A big dog food plant was announced for Fort Smith today. The news release is on the jump. It doesn't mention incentives offered to land this plant, but it's a rare day when Arkansas doesn't pass out some dough. The plant will employ 200 "associates."
Coincidentally, a report is coming today from Good Jobs First, which seeks accountability by states in business dealings, particularly transparency on procurement contracts, lobbyist disclosure and disclosure of economic development subsidies (corporate welfare). Though the report hasn't been released yet, an announcement of the news conference says Arkansas -- surprise! -- ranks poorly in lobbyist disclosure and disclosure of corporate welfare. My column this week will mention this very fact -- there are no reliable, thorough reports available to the public on the full cost and estimated benefits of the handouts we give to manufacturers, whether of dog food, concrete pipe or windmill blades, to name a few cutting edge industries our generous state has landed recently.
FORT SMITH, Arkansas (November 13, 2007) – Mars Petcare U.S. today announced its plans to build an $80 million manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The 250,000 square foot facility will employ up to 200 associates and produce the company’s popular line of Cesar® Canine Cuisine products for small dogs.
“Fort Smith is a great community for our new facility, offering the perfect business combination of a talented workforce, Greenfield location and favorable logistics,” said Doug Cahill, president of Mars Petcare U.S. “Our Cesar® brand of Canine gourmet Cuisine has been growing rapidly and in order to meet market demand, we have decided to build this new manufacturing plant, increasing our capacity in the U.S.”
Mars Petcare broke ground today at the plant site and plans to begin production by April 2009. The manufacturing facility will be state-of- the-art and when fully operational, will double Cesar® production.
“This announcement brings new industry and opportunity to Arkansas while helping redevelop Fort Chaffee,” Governor Beebe said. “We’re glad Mars Petcare found a good fit in Fort Smith, and look forward to working with the company as it continues to expand.”
“We are extremely proud, grateful and excited that Mars Petcare has decided to join the family of nationally known and respected companies that make Fort Smith their home,” said Fort Smith Mayor Ray Baker. “Their decision also reflects Fort Smith's efforts to improve the economic opportunities in our region. On behalf of the Board of City Directors and City Administration, we welcome Mars Petcare and know that their presence will be another reason that ‘Life is Worth Living in Fort Smith, Arkansas.’"
The Fort Smith facility will provide Mars Petcare US a great opportunity to focus on energy conservation and minimizing waste discharge.
“Today’s announcement simply would not be possible without the support and leadership of Governor Beebe and Mayor Baker. We are excited about our future in Fort Smith and look forward to becoming an active member of the community and contributor to the Fort Smith economy,” said Cahill.
About Mars Petcare US
Mars Petcare U.S. is the U.S. pet care operations of Mars, Incorporated, one of the world’s leading food manufacturers. Headquartered in Franklin, TN, Mars Petcare U.S. employs more than 3,000 associates in the United States, with 29 facilities nationwide and owns some of the world’s favorite pet care brands, including PEDIGREE® Brand Food for Dogs, CESAR® Canine Cuisine, WHISKAS® Brand Food for Cats, SHEBA® Brand Food for Cats and The GOODLIFE Recipe™ Brand. In addition, Mars, Incorporated owns the portfolio of brands produced by ROYAL CANIN USA Inc., NUTRO Products, Inc. and GREENIES®.