Courtesy Mars

Mars Invades Kansas

Candy maker brings 200 jobs to Topeka.

1By the end of 2013 M&M’s and Snickers are expected to be rolling off assembly lines in Topeka, Kan., at the first Mars Chocolate factory in the U.S. in 35 years.

The 100-year-old, McLean, Va.–based company broke ground on the $250 million plant in August. Its first phase will employ 200.

“We are proud to create jobs in America’s heartland,” says Todd Lachman, president of Mars Chocolate for North and Latin America, in the announcement.

Economic development officials calculate that the plant could generate as many as 974 jobs with payrolls greater than $584 million in 10 years, counting jobs created by the plant’s construction and as support for the plant after it opens.

“This is a boon for Topeka and the state of Kansas, and we look forward to building a sweet future with Mars,” says Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

Bringing in the Marines

The Marines form the core for new Federal City.

2In 2005 the U.S. Navy was scheduled to move out of New Orleans’ Algiers area, ending a 110-year military tradition and promising a serious economic blow to the area. Instead, government officials partnered with private enterprises to replace the Navy with the Marines and cobble together a 15-year plan that will make the military base a hub for both military and civilian commerce and employment.

The headquarters for the 1,100-strong U.S. Marine Forces Reserve moved in over the summer after Naval Support Activity New Orleans moved out. But the Reserve’s $166 million new headquarters is only one piece of a redevelopment plan expected to bring in private retail and offices and, eventually, 1,400 homes for both military personnel and the general public.

The renamed Federal City is expected to create 10,000 civil and military jobs in Algiers.

Ready When Able

An investor gains entitlements for North Atlanta development.

3Dawson County, Ga., well north of Atlanta’s perimeter beltway, has granted Forestar Group the right to build 1,591 single-family homes, 954 attached homes, and 133,000 square feet of commercial development. Only 300 residential lots were originally allowed on the 1,068 acres.

Groundbreaking on Villages of Burt Creek won’t happen anytime soon. “No start date has been discussed due to the economy,” minutes from the Dawson County voting session on the matter say. Forestar owns about 165,000 acres in a broad area around Atlanta.

Tech Boomlet

Downtown Albany sees a surge in tech business.

4Several technology-focused businesses have moved in or expanded in downtown Albany, N.Y. Microsoft has invested $1 million to expand its offices in Albany, tripling its workforce to 20 as it moved into the new space, says the Albany Business Improvement District.

QED National, which delivers flexible information technology staffing and systems to large institutions and government, moved in on North Pearl Street. And WhoSay, a Web service that helps link celebrities and athletes to their fans, opened an office at 418 Broadway.

Big Dig West

Courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation

A tunnel beneath Seattle gains approval.

5After more than a decade of debates, Seattle’s voters and the Federal Highway Administration approved construction of a $2 billion, 1.7-mile, 56-feet-wide tunnel that will run below downtown and behind a sea wall that holds back Puget Sound.

The tunnel would replace part of Seattle’s ailing double-decker Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Opponents argued the project is likely to go over budget, worried about earthquake resistance, and said it would keep residents from public transportation.

The naysayers beaten, the project is planned to start soon and be finished by 2015.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Seattle, WA, New Orleans, LA, Atlanta, GA, Olympia, WA.