A corn refiner with a long history in central Illinois has returned to the area. Westchester-based Corn Products International Inc. recently expanded its work force in Mapleton, where the company has been producing corn sweeteners since November.
A corn refiner with a long history in central Illinois has returned to the area.
Westchester-based Corn Products International Inc. recently expanded its work force in Mapleton, where the company has been producing corn sweeteners since November.
"We've added 18 people, bringing our work force to 28," said company President Jack Fortnum at a Thursday press conference.
While the Mapleton address is new, the firm is no stranger to central Illinois.
The company once made Pekin its home as Corn Products Refining Co., supplying the raw material for brand-name products like Argo corn starch and Mazola corn oil.
When Corn Products became CPC International Inc. in 1980, the company formed a 50-50 joint venture with Texaco Inc. to make corn-based ethanol at the plant.
In 1995, Texaco and CPC sold the Pekin plant to Williams Companies Inc. That facility continues to process ethanol today as Aventine Renewable Energy Inc.
Along with the plant located in Mapleton's industrial area along the Illinois River, Corn Products International operates 35 plants in 15 countries, said Fortnum.
"We provide sweetener solutions," he said of the company's products, which include dextrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and a variety of starches.
Fortnum defended high-fructose corn syrup, under recent attack from critics who say it contributes to obesity in the country.
"(HFCS) is no different than sugar," said Fortnum, noting the nation's obesity problem can be countered through moderation and exercise.
"If you're consuming great amounts of (sweetened products), obesity can be a result," he said.
CPI also produces polyols, high-intensity sweeteners with half the calories of sugar used in sugar-free chewing gum, low-fat ice cream and other sugar-free foods, said Fortnum.
As the number of products using the new sweeteners grows, the company looks forward to expanding production at the Mapleton plant, he said.
Fortnum added that the company intends to be a good corporate citizen, with support for a variety of community events.
Plant manager Marek Siczek, a CPI employee for 30 years, praised the Mapleton employees for their work ethic. "It's the best work force I've ever seen," he said.
The Economic Development Council for Central Illinois assisted CPI's relocation to the area by reducing construction material costs, the result of tax breaks for locating in an enterprise zone.
Steve Tarter can be reached at (309) 686-3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.