Content tagged “FrontPage News”

La. leads nation in packing ballot with constitutional amendments

There are 14 proposed constitutional amendments on Louisiana's November ballot, which means there are more "yes or no" questions than there are federal elections listed. If that strikes you as excessive, you're not alone and you're absolutely justified in thinking so.

Claudette Hanks Reichel

Without the vision of Claudette Hanks Reichel, there likely would be no LaHouse Resource Center on the LSU campus. She proposed the idea to build it during a meeting with AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson in 2000. Reichel had joined the AgCenter's extension service—its educational outreach arm—in 1981. "I get to be a bridge or conduit between the research scientists and the real world," she says. When sustainability emerged as a major design focus, the professor saw the need for "a permanent demo home equipped as a 'showcase of solutions' for housing that is resource efficient, durable, healthy, convenient and practical for this region's climate and natural hazards." It took years for the idea to be realized. "It was a long yet amazing process, complicated by inclusion of multiple types of high-performance building systems and products," Reichel says. "I chaired the project and design teams from the beginning, then built and utilized LaHouse as part of my extension...

Inside David Vitter's playbook

Anyone who has served as governor will tell you it's not enough to simply be elected. To truly run a state like Louisiana, a governor needs a strong political infrastructure and a party that's willing to die on the sword. Some governors lay their foundation as their campaign heats up, or even after voters give them the keys to the mansion in Baton Rouge. Others start much earlier.

'Business Report' planner

Tuesday: The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools hosts its annual conference and power breakfast from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza, 4728 Constitution Ave. The future of education will be the topic of a panel discussion for the power breakfast, with the luncheon to feature a keynote by Tim King, who is the founder, CEO and president of Urban Prep Academies in Chicago. Tickets to the breakfast are $20, with luncheon tickets available starting at $30. Combination tickets and tables of 10 are also available. Get complete details and register to attend.

Political rock stars of the 6th District

Every election cycle has its rock stars, those politicians who affect fawning followers like a modern-day Elvis or jump off drum sets to loud and blinding pyrotechnics.

Patrick Kerr

Patrick Kerr joined Baton Rouge Water Company as a management trainee 20 years ago, right out of the Army. During his 10-year military career, he says, "I flew attack helicopters in Korea and Germany and was then selected to join Task Force 160, the Army's premier Special Operations Aviation battalion at the time." By his own account, he learned a great deal about leadership in those years, which he later supplemented with an MBA, earned in 2004 through LSU's Executive MBA program. Afterward, Kerr was promoted to COO and then to president at the utility company; in time, he became CEO. He was in charge during the storm that hit the Capital Region in 2008 and knocked out power at 79 of the 80 wells then in service. "My most satisfying professional accomplishment is having been able to keep 100% of our customers' water service functioning after Hurricane Gustav," he says. The preparations that BRWC had made after Hurricane Katrina enabled it to keep water flowing, he notes. Yet the...

'Daily Report' Week in Review

This week, another wave of unincorporated parts of East Baton Rouge Parish have filed petitions with the Metro Council to be annexed into the city of Baton Rouge, hampering plans of supporters of the proposed city of St. George. On Tuesday L'Auberge Casino & Hotel and several adjacent landowners applied. That annexation would shrink the proposed city of St. George by nearly 1,200 acres and reduce its budget by $7 million. St. George spokesman Lionel Rainey says his group is not concerned about the potential loss of revenue from the casino. LSU followed suit as expected on Wednesday. A research station and training institute located south of the campus are included in a 2,000-acre tract between Nicholson Drive and River Road. Also this week, the Metro Council

Left letting the right prosecute Caldwell

Although it's barely penetrating the nonstop political coverage of this fall's elections, the 2015 contest for Louisiana's top lawyer is developing into a barnburner. National interests, statewide business groups, trial attorneys and Tea Party diehards are all heading toward a big bang.

Louisiana may need more politicians

In a state where politics is theater, we may be running short on thespians.

Lina & James Jacobs

"One thing we've learned as a small business: always being open to new ideas, always being ready to change and evolve."

'Business Report' planner

Tuesday: Entrepreneurs searching for a way to bring their products to market may benefit from a Louisiana Small Business Development Center workshop that aims to outline the process step-by-step. The workshop will cover topics such as developing a concept, building a prototype and manufacturing the product. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana will guide the presentations. The event is at the Louisiana Technology Park, 7117 Florida Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Get complete details and register to attend.

