City, county and state officials joined Mars Chocolate North America in formally breaking ground on its new candy factory south of Topeka.

The event Tuesday was the first phase of the $250 million project that will create about 200 full-time jobs in northeast Kansas. It is the first new chocolate factory Mars has built in 35 years. The plant will produce M&Ms and Snickers candies.

Kansas and local officials pledged incentives to help land the Mars project. The 350,000-square-foot building will be constructed in the Kanza Fire Commerce Park near Topeka's Heartland Park motorsports facility and Forbes Field, a former Air Force base.

Mars officials say candy production should begin in 2013.

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