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Illinois quick hits: International tourism is up; Ferrero expanding chocolate factory

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International tourism is up

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Office of Tourism report a significant increase in international visitors to the state in 2023.

According to data provided by Tourism Economics, Illinois welcomed 2.1 million international visitors last year, reflecting a 39% increase from the previous year. Officials said that international visitors injected nearly $2.7 billion into Illinois’ economy in 2023, representing a 47% increase in spending compared to the previous year.

Ferrero expanding chocolate factory

Chocolate giant Ferrero opened its first North American chocolate processing plant in Bloomington. The company added 70,000 square feet to its existing facility and will allow the plant to produce chocolate used in products like Kinder and Butterfinger.

Ferrero owns several facilities in Illinois, including a plant in Franklin Park where they make Baby Ruth products. The company also produces Keebler products at a plant in Chicago.

Chicago 7th worst to drive in

A new report says Chicago is the 7th worst city to drive in.

Forbes Advisor compared the 47 most populated cities with available data across 15 metrics spanning four key categories: driving experience, safety, cost of car ownership and access to car maintenance. The report says the worst city to drive in is Oakland, California.