Haribo to open gummy bear plant in Wisconsin

Haribo to open gummy bear plant in Wisconsin

While the gummy bear maker’s American headquarters is located in Rosemont, Haribo has opted to build right over the border in Kenosha County, Wisc.

Haribo, a German candy manufacturer, has announced plans to build a $242 million plant in Wisconsin where it will produce gummy bears, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Haribo of America is headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., a 45-minute car ride from the site of the future plant in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. Crain’s reported that a Haribo spokesperson said the company considered Illinois before ultimately settling on Wisconsin.

Pleasant Prairie is nestled in Kenosha County, a popular destination for manufacturers for its close proximity to Chicago and lower cost of doing business. Crain’s reported the plant will be 500,000 square feet and Haribo plans to hire 400 workers. Though ground for the new plant has not been broken yet, Haribo of America hopes to start production by 2020.

“The decision to build a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin is of great importance for the Haribo Group,” Haribo Group Managing Partner Hans Guido Riegel said in a statement reported by Fox 6 Now.

Haribo of America was offered an unreleased tax incentives package from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, or WEDC. The value of the tax incentives package has not yet been disclosed to the public, and still has to be approved by a vote, according to Fox 6 Now.

The Pleasant Prairie facility will be the first plant Haribo builds in the United States. Worldwide, Haribo has 16 other plants located in Europe.

Haribo of America moved its original headquarters from Baltimore to Rosemont in 2015, but the company’s decision to build in Wisconsin, despite the fact that it already has its corporate headquarters in Illinois, is just further proof that the Land of Lincoln is no longer a preferred destination for manufacturers.

Haribo of America’s arrangement to keep its corporate headquarters in Illinois while moving its manufacturing to Wisconsin is a microcosm of a larger trend emerging in Illinois. While Illinois’ white-collar and service-industry sector has grown, blue-collar manufacturing jobs are vanishing. And the trend can be seen in the numbers.

From December 2015 to December 2016, Illinois created 28,400 jobs but lost 11,000 manufacturing jobs. The Prairie State has also been bad for union workers; Illinois lost 35,000 union members in 2016, while Indiana, which has statewide Right to Work, gained 21,000 in the same year.

While Haribo is set to receive taxpayer subsidies from the WEDC to build in Wisconsin, the Badger State’s overall economic policies make it more attractive for investing in blue-collar jobs. Illinois has the highest workers’ compensation costs in the region and some of the highest property taxes in the nation, neither of which makes it a favorable place to invest blue-collar jobs in. Wisconsin, like every other state bordering Illinois, also has Right to Work, which gives the state a competitive advantage over Illinois in attracting manufacturing jobs.

If Illinois lawmakers want more companies like Haribo to invest in blue-collar jobs in Illinois, they need to pass pro-growth reforms, not billions of dollars in tax hikes.

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