Satisfying that sweet tooth just got a big boost.
Elmer Chocolate has completed a $40 million manufacturing expansion in Ponchatoula to make its chocolates, caramels, truffles and crèmes, along with its seasonal holiday Gold Brick, Heavenly Hash and Pecan Eggs.
The production technology installed is designed to make the company more efficient, versatile and competitive in the market. The 70,000-square-foot expansion lifts the size of its administrative headquarters and distribution facilities to nearly 400,000 square feet.
Elmer first announced the expansion in December 2014. The expansion lifts employment to 230. It had been 164.
Elmer is the second-largest Valentine box chocolate manufacturer in North America, and the company said its Easter candies outsell national manufacturers by a ratio of 5-to-1 along the Gulf Coast.
“Our expansion, complete with state-of-the-art production technology, gives Elmer Chocolate a competitive edge to be the most efficient gift chocolate manufacturer in the world,” President and CEO Robert Nelson said.
Elmer Chocolate was founded in 1855 in New Orleans as the Miller Candy Corp. In the early 1960s, Roy Nelson became a partner in the enterprise and in 1963 purchased the company from the Elmer family. The company is now run by the third generation of Nelsons.
Elmer has been in Ponchatoula since 1970.
The state provided the company with an incentive package that includes a performance-based $550,000 Economic Development Award Program forgivable loan to fund equipment purchases, along with the services of the state’s FastStart job-training program. Elmer also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Enterprise Zone Program.