GONZALES — Emerson Process Management expects to open its new $10 million regional headquarters next October, officials said Friday.
The previously announced 105,000-square-foot campus will be on West Orice Roth Road near Veterans Boulevard in Gonzales.
A group of residents has filed a lawsuit to have the rezoning for the property where the site is located overturned, and several residents showed up Friday afternoon to protest the Emerson project.
Emerson officials were joined by Gonzales and Ascension Parish officials and Gov. Bobby Jindal Friday to officially announce the new facility.
Danny Cahill, Emerson’s vice president for global services, said his company has a “legacy” of 40 years of service in the parish. When Emerson started discussing its options to create “the ultimate service center,” building it in Ascension Parish was a natural fit, he said.
“We’re going to build these all over the world, but we’re going to start right here in Gonzales, Louisiana,” Cahill said.
The Emerson expansion is expected to consolidate approximately 125 existing jobs onto the campus while creating 50 to 60 new jobs, officials said. The new jobs will pay an average of $49,000 per year and benefits.
The $10 million infrastructure investment will be the most Emerson has put into a service center. The new headquarters and training center will focus on Emerson’s valve manufacturing operations and also will feature space for sales, engineering and service personnel. Emerson helps its industrial customers automate production and processing for chemical, oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, power, water and wastewater treatment plants.
Louisiana Economic Development offered Emerson a five-year tax credit worth $375,000 as well as access to its Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption incentive programs. The city and parish also offered Emerson sales tax incentives to make sure the company chose to stay in Ascension Parish rather than build a new facility elsewhere.
The city and parish still must finalize a sales tax agreement through the passage of ordinances by both the city and parish councils before moving forward, officials said.
Emerson project leader Marlin Wilson said the 18-acre site should be purchased from owner Nolan “Sonny” Lamendola within the next two to three months. The site sits on a larger 75-acre tract of land that was annexed into the city and rezoned from residential to commercial by the Gonzales City Council.
Tyrone Smith, one of the residents suing the council and zoning commission, said the protesters want to make sure Emerson officials know that while they welcome the project in Gonzales, they would prefer the headquarters be built elsewhere.
“We want to bring attention that we are not in support of Emerson moving into our neighborhood,” Smith said.
Smith said Emerson officials had other options to consider besides building the headquarters near the Kennedy Heights area and Gonzales Middle School.
“It’s the wrong place to do it,” Smith said.
Local and state officials disagreed, however, touting the Emerson project as a major cog in Ascension Parish’s continued economic growth.
Jindal stressed that he continues to place top priority on economic expansion and job creation — and that doesn’t just mean bringing new companies into the state.
“Retaining existing companies is a vital part of our economy,” Jindal said.
Construction of the new facility is expected to begin in March and take about seven months to complete, officials said.
“Our future is very bright,” Cahill said.