Mebane candy factory construction set to begin

tgrubb@newsobserver.comMarch 11, 2014 

Morinaga America Foods finished buying 21 acres of land near Mebane on Monday, closing the deal with Orange County for a new factory. Construction could start within weeks. The factory is expected to begin production by June 2015.

MORINAGA AMERICA FOODS

— Construction of a new candy factory near Mebane will begin in a few weeks, Orange County’s economic development officer says.

Japanese candy maker Morinaga & Co. recently incorporated its newest subsidiary, Morinaga America Foods. On Monday, the company finished buying 21 acres on Ben Wilson Road. The factory will face the Tanger Outlets across Interstate 85-40.

Morinaga, founded 115 years ago, is Japan’s largest candy and confectionery company. Morinaga officials named Toshiaki Fukunaga the new local president of Morinaga America Foods.

Steve Brantley, Orange County’s economic development director, said the company could start building its 100,000-square-foot Hi-Chew candy factory in two or three weeks.

The factory is expected to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards and could launch in June 2015.

“We look forward to a long and prosperous partnership. We are grateful for this affirmation of our efforts to bring quality jobs and good corporate citizens to our community,” said Barry Jacobs, chairman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

Orange County leaders worked with Durham Technical Community College, state, Mebane and utilities officials to offer Morinaga an incentives package worth more than $2.5 million.

In return, Morinaga agreed to hire up to 90 workers, invest up to $48 million in land, buildings and equipment, and have a $3.4 million annual payroll by Jan. 31, 2018. The average salary would be $37,979, with health insurance.

If the company meets performance goals, it could receive up to $1.5 million over five years from Orange County and $720,000 from Mebane, based on its property taxes. The state is providing a $264,000 grant, and Duke Power will pay to extend gas and electric service to the factory.

Orange County plans to use a state community development block grant to pay for water and sewer improvements to the site. Durham Tech’s Orange County campus will train new employees. The package also includes a road extension from the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Morinaga officials have said a future expansion is possible.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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