Victoria Mars, from the Mars family; Todd Lachman, president of Mars Chocolate Latin America and North America and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback break ground for the new Mars Chocolate North America plant slated for Topeka, Kan.

The residents of Topeka, Kansas are discovering there is life on Mars, or at least, with Mars.

Mars Chocolate North America broke ground in the city Tuesday for a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The event marked the launch of the first phase of a $250-million project, which Mars hopes will lead to 200 full-time jobs.

The 350,000-sq.-ft. facility is the first Mars Chocolate plant built in the United States in 35 years.

“This new site represents Mars’ commitment to manufacturing in the United States for the U.S. market,” says Todd Lachman. “We are proud to create jobs in America’s heartland and are honored to partner with the Topeka community for years to come.”

More than 400 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony including Todd Lachman, president of Mars Chocolate Latin America and North America; Victoria Mars, from the Mars family; and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

“The opportunities afforded through this state-of-the-art facility mean new jobs and ongoing economic growth,” Brownback says. “This is a boon for Topeka and the state of Kansas and we look forward to building a sweet future with Mars.”

The new facility will be built to meet leading-edge environmental standards, and will pursue a LEED Gold Certified designation upon completion, demonstrating Mars’ commitment to sustainability.

“This groundbreaking represents the beginning of exceptional economic opportunities for the residents of Topeka and Shawnee County,” says Doug Kinsinger, president and ceo of GO Topeka and the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to include Mars among the list of employers who have made their home here and look forward to the progress to come.”

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