Smoothie King Center getting fresh paint as part of renovations _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Crews paint the Smoothie King Center as it continues its transition and makeover from being called New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014.

Five years ago, the state gave Metairie-based Smoothie King 2.4 million reasons to stay in Louisiana, but that deal ends with December, and the company is already planning a move to the Dallas area.

The Dallas Business Journal has reported that the new global headquarters for Smoothie King, a subsidiary of SK USA Inc., will be in a building now under construction in Coppell, Texas, a Dallas suburb.

Smoothie King corporate issued a statement saying the company has no definitive plans to move now but is considering options that will support its franchise system and fuel future growth.

Smoothie King Chief Development Officer Kevin King told the business journal the company was not relocating its headquarters. However, the business journal says a move to North Texas makes sense. Smoothie King has more than 900 locations worldwide and is looking to expand. The new headquarters isn’t far from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. In addition, in 2012 Smoothie King had contemplated a move to Texas.

But Louisiana Economic Development delayed that plan with the five-year, $2.4 million incentive agreement. Smoothie King is set to receive $480,000 a year for hitting job and payroll marks, from 60 jobs and a payroll of $4.1 million in 2013 to 105 jobs and a payroll of $8.2 million in 2016. The 2017 numbers are not yet available.

Smoothie King's job count peaked in 2015 at 75 jobs and that number fell to 69 in 2016, the records show. However, at $6.8 million, the company's 2016 payroll was $500,000 higher than for 2015. Still, Smoothie King had to return close to $66,500 to the state for falling short of the targets.

LED, GNO Inc. and Jefferson Parish Economic Development Co. hope to again convince Smoothie King to stay. But it's unclear whether the economic development groups will be successful this time.

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"LED has joined with our partners in Jefferson and Orleans parishes on this effort, and we have been united in making our case that there is no better place for Smoothie King to be headquartered than here in Louisiana,"  Secretary Don Pierson said.

Smoothie King corporate said the company is not legally able to talk about those discussions. LED cannot comment on the negotiations. 

The move, if it comes, won’t affect the company’s naming-rights agreement for the Smoothie King Center. Smoothie King bought the naming rights to the arena in February 2014. The contract runs for 10 years with an option for 10 more.

Smoothie King spent $50 million to renovate the interior and exterior of the center.

Smoothie King opened its first location in Kenner in 1973. The company sells its smoothies in the United States, South Korea, Singapore, the Middle East and the Cayman Islands.

In 2012, founder Steve Kuhnau sold the business to one of the company’s most successful franchise owners, South Korean businessman Wan Kim, for $50 million.

Under Kim’s leadership, Smoothie King has rapidly expanded to nearly 1,000 locations worldwide and expects to pass that number in early 2018.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.