GOOSE ISLAND — Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed Mars Food to its new headquarters on Goose Island Thursday.
Mars Food is actually one of the smaller subsidiaries under the Mars corporate umbrella, with Uncle Ben's rice its most popular brand, but it's the third to open headquarters in Chicago and the fourth Mars office on Goose island.
The 20,000-square-foot Mars Food office building at 1131 W. Blackhawk St. will accommodate 75 employees, including management. It is across the street from the Wrigley Global Innovation Center that commands the so-called turnaround basin at the north end of Goose Island, just south of North Avenue.
Mars Inc. also owns Mars Chocolate and Wrigley chewing gum, which combined last year as Mars Wrigley Confectionary. The larger company boasts 1,200 employees in Chicago and 2,000 in Illinois overall.
Both Mars Food Regional President Jarek Swigulski and Marketing Vice President Dan Jackson touted Mars' long-running ties with Chicago.
"Chicago and Mars have a long history together," Swigulski said. He added that the move from Los Angeles brings Mars Food "closer to our customers."
"Obviously, Wrigley started in Chicago," added John Mars, one of the company owners.
Emanuel cheered the company's move.
"Mars is a great corporate partner, and its international reach and importance are a testament to Chicago’s position at the forefront of the global food industry,” he said. “The entire city of Chicago welcomes Mars Food and looks forward to watching them continue to grow and thrive for years to come."
Much of what Emanuel said in welcoming Mars Food, however, sounded like a pitch for the new Amazon headquarters he's courting for the city. Emanuel said Chicago has led the nation's major cities five years running in corporate relocations, based on its talent pool with 39 percent of the population college graduates, its major universities and its position as a transportation hub with O'Hare International Airport.
While one of the smaller Mars subsidiaries, Mars Food is growing, having recently moved to buy Preferred Brands International and its India-based Asian food line Tasty Bites.