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Mars Petcare opens first innovation center in the US


Mars Petcare has opened a state-of-the-art, Gold-LEED certified $110 million global innovation center in Thompson's Station, Tennessee. The new campus is the third Mars Petcare innovation center and first in the United States.

The company selected the location in Thompson's Station in part because Tennessee is home to Mars facilities in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Lebanon and Franklin (two locations).

Much of the activity at the center will be focused on caring for pets — up to 180 dogs and 120 cats when fully staffed — many of which will be adopted from area shelters and rescues, according to the company. The company added that each pet will be treated like a member of the family, regularly receiving grooming services, veterinary care, training and exercise in accordance with the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in the United Kingdom. Mars also said that the campus includes “plenty of outdoor space designed for pets to relax and play with caretakers and their other furry friends who call the campus home.”

"Everything about this campus is dedicated to helping pets live longer and happier lives," said Larry Allgaier, president of Mars Petcare North America. "Mars has been doing business in Tennessee for the past 35 years, employing nearly 1,700 associates across our Petcare, Chocolate and Wrigley business segments. Our $110 million Global Innovation Center marks the sixth Mars site in Tennessee and will employ more than 140 associates."

Mars Petcare broke ground on the center in May 2012. The campus features four distinct buildings, each serving a specific purpose in the life-cycle of pet food innovation for Mars Petcare:

  • The 39,904-sq.-ft. quality and innovation center houses research and development associates working in an office setting, in addition to a state-of-the-art microbiological and analytical laboratory.

  • New technologies and products will be developed and produced on a small scale at the 56,589-sq.-ft. product development center before full-scale production is implemented throughout the company's manufacturing network.

  • The 28,461-sq.-ft. pet feeding center is where the pets will live. It has circular kennels where dogs will live in pairs, as well as indoor/outdoor play areas for resident dogs and cats.

  • The 10,302-sq.-ft. learning center features an interactive learning environment and Mars history museum for guests. The center also includes space for focus groups, a conference center, workout room and break areas for associates.

Mars Petcare also donated $100,000 to build the town's first public dog park. The company worked closely with the town and Outdoor Encounter to design the four-acre park, which includes separate spaces for large and small dogs, sensory trails and bone-shaped benches. More than 90 Mars employees volunteered 800 hours to ensure the park could open by Oct. 1.

"We want to thank Mars Petcare for creating these high quality jobs and continuing its investment in Tennessee," said Gov. Bill Haslam. "Our state offers many advantages to both new companies and existing industries including a favorable geographic location, advanced transportation and logistics infrastructure, and a skilled workforce. Mars Petcare opening its first North American global innovation center in Thompson's Station is a significant step in the company's 35-year history with the state."

The company already has one innovation center each in Verden, Germany, and Aimargues, France.

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