David Winwood

This summer Pennington Biomedical Research Center hired David Winwood to be its first chief business development officer. A scientist, entrepreneur, and expert in technology transfer, Winwood is establishing the center's Department of Business Development & Commercialization. Its aim is "to develop interactions with partners from around the world who will be able to work with Pennington Biomedical investigators." The network of relationships he envisions naturally includes people and resources in Louisiana. "Increasing outreach and awareness is an important initial goal—with the business community and with our own investigators," he says. In the long term, his department will facilitate the complex process of bringing to market the center's research discoveries. "If you are talking about developing a new therapeutic drug and starting down the development path to approval and market entry, the road to commercial success is a daunting and expensive proposition," he says. Yet the...

Women voters move to the front this election cycle

While still underrepresented in every level of government in Louisiana, women—from candidates and wives to voters—are moving to the forefront of federal races this fall as headline-grabbers, possible trailblazers and, of course, talking points.

'Business Report' planner

Tuesday: Baton Rouge Community College and Praxair Inc. kick off a new workforce development initiative aimed at those wishing to start a career in welding with a free informational event at the West Baton Rouge Convention Center, 2750 North Westport Dr., from 9 to 11 a.m.

'Daily Report' Week in Review

The executives behind a new investor fund shared with Daily Report this week their plans for attracting potential investment partners in Baton Rouge to raise some $4 million that will be used to help fund startup businesses along the 10/12 corridor.

Dr. Smith goes to Washington, via Louisiana

"Per capita, Louisiana has more medical doctors in Congress than any other state," Congressman John Fleming, R-Minden, said during a recent SWLA Economic Development Alliance event in Lake Charles, the smile on his face widening. "And I'm not going to stop until every single member of our delegation is a medical doctor. Can I get an amen here today?"

'Business Report' planner

Tuesday: As part of its Healthy Homes educational initiative, the LSU AgCenter LaHouse Resource Center in Baton Rouge will host a daylong Lead Certified Renovator Training course beginning at 8:30 a.m. The course fee is $200, with a discount available for some LHBA members. Get complete details and register to attend.

Shelia Sterling

Shelia Sterling has served Volunteers of America professionally for 25 years. Even while earning her master's in social work she was a VOA employee. "I have never worked for another organization," Sterling says. "I find the work we do both rewarding and humbling. I can't imagine doing anything else." Her institutional knowledge reflects job experience at all three Louisiana affiliates: Volunteers of America of North Louisiana, Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans and, since 1991, Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge. Now vice president and COO of VOABGR, which serves a 19-parish region, Sterling oversees its leadership team and is responsible for the overall management, development and implementation of service programs. Those programs now impact annually over 20,000 of the region's most vulnerable residents, young and old: the homeless and the hungry; those living with disabilities and those living with AIDS; veterans and low-income seniors and traumatized children, among...

Pat Quigley

In Baton Rouge, Pat Quigley made a name for himself as the owner of Ivar's, situated under the Perkins Road underpass. "Ivar's was my life," says Quigley, who kept the popular bar open every day of the year.

'Daily Report' Week in Review

After the Metro Council dismissed Mary Roper as parish attorney at a hectic, nearly two-hour long hearing Wednesday afternoon, East Baton Rouge Parish First Assistant Attorney Lee Ann Batson assumed the duties of the top position in the office.

McAllister becomes target of duck shoot

Ever since Congressman Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, was caught on video kissing a married staffer in April, the reaction from the reality TV family that endorsed him last year has been quieter than the early-morning opening hours of duck season. But after a few carefully called quacks and a bit of patience in the blinds, the inaugural shotgun blows are loud and clear.

'Business Report' Planner

Tuesday: The Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish sponsors a congressional forum for candidates seeking the 6th District seat in this fall's elections. The forum will take place at the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon and will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Cafe Americain, 7521 Jefferson Highway. Lunch is $15. Get complete details.

'Daily Report' Week in Review

The city of St. George initiative may not see a place on a ballot until the spring, petition organizer Lionel Rainey told Daily Report this week. Rainey announced in July that the group pushing the petition had enough signatures to get the measure up for a vote in the fall, but Rainey now says the group is continuing to collect 1,500 additional signatures to ensure the petition has enough signatures from legitimate, eligible voters.

'Business Report' planner

Thursday: The 2014 Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance Craft Workforce Development Awards banquet will take place at the Renaissance Hotel, 7000 Bluebonnet Blvd., beginning with a 5 p.m. cocktail reception followed by dinner and awards program at 6 p.m. Individual tickets are $95. Tables of 10 are available for $850. Register to attend.

