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Archive for Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chocolate maker Mars Inc. picks Topeka for factory

June 29, 2011

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— Chocolate maker Mars Inc. said Wednesday it had chosen a site in Topeka for its newest manufacturing plant that will initially bring 200 jobs to northeast Kansas.

Officials with the company, city and state said that the project is the largest single investment in the Topeka economy in the city's history. Mars plans to build a 350,000-square-foot plant south of Forbes Field at a cost of $250 million in its first phase.

The plant, which will be operated by the Mars Chocolate North America, will be built on new industrial property south of Forbes Field and across from the Heartland Park race track.

Mars officials said the project could eventually create nearly 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in Topeka. Construction is expected to begin in August, with the plant beginning operations in late 2013 making M&M's and Snickers candies.

"The site will be a reflection of our commitment to manufacture our products in the markets where we sell them," said Mike Wittman, Mars Chocolate North America's vice president of supply.

Wittman said the plant was the first new chocolate facility built by Mars in 35 years.

Among the incentives offered to lure the plant include a package from Topeka and Shawnee County governments worth more than $9 million, including free land for the factory and wind energy generation.

The state of Kansas offered tax incentives and work force training programs to Mars. Gov. Sam Brownback and Commerce Secretary Pat George said Mars would be able to take advantage of new incentives for capital investment that allow firms to expense the purchase of new equipment.

Brownback said he and others involved with the project visited with Mars officials on Tuesday at their New Jersey headquarters. Topeka was one of 89 locations in 13 states Mars was considering for the plant.

"This is a sweet day," Brownback said. "The decision to build this new Mars facility in Topeka demonstrates that Kansas can compete and win in the global business world."

Mars officials declined to say what the wages would be at the plant or how quickly additional jobs would be created. Mars is a privately held company with more than 65,000 employees worldwide.

Comments

Liberty275 3 years, 5 months ago

Congrats to the first 100 that get jobs at the plant.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 5 months ago

Well, it certainly wasn't Brownstripe's doing.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 5 months ago

"Mars officials declined to say what the wages would be at the plant or how quickly additional jobs would be created."

Look for low wages and benefits and additional state subsidies-- it's the Republican way.

independent_rebel 3 years, 5 months ago

Low wages and benefits is better than no wages and no benefits and mooching off the government. Why is it so hard for the bozos and merrills to understand this? This is an example of the government spending a little money to make more money in the end, and provide an opportunity for real jobs to be created. Something that we were told your god, Obama, was going to do (but ultimately failed to do).

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 5 months ago

"Low wages and benefits is better than no wages and no benefits"

For whom?

bobr2514 3 years, 5 months ago

They released that the average wages are expected to be 43,000/yr. That's not chump change, plus phase 1 produces 250 jobs, phase 2 500 jobs and 10 years project 925 jobs. Topeka has attracted Target, Home Depot, and now the Mars company, add to that Frito Lay, Payless ShoeSource, Hills, Security Benefit, Aviva, etc...I give them this, they are doing something right over there. The best we can get in Lawrence is some new outlet store. There's a reason people commute from Lawrence and not to it...oh well, maybe someday the city council here will wise up...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the Reader's Digest version.

I'll wait for the real story, which may or may not ever see the light of day.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

This plant cost Kansas taxpayers about 10 million dollars. Wow what a deal!

For a party that boasts the Free Market instead offered up socialism aka bribery. Apparently no other state was stupid enough to beat the reckless Brownback offer.

no_thanks 3 years, 5 months ago

Merrill,

This is an investment that will generate $31.2MM in revenue, net of incentives (google GO Topeka Mars Incentives package). And, most of the incentive money comes from Topeka's dedicated sales tax for Economic Development, so it impacts those who consume products or services in Topeka, but not all Kansans. You want money to support the Arts and other charities, you better pray that Kansas is successful in growing its economy, otherwise you can continue to expect further cuts in programs you desire.

notanota 3 years, 5 months ago

You know what? I'm ok with that. It's a factory that brings jobs to low skilled workers who most need them and will spend that money locally, and it's the sort of big operation that typically stays in an area for a while.

pizzapete 3 years, 5 months ago

This is the kind of business that I think Lawrence should be actively pursuing and offering incentives to. Unlike the restuarant chains, catering services, and architecture firms that have recently been asking for and in some cases been given tax breaks, Mars will bring a significant number of new jobs to Topeka.

he_who_knows_all 3 years, 5 months ago

If you're coming from the KC area to Topeka, how exactly do you get there using an interstate without paying?

kernal 3 years, 5 months ago

Topeka has had a really rough patch since Topeka State Hospital was shut down, Menningers moved to Houston then Payless Shoe Sources left Topeka. They really needed this shot in the arm.

Now if Mars would just bring the Mars Bar back to the states!

bobr2514 3 years, 5 months ago

Payless did not leave Topeka. Their corporate HQ is still there, they moved. their DC out east a few years ago. Since then Topeka has attracted new Target and Home Depot Distribution Centers, Bilbo Foods Distribution Center, and they still have three major hospitals, state and federal jobs, Goodyear, BNSF, Westar, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Washburn U, Hills HQ, Security Benefit, Aviva,etc. I wish Lawrence had that kind of rough patch... =)

tolawdjk 3 years, 5 months ago

Kudos to getting this done! Doesn't matter if this is candy, cars, or cosmetics, this is exactly the kind of business that has, for years, been sent over an ocean and away from US markets. I love quality services as much as the next guy, but an area that produces no goods quickly finds itself relegated to praying for property taxes.

I have zero problem using state subsidies to increase and diversify Kansas's manufacturing base.

Shane Garrett 3 years, 5 months ago

Can Topeka now be known as the new Chocolate City? And 580 had a story on it this morning. 13 states and 85 locations were on Mars list. Their representative commented on Topekas' vision and investment.

notanota 3 years, 5 months ago

I look forward to Topeka smelling like chocolate. Big improvement on the current stench produced at the capital building...

somedude20 3 years, 5 months ago

I remember back in the day that the old MRE's had a little two piece all chocolate Mars bar (though they turned white from age) and have never seen one like it since. When I was in Africa (and it was way too hot to eat chocolate) we would toss them out the back of the Hummer and all the little kids would fight for em (they did the same with M&M's) as they chased behind us. On another note, you ever lay down on the ground to sleep only to be woken up by a dung beetle rolling its ball of dung past you?

Scott Morgan 3 years, 5 months ago

Sour grapes, I remember the argument the Walmart distribution center we lost to Ottawa would bring low paying jobs. Wrongo, and know there are several unions working the premises.

Mars is not going to pay General Motors, or Ford line pay, but bet it aint bad.

tomatogrower 3 years, 5 months ago

It was American Eagle, not WalMart. I think WalMart had Ottawa in mind the whole time, because of I35.

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