BRAC expects 'key' incentive programs to survive tax reform
BRAC has assembled an internal committee of tax experts that has been meeting with state officials to sort through the implications of tax reform, BRAC President/CEO Adam Knapp says. While BRAC, like everyone else, is waiting for the details, Knapp says he expects several key incentive programs to remain in place in some form. Those include Quality Jobs, Enterprise Zone, Digital Media and Software Development, the Angel Investor Tax Credit, the Research and Development Tax Credit, and the Retention and Modernization Program. "There may be tweaks and modifications," Knapp says, "but [state officials] don't intend to remove the core tools that we have used as economic developers in helping companies to expand or new ones to come." Of course, if income taxes are eliminated, new ways to deliver those incentives would have to be found, most likely through a direct cash rebate or by attaching it to something else that carries tax liability, such as insurance premiums. State officials haven't yet indicated which method they prefer, he says. Regardless, Knapp says tax reform presents "exciting" possibilities, such as the elimination of the corporate franchise tax, which BRAC's small business council advocates. "Our view of tax reform is through the lens of our small business council," he says. —David Jacobs
High-end dog boarding to open near Woman's Hospital in spring
Drew Detlefs' premium dog-boarding facility will be so close to the new Woman's Hospital, the Camp Bow Wow franchisee envisions "labor deals" for families bringing a new baby into the world, whereby Rover or Fluffy gets dropped off beforehand. "Being next to that hospital is huge," says Detlefs, who hopes to open Camp Bow Wow at 7195 Pecue Lane by mid-May. Detlefs and his father, Phil Detlefs, bought the one-acre site last summer and are breaking ground on a 13,500-square-foot facility that includes a covered outdoor play area for dogs. The project is valued at $1.3 million, according to the building permit. Drew Detlefs says the facility will include 90 cabins and eight luxury suites—including TVs—for dogs; he also plans to include a training program and on-site grooming center. Dogs, however, will be on a vacation of their own if left at the franchise pet care company: Canines will have the run of the facilities to their owners' content during daylight hours, Detlefs says. To get that freedom outside a standard boarding kennel, Detlefs says, dogs must first undergo a free "interview process" to ensure they are not aggressive during an extended stay. Detlefs says he has visited other Camp Bow Wow facilities—New Orleans, Lafayette and Covington each have one—and has witnessed the sleep-induction effect hours of play can have on canines. "When you turn the lights out, all the barking stops. They go to sleep," he says. —Adam Pearson
'225': Local attorney starts home soap and candle business
A lifestyle change prompted title attorney and Baton Rouge resident Caroline Borck to start a part-time business. Now, working in the kitchen of the house her husband built on Spain Street, Borck spends the better part of her afternoon making soap and candles from scratch. She operates her company, Sea+Sparrow, out of the house in Beauregard Town, selling her homegrown creations. And, she says, her business has seen great local response thus far.
It all began when Borck and her husband, Nathan, decided to try for a child. Ridding her home of everyday toxins would create a better environment for all three of them, Borck says. She found that making homemade, organic deodorant, laundry detergent and sunscreen was something she enjoyed. "I really wanted to become more health-conscious and earth-friendly," Borck says. "So I asked myself, 'What else can I make?' " Find out how Borck made this paradigm shift in her career by reading the whole story from 225 here.
LABI president: Court ruling has national labor board decisions in jeopardy
In his latest column, LABI President Dan Juneau says a recent U.S. District Court ruling that President Barack Obama's recess appointments of members to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional "could invalidate an entire year's worth of board decisions." That's because, as Juneau explains, if the recess appointees were not legally members of the board, then the NLRB did not meet the necessary legal quorum for it to conduct hearings and issue decisions. "An appeal of this case to the U.S. Supreme Court is a virtual certainty," Juneau says. "The board's chairman defiantly declared that they would continue to conduct their work and issue decisions irrespective of the district court ruling. This comes as no great surprise, since the goal of this board is to gain as much ground for unions as it can. While a Supreme Court decision affirming the lower court would require the board to revisit hundreds of cases later, much can be done for unions in the meantime that will be difficult to undo." Read the full column here.
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Tickets on sale for TEDxLSU
Tickets went on sale at noon today for the TEDxLSU event slated to take place on Saturday, March 9, from 12:30 to 8 p.m. in the Reilly Theatre at LSU. Tickets are $100 for the first-of-its-kind event for LSU, and are limited due to the size of the venue. However, free tickets to watch a simulcast of the event at the Shaver Theatre on campus are also available. Both tickets are available at the event website here. The TEDxLSU: Evolve conference will essentially be a local version of the TED Conference held each year in Long Beach, Calif., at which some of the world's leading thinkers are invited to speak. A national nonprofit organization, TED is devoted to finding and propagating "ideas worth spreading." More information and the full slate of speakers for the local event can also be found at the event's website.
Dow hits 14,000 for first time since fall 2007
The Dow stock market index flirted with the 14,000 line today, bringing reminders of the last time it hit that mark—almost a different era, before the financial crisis rocked the world economy. Propelled by reports on U.S. jobs and auto sales, the Dow Jones industrial average crossed the line and kept its ground through the early afternoon, after flitting back and forth throughout the morning. The other major stock indexes also rose. "There's a newfound enthusiasm for the equity market," says Jim Russell, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis. But market watchers are divided over what the Dow milestone—or even what a Dow all-time high, which is quickly approaching—really means. To some, it's an important booster to hearts and minds, making investors feel optimistic and thus more willing to bet on the market. "The Dow touching 14,000, it matters psychologically," argues Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. "It attracts smaller investors." To others, though, the Dow 14,000 is nothing but a number on a board, more a sign of how traders feel than an indicator of how the economy is faring. After the Dow hit its all-time record high in October 2007, it fell almost steadily and a year later had lost nearly 40% of its value.
News roundup: Former Romney adviser hired as state education department spokeswoman … Honoré to talk New Orleans recovery, new book on CBS … Saints get $5M state payment for Super Bowl
From campaigns to classrooms: Louisiana Department of Education Superintendent John White today announced that Anna Gatlin has been hired as communications director for the department and will be paid $90,000 annually. She replaces Rene Greer, who resigned in June and was paid $111,000 per year. Gatlin most recently served as domestic policy adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, providing guidance on education policy, among other issues.
Recovery in progress: As part of its Super Bowl coverage, CBS will air on Saturday morning an interview with Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré of Baton Rouge, who will be talking about the recovery of New Orleans since he was the commander of Task Force Katrina, in charge of the massive search-and-rescue operation and the restoration of law and order in the city following the 2005 hurricane. Honoré will also be talking about his new book, Leadership in the New Normal, in the interview with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley. Today Honoré is slated to be a guest of the Costa Report radio show; that interview will be available online here starting at 7 p.m.
In the bank: The New Orleans Saints are getting a $5 million payment from the state because the Big Easy is hosting the Super Bowl. The incentive was included in the 2009 deal between Gov. Bobby Jindal and Saints owner Tom Benson to keep the Saints in Louisiana through 2025. The money is owed to the NFL team by June 30. Lawmakers will be asked to budget the payment in their upcoming legislative session. Michael DiResto, a Division of Administration spokesman, says the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District will use its income from New Orleans area hotel taxes to cover the $5 million payment.