Content tagged “People”

Diversifying the party

Jeffery Corey is a black Republican. And no, he doesn't think there's anything weird about that.

Conservative indiscretions

At midmonth, Republican leaders were scrambling to figure out what to do about Vance McAllister, Republican representative from Louisiana's 5th Congressional District. He was caught on his own security cameras in a passionate embrace with an aide who is not his wife, and the video footage went viral. McAllister is married with five children.

The creative toolbox

George Lois said, "Creativity can solve almost any problem—the creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything." I believe him. However, it can often be difficult to find time to focus on creativity because deadlines loom and the clock is always ticking. It's not often said, but taking the time to develop a great idea doesn't cost time, it saves time. Here's why. Great ideas require less production time, less explaining, less revising, and far less marketing and promotion. A great idea sells itself, and it also sells you. Invest time in great ideas and they'll pay off tenfold on the back end. Here are a few creative tools you may find useful to create great ideas for your next project.

Rose Hudson

"The most powerful advice that I have received wasn't really directed at me. It came from Ossie Davis in his role as "The Mayor" in the movie Do the Right Thing. He admonishes "Mookie," played by director Spike Lee, "Doctor, always do the right thing." So simple, yet so powerful for me. That was 1989, right as I was completing graduate school and beginning my career. My youthful self had a Do the Right Thing T-shirt, and I even made it my screensaver for several years. As I have matured professionally, the decisions have become more complex and nuanced, but I often think back to "The Mayor," as if he was telling me, "Rose, do the right thing."

Spring fever

After the unusually long, cold winter Capital Region residents endured this year, it's no wonder that the first signs of spring have kick-started a flurry of sales at home garden retailers.

No money necessary

A Baton Rouge entity is showing the rest of the country how to make virtual currency work in the real world.

Sally Calongne

The ball was in her court. Baton Rouge native Sally Calongne had returned to her hometown in 2009 after a four-year stint at a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, eager to re-enter the Capital Region tennis scene.

Executive Spotlight: Don Champagne

Don Champagne moved to Baton Rouge to become Kean Miller's executive director 14 months ago. "Kean Miller's reputation as an industry leader and a law firm that is continuously 'on the grow' attracted me to the position," he tells Business Report in its new Executive Spotlight feature. The former COO at Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles in New Orleans brought to Kean Miller extensive experience as a law firm administrator—and a passion for the work involved. He's a past president of the New Orleans Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators and remains a member. In his words, "a very strong group of directors" assists him in overseeing the business operations of Kean Miller's five offices. "The challenge for the administrator," he says, "is to combine the opinions, ideas, and needs of the attorneys with sound business management policies to deliver a model that follows industry best practices, and meets the profitability goals of the partnership." Champagne, a CPA, has...

Don Champagne

Don Champagne moved to Baton Rouge to become Kean Miller's executive director 14 months ago. "Kean Miller's reputation as an industry leader and a law firm that is continuously 'on the grow' attracted me to the position," he says. The former COO at Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles in New Orleans brought to Kean Miller extensive experience as a law firm administrator—and a passion for the work involved. He's a past president of the New Orleans Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators and remains a member. In his words, "a very strong group of directors" assists him in overseeing the business operations of Kean Miller's five offices. "The challenge for the administrator," he says, "is to combine the opinions, ideas, and needs of the attorneys with sound business management policies to deliver a model that follows industry best practices, and meets the profitability goals of the partnership." Champagne, a CPA, has deliberately acquired diverse areas of expertise, including...

'Business Report': Capital Region small business owners wonder who's fighting for them

They number more than 51,000 in the Capital Region, and they employ more than 85% of the area's workforce. They are located in every corner of the nine-parish region, and they run the gamut from restaurants to retailers to service providers. If you're reading this, chances are you own or work for one of them. "They are small businesses—exalted in political rhetoric as the backbone of the American economy and said by the media to exemplify the quintessence of America's can-do spirit," writes Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel in the magazine's new cover story. "They are the mom-and-pop hair salon, the shoe boutique down the street, the graphic design firm that creates your Web page, the CPA who does your taxes." According to the government's definition, they are any company with fewer than 500 employees. In reality, the majority of small businesses have fewer than 10 employees. That's certainly true in the Capital Region, where 60% of small businesses have between...

BR named most sprawling midsized metro area in US

Baton Rouge is the most sprawling midsized metro area in America, according to a new study by good growth advocacy group Smart Growth America, which looks at how communities have developed and gives poor scores to those with high urban sprawl and low connectivity. What's more, the study ranks the Capital Region's sprawl at 216 out of 221 U.S. cities of all sizes—including major metro areas like Atlanta and Houston. "Sadly, this doesn't come as a surprise," says Boo Thomas, director of the Center for Planning Excellence. "Our master plan, FuturEBR, recognizes this … it really underscores the need for a first-class transit system." Smart growth advocates both locally and nationally promote compact and connected development patterns in communities for several economic, environmental and quality-of-life reasons. As the "Measuring Sprawl 2014" report by Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Smart Growth America, released today, puts it: "The researchers found that as Sprawl Index...

Spreading the message

As the longtime publisher of Tiger Bucks—a coupon booklet targeted to LSU students that offers discounts and deals at local restaurants, shops and service providers—Carol Thomas has a unique perspective on small businesses. Not only does she operate a small business herself, so do most of the clients who advertise in her publication.

Competing with the big boys

When Ron Lewis opened the first Maxwell's Market on Corporate Boulevard in 2000, it was one of the few specialty markets/delis around the Capital Region. While there were a handful of high-end supermarkets, they didn't sell pre-packaged meals like Maxwell's nor did they do a sit-down lunch business.

Holding on to tradition

In the early 1980s, white flight from downtown and Mid City to the suburbs accelerated. Royal Furniture owner Mike Tricou saw the trend and recognized the alarming demographic shift in his customer base. But while many retailers moved to the seemingly greener pastures farther east—or at least opened second locations there—Tricou stayed put.

