BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Ferrero North America for broke ground on its new Kinder Bueno facility on Wednesday and local leaders are already looking forward to its positive impact on the twin cities’ economy.

The $214 million investment by the candy company into the Kinder Bueno production facility is expected to add 200 new jobs to Ferrero’s existing manufacturing industry in Bloomington.

“This investment will fuel our momentum in North American, a strategic growth area for Ferrero. Enhancing our manufacturing capabilities in the market is key to driving our innovation agenda and advancing Ferrero’s goal of becoming a world leader in snacks and confectionary,” said Alanna Cotton, President and Chief Business Officer of Ferrero North America. “We’re grateful for the strong partnerships we have with the state and local leaders here, and proud that our expansion is part of Bloomington’s amazing success story.

“Bloomington is an amazing location, full of amazing people; so a strong workforce, amazing manufacturing history and centrally located in Illinois,” Cotton said.

Once complete, this will be the first time Kinder Bueno will be produced in North America. Cotton said the sweet treat is growing in popularity.

“Since we launched Kinder Bueno on the market in 2019, Ferrero has made Kinder Bueno the #7 brand category, growing at 26% last year,” Cotton said.

State and local leaders including Gov. JB Pritzker, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) director Sylvia Garcia joined Ferrero executives in Wednesday’s celebration.

“Central Illinois sits in the heart of our nation, so it’s only fitting that it serves as the heart of Ferrero’s North American operations: CRUNCH, 100 Grand, Raisinets, and now Kinder Bueno, all made right here,” said Pritzker. “This expansion is a testament to Illinois’ quality workforce and reputation on the global stage, and especially the quality workforce right here in Central Illinois. I want to thank the entire Ferrero team for their partnership. Here’s to years of success for Ferrero and economic prosperity for the entire Bloomington-Normal metro area.”

Ferrero launched Kinder Bueno in the global market in 2019. This new facility will mark the first time Kinder products will be made in North America.

“Ferrero’s expansion here shows why Illinois is the hub of America’s food and confections industry. Our incredible workers and world-class infrastructure are fueling innovation and growth,” said Sen. Durbin. “We thank Ferrero for making our state their chocolate manufacturing home in America.

The 169,000 square foot expansion is expected to be complete in 2024.

Ferrero already employs nearly 1,400 full-time workers in Illinois, generating nearly $300 million in output just from their Illinois locations.

“This groundbreaking is a logical step in what has been a series of transformational investments by Ferrero in our community,” said Mwilambwe. “Beyond providing jobs, Ferrero has been a wonderful community partner, supporting community events and organizations. We look forward to a prosperous future together.”

More than 250 new jobs will be added to Ferrero once construction on the chocolate processing facility and the Kinder Bueno factory are complete. Ferrero will hire 200 new employees alone at the Kinder Bueno facility.

CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council Patrick Hoban said that kind of investment ripples through the area’s economy.

The construction jobs are huge because those are dollars that ripple back through our economy. It’s also the indirect jobs so anything from the suppliers, but also the induced jobs; so from the construction workers, from the people that work at the plant themselves, going out in the economy eating in our restaurants, that ripple effect goes straight through,” Hoban said.

Hoban said the focus now shifts to keeping employees at growing companies like Ferrero and Rivian in McLean County and not living elsewhere.

“According to the (housing) study, we need 4,000 houses and that was based off of 2020 data when Rivian was only at 1,000 ; so now Rivian is at close to about 6,700 employees, add 250 here, you could almost double that,” Hoban said.

Ferrero also plans to open an Innovation Center in Chicago in 2023.

The chocolate processing facility is set to open in 2023 and the Kinder Bueno factory is expected open sometime in 2024.