Preston Armstrong Qvistgaard=Petersen

Talk about baptism of fire. In spring 2008, when Preston Q=Petersen became general manager of Team Automotive Group, the national recession was gathering steam. "There were significant concerns about the future of our lenders and their lending practices," he says. Within the year, the group—which comprises Team Honda, Team Toyota, Team Honda South and Team Collision— also encountered fallout from the "Toyota pedal recall." A shortage of parts and a surfeit of misinformation were among his team's daily challenges, Petersen recalls. Six years later, he prizes the achievement of weathering that uncertain period. "Our organization came though it all much stronger, more focused, and more capable in the end," he says. The TCU grad brought a special range of experience to his role as GM. His father had created Team, purchasing Baton Rouge Honda in 1988 and Levis Toyota in 1993, and Petersen had worked in every one of its departments. Perhaps as important, he was trained in...

For health care woes, Jindal prescribes confusion

You should not drive or operate heavy machinery while attempting to understand the health care decisions made in recent years by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration.

Public Service Commission finally becomes interesting

If the regulation of utilities and motor carriers is your thing, then you'll feel right at home with the Public Service Commission.

Senate race presents risk for Jindal

Even though Gov. Bobby Jindal's name won't appear on the November and December ballots, he may very well be judged anyway come the end of this current election cycle.

Stacey Moore

She calls herself "a seeker," always looking for ways to do things better.

'Business Report' planner: Business groups host forum on new La. workforce incentive fund … BRAC presents Tech Tuesday … LABI hosts panel discussion on hiring ex-cons

Tuesday: The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, The Committee of 100 and the Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association host a forum with higher education and industry leaders to discuss Louisiana's new workforce incentive fund at the LABI Conference Center, located at 3113 Valley Creek Drive, from 10 a.m. to noon. Get more details.
Tuesday: The Baton Rouge Area Chamber hosts Tech Tuesday, a networking event for the technology community, at North Boulevard Town Square downtown from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There is no charge. Get complete details.

Jamie S. Simpson

In 1993 Jamie Simpson was just 23 when the founder of MMO Behavioral Health Systems asked her to join the fledgling enterprise. "Chris [Nichols] believed in my abilities and talents long before I did," Simpson says of her mentor. "She pushed my limits on a daily basis." In the ensuing decades, MMO grew from a single-service agency serving the Baton Rouge area into a major provider of mental health programs and services throughout Louisiana. And Simpson's role expanded in the process. "I learned early on in my career that in order to survive the health care industry, diversification of lines of service was necessary," she says. "I took on different positions of increasing responsibility to assist our organization in diversifying and moving forward." Today, as president and COO of MMO, Simpson is responsible for all facets of the business, though "compliance and revenue streams are on the top of [her] list." In 2008 she became a co-owner of MMO, realizing, she says, "I was already...

Confusion a major election issue for some officials

This election season is not only hotly contested across the ballot, but it's also growing rather bizarre in the races where few of us barely pay attention.

Vitter going big for big business

U.S. Sen. David Vitter is the premier butcher for mainline Republican voters in Louisiana, serving up the kind of red meat that keeps the base waiting in line for more.

Nicole Williamson

"People probably thought we were a tire place," jokes Nicole Williamson, 31, who founded the Perkins Road fitness studio Tread BR.

Sonya Burton

Business First Bank was just a year old in 2007, when Sonya Burton joined it in the role of internal auditor and compliance officer. "I was interested in Business First Bank specifically because it was such a young institution," Burton says. An alumna of LSU's Graduate School of Banking, she saw the move as "an exciting prospect": "To be able to establish a risk program from the ground up was a huge opportunity," she says. Her role at BFB grew "organically," in tandem with the bank's growth. "I was given the opportunity to view risk from a more comprehensive level," she says, "while we filled out the risk department with individuals who could specialize in a particular area." In March the bank announced that, to take advantage of strategic growth opportunities, it was reorganizing into three geographic regions, each with its own CEO, yet "centralizing enterprise risk management." Burton was promoted to the new role of chief risk officer, overseeing activities in all three...

'Daily Report' Week in Review: BRAF releases latest CityStats report, redevelopment authority moving forward with plans for Entergy site and much, much more

Residents of East Baton Rouge Parish are less concerned about crime this year, according to the results of the annual CityStats survey by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, released this week. In another key finding about the community, the numbers also show locals are divided on the question of performance of traditional public schools versus charters.

