Baton Rouge Business Report [January 2024]

Page 1


Leadership Insights

for 2024


Growth mindset


Authentic communication




Lessons from Capital Region entrepreneurs and executives

High-stakes leadership


Finding your niche




Think time


Brandon Landry Jay Johnson

Brad Ives Therese Walker

Norisha Kirts Glover




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• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700

Partner with our experts


Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM, SIOR 2023 Top Producer Retail Specialist & Associate Broker

Luke Gomez

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Brian Nicolich

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Jim Allen

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Don Hanna

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Brent Rhodes

Development & Consulting Specialist

Richard Blackstone, MBA Commercial Sales & Leasing Associate Broker

Jack Herrington, CCIM

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Matthew Shirley

Commercial Sales & Leasing Associate Broker

Lauren Buckholtz, MBA

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Bill Jeansonne

Commercial Investment Specialist

Jesse Simpson

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Bob Kirby

Commercial Investment Specialist

Mike Stinson, CCIM

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Thomas Matherne III

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Joey Stone

Commercial Sales & Leasing

Not pictured: Charles Gladney, Ann Jones and Harry Johnson

Edward L. Rotenberg, SIOR

H.N. “Hank” Saurage IV, CCIM

Partner & Managing Broker

Larry Dietz, CCIM

Commercial Sales & Leasing Associate Broker


Partner & Associate Broker

(225) 766-0000 | 5135 Bluebonnet Blvd. | Baton Rouge, LA 70809 | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




News 64 ‘This is our opportunity’


Louisiana now has newfound power in D.C. Here’s what it could mean.

67 A louder voice

Leadership Insights


Growth mindset


Authentic communication

for 2024




Lessons from Capital Region entrepreneurs and executives

High-stakes leadership


There’s a growing demand for local lobbyists as Louisianans gain leverage on Capitol Hill.

Finding your niche




Think time


70 On the rise


How Black entrepreneurship is growing in the Capital Region and beyond

74 Nowhere to go

Brandon Landry Jay Johnson

Brad Ives Therese Walker

What’s keeping more big name acts from calling on Baton Rouge?

Norisha Kirts Glover



Publisher 6 It’s all about leadership

Intelligence 9 5 Things to Watch

ON THE COVER 24 Leadership Insights for 2024 Design: Hoa Vu


11 Jon Gordon: Unleashing your inherent greatness

Small Shifts Page 27

12 Scott Wozniak: The right seeds for a business to succeed

Small lifestyle changes in nutrition, exercise, perspective and behavior can lead to a better, healthier future.

13 Briefing: News, notes and charts to keep you in the know

The Roundtable Page 51 Connections, solutions, ideas

16 Evolution of an Idea: Pearce Bespoke

MissionBR Page 77

18 Entrepreneur: Peyton Finical and Joshua Crowdus of Sasquatch Waste

These Baton Rouge companies and organizations are on a quest to make a difference in the Capital Region.

21 Design: St. Francis Hall at FranU

2024 Presidents’ Forecasts

25 Executive Survey: Melodies and Mascots


Page 100 Business owners, CEOs and other leaders in the Capital Region share their opinions on what to expect in the coming year.

Viewpoint 91 Rolfe McCollister Jr.: BRAC needs bold, independent leadership 92 Guest Columnist Rachel Alexander Cambre: Expanding school choice is long overdue

Your Business


94 Company News 96 Moving Up 98 Listmakers: Accounting firms

110 Recharge: John Snow | Instagram


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

Local Leaders. Global Resources. With local leaders and a focus on quality client service, EisnerAmper has a long history of helping organizations innovate, transform, connect, and grow. Solutions are tailored to your industry, size, and geography. So, whether you’re a manufacturer, a professional services firm, a governmental entity, or any growth-oriented business, anywhere in the world, discover how we can amplify your success.

