MEBANE: Work begins in Mebane on Japanese candy factory - WRBL

Work begins in Mebane on Japanese candy factory

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The Morinaga facility in Mebane will produce Hi-Chew candy, a fruit-flavored chewy Japanese candy that has been imported into the United States for the past 5 years. The Morinaga facility in Mebane will produce Hi-Chew candy, a fruit-flavored chewy Japanese candy that has been imported into the United States for the past 5 years.
MEBANE, N.C. -

Ground broke Thursday on new candy factory that is expected to bring 90 jobs to Mebane.

The 21 acres next to interstates 40 and 85 will be the site of Morinaga, a Tokyo-based candy company.

When production starts in the new facility in summer 2015, workers will make Hi-Chew candy, a fruit-flavored chewy Japanese candy that has been imported into the United States for the past 5 years.

The local production of the candy will be the first time it's being made in the U.S. or anywhere outside of Asia.

Other locations that were considered for the facility were Philadelphia, Atlanta and Ontario. But Mebane won the bid because "North Carolina offers a remarkable business environment for companies such as ours," Morinaga America Foods President Toshiaki Fukunaga said.

The company received local incentives and a state grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $264,000. Companies must meet job creation and investment performance standards before they can receive One North Carolina Funds.

Mebane will offer a cash incentive of 1.5 percent of the total investment. Morinaga is expected to make an initial investment between $34 million to $48 million. If the company makes an investment of $34 million, at 1.5 percent, Mebane would make an incentive payment of $102,000 in five annual payments for a total of $510,000.

For a maximum potential investment of $48 million, the 1.5 percent incentive would equal a payment of $144,000 in five annual payments for a total of $720,000.

"These are the kinds of towns that we're trying to encourage manufacturing. And it's manufacturing that we should never give up on in North Carolina," Gov. Pat McCrory said during Thursday's groundbreaking. "I never did and that's why we spent a long time recruiting an Asian company whose first USA investment will be in Mebane, N.C."

Orange County Commissioners chairman Barry Jacobs described Morinaga as a "family-owned company." The company was founded in 1899.

"They have a set of values that they will carry forth in everything they do," Jacobs said. "They're very interested in being part of a diverse communities, which is one of our chief strengths."

Durham Technical Community College will help with training the workers. The average salary will be a little less than $38,000 a year.

"Of course they're going to bring jobs and, not incidentally, investment. And I think by locating here, they're going to encourage other businesses to cluster around them and make this a more vibrant, light industrial area," Jacobs said.

Morinaga plans to invest $48 million into the operation over the next 3 years.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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