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One can of product from each run is set to the side for quality assurance purposes at the Blue Runner Foods plant in Gonzales. The company is a longtime manufacturer of dry and canned red beans and other Cajun-type food items and will now be adding frozen food items.

Blue Runner Foods has gained approvals for economic incentives it was seeking from local taxing entities and state officials for a $2.26 million expansion of its Ascension Parish manufacturing plant for a new frozen foods line by the end of the year. 

The expansion of the plant, which sits in the heart of Gonzales along South Burnside Avenue, will add 8,000 square feet of new production space and support 35 construction jobs and add eight permanent jobs at the facility.

The expansion will include new equipment and flash-freezing capability for products such as gumbo and red beans, both made with sausage. 

The frozen additions will be a first for the venerable food brand, which has traditionally had Louisiana favorites in canned and dry goods and mixes. 

Blue Runner qualified for the state-approved Enterprise Zone and Industrial Tax Exemption Program economic incentives in exchange for the capital investment.

The state's Enterprise Zone program is a tax credit of either $3,500 one-time or $1,000 for each new job in addition to a rebate of state sales and use taxes on materials such as machinery or equipment or 1.5% refundable investment tax credit on the total value of the capital investment.

The parish council, city of Gonzales, school board and sheriff's office recently approved the company's application through ITEP for 80% property tax abatement for 10 years.

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The total property tax exemption for entities that collect them in Gonzales will be $230,658 over 10 years. 

Even with the exemptions, local governments will still collect tax on the remaining 20% of value that isn't exempted. That will total a combined $57,665 in new property tax from the flash-freezing expansion, said Kate MacArthur, president and CEO of the Ascension Economic Development Corporation.

The group is the parish's economic development arm.

Blue Runner was founded in 1918 and has been operating its Gonzales manufacturing plant since 1946.

The family-owned company, which makes red and navy bean meal bases for gumbo and jambalaya, has already invested in its distribution facility and in meal kits for Creole-inspired dishes and dried bean packaging operations over the years. 

The Advocate reporter David J. Mitchell contributed to this story.


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.