Learn more | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



Publisher: Julio Melara


It’s all about leadership MY GOOD FRIEND and mentor John C. Maxwell once said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” These words resonate profoundly, whether applied to the leadership of oneself, a business, a community or a nation. Maxwell’s insight serves as the cornerstone of our journey over the past eight years, particularly with the inception of Business Report’s Executive Leadership Academy. Eight years ago, fueled by a vision to craft a distinctive professional development experience, Business Report’s Executive Leadership Academy was launched. The goal? To be a catalyst in elevating leadership across the Capital Region, sparking a transformation that would reverberate throughout our community and state. As we embarked on this venture, our mission was clear: to enlarge participants’ thinking, shift their paradigms, challenge conventional wisdom, and foster growth in both their relationships and leadership capabilities. Today, we have nearly 500 alumni, and the program continues to grow. Leadership, at its core, is a multifaceted responsibility, touching the lives of individuals, families, businesses and entire communities. As a leader, you become a pivotal figure, a source of guidance and inspiration for those who depend on you. In the realm of family and friendships, leaders model purpose-driven lives. Your actions, values and principles become a compass, guiding others toward a life filled with intention and meaning. It’s a role that transcends personal success, extending into the realm of collective well-being. We call that servanthood leadership. When it comes to children, leaders play a crucial role in helping them reach their full potential. Through mentorship, encouragement and setting examples, leaders become architects of possibility, nurturing the


talents and aspirations of the next generation. Within the business arena, leadership takes on the responsibility of not only driving profits but also creating great places to work. True leaders understand that success is not a solo journey; it’s a collaborative effort that involves cultivating an environment where individuals thrive, feel valued and contribute meaningfully to a shared vision. Communities, too, benefit immensely from effective leadership. Leaders who take the initiative to create positive change and foster inclusivity contribute to the fabric of a better place to live. It’s about envisioning a community where everyone has the opportunity to flourish and actively works toward turning that vision into reality. That’s why we kick off this new year with a cover story devoted to leadership. We crafted something that not only inspires but offers proven practical advice from the leaders in this community that we know and admire. “24 Leadership Insights for 2024” features LSU baseball head coach Jay Johnson’s advice for leading teams in highstakes environments. Walk-Ons founder Brandon Landry shares how he fostered a growth mindset in his team, a crucial trait in today’s fast-paced world. Tee Brown of GMFS Mortgage talks about leading teams through fluctuating business cycles. So get ready to shift your paradigm, challenge conventional wisdom, and elevate your leadership in 2024! The best is yet to come!

Julio Melara, Publisher

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

Chief Content Officer & Executive Editor: Penny Font Managing Editor: Allan Schilling News Editor: Deanna B. Narveson Staff Writers: Holly Duchmann, Dillon Lowe Multimedia Editor: Oscar Tickle Contributing writers: Sam Barnes, Kelli Bozeman, Emily Hebert, Maggie Heyn Richardson Contributing photographers: Don Kadair, Tim Mueller, Collin Richie

ADVERTISING Sales Director: Kelly Lewis Account Executives: Emma Dubuc, Nancy Bombet Ellis, Meredith LaBorde, Ethan Shipp, Matt Wambles Digital Operations Manager: Devyn MacDonald Customer Success Manager: Paul Huval

STUDIO E Director: Taylor Gast Creative Director: Timothy Coles Corporate Media Editor: Lisa Tramontana Content Strategist: Emily Hebert Project Manager: Kendall Denney Account Executive: Judith LaDousa

MARKETING Marketing & Events Coordinator: Taylor Falgout Marketing & Events Assistant: Cadon Ardoin

ADMINISTRATION Business Manager: Tiffany Durocher Business Associate: Kirsten Milano Office Coordinator: Sara Hodge Receptionist: Cathy Varnado Brown

CREATIVE SERVICES Director of Creative Services: Amy Vandiver Art Director: Hoa Vu Senior Graphic Designers: Melinda Gonzalez Galjour, Emily Witt Digital Graphic Designer: Ellie Gray Design Consultant: Carlin Mumphrey

AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT Audience Development Director and Digital Manager: James Hume Audience Development Coordinator: Ivana Oubre Audience Development Associate: Catherine Albano A publication of Melara Enterprises, LLC Chairman: Julio Melara Executive Assistant: Brooke Motto Vice President-Sales: Elizabeth McCollister Hebert Chief Content Officer: Penny Font Chief Digital Officer: Erin Pou Chief Operating Officer: Guy Barone Chairman Emeritus: Rolfe H. McCollister Jr. Circulation/Reprints/Subscriptions/Customer Service 225-928-1700 • email: Volume 41 - Number 19 ©Copyright 2024 by Melara Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved by LBI. The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report (USPS 721-890 ISSN 0747-4652) is published monthly by Louisiana Business Inc. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Business address: 9029 Jefferson Hwy., Ste. 300, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. Telephone (225) 928-1700. Periodicals postage is paid at Baton Rouge, La. Subscription rate is $96.00 for 12 issues, with 2 additional issues published annually in April and December. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, 9029 Jefferson Hwy. Ste. 300, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report cannot be responsible for the return of unsolicited material— manuscripts or photographs, with or without the inclusion of a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Information in this publication is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. No information expressed here constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities.

