In a community where our culture is so closely tied to food and drinks, it makes sense that Jefferson Parish is home to some of the greats: Zatarain’s, Smoothie King, Boscoli Foods, L.H. Hayward (the team behind Camellia beans). The list goes on and on.
With close to 30 food manufacturers, distributors, and growers in the area, Elmwood has become a hub for the food and beverage industry. Companies like Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends, which manufactures the iconic chef’s signature blend of spices, have been a staple in Elmwood for years. Laitram patented the world’s first automated shrimp-peeling machine and revolutionized the shrimp processing industry along the way. Â Today, the company employs over 2,000 people around the world and has over 1,150 patents. It is another Elmwood success story. Imperial Trading is a wholesale distributor that supplies convenience stores across the southeast. This Elmwood-based company generates over $1 billion in annual sales and has been ranked a Top 10 Convenience Store Distributor by Convenience Store News. These companies choose Elmwood because of its varied building stock, easy accessibility, and low-cost to operate.
Startup companies in the food and beverage industry have also found their place in Elmwood. Big Easy Blends came onto the entrepreneurial scene in 2009 with on-the-go cocktails in re-sealable pouches. Over the years, the team expanded their product line, partnered with major companies like ICEE, and expanded their reach across the country. The company is headquartered in Elmwood.
Southern City Farm also found Elmwood’s amenities desirable. This local urban farm grows specialty produce inside a 1,100 square-foot warehouse in Elmwood. The company has been in business for two years and has already built up an excellent customer base of local restaurants and chefs. Southern City Farm will compete in the 2017 JEDCO Challenge, a pitch competition for startups with ties to Jefferson Parish, on March 20th during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Powered by First NBC Bank, the competition elevates opportunities for five startup companies in the area.
Jambalaya Girl, a former JEDCO Challenge finalist, manufactures her jambalaya rice mix and gumbo base in Elmwood. In fact, her product is made at Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends and distributed throughout the country by another Jefferson Parish company. It is the perfect example of why the food and beverage industry is so successful in our community; there are so many opportunities for businesses to work together.
The impact of this industry and the potential for growth is so significant that JEDCO identified it as one of five targeted industry clusters in the Jefferson EDGE 2020, the Parish’s long-term economic development strategic plan to promote sustainability, job growth, and investment. JEDCO will place an increased focus on growing this industry within Jefferson Parish through a variety of action items, which include promoting Jefferson as a destination for food, beverage, and seafood businesses and developing supply chain strategies to connect producers to consumers. The food, beverage, and seafood industry plays a vital role in Jefferson Parish’s economic success and JEDCO will do everything it can to foster its continued growth.
Article originally written for Elmwood Business Association’s quarterly newsletter