Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was in Cleveland Tuesday to help Mars Wrigley Confectionery celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Peerless Road plant, as well as help break ground for the $142 million …
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was in Cleveland Tuesday to help Mars Wrigley Confectionery celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Peerless Road plant, as well as help break ground for the $142 million expansion of its facility where the company's new hazelnut product will be produced.
The investment, which was announced in October, will bring more than 70 new jobs to "The City With Spirit."
The expansion will support manufacturing of the company’s new Hazelnut Spread M&M’s, which will be filled with hazelnut-filled soft center, similar to M&M’s Caramel candy.
It was a sunny, but chilly day for the groundbreaking ceremony, which took place after several days of unrelenting rain. Officials wore hard hats while using multi-colored shovels – in an homage to the palettes used for M&M’s – to break ground for the project as three plant associates stood by donned in the iconic M&M character costumes.
The groundbreaking site was located on a parcel of land adjacent to the Peerless Road plant.
Haslam spoke to a gathering of associates and city and state officials during a press conference prior to the groundbreaking.
“We are thrilled about the new hazelnut product,” Haslam said. “We appreciate the additional investment. We are very very grateful.”
Haslam complimented the Cleveland plant’s employees, marveling at their ability to produce over 300 million M&M’s per day.
“Forty truckloads of product comes out of here every day,” Haslam said, adding the Tennessee is known for Elvis, Dolly and M&M’s.
The governor was accompanied by his wife, Chrissy Haslam.
Plant site director Mack Phillips thanked Haslam and other officials for attending the event.
“It’s a great day,” Phillips said. “We are thrilled to welcome Gov. Haslam and Chrissy here.”
Phillips said the Cleveland plant was opened in 1978 and thanked his predecessors for their roles in guiding the plant to its major role in the Mars brand.
“We have so much to be proud of,” Phillips said. “The built a culture of excellence and nurturing, and I am proud to follow in their footsteps. We have had 40 years of excellence in Cleveland.”
Phillips said the 800 associates at the Peerless Road plant produce more M&M’s than anywhere else in the world.
“We also make the majority of left and right Twix in North America,” Phillips said.
He said the candy company’s new investment will lead the company into the next 40 years. Production of the news hazelnut product will roll off the line in April, Phillips said.
Mars Wrigley Confectionery is the world’s leading manufacturer of chocolate, chewing gum, mints and fruity confections. The company employs approximately 30,000 associates in 70 nations.
Headquartered in Chicago, Mars Wrigley Confectionery distributes its world-famous brands including M&M’s, Snickers, Twix, Skittles and Orbit in more than 180 countries.
The expansion in Cleveland is Mars’ latest in a series of commitments to manufacturing in the United States, after the company invested $1 billion over the past five years, creating 1,000 new jobs.
Tennessee Commissioner for the Department of Economic and Community Development Bob Rolfe complimented Phillips and plant employees for their contribution to Tennessee's economy.
"Mack, very well done," Rolfe said to Phillips. "What makes Cleveland successful is the quality of its workforce."
Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks thanked Mars officials for investing in the city.
“On behalf of Cleveland, we are so grateful for this investment,” Brooks said.
Brooks said he feels a sense of pride when he turns over a package of M&M’s and sees the letters in product bar code noting the product was manufactured in Cleveland.
“Those were made in the sweetest town in the sweetest state,” Brooks said.
During his remarks, Haslam mentioned his term as governor was ending in a few weeks, prompting Phillips to quip, “We’re hiring in January.”
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