When you need a mammogram,

is your krewe. Before you second line this Mardi Gras season, ensure your first line of defense is taken care of… your mammogram. Mambo over to Woman’s Imaging Center for our Mardi Gras Mamm-o-thon. Our 3D mammography technology will help keep your parade rolling for years to come. Get screened by February 13, 2024, to receive a Mardi Gras giveaway.* Call 225-924-8265 to schedule your mammogram today. while supplies last


invites you to



Two impactful speakers. One incredible morning!



New York Times Best Selling Author

International Speaker

Wednesday, Feb. 7 • 8 - 10:45 a.m. • HPC Arena 19202 Highland Road • Tickets: $70 PROCEEDS BENEFITTING:




to watch this month 1 SEASON TWO OF Business Report’s “Strictly Business” series with business leaders across the Capital Region premieres with LSU Institute for Energy Innovation Director Brad Ives on Wednesday, Jan. 17. Get ready to deep dive into the energy transition and what it means for Louisiana. We’ll explore groundbreaking research initiatives happening here, economic opportunities and workforce development initiatives. Register at strictlybusiness. and get more information at

THE FIGHT GOES ON. The Legislature will convene Jan. 15 for a special session to draw new congressional districts for Louisiana. It marks the culmination of more than 18 months of legal fights on whether to carve out a second majority-Black district within the state’s existing six districts in order to comply with federal voting rights laws. The session will have lasting impacts on the state’s residents and businesses, shaping who will represent them in Congress.

3 BUDDING YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS will have a conversation with their more experienced counterparts when the Young Entrepreneurs Academy hosts its annual CEO roundtable at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17. Six business founders and leaders, including Genesis 360 founder Craig Stevens and Studyville founder Amanda Vincent (left), will share their experience during a panel moderated by WBRZ-TV anchor Sylvia Weatherspoon at the LSU Business Education Complex. Get the details at



4 NOW’S YOUR CHANCE to recommend

an influential woman for the recognition she deserves. Business Report is accepting nominations beginning Jan. 2 for Influential Women in Business recognition. The awards annually honor professional women in the Capital Region who have distinguished themselves in business or through government or nonprofit work. Nominations will be reviewed by a panel of community and business leaders who will weigh the impact of individual nominees in their business or organization as well as in the community. Deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 2. Get more information at


Annual Meeting to take a deep dive into the economic development organization’s new goals for 2024 and witness a sneak peek on the progress of one of BRAC’s biggest initiatives that will launch later this year. Business owners, community leaders, young professionals and elected officials—all are invited to the big event, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, at the Crowne Plaza Executive Center Baton Rouge. Register at | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2023. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700






Unleashing your inherent greatness you, then you’ve had a love for the game. So, I think the deeper question is, “Are they someone who has discovered the power inside them?” Are they someone who realizes that there is greatness within them? Do they know they are more powerful than their circumstances? Have they tapped into the love, joy and goodness within them? Do they feed the positive or negative inside them? Do they allow fear to inhibit them or love to propel them? Everyone has this power inside them. Everyone has the power to work hard, be resilient and gritty, live with character and integrity, stay positive and be an overcomer. The ones who thrive are those who tap into it and unleash it. That’s why I spoke to coaches and players during spring training. To remind the coaches that their mission should be to call out and pull out the greatness within each player they drafted, to develop and lead, and to remind each player to tap into and unleash the power that they have and the greatness within them by having a high state of mind. It’s why I’m also writing this to you. When someone asks what’s inside you, my goal is that you will answer, “Everything I need to be my best. I know this power and I utilize it.” When you know the power is inside you, you become a more powerful force in the world.


