Local food manufacturer planning $32M expansion, 60 new jobs

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Heartland Food Products Group plans to spend $32 million to update its manufacturing and distribution facilities in Marion County—a project that could help it retain 732 local employees and add another 60 workers over the next three years.

The Carmel-based company—the maker of Splenda, Java House Cold Brew Coffee and other products—is seeking a personal-property tax abatement from the city of Indianapolis that would save it almost $1.8 million over the next 10 years.

Heartland has 310,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 468,000 square feet of distribution space in facilities at 4635 W. 84th St. and 4925 W. 86th St. on the city’s northwest side, according to a report from the Department of Metropolitan Development.

Company officials told Department of Metropolitan Development staff that it needs to expand production capacity to keep up with demand for its products but is out of room to grow physically at its current location. However, the company said it could boost the efficiency of its operations at the existing sites by investing $32 million in new production and logistics equipment.

Heartland said the project would allow it to keep 732 employees making an average wage of $19.19 per hour and add sixty jobs that pay an average of $17.48 per hour by 2021.

DMD staff are recommending a 10-year tax abatement to help offset the costs of Heartland’s investment. The company would save about 50 percent, or $1.78 million, on its personnel property taxes over abatement period while still paying nearly that amount in taxes on the new equipment.

The DMD estimates Heartland would pay nearly $250,000 in taxes annually on the new equipment after the abatement period ends.

The staff said Heartland has received previous tax breaks and has “consistently exceeded the commitments made in association with those projects.”

The Metropolitan Development Commission will hear the abatement request Wednesday afternoon.

Heartland, which distributes food products globally, has corporate offices in Carmel and additional offices in Horsham, Pennsylvania; Bentonville, Arkansas; Amsterdam; Mexico City; and Bogota, Colombia.  It has additional manufacturing facilities in Mexico and Amsterdam.

The company has about 1,200 employees worldwide.

Heartland won an important intellectual property case at the U.S. Supreme Court last year involving patent infringement lawsuits.

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