The conversion of the old Northside Walmart into a dropshipping plant will take one step closer to reality today.

Completeful will close on its purchase of the vacant building on the Evangeline Thruway near the railroad tracks later today. Company officials say they will begin moving into that facility once they sign the papers.

Completeful will merge its three existing plants into that one centralized location. For leaders on the Northside, it’s the first step in revitalizing that section of town.

“I see this as a foundational project," District 5 city councilman Glenn Lazard said. "I think it has the potential to lay the foundation for future economic development on the Evangeline Thruway corridor.”

Lazard represents the district where this facility is located. He says Completeful’s purchase of the old Walmart building could be the catalyst for other companies moving to the area.

“Like I said, the Evangeline Thruway is the gateway to Lafayette," Lazard said. "First impressions are very important. To see that parking lot full again will make a big difference in terms of attracting more businesses and economic development to the area.”

Completeful CEO Josh Goree already has one facility on the Northside. He says his company has outgrown the old Nabisco plant off I-49, and that the Walmart building presents a perfect opportunity.

“To me, it was just a building that suited our needs," Goree said. "Now that I’ve learned what it means to the community, it’s been awesome. I’m excited about being able to hire people in the community and bring them together and invest in them so they can invest in us.”

One of the ways Goree says his company will invest in his community is by providing a living wage of $12 per hour and free daycare for his employees’ children.

“I know that’s it’s an expense that most people have and logistically it’s hard to get them to daycare," Goree said. "They have to get up early and take care of all that. Now, it’s, ‘Hey! You can bring your kid to work with you.’”

District 5 parish councilman AB Rubin also represents the area where the facility is located. He says the Northside is ripe for business and development.

In fact, he says this is just the first of many projects coming to the Northside.

“To get to a pearl you have to go deep and get an oyster," Rubin said. "To get a diamond, you have to go deep and get the coal and make it into a diamond. Same thing with the Northside. We have to go deep into that Northside corridor and find these diamonds in the rough. And trust me, we have some diamonds in the rough. I promise you. Y’all stick around with us. We have some great things coming to the Northside.”

Rubin compared the Completeful plant to a newly-planted mint plant. He said this project will lead to commerce spreading and growing throughout the Northside.

Goree says Completeful has no limit on how many people it will hire. Completeful will hold a job fair, but Goree says a date for that job fair has not been set.

Bernadette Lee and Ian Auzenne spoke with Gregg Gothreaux, the CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, about Completeful's move into the old Walmart building and what else is coming to the Northside.

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