A Skittles factory helped shape a small-town economy and shows how US cities are attracting big companies
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This Skittles factory helped shape the economy of a small town.
Abby Tang: We are at my childhood home in Yorkville, IL. Yorkville has a Super Target, a lot of diners, corn fields, and not much else except for the Wrigley Factory. Other than the distinctly fruity smell that you get sometimes driving up and down route 47, you don't really know it's there. But the factory's actually really important to Yorkville's economy.That fruity smell is no joke.
Gary Glinski, Mayor of Yorkville: When you drive past, you get to smell the scent of whatever gum they're making.
Tang: And neither are the tax benefits a 19,000 person town gets buy building a giant candy factory.
Michah Bosley, Value Stream Manager, Mars Inc.: We built a $50 million factory so our tax base goes up, which helps the local community. You're adding money to that tax base to help support the local schools and local government and whatnot.
Tang: The original factory was actually built in 1995 to make gum, but Micah's talking about the Skittles addition put on in 2016. The 150,000-square-foot add-on brought 75 new jobs to the facility.
Today, the factory employs 425 people, who make millions of packages of candy and gum a year.Bosley:So we make Doublemint, Spearmint, Juicy Fruit, Winterfresh, Freedent, Lifesavers, Altoids and Skittles.
Tang:Each of those new jobs pay between $56,000 and $137,000 per year. And while Yorkville doesn't see any of that income tax directly, those 75 new employees and their salaries have purchasing power.
Seventy-five new people in New York might be a drop in the bucket, but 75 new people in Yorkville actually makes a difference. Each time a factory worker grabs lunch at Sunfield's a couple percentage points of sales tax from his cinnamon french toast does go back into the city.
But to see a more direct impact, let's look at property taxes. The factory pays between $100,000 and $200,000 in property tax per year just for being there, and that money is split between various government bodies.
But the parent company, Mars, got some pretty sweet tax breaks for building its Skittles factory in Yorkville.
The company will only pay half the property tax for three or four more years. Tax incentives like this one are how cities attract companies, and the jobs that come with them.
So all these entities won't get their full share of tax revenue until 2019 at the earliest. And yes, money's important and all, but I don't remember caring about property taxes when I was a kid.
Bosley: We've donated gum to the local schools so that when the kids take the test they can, they can focus better and do better on testing.Tang: Because what's the point of having a candy factory in your town if you're not gonna get any free candy?
Bosley: They donate tons of candy for our fourth of July parade and our trick or treating around Halloween."
Tang: A little kid dressed as Wonder Woman doesn't care that her treat was made right around the corner from her house, but I do! I don't think it's a coincidence that America's best selling, non-chocolate candy and I come from the same place.
Bosley: We are the Skittles capital of the Midwest. I mean, every time I see someone eating Skittles I walk up to them no matter where I'm at. I'm going hey, you know, those are made in Yorkville.