The tire man

If you've seen Simple Simon's Car Care Center's low-budget, classically kitsch TV commercials over the years, you might assume Bill Simon is little more than your garden-variety huckster without much substance behind his admittedly endearing sizzle.

On the front lines

They number more than 51,000 in the Capital Region, and they employ more than 85% of the area's workforce. They are located in every corner of the nine-parish region, and they run the gamut from restaurants to retailers to service providers. If you're reading this, chances are you own or work for one of them.

Truth is stranger than fiction

It has been said that truth is stranger than fiction. Lately I have seen some examples that defy explanation. I wish they were April Fool's pranks, but the news notes below are true—though they make no sense to me. What do you think?

Sharing hope

Director, Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority

Moving up

Robert Hebert has been named wealth advisor for Regions Wealth Management. His responsibilities include providing credit management, retirement planning, personal banking and investment strategies tailored to the needs of clientele throughout the South Louisiana region. A finance industry veteran with more than 10 years of experience, Hebert previously served as an investment specialist at JPMorgan Private Wealth Management.

The Go Auto guy

Greg Tramontin IS the Go Auto man. He is the voice and the face behind the radio and TV ads. He's the creator of the auto insurance company so familiar to Louisianans that anyone who has heard or seen a commercial can't help singing the simple, addictive jingle: "Go! Go! Go Autoooo!"

Michael Richmond

Michael Richmond heads up the technology division of Postlethwaite & Netterville. A network engineer, he's the guy who knows what all those acronyms like LAN, WAN and SAN mean, and how to make them work. He has consulted with government agencies and varied private-sector markets alike on high-level security and compliance, as well as advanced network design and IT strategic planning.

Richard Hanley

Richard Hanley has this advice for would-be entrepreneurs: "The best incentive I've had to pursue something is to put it in the calendar, a rock-solid date, and just do it."

Davis Rhorer

"My wife Julie coined the perfect mantra for this profession: 'Plan your work and work your plan.' My parents instilled in me a sense of moral integrity and hard work. My experience in running cross-country (I was on Catholic High School's first state cross- country championship team)and track (I was selected the outstanding trackman) focused my attention that with discipline and determination, you can achieve your desired results."

Executive Spotlight: Thomas Welborn

When Thomas Welborn became executive vice president at MMR Group in 2008, he'd worked there for nearly three decades. As Business Report details in its new Executive Spotlight feature on Welborn, MMR evolved over that time into the multinational leader in industrial electrical and instrumentation services it is today, with 20 branch offices. It ranks No. 3 in Business Report's 2013 list of the Capital Region's top 100 companies. Welborn says his greatest professional accomplishment is having been "a part of the growth of MMR Group Inc. and watching my fellow co-workers grow with us." He was initially hired there as an electrical superintendent, having developed expertise at Evans Electric Supply during the 1970s. Welborn shifted to MMR's estimating department in the 1980s and rose to manager of estimating, overseeing all proposals. The Colorado native considers Baton Rouge...

Thomas Welborn

When Thomas Welborn became executive vice president at MMR Group in 2008, he'd worked there most of three decades. In that time, MMR evolved into the multinational leader in industrial electrical and instrumentation services it is today, with 20 branch offices. It ranks No. 3 in Business Report's list of the Capital Region's top 100 companies. Welborn says his greatest professional accomplishment is having been "a part of the growth of MMR Group Inc. and watching my fellow coworkers grow with us." He was initially hired there as an electrical superintendent, having developed expertise at Evans Electric Supply during the 1970s. Welborn shifted to MMR's estimating department in the 1980s and rose to manager of estimating, overseeing all proposals. The Colorado native considers Baton Rouge his hometown and refers to himself as "an avid hunter and fisherman," which means he really is a Louisianan. Yet with MMR he has seen much of the world, if sometimes remote project locations.

Changing landscape

By now, many of us have heard that the state is finally handing over the keys to Government Street to the city. The Mayor's Office and many local officials seem to be fully behind the idea of putting the street on a “road diet" by bringing its four lanes down to two travel lanes with a center turning lane and possibly adding some bike paths.

Entrepreneur: Christopher Turner

Art has been Christopher Turner's passion since childhood. As Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature on him, Turner already had a large portfolio of work created during his years at Broadmoor Middle School—which then had a Gifted and Talented Program—upon entering high school in 1999. At Capitol High, he participated in the Talented Arts Program, which was launched there, it almost seemed, for his benefit. "For the first two years," says Turner, "I was the only kid in the [art] classroom." As a freshman, he hadn't wanted to choose between playing football and painting; thanks to TAP, he didn't have to. As it turned out, Turner left football behind as a sophomore, instead devoting his after-school hours to caring for his grandmother, who had cancer. "Everything else took a back seat," Turner says. She died the summer before his senior year, yet he persevered in his art studies until graduating in 2003. Turner hadn't painted a stroke in six years...

Redesign aims to make Government Street 'a destination'

By the end of 2015, Mid City residents will be driving down a safer and more pedestrian-friendly Government Street, says Mayor Kip Holden, who today laid out plans for a redesign of the busy roadway. Holden says the redesign—which will include trimming the number of traffic lanes from four to three, as well as adding a continuous turn lane and a dedicated bicycle lane—will also be more conducive to the continued redevelopment of Mid City. "Our goal is to make Government Street a destination," which requires not merely filling in potholes but fixing traffic and safety problems, says Holden. The redesign—which was recommended in FuturEBR, the city-parish's master plan—is being made possible by an agreement the city-parish recently completed with DOTD to transfer nearly 11 miles of state roadways to city-parish oversight and control. Under the agreement—which the Metro Council OK'd last week—the state will fully fund the Government redesign project,...

