SOMERSET, NJ – There’s at least one company that’s sweet on Franklin Township.

Representatives from Ferrero USA – the makers of Tic Tac and Nutella – and the Somerset County Business Partnership thanked the Township Council last night for helping the company expand operations and add jobs at their Cottontail Lane industrial facility.

Township officials said the opening of the expanded facility was an example of Franklin’s business-friendly attitude.

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“I think the word is now out that Franklin is open for business,” said Mike Kerwin, president of the Somerset County Business Partnership.

The $9 million expansion was announced last year following the successful U.S. debut of Kinder Joy, a candy not previously available in North America. Since 2016, Ferrero spent $12 million preparing the facility for the candy’s launch. Following its initial success, the company needed to increase its production in Franklin. Faced with a short deadline, Ferrero would have to move production out of the country if it couldn’t expand in time.

The company worked with the Somerset County Business Partnership and township officials to work out a plan that would allow Ferrero to meet its deadlines and keep making sweets in town.

“We were not looking to cut corners,” Kerwin said. “We were looking to utilize the resources in Franklin Township that would expedite the approval process to meet the deadline that Ferrero had.”

With the new expansion, the facility totals nearly 70,000 square feet of packaging and warehouse space. As a result of its growth, Ferrero added about 20 full-time and 200 part-time employees.

If all this happened a few years earlier, Ferrero may have had to leave town.

Mayor Phillip Kramer said that the Township had previously struggled with a bad reputation for economic development. Realizing this, the township set up an economic development committee and worked to change the narrative that Franklin was bad for business.

“We put a lot of development and time in changing not just the perception but also the reality of what was going on so we could make this kind of a thing possible,” he said.

As a byproduct of the uptick in development, Deputy Mayor James Vassanella expressed concerns about possible negative impacts on traffic and safety for township residents.

“We need to take into account safety as the primary concern with anything having to do with economic development,” Vassanella said. “I’m not suggesting we don’t, I’m suggesting we need to now more than ever going forward.”

He was particularly concerned about the Hamilton Street area, one of the Township’s most densely populated communities, home to the majority of traffic accidents.

“We will work to keep a balance of our economic development goals and the long-term safety of Franklin residents,” he said.