Lawmakers should kick open closed committee doors

The Louisiana Legislature has made great strides in terms of access and the legislative process. Yet the Legislature has failed us when it comes to the transparency of conference committees.

Why I fight for local control of education

People often ask, what do I think is the most important issue facing Louisiana? Or, if I could accomplish just one thing as Governor what would it be?

Open for business

Louisiana is open for business. That's the resounding battle cry that I heard on a recent trip to the state.

Tess Brunet & Patrick Hodgkins

"We've created the record store that we would want to go to."

McAllister should drop GOP, run as independent

Congressman Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, is motoring into the fall elections carrying more baggage than Delta. His campaign finances are shaky, a few dynamics that favored his candidacy just a month ago are turning sideways and he has lost key supporters. Then there's his self-made political scandal that gave new meaning to the old phrase regarding loose lips sinking ships.

Robert Mercer

It's hard to imagine a more experienced hotelier than Robert Mercer. With nearly 50 years in the business, Mercer took the helm at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel in October 2012. Previously, Mercer had managed numerous upscale hotel properties in major Southern cities—in Atlanta, Memphis and Orlando, to name a few. Though his employer is actually Davidson Hotels & Resorts, Mercer's job entails working closely with the developer and owner of the landmark Bluebonnet Boulevard property, Mike Wampold. "It is our job to ensure that his investment is well taken care of, well thought of in the community, and financially successful," Mercer says. The GM's transition at the award-winning hotel was free of surprises. "I knew before I arrived how beautiful the hotel was and that I would be able to have interactions with the owner, which I believe is most important in order to fully understand what drives him and what he expects from me as the general manager." Wampold Companies, he...

Lawmakers should avoid hitting cruise control

With a tempestuous debate over Common Core nearing its peak and congressional elections lying in wait behind the curtains of this humid summer, most state lawmakers aren't flipping their calendars ahead some 280 days or so to pencil in priorities for the 2015 regular session. But they should be doing just that.

Jindal making risky gamble over Common Core

It wasn't long ago that Common Core was considered the most debated policy issue in Louisiana that lawmakers and parents knew the least about. Now it's the hottest political issue with the highest volume of unintended consequences.

Lani Guilbeau

POSITION Founder and owner
COMPANY Fleur Du Jour Florist
WHAT THEY DO Accommodate planned events with expert floral and design services
NEXT GOAL To reconnect with her clients

'Business Report' planner: Family Forum president to address Chamber of Commerce of EBR … Grant-writing seminar available for faith-based, community organizations … Finalists for LSU lakes plan to make public pitches

Tuesday: A free seminar on how one can become a licensed claims adjuster will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University's Baton Rouge campus. Get complete details and register to attend.

Cynthia Rougeou

Cynthia Rougeou begins each workday at LASERS with a Diet Dr. Pepper. On the best days, she says, that kick-start is "followed by interacting and sharing ideas with our senior executive staff." Promoted to executive director in 2006, Rougeou oversees the daily operations of LASERS and professes a "passion" for its mission: "to provide a sound retirement plan for our members through prudent management and exceptional service." LASERS members do not participate in Social Security. "Our average retiree has a very modest pension," Rougeou says. Dispelling misconceptions has been a consistent part of her current job, she adds: "We are not going broke, and we are certainly not Detroit. In fact, our 30-year average actuarial return exceeds 8 percent." For the past decade LASERS has ranked among the top 10 performing public pension systems in the nation, notwithstanding its unfunded accrued liability. Rougeou says: "In our most recent valuation, the UAL dropped by nearly $700 million. For...

Forgiveness emerges as major theme of upcoming elections

During the fall elections this year and next, a handful of candidates will be asking not only for your vote, but also for your forgiveness. While Louisiana has always had its fair share of flawed and ethically challenged politicians, it's a treat for reporters—and heartburn for supporters of good government—to find so many high-profile cases on the campaign trail at the same time.

Picture this

The Capital Region has seen considerable commercial growth over the past year.

Expanding an icon Tiger Stadium

Construction crews have been working round-the-clock at LSU to complete one of the Capital Region's biggest developments of the year: the massive $87 million South End Zone expansion of Tiger Stadium.

Off the charts

Baton Rouge metro area housing market performance ranking among 350 markets nationwide included in the current National Association of Home Builders' First American Leading Markets Index. The market is performing 42% better than it was during pre-recession “normal levels.”

