Orange County OKs Morinaga candy maker incentives

tgrubb@newsobserver.comOctober 18, 2013 

Masao Hoshino’s mango Hi-Chew. Hi-Chew is a fruit-flavored, chewable candy similar in many ways to Starburst.

COURTESY OF MASAO HOSHINO — COURTESY OF MASAO HOSHINO

  • Price of business

    Japanese candy maker Morinaga was lured with a package of local, regional and state incentives tied to jobs and investment goals:

    Morinaga

    • The company will invest $34 million to $48 million in land, buildings and equipment, and have a $3.4 million annual payroll by Jan. 31, 2018.

    • By 2018, Mebane wants to see 72 full-time jobs, while Orange County wants 90. The average salary would be $37,979, with health insurance.

    Orange County

    • The county would pay Morinaga an amount roughly equal to 75 percent of its property taxes for five years, starting in 2015, up to $1.5 million total.

    • The county will provide water and sewer lives, tapping a quarter-cent economic development sales tax and potentially a state Community Block Development Grant.

    Mebane

    • Mebane will annex the site and pay the company up to $720,000 over five years, based on property tax value.

    Other partners

    • Durham Tech’s Orange County campus will provide advanced technical training; the state will pay for some workers to train at the company’s Japanese factory.

    • The N.C. Department of Transportation will extend Ben Wilson Road to the site; a future I-85/40 interchange is possible.

    • Progress Energy and Duke Power will pay to extend gas and electric service to the factory.

    • One North Carolina Fund will provide a $264,000 state grant.

— The Orange County Board of Commissioners signed off on an incentives package Tuesday for the Japanese candy company Morinaga.

The county courted Morinaga for roughly 18 months, working with Mebane, Duke Energy, PSNC Energy and state agencies to craft the deal.

If Morinaga meets job creation and investment goals, it could receive a payment over five years of up to $1.5 million from Orange County and $720,000 from Mebane. The package also includes utilities infrastructure, a road extension and worker training from Durham Tech’s Orange County campus.

Masao Hoshino, Morinaga America’s chief executive officer, said the company’s first U.S. factory will make Hi-Chew – a chewable, fruit candy similar to Starburst. U.S. sales have grown since 2008, Hoshino has said.

Construction on the 98,000-square-foot factory, fronting Interstates 85-40 opposite the Tanger Outlets in Mebane, could start in March and production by mid-2015.

“We look forward to working with 90 people or more and delivering Hi-Chew to people in the United States. In the future, we will go to South America and Europe, from here in Orange County,” Hoshino said. “Finally, we sincerely hope that we will be accepted and recognized as citizens and contributors to the community for many years to come.”

Commissioner Penny Rich and Chairman Barry Jacobs pointed out the deal, in part, is a benefit of the public’s 2011 investment in a quarter-cent sales tax for economic development. The company will be the first to build in the county’s Buckhorn Economic Development District.

“We have just started as a county to embark on the course of providing incentives to companies that either locate here or stay here,” Jacobs said. “This has been a very collaborative process, and we feel this will be a fruitful process for everyone concerned.”

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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