Former Amedisys CFO coming out of retirement to take old post on interim basis

Baton Rouge-based home health and hospice firm Amedisys announced today that Dale Redman is coming out of retirement to serve as chief financial officer on an interim basis. Redman was the company's CFO from February 2007 through December 2011 and retired in February 2012 as Amedisys' executive vice president of finance. Today's announcement comes less than a month after Bill Borne—who founded the company in 1982—announced he was stepping down as CEO, board chairman and director. Borne has since become chairman emeritus of the company's board, while former president and CFO Ronald LaBorde has been leading the company as interim CEO while a national search for a permanent CEO is conducted. "We are quite fortunate that Dale has come out of retirement," LaBorde says in

'Business Report' survey: How do you deal with failure?

Few of the Capital Region's most successful professionals and businesses got where they are today without their share of missteps and lessons learned along the way. Failure happens. But what distinguishes us is how we deal with it. Are we paralyzed? Or do we get right back up and learn from the experience? Knowing how others before you have coped with error can provide inspiration. That's why Business Report is searching for advice from professionals, entrepreneurs and longtime business owners on the subject. Send the magazine your tried-and-true measures for dealing with failure, along with an explanation of how you have applied it in your own experience. Include your name, age, job title and a high-resolution photograph of yourself. The best responses will be featured in a future issue of Business Report. Email all replies to penny@businessreport.com. The deadline is noon on Friday.

BREC's trouble spots: Golf and the Baton Rouge Zoo

BREC's golf courses and the Baton Rouge Zoo will complete their own strategic plans this year, separate from the systemwide Imagine Your Parks II plan underway now.

Carolyn McKnight: The colonel in charge

After more than 27 years of working in the Dallas Park and Recreation Department, Carolyn McKnight stepped away to work on a local government project jumpstarting minority-owned businesses.

How to maximize LinkedIn

So you've completed your LinkedIn profile, made connections with everyone you know and even boast a few coveted endorsements to your credit. What now?

Christopher Turner

At Capitol High, he participated in the Talented Arts Program—launched there ostensibly for his benefit. "For the first two years," says Turner, "I was the only kid in the [art] classroom."

Executive Spotlight: Troy Prevot

"The learning process never stops," says Troy Prevot. And as Business Report details in its new Executive Spotlight feature on Prevot, he's not just referring to insurance. The administrator and COO of LCTA Workers' Comp since August, Prevot has charted a broad professional course wherein medicine and business dovetail. The LSU grad became a physician assistant, then joined the PA faculty of the University of Florida for two years, doing research in sports medicine. Back in Baton Rouge, he practiced in an orthopedic clinic, but shifted gears in 2005 when he enrolled in LSU's MBA program. "I liked the business side of medicine and felt like it was a good way to remake myself," says Prevot. Hired by LUBA Workers' Comp, he sees himself as "fortunate to have been exposed to almost every aspect of the company." The COO is enthusiastic about the "in-house renaissance" underway at LCTA. His primary focus is "providing operational and financial oversight of the fund," but he has a...

Troy Prevot

"The learning process never stops," says Troy Prevot. He's not just referring to insurance. The administrator and COO of LCTA Worker's Comp since August, Prevot has charted a broad professional course wherein medicine and business dovetail. The LSU grad became a physicians' assistant, then joined the PA faculty of the University of Florida for two years, doing research in sports medicine. Back in Baton Rouge, he practiced in an orthopedic clinic, but shifted gears in 2005 when he enrolled in LSU's MBA program. "I liked the business side of medicine and felt like it was a good way to remake myself," says Prevot. Hired by LUBA Workers' Comp, he sees himself as "fortunate to have been exposed to almost every aspect of the company." The COO is enthusiastic about the "in-house renaissance" underway at LCTA. His primary focus is "providing operational and financial oversight of the fund," but he has a bevy of goals, such as expanding the company's "community footprint." Has he left...

'225': Stories from the spill

Playwright Leigh Fondakowski and artist Reeva Wortel's play and portrait exhibition Spill had its world premiere this week at Swine Palace and will run through March 30. As 225 staff writer Benjamin Leger details in a feature from the March issue, the pair started the project in March 2011. The performance focuses on the effects of the BP oil spill in south Louisiana. Its story is culled from hours of interviews. Wortel painted portraits of the locals they met who would eventually become the 30 characters depicted by a host of actors in the play. The duo was committed to premiering it in Louisiana. "I think for me, it's a way of getting the feedback: You trusted us with your stories, how did we do?," she says. "There is something about someone endowing you with this privilege of telling their stories and not just taking it and running out of here. … We're wanting to honor that contract that we made with them." The play doesn't just focus on the fishermen affected...

'Business Report': Profile of political consultant Michael Beychok

"I want to be a professional gambler," Michael Beychok told the aptitude tester his parents had hired to direct the career path of their son, a student at Catholic High School. Beychok, a baby-faced 50-year-old, laughed at the memory while chatting with Business Report contributing writer Ed Cullen for a profile in the current issue. "I didn't want to be there," Beychok recalls. "I said it to shock the guy—and my parents." He may have shocked his mother, but it would have taken more than his son's declaring for the life of a gambler to shock his dad. Beychok's risk-taking father, the late Shelly Beychok, made and lost millions. The senior Beychok would have applauded his racetrack-betting son's million-dollar winnings two years ago at the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. Margie Gauthier, Beychok's mom, remembers the meeting with the aptitude guru. "When Michael said he wanted to be a professional gambler, I'm sure I said something like, 'That's not a good...

Community leaders, Arts Council finding ways to move forward in Old South B.R.

