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Mars Announces Plans to Build Chocolate Manufacturing Facility in Topeka, KS

07/03/2011
Mars Chocolate North America (MCNA) has announced it will build a new state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Topeka, KS; the first new major chocolate site constructed in the U.S. in 35 years. Company officials said they are investing in U.S. manufacturing and this multi-phase project to meet the growing demand for their popular confectionery products.

The Topeka facility will be located in the Kanza Fire Commerce Park, which is developed and managed by Go Topeka Economic Partnership. Manufacturing of M&M'S® and SNICKERS® Brand candies is expected to begin when Phase I-a $250 million investment--is completed sometime in 2013. By then, about 200 new full-time employees will be hired. Subsequent development phases, each expanding the plant's capacity, will be added over time. The facility will meet leading-edge environmental standards, and pursue a LEED Gold Certified designation upon completion.

Mars Chocolate North America is the North American chocolate operations of Mars, Inc. based in McLean, VA. Mars boasts net sales of over $30 billion, a 65,000-person workforce, and six business segments (e.g., Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks and Symbioscience).

Regarding state incentives, the Kansas Department of Transportation has committed $4.1 million to help fund road construction and improvements to the rail infrastructure that will service the facility. The Kansas Department of Commerce is providing $1.85 million for infrastructure improvements and to address renewable energy capacity (some of those monies are funded by the Department's Kansas Economic Opportunity Initiatives Fund). The company also may qualify for additional incentives through Promoting Employment Across Kansas, High Performance Incentive Program and other economic development programs.

Victor Miller, chair of the Shawnee County Board of County Commissioners, added that the citizens of Topeka and Shawnee County "created the possibility for this project" through the passage of a half-cent sales tax for economic development. On the incentives side, Victor Miller, chair of the Shawnee County Board of County Commissioners, explained that the citizens of Topeka and Shawnee County "created the possibility for this project" through the passage of ta half-cent sales tax for economic development.

Mike Wittman, VP of Supply, said the site will reflect his firm's commitment to manufacture products in the markets where it sells them. "Mars is grateful for the support and partnership of Governor Brownback, Shawnee County and the City of Topeka," added MCNA's President Todd Lachman. "We are planning to build this plant with a focus on the long term and look forward to many productive years of manufacturing and community partnership in Topeka."

The Mars facility "will be the most significant economic development for Topeka and Shawnee County in many years," said Steve Jenkins, Senior VP of the GO Topeka Economic Partnership. Its economic community impact, he predicted, "will endure for decades."

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