JON GORDON is a top speaker and bestselling author of multiple books including The Energy Bus, The Power of Positive Leadership and The Power of a Positive Team. His clients include Campbell’s Soup, Dell, Publix, Southwest Airlines, Snapchat and Truist Bank as well sports teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Rams. Connect with him at

“IT’S EASY TO find the talent. The key is to find out what’s inside them.” Colorado Rockies senior director of scouting Marc Gustafson told me this before I spoke to the coaches and players during spring training earlier this year. Gustafson and his fellow scouts crisscross the world to watch the most talented high school and college baseball players and determine whether they have what it takes to make it to the major leagues. While talent is easy to spot, it’s a more investigative process to determine whether a player has the mindset, character, attitude, work ethic, grit and resilience to overcome adversity and failure in order to succeed at the highest level of the sport. It’s not a perfect science but scouts do their best to predict what kind of person and player a young man will be in the future. The interesting thing about trying to decide what’s inside someone is that I believe everyone has greatness inside them. I believe deep down every player has the potential qualities that every scout is looking for. I believe everyone is born with grit. If you were a child learning to walk and kept getting up after falling down, you had and have grit. If you kept your promises or admitted when you didn’t, then you have lived with integrity. If you loved the game, before it felt like a job to live up to the expectations you and others have placed on | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



The right seeds for a business to succeed I TALK A LOT about how building a

SCOTT WOZNIAK, CEO of Swoz Consulting, consults with leaders from Silicon Valley to family enterprises. He loves to help others apply what he learned from working inside legendary brands, including eight years working on companywide upgrades at Chick-fil-A. His latest book debuted at No. 1 on Amazon in its category. To learn more, visit


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

business is like building an engine. I even wrote a book on it. But an engine is not the only useful metaphor for thinking about your company. There’s a lot to be said for thinking about organizational improvement like gardening. For example, the garden metaphor reminds us that we can’t force people to do what we want. No matter how hard you work, you can’t make tomato plants produce peanuts. And like garden plants, people are not interchangeable cogs in your company machine. So, our goal is not to change them into a different type of plant, it’s to help them reach their full potential. And you can’t put any plant in any garden. This past summer, my wife and I visited the lowest garden in the world, over 1,000 meters below sea level (next to the Dead Sea) and she fell in love with some of the flora there, only to discover none of them would survive in the temperate climate of our home. Some plants need cold temperatures to ripen (apples) and some plants are killed by cold (oranges). What it takes to thrive at Apple is very different from Chick-fil-A. After you have the right plants in the right place, then the role of the leader is to cultivate the right environment. You don’t punish your plants to get better performance. If you want better performance, provide better nutrients. For

plants, those are things like soil, water, fertilizer and sunlight. For your team, these are things like clarity, safety, community and visibility to how their work makes a difference. Also, a good gardener will protect from pests and prune their plants. For a team leader, that might mean protecting your team from unrealistic deadlines, replacing clunky tools and even pruning a difficult customer. Finally, gardening reminds us that different plants require different methods. What motivates one employee doesn’t work for another. And different seasons require different strategies. When your company’s survival is on the line, you probably should be faster to decide, leaving you less time to collaborate and consider alternative options. But when you K C O T IS are healthy and profitable, you should probably take more time to think through changes and include your team in the process. Good gardeners and good leaders know there isn’t a one-size-fitsall solution. What does your organization garden look like? Are there weeds you need to pull? The longer you wait, the more resources they will rob from your productive plants. How could you upgrade the nutrients you are adding to your soil? And what is the true potential of your people?



EXPECT YOU R CPA Great companies wantMORE theirFROM employees to think and act like owners. How do you empower your team to achieve this mindset? “We try not to micromanage. We encourage everyone to help improve our mousetrap.” Brian Pangburn, CEO, The Pangburn Group

“We empower our employees to think and act like owners by clearly communicating our company’s vision and goals. We grant autonomy, encourage decision-making, and invest in professional development. Recognizing and rewarding initiative, we establish transparent performance metrics, promote open feedback, and lead by example at the leadership level. This approach helps create a culture where everyone takes ownership of their work and our clients’ satisfaction, contributing to our overall success.”

“How we’ve achieved such success in creating an ‘ownership mentality’ culture is we’ve actually offered just that: ownership. We are a private, employee-owned firm in which every Higginbotham teammate benefits financially from our growth and is then provided an opportunity for equity ownership. This creates a synergy so that sparking personal motivation is not something we have to Issue Date: Jan2024 Ad proof #5 spend much time worrying about in our team.” • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. Kase • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or finalGonzales, revisions are received within 24 hrs Executive Vice President, Higginbotham from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

Madhu Beriwal, President & CEO, IEM

Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700


is proud to announce

our new leadership


Audit + Assurance | Tax Planning + Preparation


Mergers + Acquisitions Due Diligence Outsourced Accounting | Business Valuations ALICIA KNIGHTON, CPA PARTNER TAX