Three weeks after a simmering dispute between the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge and a faction of community leaders in Old South Baton Rouge bubbled over—threatening to derail the implementation of an arts-based community revitalization plan in the neighborhood—the controversy appears to be dying down. Community activists from Old South Baton Rouge met earlier this week with representatives from the Arts Council, the Center for Planning Excellence and a team of consultants working on the plan. "It's a good process," says Boo Thomas, executive director of CPEX. "I think everyone has come to a new understanding of what it takes to move forward." In early February, a group of artists, community leaders and elected officials from the neighborhood asked the Arts Council to stop applying for grants that would help implement the Community Dreaming Plan, which has been in the planning stages for the past two years and envisions a neighborhood revitalization based around new...

'Toxic mix' of factors put B.R.'s poorest behind peers, 'LA Times' says

For the first in a series of articles examining health care disparities across the nation, The Los Angeles Times spotlights Baton Rouge and St. Paul, Minn., in a new feature detailing the two very different approaches to health care being taken by the two very different cities. The feature focuses on the poorest residents in both cities. Specifically, scenes and patients at the Capitol City Family Health Center on Florida Street are highlighted in Baton Rouge, while 1,200 miles upriver the newspaper visits a waiting room at the Open Cities Health Center, which also "fills daily with the city's poorest." "But the patients in Minnesota receive a very different kind of care, which leads to very different outcomes," reads the feature. "They are more likely to get recommended checkups and cancer screenings. Their doctors rely on sophisticated data to track results." In Minnesota, the article says, poor seniors are half as likely to be prescribed a high-risk drug than they are in...

'Business Report': Meet this year's Baton Rouge Business Awards & Hall of Fame honorees

In the new Business Report cover package, you'll find the profiles of this year's Baton Rouge Business Awards & Hall of Fame honorees, all of whom will be recognized at a special event to be held at the Crowne Plaza later this month. They are:
Hall of Fame Laureate: Grace "Mama" Marino, founder of Gino's Italian Restaurant
Hall of Fame Laureate: John Noland, president and CEO of Noland Investments
Businessperson of the Year: Bill Balhoff, managing partner at Postlethwaite & Netterville

Legacy of achievement

Success in business is worthy of recognition, and local companies make a major contribution to the quality of life in our community.

Behind the camera

Lee Meredith (right) is the new vice president and general manager of WAFB-TV and its sister station, WBXH, replacing Sandy Breland, who moved on to WVUE in New Orleans. He comes to Baton Rouge from WMC, a fellow Raycom Media station in Memphis.

What career advice would you give your 30-year-old self?

"I would tell myself to start my retirement savings earlier in an independent account and put away a fixed amount each month, even if it was only $25. After 37 years I would have a really nice nest egg."
MARY SURMAN, 56, Nurse practitioner at Comprehensive Pain Management

For the survivors

Physician, Surgical Specialty Center of Baton Rouge

Jump Start

While Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White has been barnstorming the state to drum up support for Jump Start—which, if approved by the Legislature this spring, will revamp the way the state provides career and technical training to high school students who may not be interested in or ready for college—the Baton Rouge business community has quietly been doing its part to help get the program enacted and make sure it's a success.

Moving up

Wendy Lee and Giuseppe "Joe" Saffiotti have been named principals of Coleman Partners Architects. Lee has been with the firm for 15 years and has most recently served as the associate managing the Houston office. Saffiotti has 18 years of experience with Coleman Partners, serving as associate in its Baton Rouge office for the past 10 years. This new leadership brings the total number of principals at Coleman to six.

David Maples and Virginia Huling

David Maples moved with Virginia Huling to Baton Rouge in August 2007 to begin his studies at the LSU Law Center.

The professional risk taker

"I want to be a professional gambler," Michael Beychok told the aptitude tester his parents had hired to direct the career path of their son, a student at Catholic High School.

Going to bat

From Little League to Major Leagues, when a baseball player swings for the fences, theres a good chance he's swinging a bat made in Baton Rouge.

Executive Spotlight: Dawn Harris

In one sense, it was "by design" that Dawn Harris entered the credit union industry: She graduated from LSU with a bachelor's in fine art, majoring in design. However, as Harris tells Business Report for its new Executive Spotlight feature: "I had never heard of a credit union before I went to work for one." It turned out to be a serendipitous move. Thirty years after Campus Federal Credit Union hired her, Harris became its president and CEO on Jan. 1. Harris credits her predecessor John Milazzo with giving her "many opportunities to work across department lines" and thereby broaden her expertise. Previously, Harris served Campus Federal as COO, executive vice president of retail services and vice president of marketing. Her fine arts education wasn't so much left behind as redirected. "My background in design was a basis for problem solving, which worked well in the business setting," she says. With a leadership style she calls "open" and "consultative," Harris is guiding...

'InRegister': BRAF marks 50 years of working for a better community

It was just a few weeks after the splashy 2005 grand opening of the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge. The fanfare had faded a bit, and John Davies was enjoying a quiet moment with a glass of wine and a river view at the new building's sixth-floor sushi restaurant, Tsunami. "As I sat looking out at the Mississippi," recalls Davies, "I heard this guy saying to his friend, 'Can you believe this is Baton Rouge?'" As InRegister contributing writer Kelli Bozeman details in the magazine's new cover story, it was also a pinch-me moment for Davies, who as president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation played no small role in lighting the sparks and striking the deals that made the Shaw Center—and the dawn of a dramatically transformed downtown—a reality. But as gratifying as the conversation snippet was to overhear, it was also an indication that the foundation's real work was only just beginning. Davies' fellow diner's comment revealed a troubling...

