift of the late George R. and Martha Means. Its goal is to support entrepreneurship for Illinois State University students, local high school students, and the Bloomington/Normal community.  The Means Center hosts a startup Startup Showcase every November.

McLean County Arts Center

The MCAC offers one-time and weekly classes for quality instruction. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned painter or sculptor, you can find a class that fits your desires.

Michael Dubina

Dubina is a photographer and painter best known for his unique use of matchbooks as canvasses. You can find his artwork at his studio in downtown Bloomington.

Merlot and a Masterpiece

If it's a special occasion, girls' night out, or even just for a fun evening or weekend activity you're craving, you can enjoy time with friends and a good wine. Opened in 2010 by Katie Butler and Diana Mariani, Merlot and a Masterpiece allows its visitors to unwind and create by letting their minds - and their brushes - run wild.

Nicolas Africano

The world-renowned glass sculptor and large-scale painter has been featured in the New York Times and LA Times. He has continued to work out of his private studio in Normal since coming to town in the 1960s.