Japanese candy plant to create 90 jobs near Mebane
Posted September 3, 2013
Mebane, N.C. — A Japanese candy maker will open its first U.S. plant in Orange County, creating 90 jobs over the next three years, officials said Tuesday.
Morinaga & Co. Ltd. plans to invest $48 million in the 120,000-square-foot plant in the Buckhorn Economic Development District, off Interstate 40/85 east of Mebane. The average salary for the jobs will be $38,000 a year, plus benefits.
Founded in 1899 in Tokyo, Morinaga produces an array of confectionaries, such as milk caramel, chocolates, cookies, cocoa mix, ice cream sandwiches and sundae cups and has $1.75 billion in annual sales. Its North Carolina plant will produce a fruit-flavored soft candy called Hi-Chew, which is a top seller in Japan.
"North Carolina is well-known as a state which provides a remarkable business environment,” Masao Hoshino, chief executive of Morinaga's U.S. subsidiary, said in a statement. “We feel honored to be a member of the community and are determined to do our very best to contribute to the state, as well as to make our business in the U.S. a success.”
Morinaga has qualified for a grant of up to $264,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides financial assistance to attract business projects to the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job and investment targets to obtain the funds.
Orange County and Mebane also have offered financial incentives to land the project, County Manager Frank Clifton said. The county's incentives, which haven't been disclosed, will be discussed at an upcoming public hearing and then voted on by the Board of Commissioners.
The state Department of Transportation also has agreed to improve access to the plant, and the Hillsborough campus of Durham Technical Community College will help train Morinaga's workers, Clifton said.