Just three months after Gov. Bobby Jindal touted it as an example of Louisiana’s fast-growing reputation as a “beacon for expansion in the digital media and software industries,” software developer ChenTech intends to shut down its fledgling New Orleans office at the end of this week.
The company apparently was unable to come to terms with the state on a package of incentives.
“Following initial positive discussions with (Louisiana Economic Development), the company apparently changed the scope of what it originally was planning to do in Louisiana,” LED Secretary Stephen Moret said in a statement. “Regrettably, that also resulted in their decision not to move forward with their planned development office here.”
Moret did not provide further details about how ChenTech’s plan for New Orleans had changed. ChenTech did not respond to requests for comment.
The company had been expected to employ about 50 people, at an average annual salary of $83,000 plus benefits, officials said three months ago. Most of the people in the office would have been computer programmers.
ChenTech was introduced to New Orleans in late September with a news conference in the firm’s office on the 22nd floor of the Place St. Charles building at 201 St. Charles Ave. The event was attended by Jindal and representatives from state, regional and local economic development agencies.
Jindal said the company also would create 51 indirect jobs.
“These are exactly the kinds of jobs we want to bring to New Orleans, we want to bring to Louisiana,” Jindal said at the time. “These are the kinds of good-paying jobs that will keep our sons and daughters right here at home as they pursue their dreams.”
ChenTech is a subsidiary of ChenMed, a privately owned medical practice based in Miami. The parent company operates four clinics in the New Orleans area.
Moret tried to downplay the loss this week.
“We regret that ChenMed elected not to move forward with this smaller development center, but fortunately we’ve secured several much larger ones (e.g., GE Capital and Gameloft in New Orleans, as well as IBM in Baton Rouge) that are continuing to ramp up,” he said in his statement.
The company would have qualified for the state’s Digital Media and Software Incentive Program, officials had said. Through that program, it would have earned a 25 percent refundable tax credit on qualified digital interactive media or software development expenditures made in Louisiana and a refundable 35 percent tax credit for payroll on Louisiana-based labor.
Jindal said in September that the state’s FastStart program also would help ChenTech find skilled employees.