La. looks for its next generation of farmers

About 70% of U.S. farmland is expected to change hands within the next two decades, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. America's farmers are aging, and with about 52% of the country's land made up of small farms and ranches, it will be up to new generations of farmers to keep the industry growing. But Ricky Gonsoulin, Iberia Parish president for the Louisiana Farm Bureau, tells Gannett Louisiana it's getting harder and harder to find young people in southwest Louisiana who are interested in farming. "Who could blame them?" asks Gonsoulin, 47, whose family has farmed sugarcane for generations. "Way back when you had several young people getting out of college or trade school and getting into this business to make a living. Now the price and production costs are rising, the commodity prices are falling. It's a challenge. Your back's against the wall." Longtime rice farmer and Evangeline Parish Farm Bureau president Richard Fontenot, 44, says the cost to start a...

Dawn Harris

In one sense, it was "by design" that Dawn Harris entered the credit union industry: She graduated from LSU with a bachelor's in fine art, majoring in design. However, Harris says, "I had never heard of a credit union before I went to work for one"—a serendipitous move. And 30 years after Campus Federal Credit Union hired her, she became its president and CEO Jan. 1. Harris credits her predecessor John Milazzo with giving her "many opportunities to work across department lines" and thereby broaden her expertise. Previously, Harris served CFCU as COO, executive vice president of retail services and vice president of marketing. Her fine arts education wasn't so much left behind as redirected. "My background in design was a basis for problem solving, which worked well in the business setting," she says. With a leadership style she calls "open" and "consultative," Harris is guiding CFCU through a period of expansion. Locally, she says, "we are in the design phase of a new branch on...

'Advocate' publisher: We can take half of 'Times-Pic' readers

In a wide-ranging interview with LaPolitics released today, John Georges, publisher of The Advocate, ratchets up the rhetoric in the ongoing newspaper war with The Times-Picayune by comparing his competitor to "new Coke" and predicting his newspaper can take half of its readers. Georges—who also says in the interview that he has not ruled out another run for governor in 2015—says that The Advocate's circulation numbers in New Orleans are "just about where I want them to be, maybe a couple months behind." Georges says there are between 25,000 and 30,000 paid subscribers in New Orleans now, adding "we were less than half of that when we started," and "we're on record to double those numbers." As for the changes The Times-Picayune and its website, NOLA.com, have undergone over the past year and a half, Georges says: "The...

Lawmakers to consider raising La. minimum wage

A collaboration of groups that advocate for low-income families are asking lawmakers to boost Louisiana's minimum wage, saying too many workers are struggling with poverty in the state. The Associated Press reports Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb,D-Baton Rouge, has filed a proposal for the upcoming legislative session that would set Louisiana's minimum wage at $10 per hour beginning in 2015, up from the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. The idea faces opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal and business organizations who say it would force small businesses to lay off workers or raise the cost of their products and would stifle economic activity. Supporters of the wage hike say it would provide a direct pay raise for 21% of the workforce, raise people out of poverty and pump money into the economy.

News alert: Amedisys founder Bill Borne stepping down as CEO

More than three decades after founding the company that has grown into Amedisys—one of the nation's leading home health and hospice firms—Bill Borne is stepping down as the company's CEO, board chairman and director. Amedisys announced the move this morning, saying Borne will become chairman emeritus. Meanwhile, the Amedisys board of directors has named president and CFO Ronald LaBorde as interim CEO while a national search for a permanent CEO is being conducted. The board has also named Donald Washburn, lead director, and David Pitts, director, as non-executive board co-chairmen. Read Daily Report AM for more details.

La. juvenile justice leader defends Jetson closure

The head of Louisiana's Office of Juvenile Justice apologized today for upsetting people by abruptly closing the youth prison near Baton Rouge and moving its inmates in the middle of the night. But The Associated Press reports that Mary Livers, deputy secretary of OJJ, also told an oversight commission that she stands by the decision to shutter the Jetson Center for Youth in Baker and the manner in which she did it—without advance notice for offenders, their parents or employees. She said the youth prisons in the Monroe and New Orleans areas were better suited for rehabilitative care and treatment, and the secretive procedure for reassigning the 76 inmates to those facilities was designed for safety. "We understood that this would be shocking and this would be upsetting, but we made that decision because we felt like it was the right decision to meet our mission," Livers said. "And so, for all those who are hurt by it, I apologize. For all those whose lives have been turned...

'Business Report' survey: What career advice would you give your younger self?

We'd all love to have the benefit of hindsight when it comes to our careers. But what if we actually had it? If given the chance, what business or professional advice would you give your 30-year-old self? Business Report wants to know. Send the magazine your self-guidance tip, along with a very brief explanation of why you'd choose that particular message. Include your name, age, title and a high-resolution photograph of yourself. The best responses will be featured in a future issue of Business Report. Email all replies to penny@businessreport.com. The deadline is noon on Friday.

Keith Tillage

'You'll never really get there if you're lucky, because the whole key to life is continuing to move forward.'

In Conversation: Kelly Pepper

Kelly Pepper comes to the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations with years of experience in fund development, marketing and public relations for nonprofit agencies. Before taking over as LANO's fourth president and CEO, she worked with the Louisiana Division of the Arts, where she administered the state's competitive grant system in support of the work of arts organizations, community groups, individual artists and local government agencies. In some ways, it was similar to the work she will be doing at LANO; in others, quite different, because now, instead of focusing only on the arts and culture, she will be working with a broad spectrum of nonprofit agencies. Pepper took over at LANO on Jan. 27, the day before Baton Rouge's second snowstorm in less than a week shut down the city for nearly three days. It made for an unusual first week on the job. Says Pepper: "My first executive decision was to close the office for two days."

Dale & Ernie Matherne

"You learn from your mistakes, and man did we make plenty. Every mistake you make costs you money, so you don't make the same one twice!"

'225': Being single in B.R.

