Topeka – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback applauded two state agencies for their work that helped convince Mars Chocolate North America to select Topeka as the site of a $250 million manufacturing plant.
The Kansas Departments of Transportation (KDOT) and Commerce (KDOC) will provide nearly $6 million in infrastructure improvements that will help make it possible for Mars to successfully do business at Kanza Fire Commerce Park on the south edge of Topeka.
“My administration’s top priorities are to grow the economy and create jobs.  I want to commend KDOT Secretary Deb Miller, KDOC Secretary Pat George and their teams for their efforts to help bring Mars Chocolate to Kansas – especially during the last few months when it became clear Topeka was one of the final sites the company was considering.  They carefully considered which economic development tools their agencies could use to close the deal and then presented the best incentives the state could offer to help bring this manufacturing plant to Topeka,” Brownback said.
The Kansas Departments of Transportation (KDOT) and Commerce (KDOC) will provide approximately $6 million in infrastructure improvements that will help make it possible for Mars to successfully do business at Kanza Fire Commerce Park on the south edge of Topeka.
KDOT has committed $4.1 million to help fund road construction and improvements to the rail infrastructure that will service the facility. The funding will come from KDOT’s Economic Development Set-Aside Program, which was significantly enhanced under the state’s transportation program T-WORKS. The Economic Development program was retooled this year and now has an “immediate opportunity” component that allows KDOT to make funding decisions more quickly than in the past when a community has a narrow time frame in which to act on an economic opportunity.
The Kansas Department of Commerce is providing $1.85 million for infrastructure improvements and to address renewable energy capacity. Some of the funding is through the Department’s Kansas Economic Opportunity Initiatives Fund, which is used to support state and local efforts to encourage companies to locate or expand operations in Kansas.  The company also may qualify for additional incentives through Promoting Employment Across Kansas (PEAK), High Performance Incentive Program (HPIP) and other economic development programs designed to grow the state’s economy and create jobs.
“Attracting Mars Chocolate was a major win for Topeka and Kansas. It was a great collaborative effort including involvement of Governor Brownback and the Kansas Departments of Transportation and Commerce. Their efforts and resources contributed immensely to this tremendous success,” said Steve Jenkins, senior vice president-economic development, of GO Topeka Economic Partnership.
Brownback, who participated in Wednesday’s announcement, said the new state programs provide leverage to maximize state investments that will create jobs, spur economic growth and expand the tax base.
“This is a sweet deal for Kansas,” Brownback said. “Attracting companies like Mars is a highly competitive process.  These programs clearly help give us an edge.  The decision to build this new Mars facility in Topeka demonstrates that Kansas can compete and win in the global business world.”
Phase 1 of the new site is planned to be complete by 2013, at which time manufacturing will focus o M&M’s and Snickers.  Mars expects to hire approximately 200 full-time employees during the initial phase.