Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Local, State Officials Talk Values in Plant Expansion ; Mars: Expansion to Be on South Side of Building, Finish in 2017

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Local, State Officials Talk Values in Plant Expansion ; Mars: Expansion to Be on South Side of Building, Finish in 2017

Article excerpt

Money seemed almost a secondary concern when Topeka and Kansas officials talked about why they were pleased to see Mars' plans to expand its local plant.

The Joint Economic Development Organization approved up to $260,000 in incentives Tuesday night for a $100 million expansion of the plant. Mars estimates it will hire about 70 new employees, with an average starting salary of about $42,000.

Mayor Larry Wolgast and Gov. Sam Brownback, as well as others, talked about how well Mars fit into the area, based on shared values. They both referenced the fact that Mars is owned by a family and its "five principles" of quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom.

Wolgast said he appreciated that Mars hired local people when it opened in late 2013, and that the company and Topekans fit together well.

"It is the type of philosophy that I think Topekans and Kansans relate to -- the integrity and the work," he said. "There aren't many out there like this."

Brownback noted the Mars expansion would allow it to meet demand in the changing food market, which hopefully will lead to more expansion, but first he remarked on the compatibility of values between Kansas and Mars. Both are committed to family and hard work, he said.

"This fits you, and you fit us," he said.

County Commissioner Bob Archer noted that Mars said it was proud to be "Topekans" in one of the slides explaining its project. That was just one way it shows commitment to the area, he said.

"It's good to have a business that brings jobs and investment, but it's great to have a company that brings jobs, investment and commitment to the community," he said.

Site director Bret Spangler credited the Topeka Mars employees for the company's decision to invest in the local plant.

"It's the success of the people here in the white uniforms that have given the company the confidence to invest," he said. …

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