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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County Hi-Chew candy factory to break ground

Earlier this month, the Orange County Economic Development Department finalized the purchase of a 21-acre site in Mebane for a “Hi-Chew” candy production facility with the name Morinaga America Foods, Inc .

Construction on the 100,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin this month. Steve Brantley, director of the county’s Economic Development Department, said the facility’s water and sewer line extensions are already being installed .

The site currently has no infrastructure. The factory will be located off of Interstate 40, near the Tanger Outlets shopping center in Mebane, and its logo will be visible from the highway.

The parent company, Morinaga & Co, Ltd., is Japan’s largest candy and confectionery firm . The company’s Orange County factory is expected to begin operations by June 2015.

The county will spend $1 million on the construction, but is pursuing a Community Development Block Grant from the state to cover 75 percent of the costs.

The facility will bring 90 jobs to Orange County over the next three years .

Orange County is also giving the company more than $400,000 worth of other incentives. These include performance grants, NCDOT road access , and assistance and technical training of new employees at the Hillsborough campus of Durham Technical Community College .

The county will use the property tax revenues from the Morinaga factory to pay for the development incentives.

Masao Hoshino, CEO of Morinaga’s United States offices , said Orange County’s overall business environment, with convenient inlaid transport and access to raw materials, made it a good location for the new facility and that the incentives encouraged and supported their decision.

“We look forward to working with people in North Carolina and delivering our products to the people in the United States from Orange County,” he said in an email. “We hope to contribute to the community for many years to come.”

The Board of Orange County Commissioners is happy to have the sale settled and looks forward to the partnership.

Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier said she hopes the facility will bring much-needed nonresidential tax revenue to the county, as well as attract other commercial enterprises to the area in the long term.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic about it,” she said . “We were expecting this, but having it actually be finalized — well, now we know it’s for real.”

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