W W W. H T B C PA . C O M |






B AT O N R O U G E | N E W O R L E A N S | D E N H A M S P R I N G S | H A M M O N D | A L E X A N D R I A | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




The Blue Cross acquisition: Next steps during the hearing. Because the proposal was withdrawn earlier last year and resubmitted, evidence and hearing motions must be resubmitted to the department, but Ford says that public comments submitted prior to the plan’s withdrawal still will be considered at February’s public hearing. After the hearing, the deal must still be approved by two-thirds of the company’s roughly 92,000 policyholders. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Cindy Wakefield says the insurer plans to schedule a vote within a couple of weeks following the public hearing. Policyholders will be able to cast their vote in person, or by proxy via mail, online or phone. “We’re still working on the logistics of the meeting,” she told Daily Report in December. “Those decisions are still being made and will be communicated with the policyholders. They will receive a packet with all the information.”


THE LOUISIANA Department of Insurance will host its public hearing regarding the reorganization and sale of the state’s leading health insurer on Valentine’s Day. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Elevance Health resubmitted their acquisition proposal in mid-December after taking roughly three months to address the concerns policyholders, state officials and other members of the public raised earlier last year with the initial deal. The hearing will be held in the Plaza Hearing Room at the department’s offices, 1702 N. Third Street. The department commissioner has 30 days after the closing of the hearing record to approve or deny the deal, according to John Ford, deputy commissioner of public affairs for the department. The hearing record remains open following the actual hearing if questions or requests for additional information arise

M E ET TH E 500



Number of branches H&E Equipment Services Inc. added in 2023 alone via acquisitions and organic growth—the latest resulting from an agreement entered into in December to acquire equipment services firm Precision Rentals and its $70 million fleet of construction equipment that it leases to clients across the Denver and Phoenix metro areas. Financial terms were not disclosed.


BOBBY YARBOROUGH is a thirdgeneration owner of Manda Fine Meats, which produces and sells Louisianastyle meats and sausages. He took over as CEO of the 76-year-old meat processing company in 1997. Manda’s products include smoked sausages, andouille, boudin, hog head cheese and deli meats. The company’s success ranks it No. 81 on Business Report’s most recent list of the Top 100 private companies. Business Report also recognized Yarborough as its 2009 Businessperson of the Year and as a Business Hall of Fame laureate in 2017. As a philanthropist, Yarborough has donated his time and efforts to nonprofits such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Louisiana, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and YMCA of the Capital Area. PASSION: “I enjoy working with and helping others get to a place they’re trying to get to.” BEST ADVICE: “To whom much is given, much is required.”


In the business world, a “go-getter” is someone who is seen as enterprising—even aggressive—in their pursuit of success. But what about a “go-giver”? This quick-read book from award-winning motivational authors Bob Burg and John David Mann shifts the paradigm, diverging from conventional business literature to lay an alternative path to success. It’s an inspiring tale of Joe and his discovery of the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success through encounters with exceptional “go-givers.” The message is about the transformative power of giving over receiving. As Joe embraces these principles, his perspective on success and life undergoes a profound metamorphosis. Emphasizing the value of placing others’ needs first, The Go-Giver illustrates how generosity and adding value to others’ lives can lead to unforeseen rewards. Its message is clear: True success and fulfillment come from giving—a testament to the timeless proverb, “Give and you shall receive.”


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |


Winning over today’s customers requires salespeople to be BOLDER, HIGHLY INNOVATIVE, and MORE SKILLED than ever before. Business Report’s Selling Academy will sharpen your sales skillset, re-energize you and grow your confidence in new ways. We’ll touch on the latest selling techniques, how to reframe your mindset, and tap into your sales potential to make the most of your personal skillset.

The SELLING ACADEMY will help you: Develop the art of asking effective questions Increase your closing ratio

Starting on Feb 21! Scan here to apply TODAY or email

Master how to overcome objections Build relationships that lead to more sales Establish and maintain the right mindset to flourish in sales… PLUS much more! This customized sales program is for sales people with 1-8 years of experience. Special group discount offered to businesses sending 3 or more attendees. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




Pearce Bespoke This mobile tailor aims to change the way you think about suits. Bespoke Baton Rouge, has recently been the subject of local and national media attention for his role in designing the suit worn by LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels as he accepted the Heisman Trophy in December. But Daniels’ Heisman suit is far from the business’s only notable accomplishment. Here are a few additional highlights. —Dillon Lowe


