State and local leaders break ground (again) for new Ferrero facility
For the second time in six months, Ferrero North America celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking and new addition to the Bloomington-Normal economy with state and local leaders present Wednesday morning.
The international chocolate and candy company plans to add a new manufacturing facility to its preexisting campus on the southwest side of Bloomington by the end of 2024. The facility, the first of its kind in North America, will be dedicated to producing Kinder Bueno bars, a chocolate wafer bar the company launched in 2019.
"This expansion is a confirmation of the quality of Illinois' workforce and our state's reputation on the global stage," Gov. JB Pritzker said to groundbreaking attendees. "Central Illinois is one of the hottest growth areas — and Bloomington-Normal, as a metro region, is a like a boom town in the Old West."
The $214.4 million investment is slated to add 200 jobs to the area over the course of four years. That follows the company's first announcement in November 2020 that it had chosen Bloomington as the site of its first chocolate processing factory in North America.
Ferrero is set to use a state Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit for apprenticeship training to build its workforce; Heartland Community College started an apprenticeship program for Ferrero workers last year.
The credit says the company must invest $103 million and create 75 jobs to its Bloomington operations over the next two years.
Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe said the expansion isn't just bringing manufacturing jobs to the area, but also contracting and other labor jobs along with it.
"There are many construction workers benefiting from these sizable investments," he said. "Ferrero's presence also adds to the diversity of our local economy, making it more resilient in hard times."
Mwilambwe thanked Patrick Hoban, CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, for helping to create a package of standardized incentives, including property tax breaks on a sliding scale over five years for businesses that are in the county's enterprise zone.
The package also includes incentives for hiring women and minorities. The enterprise zone offers several tax incentives, including a sales tax break on building materials. The zone includes parts of Bloomington, Normal and Ford County. It is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Construction on the Ferrero addition is expected to begin this fall. The chocolate processing plant that's already under construction is expected to be in operation next year.
Ferrero makes Crunch, Nutella, Raisinets, Tic Tacs and other candies.