Daily Report

This Morning's Headlines / Mon, December 12, 2011

La. leading nation in global export growth

Leading overall growth of U.S. exports, Louisiana's year-to-date 2011 worldwide merchandise exports increased by 45% in value over the same period in 2010, according to a report issued today by the World Trade Center of New Orleans. Through the third quarter, Louisiana exports totaled $39.8 billion, compared to $27.4 billion the previous year. Louisiana's principal export markets through the third quarter were China ($4.01 billion), Mexico ($3.99 billion) and Japan ($2.75 billion), followed by the Netherlands, Canada, Singapore and Korea. Total U.S. exports were up almost 18% through the third quarter, with Louisiana ranking seventh among all states, compared to ninth for the same period in 2010. Among the top 10 exporting states, Louisiana had the highest rate of growth, far outpacing Illinois' 32% increase. "2011 has been a very strong year in almost every sector for Louisiana," says Larry Collins, Louisiana Economic Development director of International Services. "Economic uncertainty in the euro-zone has had little impact so far; growth in exports to countries like the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium reflect the continued demand for our state's products around the world." Exports of petroleum and coal products have seen a year-over-year increase of almost 78% to $13.5 billion through the third quarter, while oil- and gas-related exports have also soared, jumping 559% from $45.8 million in 2010 to $301.9 million in 2011. Louisiana's other leading categories included agricultural products ($11.9 billion, up 37.2%), chemicals ($6.1 billion, up 31.5%), food products ($3.23 billion, up 15.4%), and minerals and ores ($1.3 billion, up 142%). See a state-by-state ranking of all global exports here, and a ranking of Louisiana's global exports by country here.

Women in La. Legislature decreasing to 16

While political pundits are discussing the Republican gains and Democratic losses in the Louisiana Legislature and what that means for Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Legislative Women's Caucus has issued a report showing the number of women in the House and Senate for the 2012-16 term has dipped to its lowest level since 1996, The Times-Picayune reports. The research, conducted by caucus Director Trin Johnson, shows that the number of female lawmakers went from 23 in the 2008-12 term to 16 in the upcoming term. The Senate goes from eight women to four while the House drops from 15 women to 12. There are 39 Senate seats and 105 House seats in the Legislature. The report says, "16 women out of 2,314,080 women in Louisiana will help enact laws in the 2012-2016 term of the Legislature. Women are 51% of Louisiana's total population and will make up only 11%" of the Legislature. Rep. Nita Hutter, R-Chalmette, chairwoman of the caucus, is one of those casualties. Hutter, the first woman to chair the House Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works, was term-limited in the House and lost in a run against Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, in a larger Senate district. Hutter noted that women have never held more than 25 of the 144 legislative seats. That was in the 2005-07 period under Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the state's first female governor. "There is no one 'X' factor," Hutter says of the reason for the decline. "I don't know why it went backward and not forward. It may be the cycle. It will change."

BRCC, OLOL agreement eases transition for nursing students

Nursing graduates of Baton Rouge Community College will be able to enroll more easily at Our Lady of the Lake College under a new agreement finalized between the two institutions. Students receiving an associate degree in nursing at BRCC will be able to seamlessly apply to the OLOL College's bachelor of science program. College spokeswoman Kelly Zimmerman cites an increasing demand by hospitals for RNs with bachelor's degrees as a factor in forging the agreement. OLOL College President Sandra Harper and BRCC Interim Chancellor James F. Horton Jr. formalized the agreement in a ceremony held at Our Lady of the Lake College on Friday. Jim Purcell, commissioner of higher education, who oversees the operations of the Louisiana State Board of Regents and represents the state's postsecondary education community, also attended the ceremony. "We believe working with these BRCC graduates will support those who wish to further their education and will ultimately make for better trained nurses throughout the region," Harper says in the statement.

