Mars Petcare expanded its Tennessee footprint today with the opening of the Global Innovation Center, a facility designed for the research and development of dry food for cats and dogs.
The eco-friendly research facility is the company’s first in the United States and third overall. The other Global Innovation Centers are in Verden, Germany, and Aimargues, France.
As many as 180 dogs and 120 cats will be transplanted from shelters and animal rescues to live at the center in Thompson’s Station, south of Nashville. The animals will receive veterinary and grooming care, indoor and outdoor exercise, and training as they participate in feeding trials, Mars reported.
The dogs and cats will be kept for two or three years, Mars spokesman Gregory Creasey said.
“After that time, we’ll help them find their forever home by adopting them out to our associates and local community,” Creasey said. “We feel it’s our responsibility to make sure they find a great home. In fact, our associates have already started a waiting list to adopt many of the pets.”
Mars has a large presence in Tennessee, which already hosts two facilities in Franklin and single operations in Cleveland, Chattanooga and Lebanon. The international company’s major pet food brands include Pedigree, Whiskas, Royal Canin and Iams.
“Mars has been doing business in Tennessee for the past 35 years, employing nearly 1,700 associates across our pet care, chocolate and Wrigley business segments,” said Larry Allgaier, president of Mars Petcare North America.
The Global Innovation Center cost $110 million and will employ more than 140 people, Mars stated.
Employees will use four buildings totaling more than 135,000 square feet:
• The Quality & Innovation Center, a research and development operation that includes a microbiological and analytical laboratory.
• The Product Development Center, where new technologies and products will be perfected.
• The Pet Feeding Center, where the cats and dogs will live. Dogs will be paired in circular kennels, according to the company.
• The Learning Center, housing a conference center, museum and employee exercise room.
The Global Innovation Center earned Gold certification—a measure of its environmentally friendly construction and use—from the U.S. Green Building Council. Among the “green” features are energy-efficient products and low-flow plumbing fixtures.
Introducing itself to Thompson’s Station, Mars donated $100,000 and 800 volunteer hours for construction of the town’s first public dog park.