NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The National Finance Center may leave its home in New Orleans East, possibly taking hundreds of its jobs elsewhere.
One of its prospects is a Slidell mall no longer in use.
Rusty Vucinovich said his family restaurant has been in New Orleans East for decades. It sits just a mile from the National Finance Center, where he said he gets a quarter of his business from.
"There's four, five, six, seven, been eating right now, late lunch. We depend on them," Vucinovich said.
However, he might lose a good chunk of his business, as the company looks for a new home possibly outside of New Orleans East.
"I'd say 20, 25 percent of our business would be impacted on it. Back when we had the tornado a couple of years ago, it really, really affected us and they slowly started bringing their people back," Vucinovich said.
Slidell Mayor Greg Cromer said the government agency, which provides upwards of 800 high-paying jobs, may move to the closed down Slidell mall.
"If this were to come to pass, solicitation asks for 200,000 square feet of space, and there's about 660,000 square feet in the mall, so it would fill up about a third of the space," Cromer said.
Cromer said they are one of the finalists for the U.S. General Service Administration’s search for a new location after their current office at the Michoud facility suffered damage from the 2017 tornado. They are now working out of a temporary office located near the damaged building.
“In the solicitation, there were ten specific items that had to be addressed in the proposal, and we met all ten of those items fairly well. Good match,” Cromer said.
However, Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen said they're not letting the agency go without putting up a fight.
"We're gonna work really hard to make sure the National Finance Center stays in the East, that all the jobs stay in the East," Nguyen said.
Nguyen said she's been working with Mayor Latoya Cantrell for months to find a new location in the east for the finance center.
"Obviously, they need a bigger location. they're needing 200,000 to 300,000 square footage workspace area. They're also needing a thousand to 1,300 parking lots. So we gotta understand where they're needing to go, and really help make that happen," Nguyen said.
“I’ve grown up out here in New Orleans East, but as a city, we cannot allow any asset to leave New Orleans East and go to another parish,” Austin Bardon said.
"We're just hoping they stay. We need help in the east," Vucinovich said.
Mayor Cantrell issued a statement, saying, “We believe the future of the national finance center is here in New Orleans, and we will do everything in our power to make that happen. We are engaging with our federal partners and fellow elected officials to keep all options on the table. We envision a strong role for the finance center in tight collaboration with NASA, building on our stem sector opportunities and thriving right here in New Orleans.”