BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Chocolate company Fererro is making its North American debut with a new plant in Bloomington.
It will be the Ferrero Group’s third facility that processes chocolate, and its first outside of Europe.
The new facility is an expansion of Ferrero’s existing Bloomington manufacturing center and will produce chocolate for Crunch, 100Grand, Raisinets, and other Ferrero products for the North American market.
The $75M project will add 70,000 square feet to Ferrero’s current Beich Road footprint and add as many as 50 new jobs. The current facility is 226,000 square feet.
“(These) are high-paying, high-skill jobs; this is really food technology where manufacturing technology converge,” said Chief Business Officer and President of Ferrero North America Todd Siwak.
Siwak said the political leaders in Illinois and Bloomington are easy to get along with and provides them with a convenient location.
“Illinois is the bread-basket of America, if we look around us, we’re surrounded by corn and grains, our products use those ingredients,” Siwak said. “We’re centrally located geographically with great access to railways, highways; easy transport in and out.”
“We are so fortunate to have a global corporation like Ferrero breaking ground,” said Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe. “Their confidence in Bloomington can only strengthen our already vibrant business community.”
Ferrero currently employs nearly 1,400 people statewide in Illinois and is spending $300 million alone in the state. Mayor Mwilambwe and other local leaders celebrated another billion dollar company continuing its investment in Bloomington-Normal.
“It says to us that the city is one that is hospitable to businesses, but it also means that we have the workforce that can support a Ferrero and what they’re trying to do,” Mwilambwe said.
Mwilambwe said it now puts Bloomington on an international map and could attract further developments.
“I think it will have a ripple affect, now there will be people outside of Bloomington-Normal and now in the rest of the world who will see oh Bloomington, what is that about it must be a great place to do business,” Mwilambwe said.
U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis said it’s a testament of teamwork at all levels of government and a private-public collaboration.
“Locally, it’s really great news and I think that’s a real testament to the leadership we have here in the Bloomington-Normal area, but the rest of Illinois isn’t so lucky,” Davis said. “We should cheer it on today, but we should also put policies in place here in Illinois that encourage more Bloomington-Normals, encourage more expansions.”
Davis said it’s even more impressive this growth happened in the middle of a pandemic and encouraged others to learn to live with the virus.
“We should look at COVID as a risk-management issue because it’s never going to get to zero tolerance,” Davis said. “The virus is not going to go back into that test tube ever again; we’ve got to learn to live with it and that’s what Ferrero is doing right now, they’re making long-term investments right here because they ee the growth opportunities in Central Illinois.”
Construction on the facility is also expected to create 300 new construction jobs. Ferrero hopes to have people working and open the facility by 2023.