On Tuesday, the world-reknowned chef showed off the smoked meat facility his company built here after its predecessor in Melville burned to the ground in 2008.
“The economy was topsy-turvy; financial institutions were skittish. Financing a project like this was tough,” Prudhomme noted before formal ceremonies began.
In stepped the USDA Rural Development Office out of Alexandria, with the financing to get the rebuilding off the ground.
“This is what we are about,” said USDA State Director Clarence W. Hawkins, speaking to a large crowd that turned out for the public walk-thru, sizzling sausage sampling and music by the legendary Hadley Castille and his band.
Promoting and preserving rural America is what his agency is about, Hawkins noted.
In this case, there are 13 Magic Seasonings employees who the company kept on the payroll, with benefits, even though their place of business was gone.
Now, Hawkins noted, the company is about to add four or five new employees at the $4 million-plus facility.
Plant manager Joey Duplechain, whose father, who still works there, was manager before him, said the Palmetto facility shipped about 400,000 pounds of andouille sausage in 2011, its first year in operation, as well as hundreds of links of tasso sausage.
The sausage is processed and packaged on site before being shipped to vendors worldwide.