Roemer says his presidential bid hinges on debates

Long-shot GOP presidential hopeful and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer says he won't have a legitimate shot at gaining the GOP nomination if he is not allowed a chance to debate the rest of the candidates in front of a national TV audience. "It's not working for me," Roemer says in a recent interview with CBS of his many attempts to get onstage with the GOP's leading candidates. "I don't have a chance unless I get on a debate, because nobody knows me." When asked why he hasn't been invited to any debates, Roemer says he has no idea. After all, as he has continually noted since launching his campaign, he's the only presidential candidate of either party who's been elected both a governor and a congressman. "There's been 14 national Republican debates over the course of almost seven months—one almost every ten days. I have not been invited to any. I have asked for every one of them," Roemer says. When asked if he has any chance of making a real impact on the election, Roemer says, "I do. If a million Americans stand with me, at $25 or $50 or $60 or $100 … we'll take this government back." Roemer has gained the most media attention from his pledge to refuse any campaign contributions over $100, his outspoken stance against Super Political Action Committees and his support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. See the full video interview with CBS on its website here.

Today's poll question: Do you want to see Buddy Roemer participate in nationally televised debates with other GOP presidential hopefuls?

United Plaza XII picks up large tenant

Louisiana Healthcare Connections Inc. has completed a lease of 39,077 square feet of office space in suite 310 of United Plaza XII and will occupy it next spring, says Stirling Properties, the exclusive management and leasing firm for multiple office buildings in the United Plaza Office Park. United Plaza XII is a three-story office building located off Essen Lane at 8555 Archives Blvd., between interstates 10 and 12. "The building was a perfect match for the tenant, as it met their criteria of needed contiguous space, increased parking, backup power and the ability to expand if necessary," says Stirling Properties' sales and leasing executive Scott Macdonald, the agent responsible for completing the deal. The United Plaza Office Park is a 75-acre development encompassing 12 buildings.

Nomination deadline nearing for 2012 Business Awards and Hall of Fame

There's just three weeks left to make your nominations for the 29th annual Business Awards and Hall of Fame, presented by Business Report and Junior Achievement. The event recognizes success in business by companies and individuals. Winners will be honored at an awards banquet on March 20 and profiled in Business Report. The categories include: Business Hall of Fame Laureate (for a lifetime of achievement), Company of the Year (under 100 employees), Company of the Year (100 or more employees), Young Business Person of the Year (40 or under) and Business Person of the Year. Nominate your company, yourself, a client, vendor or friend by clicking here.

News roundup: FedEx expects today to be busiest day on record … Colleges are buying up .xxx sites … Dutch firm apologizes for design resembling 9/11 attack on World Trade Center

Ship it out: FedEx expects to have its busiest day ever today with a projected 17 million shipments globally, almost double the usual daily amount. The previous record was 15.6 million shipments on Dec. 13, 2010. The Memphis-based company says it has added 20,000 seasonal positions to handle the volume. Additionally, FedEx is offering additional shifts to employees around the country. The company says its Christmas season shipping volume has grown about 75% since 2005.

Keeping it clean: The University of Kansas has been busy buying up website names such as www.KUgirls.xxx and www.KUnurses.xxx. But not because it's planning a Hot Babes of Kansas site or an X-rated gallery of the Nude Girls of the Land of Aaahs. Instead, the university and countless other schools and businesses are rushing to prevent their good names from falling into the hands of the pornography industry. Over the past two months, schools have snapped up tens of thousands of ".xxx" website names that could be exploited by the adult entertainment business. The University of Kansas spent nearly $3,000 in all and plans to sit on the .xxx names and do nothing with them. Read the full story from The Associated Press here.

Clouded in controversy: A Dutch architectural company has apologized for a design of two Seoul skyscrapers that—to some—resembles the World Trade Center exploding during the 9/11 terror attacks. MVRDV says in a statement on its website today that it wasn't its intention to create an image evoking the 2001 attacks. It says it "sincerely" apologizes to anyone whose feelings it has hurt. The design, unveiled in Seoul last week, is supposed to resemble a pixilated cloud covering the center of the buildings. The statement released today doesn't say whether MVRDV will retain the design. A South Korean business partner says construction is to start in 2013. Read more about the controversy from the Los Angeles Times and see a rendering here.

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