NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) - Celebration Foods, which makes the Carvel ice cream cakes sold in grocery stores across the country, announced Wednesday it is building a new manufacturing facility and headquarters in New Britain.
The 120,000-square-foot building is part of a major expansion effort. The new space will allow Celebration Foods, now based in Rocky Hill, to begin making new products, including ''indulgent desserts,'' such as high-end chocolate and cheese cakes, said Tim Shanley, vice president of manufacturing and research and development.
The company, which sells frozen dessert products in supermarkets, super centers and warehouse club stores in 43 states, currently has manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts, Maryland and California.
Shanley said Celebration Foods will move its 40 employees from Rocky Hill to the New Britain facility, which will be built on the site of a former ball bearing factory. It will also hire about 225 workers over the next few years. Ground is expected to be broken next week on the plant, which is scheduled to open in March 2008.
''That's good news for New Britain. It's good news for all of us,'' said Gov. M. Jodi Rell during a ceremony at the site. Centerplan Development is buying the property from the city and will build the $16 million facility.
Celebration Foods is a division of FOCUS Brands Inc., which oversees the 1,750 Carvel ice cream store franchises as well as Cinnabon and Schlotzsky's deli franchises.
Shanley said his company began planning two years ago for the new manufacturing facility. He said numerous other states were interested in hosting the plant, but the state of Connecticut and the city of New Britain helped to seal the deal. He said despite the state's poor reputation for being business-friendly, officials made it clear they wanted the company to stay in Connecticut.
''That is something we didn't see from other states,'' Shanley said.
The state, which helped pay for much of the cleanup of the old factory site, is providing a $2.6 million low-interest loan for the Celebration Foods project, up to $2 million in Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment Tax Credits and local property tax exemptions through the state's Enterprise Zone program.
Tom Carvel began selling ice cream from the back of his truck in 1929 in New York. He eventually brought the company to Connecticut after opening a store in Glastonbury. The company became famous for its soft serve cones and whale-shaped cake named Fudgie.
Carvel began placing its own branded freezers in 4,500 supermarkets in 1998 and relocated its supermarket headquarters to Rocky Hill in 2002.