Beyond hosting its first U.S. manufacturing plant, Kenosha County could also be the place where international candy giant Haribo opens its first U.S. store.
That was among the possibilities that Wes Saber, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Haribo of America, discussed Thursday during a Milwaukee Business Journal Power Breakfast event at The Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee attended by more than 400 Milwaukee-area business and community leaders.
Haribo of America in December opened the new candy-making plant it built in Pleasant Prairie, and has hired 187 people there already, Saber said. While it’s manufacturing operation is a big deal that could lead to about 2 million square feet of manufacturing and warehousing space in Wisconsin, there’s also a lot of interest in whether the plant will have a spot for tourists to visit.
Saber said planning is underway now for that kind of public-facing destination, including a retail store to sell Haribo candies and other merchandise. Haribo has about 75 stores outside of the U.S. in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Germany and Italy, Saber said.
“We’re trying to bring that here to the U.S., and of course Wisconsin would be at the top of that list,” he said during a Q&A with Milwaukee Business Journal editor-in-chief Mark Kass.
The concept echoes the now shuttered visitor center that Jelly Belly operated in a warehouse in Kenosha County that drew thousands annually.
A retail store and visitor center are both possibilities for the Haribo Pleasant Prairie plant, Saber said. The visitor center would be another attraction for the region, but its details are currently being worked out about what it would offer, Saber said. There could also be a park or other green space for gathering.
Not only the construction design of it, but as well the experience of it with the branding,” Saber said.
Saber said there won’t be any tours through the manufacturing floor itself for safety purposes.
Read more at the Milwaukee Business Journal.