NEDERLAND — The city of Nederland welcomed a company with a more than 100-year history into its limits Thursday morning.
SGS, established in 1878 as an agricultural inspection company in Europe, officially opened its doors for business Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held by the Nederland Chamber of Commerce. The company offers inspection, verification, testing and certification services today, employing more than 70,000 employees at 1,350 locations worldwide.
“We are pleased to be part of the Nederland community,” said Chris Alberto, vice president for SGS Gulf Coast. “It’s been a long road. We started this 36 months ago.”
SGS provides its services to companies in the area, such as Motiva, Shell and Valero. The international company tests the quality, safety and performance of products to check health, safety and regulatory standards, according to its website.
Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said a few words before the black ribbon was cut. He credited the increase in property value across the county to the presence of “our friends in industry” and said he met with new chemical plants and refineries every week who were interested in coming to the area.
“The greatest credit for our economic expansion really goes to the people of Jefferson County,” Branick said. “If you wanted to locate a chemical plant or refinery in New Jersey or New York or California, they’d tar you and feather you and run you out of town. Here, people appreciate chemical plants and refineries. They appreciate the economic activity.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Brent Weaver said the appearance of the building SGS moved into on Jerry Ware Drive near Jack Brooks Regional Airport was much improved since the last time he walked through it and there were birds flying in it.
“This is an example of taking a piece of property that sat empty, unused, not on the tax rolls and putting it back to good use,” he said. “We’re going to continue this type of effort to bring these properties that are unused and vacant and put them back to use.”
Weaver said the county did not pay anything to improve the building but that SGS invested in it. And there was a 10-year guaranteed occupancy of the building in addition to local employment possibilities, property tax revenue and the potential for expansion, he said.
The county recently sold two additional properties on U.S. Route 69, as well, Weaver said.