Orange County CDBG-ED Benefiting Morinaga America Foods, Inc.
Morinaga & Company was founded 114 years ago in 1899 in Tokyo, Japan. It is a major international confectionery and candy maker. With 1.75 billion in global sales revenue, the firm is Asia’s equivalent to a Hershey’s, Mars or Nestle and has over 40 different product lines. The company has over 1500 employees worldwide. The candy is currently manufactured in Singapore and distributed in the U.S. through distribution channels operated out of Irvine, California and Fort Lee, NJ. Morinaga is aggressively marketing its well-known product “Hi-Chew” across the United States with store displays in Target, COSTCO, 7 Eleven, Kroger and World Markets. In furtherance of that objective, the company has established Morinaga America Foods, Inc. Morinaga commenced an exhaustive search for the best site that began in early 2012. North Carolina figured prominently in the search with 18 total sites identified in 12 counties. Morinaga executives visited Orange County several times and considered the incentive package that was offered. The decision to locate a manufacturing plant in Mebane in Orange County was made in September of 2012. This economic development project is important for Orange County and for food manufacturing in the region and state.
Since the project is significant for economic development, job creation, and contributes to an increased tax base, the County committed to providing critical infrastructure improvements that would allow Morinaga America Foods, Inc. to build and staff a U.S. production facility in the Wilson Road Industrial Park. The improvements consist of a roadway design that would create access along Ben Wilson Road. It would also include 3,700 linear feet of 12-inch water line and 1,500 linear feet of 8 to 10 inch sewer line that would be constructed to the site and finally, survey work, and an environmental assessment. An engineering firm completed the engineering, design work and construction phase engineering services for the project. WR-Martin completed a successful funding application for $750,000 of the critical site improvements to be covered under the Community Development Block Grant – Economic Development program. Orange County contributed the match of $250,000 to complete the total project cost of $1,000,000. After receiving funding, WR-Martin was also selected to do the grant administration for this project and manages all grant related activities for Orange County. The project is expected to close out by June 2016.
Morinaga has committed to creating 90 jobs during the first three years of operation. The 21 acre site is large enough to accommodate expansions that will add even more positions to the workforce in the future. This new development is expected to act as a catalyst within the Buckhorn Economic Development District and Orange County’s industrial community. The planned capital investment is $34 to $48 million over five years. 90-120 jobs will be created with an average salary of $37,969. The facility will consist of 98,000 square feet on a 21-acre site. They will begin by producing the fruit flavored snack “Hi- Chew.”