Beloit’s economy, employment rates improving

City officials say unemployment rate is misleading
Beloit’s economy, employment rates improving

It’s been no secret that Beloit has been long suffering from one of Wisconsin’s highest unemployment rates.

But it now seems that a quiet building boom is leading the city’s economy on the comeback trail.

One of the local businesses leading that comeback is Tilley’s Pizza House, which recently moved into a new facility.

“We estimate that we’re getting about 30 percent more business in this new facility than in the last,” proclaimed Dan Tilley.

That new building is about 25 percent bigger.

The additional space allowed the Tilleys to hire about 20 new workers.

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“We actually couldn’t get any busier than we were at the old building,” said Tilley. “We were pretty much maxed out, so this is helping us expand to other places like South Beloit, Roscoe.”

Most of the employees at Tilley’s live in Beloit. But that’s not necessarily the case for other businesses in this community on the border.

Drew Pennington, director of Beloit’s Building and Planning Services, said he believes that the city’s unemployment rate of 12 percent is misleading.

“The state line here is largely invisible as far as our workforce goes,” said Pennington. “All of these additions and expansions are creating jobs. It’s just that we are a part of a larger area that included northern Illinois.”

Despite Beloit’s location on the state line and their proximity to several freeways, there’s one statistic some potential businesses can’t seem to look past.

“People think this isn’t a good place because we’ve got this rampant unemployment,” said Randall Upton, the president of the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce. “Yet we find that places are hiring.”

Upton said several new businesses have made their way to town, including the Hampton Inn, which opened earlier this year. The area is also making employment gains with local businesses.

“What Tilley’s has done is amazing,” said Upton. “They took an old building, they’ve raised it, they’ve got this fantastic facility now, cleaned it up. And once again, that’s the kind of employment that’s really going to mean the difference in communities like Beloit.”

Tilley said they are proud to be one slice of the pie helping to rebuild the local economy.

“I know it’s helping and I wish we could hire a lot more people,” said Tilley.

Beloit’s Economic Development director said it is hard to say what the exact financial impact of the new businesses and expansions is at this point.

He’s hoping to release his quarterly report in the next few weeks.