Mars to build candy plant in Topeka

Mars, which makes products such as M&M's and Snickers, announced today that it will build a manufacturing plant in Topeka.

The company said the facility will be the first Mars Chocolate site built in the United States in 35 years.

"The site will be a reflection of our commitment to manufacture our products in the markets where we sell them," Mark Wittman, Mars Chocolate North America's vice president for supply, said in a news release. "Mars looks forward to becoming an important part of the Topeka community."

The first phase of the plant, which will be built in the Kanza Fire Commerce Park, is planned to be complete in 2013. Mars said it expects to make a capital investment of more than $250 million in the first phase of the project.

The company said it expects to hire approximately 200 full-time employees during the initial phase.

"This will be the most significant economic development for Topeka and Shawnee County in many years," said Steve Jenkins, senior vice president of the GO Topeka Economic Partnership. "The positive economic impact for the community will endure for decades."