PONCHATOULA, La. – Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards highlighted the completion of Elmer Chocolate’s $40 million manufacturing expansion as Elmer Candy Corp. President and CEO Robert Nelson joined state and local leaders to officially dedicate the expanded facility in Ponchatoula. In December 2014, Elmer announced it would develop a 70,000-square-foot addition at the company’s production facility in Ponchatoula. In addition to retaining 164 jobs, Elmer Chocolate is creating 10 new direct jobs as part of the expansion, with an average salary of $42,500, plus benefits. LED estimates the expansion will result in another 14 new indirect jobs.
Elmer’s investment includes the installation of new production technology to make the company more efficient, versatile and competitive in the market. The latest expansion brings the total plant size in Ponchatoula, including administrative headquarters and distribution facilities, to nearly 400,000 square feet. The expansion design and construction services were completed by Woodward Design+Build. Financing for the project was provided by Whitney Bank.
“Elmer Chocolate’s decision to remain and expand in Greater New Orleans is sweet news for Tangipahoa and Louisiana,” said President and CEO Michael Hecht of Greater New Orleans Inc. “We salute and congratulate Rob Nelson and the entire Elmer team for their commitment to the community. GNO Inc. is proud to have been a part of the local, regional and state team that retained a major local employer, and looks forward to supporting Elmer Chocolate as it becomes one of the most advanced candy manufacturers in the world.”
“As a Tangipahoa Parish native, I am a big fan of Elmer Chocolate, and I also understand the tremendous economic impact this expansion will have on the region,” Gov. Edwards said. “This expansion will make Elmer Chocolate more efficient and more competitive, but it also speaks to the confidence that business leaders have in our state and our people. We congratulate the entire Elmer team on this exciting new chapter.”
Founded in 1855 in New Orleans as the Miller Candy Corp., Elmer Chocolate produces a wide variety of chocolates, caramels, truffles and crèmes, along with seasonal holiday favorites, such as Gold Brick®, Heavenly Hash® and Pecan Eggs. Elmer is the second-largest Valentine box chocolate manufacturer in North America, and the company’s Easter candies outsell national manufacturers by a ratio of 5-to-1 along the Gulf Coast. Elmer has been in Ponchatoula since 1970.
“Today is an important milestone for our 160-year-old, family-owned company,” Nelson said. “Our expansion, complete with state-of-the-art production technology, gives Elmer Chocolate a competitive edge to be the most efficient gift chocolate manufacturer in the world. All of us at Elmer recognize, and are grateful to, our state, local and parish officials for their continued support.”
LED began discussing a potential expansion with Elmer Chocolate in August 2014. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a performance-based $550,000 Economic Development Award Program forgivable loan to fund equipment purchases, along with the comprehensive solutions of LED FastStart® – the nation’s top-ranked state workforce development program. Elmer also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Enterprise Zone Program.
“I am beyond excited to be celebrating the completed expansion of Elmer Chocolate’s production facility in Ponchatoula,” Ponchatoula Mayor Bob Zabbia said. “As one of our community’s largest employers, Elmer continues to be a great corporate citizen, and we appreciate their continued investment in our city.”
“For nearly half a century, Elmer Chocolate has called Tangipahoa Parish home, and today we celebrate their latest expansion, which once again reinforces their ties to Ponchatoula and the entire Tangipahoa Parish community,” said Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller. “I want to thank the Nelson family for all they do for our community. Just look around, and you can see the imprint this company has made on Tangipahoa Parish and our entire region.”
“As a Ponchatoula native, this project is near and dear to my heart,” said Executive Director Stacey Neal of the Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation. “I have watched this facility continue to grow since I was a little girl. Elmer’s has impacted our community in countless ways and this new investment proves that they are committed to our area. Tangipahoa Economic Development will continue to support Elmer Candy in every way that we can to ensure they continue to succeed.”