The gist: Completeful, a Lafayette-based shipping fulfillment company, is under contract to buy and operate out of the Walmart Supercenter building that closed in 2019. The store was an important job and supply center for north Lafayette; losing it was a deep blow.
The project fills a big hole on the Evangeline Thruway. Years of bad headlines and disinvestment have made the strip a tough sell, and local officials hope news like this can polish the area’s image and attract investment down the line.
“The Evangeline Thruway is the front door to Lafayette. First impressions are very important. If the first impression is a big vacant building with an empty parking lot” it can discourage companies from exploring the northside, City Councilman Glenn Lazard says.
100 jobs is Completeful’s current sustained employment and it plans to hire 100 more workers this year. The firm is hiring now as it merges three sites into one in the 228,000-square-foot facility to ramp up production capacity. Founded as a laser engraving operation in owner Josh Goree’s garage, Completeful now specializes in “drop shipping” — customizing and delivering online products sold on sites like Etsy or Shopify for small operations — aided with an app for vendors. It’s grown rapidly since and anticipates increasing fulfillment production six-fold in the larger facility.
291 jobs were lost when Walmart closed. The Evangeline Thruway location was among many shut down by the retail giant at the time. In the last few decades, big box retail has become the dominant source of food and goods for north Lafayette, which saw many of its family-run grocers and shops die out, but the sector has struggled there more recently. Development has moved north toward Carencro and south toward Youngsville.
Food insecurity remains a key problem after Walmart’s departure. Nearby residents, many without cars, relied on the center for basics.
An Amazon fulfillment center underway near Carencro buoyed a string of economic development announcements impacting north Lafayette this year. The Amazon site is poised to add 500 jobs, and developers acquired a hotel in the area to convert into workforce apartments. Madeline Cove, a mixed-income housing development spearheaded locally and partially financed through the federal Opportunity Zone program, broke ground this month.
“I do think the tide is turning, yes I do,” Lazard says. “I’m very optimistic.”
The company is hiring for several positions, including engineers, programmers, machine operators, shift leaders, truck drivers, janitors, customer service, product preparation, wood workers and more. Applications can be submitted through www.indeed.com.