When Courtney Grand decided last summer to move back home to Baton Rouge after living solo in Dallas and New York City—both metro areas that make several Top 10 lists for singles—she tells 225 she knew what she was giving up: neighborhood bars a stroll away, vibrant nightclubs and the ease of showing up alone. "I haven't gone out to try to meet people at a bar or something because I don't think that would be easy to do here," Grand says in a feature from the current issue of 225 that focuses on the local singles scene. "Baton Rouge is not centered around that. The nightlife is not going to be the best way to meet people here. I knew that coming back, for sure." As 225 contributing writer Amy Alexander writes: "Dating in the Capital City takes strategy. Energy. Drive." As Grand puts it, "Baton Rouge is a hard city to be single in." Here is her scheme: Join Happy's Running Club. Volunteer. She's even considering online dating, a first for her. Read...

Public transit on the brain

Momentum keeps building for two long-term projects for a commuter rail and a streetcar line that could be a huge boon for Baton Rouge and the super region.

Entrepreneur: Wayne & Linda Barker

When Wayne and Linda Barker arrived in Baton Rouge in 1968, they knew virtually no one: He was from Mississippi, she from Illinois. But as Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature on the Barkers, they knew they wanted their own business. "It had to be something that would be quickly self-sustaining," Wayne says. They took over a Mid City furniture restoration outfit, with Wayne doing the stripping and refinishing. The couple traveled by van to far-off states, hauling back old pieces they would turn around and sell. They soon were concentrating on antique furniture. But within a few years, at Linda's instigation, they were plowing profits into buying antique jewelry, too: It sold promptly, without any labor on their part. By 1975 they realized, "We're wasting our time on furniture. ... We should be strictly in jewelry," Wayne recalls, adding that they were "among the first in Baton Rouge to handle antique jewelry." Now in their early 70s—and after 39 years...

The big split

When Walk-On's Bistreaux and Bar celebrated its 10th anniversary last September, few suspected its co-founders and longtime partners, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, were on the verge of splitting up.

Packing up

Safety engineer, ExxonMobil

In Conversation: Larry Bankston

The Baton Rouge Growth Coalition, which is the voice of the local development community, has hired veteran attorney and lobbyist Larry Bankston to oversee the management and direction of the 20-year-old organization.

Joe Traigle

Say what you need to say and no more, in both speeches and life.

BRPD's disconnect

The latest crime story making the rounds on neighborhood group websites is of an attempted carjacking that occurred at 9:30 on a recent Saturday night in the middle of University Acres, one block off Highland Road.

Patients as customers

Rapid changes in the U.S. health care system seem to be sending the anxiety level of many existing and potential patients into the stratosphere, but medical professionals say one facet of the system consumers should feel good about is an increasing focus on customer service.

Linda & Wayne Barker

Their decision to specialize in antique jewelry was essentially practical.

Executive Spotlight: Annette Vaccaro

Community Coffee Co. and Annette Vaccaro have ascended in tandem, which may be no coincidence. As Business Report details in its new Executive Spotlight feature on Vaccaro, the mother of two joined the company as controller in 1998, when Community had a regional presence in just a few Southern states. Today, she says, "Our primary grocery distribution network is now in 20 states." The senior vice president additionally serves as treasurer and chief financial officer, roles she assumed in 2001 and 2004, respectively. "My main responsibility is to ensure a profitable and growing Community Coffee Company for our employees, shareholders and partners," Vaccaro says. "This includes overseeing the accounting, finance, and risk management areas of the company." She readily credits her "awesome" General & Administration team in daily assisting her in her duties. Indeed, this alumna of the Leadership Louisiana Class of 2012 is the sort of leader who emphasizes the value of others'...

Annette Vaccaro

Community Coffee Co. and Annette Vaccaro have ascended in tandem, which may be no coincidence. When the mother of two joined the company as controller in 1998, it had a regional presence in just a few Southern states. Today she says, "Our primary grocery distribution network is now in 20 states." The senior vice president additionally serves as treasurer and chief financial officer, roles she assumed in 2001 and 2004, respectively. "My main responsibility is to ensure a profitable and growing Community Coffee Company for our employees, shareholders and partners," Vaccaro says. "This includes overseeing the accounting, finance, and risk management areas of the company." She readily credits her "awesome" General & Administration team in daily assisting her in her duties. Indeed, this alumna of Leadership Louisiana Class of 2012 is the sort of leader who emphasizes the value of others' expertise and efforts, even in explaining her own success: "My best on-the-job training came from...

'225': B.R. startup Fitnotix brings technology to the body

Ken Anderson took a chance when he flew down to the Red Stick after hearing a pitch from local entrepreneurs Drew Langhart and Justin Waller, co-founders of the startup Fitnotix. As 225 details in a feature from the current issue, the two businessmen's idea—dubbed Virtual Coaching—is a free app that is part GPS-fueled route-map and part performance tracker for runners. After an all-day brainstorming session, Anderson, a New York native, signed on with the company. The app and startup has been generating steam ever since. The app is only the beginning, the founders say. Soon, they will roll out an expansive mobile app and subscription service focused on more comprehensive, accountability-based lifestyle management and positive habit formation. The projected launch date is March. "We're all most vulnerable to a bad experience with exercise when we first start," says Waller, a former footballer at UL Monroe. "So many people associate working out with pain, failure and...

Entrepreneur: Frank Marcello

There's an aura of inevitability about Frankie Marcello's restaurant, as Business Report details in a new Entrepreneur feature on managing partner Frank Marcello. The 53-year-old opened the Italian and Creole eatery a year ago. He and the other four investors had chosen the location of the former Calendar's on Perkins Road, near Essen Lane, for its proximity to steady traffic. Marcello, a Baton Rouge native, knew it well. He'd tended bar at that Calendar's as an LSU student back in the early 1990s. "I was kind of the weekend manager," he says. Restaurant work paid the bills; it had kept him afloat during his footloose days as an aspiring actor in West Hollywood in 1980. "I'd never worked anywhere else except restaurants," he says. When the eldest son of Mitch and Faye Marcello—owners of the Bread Basket restaurants—ultimately became a restaurateur, he was moving forward in the industry he knew best. "My parents had been in the restaurant business, and I was from...

