Economic developers are providing a sweetener in hopes of prompting one of the country’s largest candy companies to expand in Bloomington.
The Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council is seeking to expand an enterprise zone to include Ferrero’s plant at 2501 Beich Road in southwest Bloomington.
Ferrero bought the plant from Nestle USA in 2018. Nestle acquired the facility in 1984. Ferrero currently has more than 300 employees at the 53-year-old facility.
The company is planning an expansion of up to $70 million and would hire up to 50 additional workers, should the company expand at the site, according to documents submitted to the City of Bloomington. The company has indicated it also could expand at its facilities in Ohio, Canada or Mexico.
“I don’t know that they’ve been hedging per se, but they do have plans for expansion in a lot of different areas for different products,” said EDC President and CEO Patrick Hoban. “This is just one we are hoping to land here.”
The enterprise zone is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. It includes nearly 15 square miles in Bloomington, Normal and parts of Ford County.
The enterprise zone would give Ferrero several tax incentives, including a sales tax break on building materials.
The Bloomington City Council will consider the request at its meeting on Monday. The plan also would require approval from the Town of Normal, McLean County, Gibson City and Ford County.
Hoban said if all five local taxing bodies and the state of Illinois approve the deal, he is optimistic Ferrero will expand in Bloomington.
“I’m pretty comfortable that this will go through and that it will expand here. We’ve been working with them quite a while now,” Hoban said. “They just love the area and I think that we have a great workforce. We are really hoping this is going to be a great expansion and more investment in Bloomington-Normal.”
An expansion would be the latest in chapter in Bloomington’s long history with the candy-making business. The Beich candy company opened in 1892. It moved out of its factory on Bloomington’s west side in 1967. That building was destroyed by fire in 2005. The company later sold to Nestle in 1984.
Ferrero is the third-largest confectionary company in the United States. It makes more than two dozen chocolate and candy brands, including Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Laffy Taffy, Nutella and Fannie May chocolates.
Ferrero hasn’t said what product lines it would look to expand in Bloomington.
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