Elmer Chocolate Plans $40 Million Expansion At Its Ponchatoula, Louisiana, Chocolate Factory
Located in Ponchatoula for nearly a half-century, Elmer Chocolate will invest in new production technology to make the company more efficient, versatile and competitive in the marketplace, Louisiana Economic Development officials said. The latest expansion will bring its total plant size in Ponchatoula, including administrative headquarters and distribution facilities, to nearly 400,000 square feet.
“Louisiana’s support of this expansion helps our 160-year-old, family owned company create the core competency to be the most efficient gift chocolate manufacturer in the world,” Elmer Chocolate CEO Robert Nelson said.
“Our expansion, right here at home, provides a unique U.S. manufacturing model that translates into highly skilled jobs for our associates and ensures the maximum level of quality control and food safety. The LED FastStart program is central to helping Elmer associates learn new job skills, prepare to efficiently utilize our new technology, and increase our capacity. The net result will be new opportunities for our associates and other stakeholders. It is also important to recognize the assistance of our local and parish officials in supporting and promoting these new investments. All of us at Elmer are grateful for their involvement in making this important expansion possible,” he added.
Founded in 1855 in New Orleans as the Miller Candy Corporation, Elmer Chocolate produces a wide variety of chocolates, caramels, truffles and crèmes, along with seasonal holiday favorites. 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 4-to-1 along the Gulf Coast.
Governor Bobby Jindal said, “Elmer Chocolate is an iconic Louisiana brand whose chocolates are enjoyed by consumers around the globe. Elmer’s latest expansion is a testament to the company’s commitment to our state. As Louisiana’s strong business climate continues to attract new investment, we remain committed to our existing companies, like Elmer, as they retain great jobs, create exciting new career opportunities and contribute to Louisiana’s standing as the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.”
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 for five years in a row. Elmer also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Enterprise Zone program.
“Elmer Chocolate’s decision to expand in Greater New Orleans is sweet news for Tangipahoa and Louisiana,” said President/CEO Michael Hecht of Greater New Orleans Inc. “GNO Inc. is proud to have been an integral part of the 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.”
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