In Conversation: Mark Goodson

Mark Goodson has been involved in the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority since before day one. He helped craft the RDA's enabling legislation, and served as its executive vice president and chief operating officer once it began operations in 2009.

Its own four walls

The BR Walls Project, which has been working to put art in public spaces in downtown Baton Rouge for a few years now, is finally getting a permanent home.

Elizabeth Novak

AGE: 57

Guy Oliver

"About seven years ago, I built a pool for a very wealthy man who called me 'the queen of pigs.' He said I was only good because other people in my market were bad. I realized I had to start learning, because I was simply mimicking my competition. I knew I had to step it up a notch to get to the next level and achieve excellence."

Rise up for water

Under East Baton Rouge Parish flows some of the best drinking water in the U.S. The residents of Baton Rouge are fortunate not to be dependent on the Mississippi River for their drinking water.

Frank Marcello

There's an aura of inevitability about Frankie Marcello's Restaurant.

Faces of Old South

A Day of Service event Monday at Expressway Park helped introduce Baton Rougeans to a neighborhood project that partners residents of Old South Baton Rouge with the Arts Council, Center for Planning Excellence, BREC and others.

Executive Spotlight: Todd Mitchell

Todd Mitchell, general manager of the Baton Rouge River Center, says he always wanted to work in the music, recording and event industry in one way or another. As Business Report details in its new Executive Spotlight on Mitchell, the professed lover of live entertainment began his tenure at the River Center in 2007 at age 34, when he was already a seasoned professional. Previously, he had risen to the post of manager at Kansas City's former Kemper Arena, where he gravitated to the producing side of the live event business. On arrival at the Centroplex, he was ready to assume the diverse roles his job entails. "I am consistently part concert promoter, meeting planner, performing arts director, convention planner, media planner and operations manager," he says. Mitchell is technically an employee of SMG, a worldwide venue management group, which the city-parish contracts to run the River Center. Mitchell says his initial aim—to book as much business as he can—has...

Todd Mitchell

"I always wanted to work in the music/record/event business in one way or another," says Todd Mitchell. The professed lover of live entertainment began his tenure as general manager of the Baton Rouge River Center in 2007 at age 34, when he was already a seasoned professional. Previously, he had risen to the post of manager at Kansas City's former Kemper Arena, where he gravitated to the producing side of the live event business. On arrival at the Centroplex, he was ready to assume the diverse roles his job entails: "I am consistently part concert promoter, meeting planner, performing arts director, convention planner, media planner and operations manager." Mitchell is actually an employee of SMG, a worldwide venue management group, which the city-parish hired to run the River Center. His initial aim, of booking as much business as he can, hasn't changed, he says. And, understandably, he views producing the U.S. Bowling Congress Tournament 2012 as one of his greatest achievements.

November job openings hit highest level in five and a half years

U.S. employers advertised more jobs in November and more Americans quit, positive signs for millions who are unemployed and looking for work. The Labor Department reports this morning that job openings rose 1.8% to a seasonally adjusted 4 million, the most in five and a half years. And the number of people quitting increased 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted 2.4 million, a five-year high. Job openings haven't topped 4 million since March 2008, just a few months after the Great Recession began. Openings at that level are generally consistent with a healthy job market. And more workers quitting can also be a positive signal, because people usually quit when they either have a new job—typically for more pay—or are confident they can find one. The Associated Press reports the data suggests that competition for jobs is getting a little bit easier. There were 2.7 unemployed workers for each available job in November, down from 6.7 just after the recession ended in July 2009. In a...

LaPolitics: DeCuir said to be eyeing B.R. mayoral run

Sources tell LaPolitics that Jason DeCuir, the executive counsel for the Louisiana Department of Revenue, is considering running for mayor of Baton Rouge in 2016 and is actively meeting with supporters and members of the business community. Contacted for comment, DeCuir was noncommittal. "I'm flattered by the number of people who have approached me about the subject," he says. "I have not ruled out running for office again, but I am currently enjoying the role I am in now." DeCuir, 38, came close to becoming a member of the Louisiana Senate in 2007 and was edged out by less than 100 votes by Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge. He also ran third the following year in a special election for the 6th Congressional District. LaPolitics has more on the developing field for mayor.

Imagine Your Parks: The Sequel

Nine years after BREC's first “Imagine Your Parks” strategic plan was set into motion, the parish parks system now boasts 12 new community parks, five dog parks, skateboarding amenities, a conservation area, the beginning stages of a parish-wide trails system and more.

LABI panel examines leadership roles for women in business

LABI Chair Maura Donahue highlighted the growing influence women have in the business world at the outset of a panel discussion on Louisiana women in the global economy Tuesday afternoon, an event that served as the official kickoff to LABI's annual meeting. "There are 8.3 million women-owned businesses in this country. Those businesses generate $1.3 trillion in revenue and employ 7.7 million people," Donahue said, adding, "The number of women-owned businesses is growing by 1.5 times the national average." And yet less than 15% of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies and only 22 of the 500 CEOs are women, she reminded the audience. The importance of education dominated the panel discussion. AT&T Louisiana President Sonia Perez stressed the need for companies to offer affordable education opportunities to employees, such as online master's programs. "It's not important where you go, it's that you go," Perez advised women. They were joined by panelists Sandra Woodley, University...

