Global company VEGA announces Geismar opening

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Group photo including MacArthur, Matassa, Edwards, Hegyesi, and Sanders.

VEGA, a global manufacturing company that builds process instrumentation for chemical and pharmaceutical companies announced their arrival in Ascension Parish on December 11.

The public announcement was made at River Parishes Community College that afternoon and featured a welcome from Governor John Bel Edwards and Parish President Kenny Matassa.

VEGA will create 120 new jobs with an average annual salary of $52,000 plus benefits and 40 indirect jobs boosting that figure to 160.

"This is a great company with 120 good jobs for Ascension Parish people, and it's a testament to our quality of life in Ascension," Matassa said.

The company will build a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility within 13.5 acres of the Ascension Commerce Center, owned by L.J. Grezaffi of New Roads, La. Grezaffi's "Commerce Center," which he has been personally working to develop is an industrial park situated between Highway 30 and Highway 73 in Geismar.

The industrial park is located just two miles west of Interstate 10. In July of 2017, Grezaffi had 325 acres there ready to be developed. Talks of VEGA's coming to the area began in January 2018.

"You don't just go there and say I want to buy that lot right there," Matassa said. "You've got to convince [Grezaffi] that you're going to be good for the rest of the companies."

Governor Edwards began his speech by thanking everyone in the room, saying that in some significant way they contribute to what is happening in Louisiana.

"This is a tremendous place to live and work," Edwards said of Ascension Parish. "It's an exciting milestone. It's going to bring new foreign direct investment from a company born in Germany but with a strong presence in the United States of America with headquarters in Cincinnati."

Edwards noted a strong effort from Louisiana Economic Development and the leaders of the parish. The governor's press release from later that day stated, "LED officials visited VEGA headquarters in Schiltach, Germany, in March 2018 to help secure the project for Louisiana. Two months later, Ascension Parish officials approved the company’s ability to receive Industrial Tax Exemption Program benefits at the parish and local levels."

Ron Hegyesi, the VEGA Americas president joked at the crowd first about the LSU, Texas A&M football game but spoke nonetheless sincerely about LED and Ascension Parish officials.

"It's been a real honor to work with you guys, and there has been tremendous transparency and cooperation," Hegyesi said. "We just felt from day-one that it was an easier decision to work here than some of the other places that were of potential to us."

It is the company's first opportunity to invest outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.

"I think what sets us apart in Ascension and allows us to compete for projects like this is our business-friendly attitude," Kate MacArthur, President of Ascension Economic Development Corp. said to the crowd gathered.

The project is evidence of the business-forward mentality of the leadership currently in place for Ascension. State Senator Ed Price was also present at the ceremony. His reputation for pro-business is what helped win his election in 2017.

"It's a win, win, win," Price said. "You're talking 120 jobs, a great manufacturer, I think it's going to do great for Ascension Parish."

Construction for the VEGA facility begins soon. It is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2020. Don Sanders will serve as president of VEGA Louisiana.