Haribo picked Wisconsin over 7 Illinois sites, including Motorola, Sears campuses

Construction on Pleasant Prairie facility to begin in spring 2019

Wes Saber, Haribo of America chief financial officer.
Wes Saber, Haribo of America chief financial officer.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm

When German gummy bear maker Haribo selected Pleasant Prairie for its first production operation in the United States, the company chose the site over seven locations in Illinois and one other option in Kenosha County, according to documents filed with the state.

Wes Sabber, Haribo of America chief financial officer, at the MMAC all-member meeting.

Haribo began looking at sites more than two years ago and reviewed more than 100 possibilities in the Upper Midwest before deciding on a location. Other options for Haribo’s operations included a lot on the Motorola campus in Schaumburg, three options in Hoffman Estates, two options in Kane County and one in DuPage County. The top Illinois site considered was on the Sears Holding Corp. campus in Hoffman Estates.

The Pleasant Prairie site was ultimately selected “due to a number of economic factors,” according to the documents.

Wisconsin is offering Haribo $21 million in enterprise zone tax credits to support the project. An enterprise zone was possible for only one of the Illinois sites, according to the documents.

The company plans to build a $242 million production facility in what’s known as the Prairie Highlands Corporate Park. Haribo will take up much of the northern portion of the park just south of Highway C and immediately west of Interstate 94. Aurora Healthcare has also announced plans for a surgery center and physician office building at the site.

The site of the Haribo plant was once destined to be a campus for Abbott Labs, but that project never moved forward. The village bought the land from Abbott in early 2017 and agreed in December to sell 136 acres to Haribo for $20.7 million.

According to the site selection documents, Haribo was contemplating buying 100 acres when it chose the Pleasant Prairie site and expected to pay about $10 million. At $100,000 per acre, the company’s estimates made the site the most affordable. The Illinois sites ranged from $141,000 per acre for a 70-acre site at Lakewood Boulevard and Eagle Way in Hoffman Estates to $653,000 per acre for a 63-acre site in DuPage County.

The factors Haribo considered in its site selection included visibility from and proximity to the interstate, whether the site was a greenfield opportunity, utility costs, proximity to O’Hare airport, workforce and skilled workers, quality of life, including crime rate and whether the site was shovel ready.

The Pleasant Prairie site ranked well for its interstate location and quality of life, but it was outranked by the Illinois sites for availability of workforce.

Haribo says it needs to establish production in the U.S. to reduce shipping time, provide flexibility to address changing customer tastes and allow for the integration of production and administrative staff. A U.S. facility will help eliminate the nearly three months it takes for Haribo products to reach U.S. stores currently, maximizing the products’ 18-month shelf life, the documents say.

The company plans to begin construction on its campus in the spring of 2019. Three additional phases are planned over the next decade. Initial employment for the first phase would be around 450 with employment growing to 1,650 at full buildout.

Plans call for a three-story production facility with a 131,835-square-foot footprint and a 272,000-square-foot warehouse. The campus would also include a boiler house and administrative/cafeteria facility. An area dubbed Haribo Park would include a retail shop, fitness area, kindergarten and museum, according to the documents.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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