16 Nov NOLABA News – Durham’s Smashing Boxes plans to add 85 employees in New Orleans

The News & Observer, Raleigh-Durham, NC

By David Ranii

Smashing Boxes, a Durham-based website and app developer, has unveiled ambitious expansion plans that call for it to create 85 jobs over the next five years – but those new jobs are earmarked for New Orleans.

The privately held company, which today has 65 employees, announced plans to create the jobs, which will pay an average of $75,000 a year, in conjunction with the office of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Smashing Boxes also plans a $500,000 capital investment.

Founded in 2010, Smashing Boxes has been expanding rapidly, adding 17 employees since last December. The company says it’s on track on track to reach $6 million in revenue this year, up from $4 million in 2014, according to Margaret McNab, the company’s director of growth.

The positions in New Orleans will be primarily new jobs, but employees in Durham will be offered the option to relocate, McNab said.

“We’re not going to be twisting anybody’s arms,” she said, adding that the company views the opportunity to move to New Orleans as “a cultural perk” for its young workforce.

Tax incentives offered by Louisiana helped lure the company to New Orleans. However, Smashing Boxes didn’t seek a competing incentive package from North Carolina officials to boost its workforce in Durham instead, McNab said.

But, she added, “we will continue to expand in this area. It’s really not an either/or situation.”

In a statement, Jindal called the Smashing Boxes expansion as another chapter in Louisiana’s “highly successful strategy to attract software development, digital media and information technology employers across our state.”

Smashing Boxes executives were exposed to New Orleans in May when co-founder and CEO Nick Jordan was a speaker during New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week.

“We were really impressed and inspired by the tech community down there and the entrepreneurial activity, the various incubators that are starting up,” McNab said. “It felt very much like Durham five years ago, which is when Smashing Boxes was founded.”

The company subsequently met with economic development officials and learned about the tax credits that Louisiana offers to digital media and software development companies.

Louisiana Economic Development, the state agency that recruits businesses, boasts on its website that the tax credit is “the strongest of its kind in the nation.” The state offers companies a 25.2 percent payroll tax credit through June 30, 2018; after that, the tax credit rises to 35 percent. Certain “production expenses” also can qualify for a tax credit.

Smashing Boxes also will receive recruitment and training support from the state, McNab said.

Although the company anticipates adding more jobs in New Orleans over the next five years than it currently has on its payroll, McNab said “the projections are based on the growth we have seen in this office, keeping in mind that five years ago we were two guys.”

Louisiana Economic Development estimates that in addition to the 85 positions being created by Smashing Boxes, the expansion will indirectly trigger another 86 new jobs.