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Firm with China connection to locate a new artificial sweetener plant in Moberly

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 9, 2010 - Missouri's effort to woo more business from China may have paid off, with today's announcement that Mamtek International Ltd. will locate a sucralose-sweetener plane in Moberly, Mo., creating several hundred jobs.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon headlined the public officials and company executives who participated in the announcement in the auditorium of Moberly Area Community College.

Among those claiming partial credit is the Midwest U.S. China Association, a nonprofit, bipartisan organization currently chaired by former Gov. Bob Holden, a fellow Democrat.

The association said in a statement that it "played a key role to foster a new relationship between Mamtek International Ltd. and the city of Moberly."

That claim was backed up by David Kerr, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. "The close partnership between our department and the Midwest U.S.-China Association was instrumental in making this project a reality," he said.

Mamtek, described as "a multinational company with Chinese and American ownership and leadership," worked with the association to explore potential Midwestern sites before choosing Moberly. The Midwest attraction was a "strong workforce and business climate," said retired Lt. Col. Thomas Smith of Capital Business Development Associates, Mamtek’s site and government relations consultant.

According to the association, Mamtek will "place a state-of-the-art production plant in Moberly, a town of 14,000 people in Randolph County, Mo."

"Mamtek manufactures SweetO™ brand sucralose, a zero-calorie, zero-carbohydrate sweetener that can be used in a range of food and pharmaceutical products, from carbonated beverages to baked goods. The operation will produce 300,000+ kilos of sucralose and create 312 jobs during the next eighteen months, with an initial investment of $46 million into the local economy."

Nixon's office says the project will create more than 600 jobs.

To attract Mamtek, the governor's office said that "the state of Missouri awarded Mamtek $7.6 million in Missouri Quality Jobs Program tax credits and $6.8 million in Missouri BUILD program tax credits. The state also provided $2 million in Community Development Block Grant Industrial Infrastructure Program grant funds; $800,000 in funding for job training; and $368,000 for employment recruitment and referral services." 

"Additional funding is being provided by $37 million in bond sales initiated, structured and committed by the city of Moberly and $8 million from private investors. Moberly also has made grants and services available to Mamtek in excess of another $500,000," Nixon's office said.

Holden credited the involvement of nine Midwestern states. "The Midwest is unique because we have a regional association that is singularly focused on developing cooperative relationships with China," the former governor said.

"By working together as a region, we successfully compete in this global economy. I am delighted that we could play a leading role in this effort."

In a statement, Mamteck chief executive Bruce A. Cole praised Holden and the association. He added that "Mamtek has partnerships with two other large Chinese companies that are planning to locate in the US. Because of the support we received from Moberly, the state of Missouri, and MWCA, these companies will now seriously consider the Midwest."

The Midwest U.S.-China Association is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group originally founded in 2004 by former Illinois Sen. Adlai E. Stevenson III. 

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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