Industrial overview

The industrial real estate market continues its post-recession rebound, according to an analysis by a committee of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

Retail overview

The Baton Rouge retail market is strong and the year ahead will see a continuation of positive trends.

Commercial overview

The office market in Baton Rouge is strong and several positive developments over the past year suggest it will only continue to strengthen.

Multifamily overview

The multifamily housing sector is strong in Baton Rouge, with more than 1,700 units under construction, nearly 1,000 more expected to break ground this year, and an additional 2,000 that have been proposed and could become a reality in the next couple of years.

Single-family overview

After several years when buyers had the upper hand, the Capital Region's single-family housing market is tilting back toward sellers, according to data gathered and analyzed by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

Capitol Beat

Hosted by Shauna Sanford and Charlie Whinham of Louisiana: The State We're In throughout the Legislative session and featuring highlights from the day's activities at the State Capitol.
Courtesy LPB

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.

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.

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...

Paul A. Salles

Since Jan. 1, the Louisiana Hospital Association has as its top executive an industry veteran with lifelong ties to the state. For more than a decade Salles has been involved with LHA, which, he says, "works closely with its board and membership to support the hospital industry through advocacy, education and services." Formerly the group's executive vice president—a position he held while also leading the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans—Salles says he "directed the development of health care policy and reimbursement initiatives on behalf of hospitals in Louisiana, and directed and participated in various political activities at the state and national levels." Beginning his tenure as president and CEO during a period of industry reform, Salles notes that LHA will play "an increasingly important role" in quality and performance improvement, on one hand, and information and data capabilities, on the other. Regarding the latter he notes: "To keep up with the...

RNC going 'all in in Louisiana' with Project Geaux Red

With the recent launch of Project Geaux Red, Matt Pinnell says the Republican Party of Louisiana aims to grow the state party and reclaim U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu's seat in 2014 by focusing on year-round, grassroots efforts rather than commercial blasts right before elections. "When you get down to it, that's the central focus here: the quality of contact between the volunteer and the voter," Pinnell, director of state parties at the Republican National Committee, told the Baton Rouge Press Club today, adding that the Republican Party of Louisiana (LAGOP) has been putting its funds into day-to-day operations for over a year rather than waiting until a few months before the 2014 senatorial race—a race that is garnering much national attention. LAGOP Chairman Roger Villere says that in addition to the RNC's five staffers who came down to assist the LAGOP in July 2013—a...

IBM's B.R. plan named among nation's top economic development deals of 2013

Business Facilities, a trade magazine focusing on corporate site selection and economic development, has named IBM's technology center in downtown Baton Rouge among the nation's best economic development deals of 2013. While an Apple advanced manufacturing center in Mesa, Ariz., was named the nation's top deal and a pair of projects in Tennessee took the silver and bronze awards, the IBM announcement in Baton Rouge was among the magazine editors' five honorable mentions. "Louisiana's capital has had great success in executing its strategy of bringing together business and higher education in innovative public-private partnerships that spur initiatives in new high-growth sectors," says Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers. "The partnership developed among public, private and higher education entities for this project demonstrates...

Local business owner goes DIY with Super Bowl commercial

Shortly before kickoff of Sunday's Super Bowl, local salad dressing manufacturer Richard Hanley decided he would make his own halftime commercial and send it out to friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and email. The 30-second spot only got a few hundred views, but considering that Hanley produced it himself at no charge while fiddling around on his laptop, it wasn't a bad way to pass the time during the lackluster first half of the game. "I thought it would be cool to have my own Super Bowl halftime ad," says Hanley, who has a background in advertising. Though Hanley says he would never spend the $8 million it cost to air a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLVIII even if he had it to spend, his company, Hanley's Foods, hasn't needed to spend much on advertising so far. Since it began manufacturing, bottling and selling an all-natural sensation salad dressing last spring, sales have skyrocketed and the...

La. ranked No. 19 for new business growth, 2009-2012

With an estimated 2,315 new businesses created in the state between 2009 and 2012, Louisiana is ranked No. 19 nationally for net new business growth in the years immediately following the recession. According to a new report out from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists, which is based on an analysis of Labor Department data, Louisiana was among 29 states and the District of Columbia that saw net new business growth during the span. Texas, New York, Illinois, Washington and Pennsylvania were the top five, while Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, New Jersey and Michigan rounded out the bottom of the list. In Louisiana, the report says, there were 121,679 businesses operating in the state in 2012. The state's 2% net new job growth rate between 2009 and 2012 was equal to the U.S. average rate. The 50 states and D.C. added a total of...