'225': Introducing the 2014 People to Watch

With the start of the new year, 225 has released its list of People to Watch in 2014. The January issue features 14 profiles of talented Baton Rouge residents who are poised to have a big year. Among them is F. King Alexander, LSU's youthful, hoops-loving new leader. There's also John Peterson, one of the hottest prospects on the PGA Tour. At 24, Peterson is making waves in pro golf. Peterson made quite the entrance at the 2012 U.S. Open, making a hole-in-one during live TV coverage on Saturday. The former LSU star has adjusted to life on the professional tour. "The only thing that's changed is the amount of people watching and the size of the stage," he says. Darrin Goss, the new president/CEO of Capital Area United Way, is also on the list. The coming year will see Goss working hard to take on one of the Capital Region's toughest challenges: reducing the poverty level. "A big part in the long term will be how we manage the relationships and expectations for people who want...

'InRegister': Meet the most interesting man in Baton Rouge

Charlie Cole has climbed a mountain in Switzerland. He has run with the bulls in Spain. A saltwater crocodile hooked his fly-fishing line in Mexico, and a member of the Maasai Mara tribe in Kenya escorted him to a tribal village. He has traveled around the globe. Twice. He's a beekeeper, an old-house enthusiast, a considerable land developer and a consummate lover of life. As InRegister puts it in its latest cover story, "Charlie Cole really is the most interesting man in Baton Rouge." "Charlie's exuberant demeanor reflects a life of full-throttle adventure, successful business ventures and significant relationships," writes InRegister Editor Ashley Sexton Gordon. "He's a storyteller by nature, and he's got plenty of stories to share. From the recounting of riding the unairconditioned 'goat-and-chicken train' between Rabat and Marrakesh to the description of the hypothermia that came upon his friend while attempting to swim the English Channel, Charlie's stories reveal...

Executive Spotlight: Mary Hurlbert Stein

Asked what she "geeks," Mary Stein replies: "Music and design and enthusiasm!" The nationwide Geek the Library campaign is one of many successful programs Stein has implemented as assistant director of EBR Parish Library, as Business Report details in its new Executive Spotlight feature on her. Stein embraces the program's basic theme: that whatever you "geek," or are passionate about, the public library supports. "When I do sound bites," she says, "I say: "Libraries change lives. Libraries mean business. Libraries provide access. Libraries build communities.'" Nearly 30 years ago, with a master's degree in library science from LSU, Stein joined the staff of EBRPL in a "step 1" position in Circulation and Adult Services. "I had wonderful mentors throughout the staff of EBRPL," she recalls, "and I was fortunate enough not only to move up in rank but also to learn so much in every assignment." The mother of two sons and longtime choir member at St. Joseph Cathedral, Stein...

Face-off

Payday lenders, often seen operating out of low-rent storefronts, give customers stopgap loans that typically are due in two weeks. Critics say these businesses charge exorbitant interest rates and trap borrowers in a cycle of high-cost loans. But the industry says it provides a useful service for people without access to traditional loans or credit.

John Matessino

"It takes courage to be the CEO. The chairman of my board once told me there are three kinds of decisions you can make. You can make the right decision. You can make the wrong decision, and that's OK, because once you realize you didn't make the right decision, you can always recover from that, and correct it and learn from it. The worst decision you can make is no decision. There is no recovery from indecision."

Art frenzy

About a year after Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney opened a new sort of studio—a place where novice artists could paint on a blank canvas, socialize, sip wine, and take home their own self-made art—they caught a couple scribbling down numbers when they were supposed to be painting.

Rick Story

"I saw there was an opportunity and a need here. ... I started out small, and it grew slowly."

The business of feeding the hungry

Click here to see a photo gallery by Tim Mueller.
By 9 a.m. on a recent Wednesday morning, the line is 30-deep at Hope Ministries' food pantry on Winbourne Avenue in Baton Rouge. Men and women of a range of ages sit on a long bench outside one of the buildings on the former church campus.

Mary Hurlbert Stein

Asked what she "geeks," Mary Stein replies, "Music and design and enthusiasm!" The nationwide Geek the Library campaign is one of many successful programs Stein has implemented as assistant director of EBR Parish Library. Stein embraces the program's basic theme: that whatever you "geek," or are passionate about, the public library supports. "When I do sound bites," she says, "I say, 'Libraries change lives. Libraries mean business. Libraries provide access. Libraries build communities.' " Nearly 30 years ago, with a master's degree in library science from LSU, Stein joined the staff of EBRPL in a "step 1" position in Circulation and Adult Services. "I had wonderful mentors throughout the staff of EBRPL," she says, "and I was fortunate enough not only to move up in rank but also to learn so much in every assignment." The mother of two sons and longtime choir member at St. Joseph Cathedral, Stein provided steady, visionary leadership during 2011 and 2012, serving as co-director with...

'225': Local organization fights back against sexual assault

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five women nationally is living as a victim of sexual abuse. That translates to a potential 90,000 women in East Baton Rouge Parish. As 225 reports, Baton Rouge's Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response Center is leading the charge against this gender violence and sexual abuse. The organization's services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, 24-hour medical advocates, counseling and support groups as well as educational programs. "My motivation is to create social change—to actually work towards breaking through the stigma of sexual violence and get to the root cause of this social and public health problem," says Racheal Hebert, STAR's executive director. "From TV, advertising, videogames and music, our culture has a huge influence on the perpetuation of sexual violence." Slightly more than half of all sexual assaults go unreported, according to the Justice Department's...

Goodson leaving RDA to join CB&I

Mark Goodson, who has been the second-in-command at the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority since it began operations in 2009, is resigning as executive vice president and chief operating officer on Jan. 29 to join CB&I in Baton Rouge. "Certainly, we're all disappointed because we love and respect Mark and he's been an integral part of the RDA really going all the way back to the writing of the legislation [to create the authority in 2007]," says RDA President and CEO Walter Monsour, who originally hired Goodson for the job. "But he seems to be very comfortable with his decision to make this change in his career path and go to the private sector. I'm always reluctant to see good people go, but clearly he has the support of all of us here at the RDA and we wish him and his family all the best." Goodson, who announced his departure in an email sent to colleagues today, could...