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Leadership Tangipahoa

Press Releases

Date Press Release

Patrick Stoufflet and Elizabeth Reno's Letter to the Editor on the Economic Development Session

For Immediate Release:                                                       5/24/18
Contact:                                                                              Casie N. Qualls

Patrick Stoufflet and Elizabeth Reno's Letter to the Editor on the Economic Development Session

Leadership Tangipahoa classmates pictured at Elmer Candy Corporation in Ponchatoula.

Back from right to left:
Marilyn Dunn, Casie N. Qualls, Nick Gagliano, Blaise Bourgeois, Patrick Stoufflet, Bryan Abels, Jamie Seal, Ralph Wood, Liz Reno, Nick Clesi, Taylor Addison, Michael Nelson, Kathleen Elstrott, Annette Baldwin

Middle from right to left:
Bridget LaBorde, Sharmaine Robertson, Melissa Aymond, Amy Brumfield, Carmen Brabham,

Front from right to left:
Connie Henry, Erin Fleming, Ashleigh Duroncelet, Ann Stevens, Shy Henry, Christi Marceaux

Dear Editor,

We have the privilege of participating in the 2018 Leadership Tangipahoa Program for the past ten months and have been learning all interesting aspects of our Parish.  This month's journey exposed us to various companies and organizations and their contribution to the economic development in Tangipahoa Parish.

We started our day at the Tangipahoa Parish Tourist Commission building where we were given a presentation by Mrs. Ginger Cangelosi, Executive Director, and by Mr. Kelly Wells of the Tangipahoa Economic Development (TED).  TED is a not for profit organization (501c3) under Tangipahoa Parish Government.  It works to attract new jobs and investments in Tangipahoa Parish, retains and expands current businesses in the parish, addresses education and workforce development needs, advocates for local and state policy that enhances economic development, and builds and retains partnerships with economic development partners.  Its work in the community in building and maintaining relationships with business owners small and large, is a key factor to the strength of TED.  We also learned that, according to USA Today, the Hammond area is the #1 fastest growing MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) in Louisiana.

Our next stop was a visit with Mr. Ed Hoover, a local real estate developer who owns 1.2 million square feet of warehouses near the Hammond Regional Airport.  Mr. Hoover spoke to us about the economic progress he has seen throughout the years for Tangipahoa and how he has used the motto "Build it and they will come" as a guide for his success.  During an entertaining, inspirational, and informative presentation, we learned about the importance of private economic development.  Mr. Ed told us his experience in the retail business and expansion into land ownership and private development.  He encouraged us to go after our goals, stay focused, stay true to our values and give back to our community.  

We then traveled to the Elmer Candy Corporation in Ponchatoula.  According to the company's history, in 1855 in New Orleans, Christopher Henry Miller turned his pastry chef experience into the Miller Candy Corporation.  His son-in-law, Augustus Elmer, eventually joined him.  Around the turn of the century, the company's name was changed to Elmer-Miller.  In 1914, Elmer's sons signed on to what is now known as Elmer Candy Corporation.  Roy Nelson became a partner in the enterprise in the early 1960's.  In 1963, he purchased the entire company from the Elmer family and encouraged his son Allan to join the endeavor.  Together, the two men centralized operations by opening a manufacturing facility in Ponchatoula.  They focused the company's offerings, concentrating on seasonal chocolates rather than everyday candy and snacks.

The move proved to be a good one.  Elmer Chocolate, now run by the third generation of Nelsons, is the second largest heart box manufacturer in the country. Easter favorites Gold Brick, Heavenly Hash and Pecan Eggs outsell national leaders five to one along the Gulf Coast.   According to our hosts, Mr. Bobby Barousse, CFO, Ms. Shelly Matherne, Sales Planning Manager, and Co-Owner Michael Nelson, Elmer's employs approximately 200 employees and has a capacity to produce 4 million pieces of candy per day.  The company sells to all 50 states and internationally. Christmas and Valentine's Day are their busiest times of the year.

We were proud to be the first Leadership Tangipahoa class to tour the facility.  After its recent expansion, Elmer is now one of the most automated candy companies in the world.  The company produces 3,000 pieces of candy per minute resulting in production of 3-4 million pieces of candy per day.  According to company management, we may expect Elmer's assorted chocolate to be available year round beginning in May.  Emler's future plans include operations to produce packing services for other brands of candy confections.  During our visit, our group was treated to several different types of chocolate candies that were delicious!

We continued our travels to Amite for a visit to Liuzza Land.  After a delicious lunch, we visited the animals, walked on the jumper, slid down the slide, toured the farm and picked strawberries.  Family members, Elizabeth Liuzza, Tonya Paille and Anthony Liuzza highlighted the economic and agricultural importance their company plays in our local economy.  Liuzza Produce Farm has been providing fresh fruits and vegetables all over Louisiana for five generations.  The farm currently owns and operates approximately 500 acres of produce.  It is the largest strawberry and vegetable farm in the state of Louisiana.  Everything on the farm is planted and harvested by hand.  Once the produce is picked all, with the exception of strawberries and cabbages, is taken to the packing shed to for washing, drying, and sanitizing.  The produce is then all packaged and cooled before delivery to grocery stores and stands all over Louisiana and throughout the Gulf Region.

We ended the day at Bracy's Nursery, LLC.  With 240 acres, 115 employees, and 650 different plant varieties, the family owned, Bracy's has a strong impact on our economic development in Tangipahoa Parish by offering plants and shrubs to local retailers and landscapers throughout the area.  Bracy's participates in the H2A Guest Worker program and employs 90 Hispanic and local general field laborers who work ten months of the year at the nursery.  The employees do an amazing job as they hand pot, hand weed and hand pack thousands of plants each year.  Bracy's propagates 80% of their plants there at the nursery and all watering is done electronically using Sterling controllers.

Bracy's offers a personal approach, attributing its success to the successes of its customers.  The company prides itself by fostering relationships with the customers' businesses.  Bracy's offers a broad palette of varieties and sizes allowing partners to find everything needed in one place.  Their professional, 'first name-familiar' customer service group coordinates orders and logistics to ensure on-time deliveries.  To boot, their courteous drivers give plants a smooth ride to garden centers, re-wholesalers and small to medium sized landscapers throughout the region.

This was truly an eye opening day to see the impact of various businesses on the economic development in Tangipahoa Parish.  We have a diverse and well rounded business population with people who are dedicated to this area and community.

Patrick L. Stoufflet & Elizabeth Reno

Leadership Tangipahoa Class of 2017-2018

Patrick L. Stoufflet, Deputy
Grants Manager
Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office

Deputy Patrick Stoufflet has been with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office since 2008 and currently serves as the Grants Manager. He has previously worked for Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LAFASA), Louisiana Supreme Court- Judicial Administrator's Office, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office, and the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) in several different auditing and supervisor positions.

Elizabeth Reno
Regional Vice President, Primerica

Elizabeth Reno is a Regional Vice President with Primerica where she helps families and business achieve their financial goals. She enjoys her office in downtown Hammond and participating in community events. Previously Liz worked in state government after which she opened and successfully ran her own coaching company. Liz and her father currently own RENO's Residential Properties, LLC. Liz is a Southeastern Alumnus, holding both her bachelor's and master's degrees from the university. She currently serves on the boards of the Greater Hammond Chamber, Tangipahoa Professional Women and PRIDE. Liz is the founder and past president of the Trade Wins BNI Chapter in Hammond. She is active in the community and proud to be a resident of Tangipahoa Parish.