JOLIET – Joliet welcomed confectionery Mars Inc. to town earlier this month with a more than $1 million tax break.
City Manager Jim Hock said Monday that although the city hasn't been formally notified by Mars, he is confident speculating the candy giant is the company that operated under the name “Project Osprey” when requesting a property tax abatement in the beginning of October.
Mars plans to build a 1.4 million-square-foot distribution warehouse at the northeast corner of Baseline Road and CenterPoint Way in the Joliet portion of the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, according to city documents on the project.
The $132 million undertaking will employee nearly 700 full- and part-time workers at peak season, documents stated, with full-time employees averaging a wage of $15.28 and receiving health insurance and retirement benefits. Part-time workers also will get retirement assistance.
“It's certainly a significant number [of jobs],” Hock said, adding the development would contribute to the economic vitality of Will County and Illinois.
Mars will receive a 50 percent tax abatement estimated at $208,095 per year for five years – the highest tax break Joliet offers – after the City Council unanimously approved the resolution Oct. 6, according to Hock.
Documents indicate Mars also intends to seek abatements from the county and school districts Laraway 70C and Joliet Township High School 204.
If the company gets all desired tax breaks, it will generate $1.7 million annually in local property taxes, as opposed to the nearly $3 million it would generate without abatements.
CenterPoint will build and lease the 96-acre distribution center to Mars, according to documents, and Exel Logistics has been contracted to operate the warehouse.
Hock said the company chose Joliet for the development because of its central location to train lines and interstate roadways and its proximity to ancillary businesses.
“Everything they need is closer to them,” he said.
Hock said no project plans have been approved by the city and there is no estimated timeline for completion.
“It's still preliminary,” he said.
A Mars spokesman stated Saturday in an email to The Herald-News that the company uses third-party distribution services in Romeoville and Manteno, but will transition to Joliet in 2017.
Mars is one of several major companies to announce similar plans this year to come to Joliet. Both Amazon and Ikea intend to establish distribution centers in the city's Laraway Crossings Business Park at Route 53 and Laraway Road.
Representatives of CenterPoint Properties did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.