THE LOCALLY BORN tailoring business caters primarily to young professionals, touting its status as an innovative “mobile” suiting experience. In practice, this means that its tailors travel to meet their clients where they are—a departure from the industry’s traditional brickand-mortar model. Nathan Pearce, founder and CEO of Pearce Bespoke Franchising and owner of Pearce


“I started the old-fashioned way. I would literally dress up in the suits that I made and hang out at places of wealth—cigar lounges, highend hotels, whiskey lounges. Everywhere I went, people would compliment my suits and ask me where I got them.” —Nathan Pearce


Since shifting to a franchise model a little less than two years ago, Pearce Bespoke Franchising has expanded to 40 locations throughout the U.S., from Las Vegas to Miami.


Pearce Bespoke’s partnership with the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame has allowed it to outfit some of the biggest names in Louisiana sports history including former New York Giants Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning.


Jae’Sean Tate


Joe Schwartz

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

McDonald’s Franchisees

According to Pearce, the answer is yes. “Millennials and Gen Z are wearing suits more than anyone has in a very long time,” Pearce says. “In terms of trends, suits are on fire.”

Issue Date: Jan 2024 Ad proof #1


• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700



Pearce Bespoke outfitted much of the LSU football coaching staff and roster for the entirety of the 2023 season, including director of player development Jordan Arcement and star players John Emery Jr. and Malik Nabers.

John P. Wolff, III Civil Litigation

Andrew Blanchfield Professional Liability

Kirk L. Landry Workers’ Compensation

Christopher K. Jones Class Action & Mass Torts

Richard W. Wolff Rising Star

Mary Anne Wolf Construction Litigation

Chelsea A. Payne Rising Star

Keogh, Cox & Wilson, Ltd. 701 Main Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802 225.383.3796

George A. Wright Rising Star

Brandi A. Barze Rising Star

Andrew Blanchfield, Managing Partner LSBA Filing # LA-23-16137

Jayden Daniels

WHO ARE THE INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN BATON ROUGE? Business Report is now taking nominations for the 2024 Influential Women in Business honorees. Jordan Arcement

WHAT MAKES AN INFLUENTIAL WOMAN IN BUSINESS? We’re looking for Capital Region women distinguishing themselves and influencing others through their professional and community life. Most of those honored are involved in business or a related career, but some previous honorees were successful in a wide variety of pursuits, including politics, government and nonprofits.



Nomination deadline is Feb 2, 2024 | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



1 Key

to Success

“We don’t have it all figured out, but we’re very eager to learn and absorb from others. We both regularly meet with mentors and anyone who is willing to share their experiences and lessons with us.” —JOSHUA CROWDUS (far left)

Peyton Finical and Joshua Crowdus SASQUATCH WASTE

What they do: Trash compacting service Website:



Ask any apartment complex, higher education institution or manufacturing facility with a roll-off and a waste management contract. Filled dumpsters require regular emptying, a budget line item that’s only becoming costlier. A solution to this pain point has been trash compacting, or compressing a dumpster’s contents to reduce its emptying frequency. The latest player in the space is Baton Rouge-based Sasquatch Waste, a homegrown startup founded by father and son team Tony and Peyton Finical along with Joshua Crowdus. Peyton Finical and Crowdus run the company’s dayto-day operations, which can include operating two specially designed trash compacting trucks sourced from a Baltimore vendor. They also jointly handle sales, familiar territory for them both. Finical previously worked for a national homebuilder, while Crowdus worked for a roofing company. Though content in those jobs, they say they were looking for a new business venture. “The idea just kind of popped up. My dad had seen it on social media and said, ‘Hey, this is a cool idea,’” says Finical, 29. “Josh and I had been friends for a long time and wanted to do something for ourselves.”

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

The partners first looked at opening a national franchise but didn’t like the pricing structure. They opened an independent startup instead last year, originally calling it SmashR, but with so many national and independent trash compacting companies with the word “smash” in their names, they pivoted. “Sasquatch” sounded a little like smash, they figured, and the hairy cryptid has a tireless, attention-grabbing brand. Business was slow to take root, Finical says, but he and Crowdus beat the bushes much of last year, eventually landing on-demand and recurring contracts with key clients, including LSU for its residence hall movein day, Associated Grocers and Shintech. Now with more than 60 weekly and biweekly clients, the young company can show hard data on reducing customers’ waste budgets by an average of 30%, Crowdus says. Growth is looking promising for 2024, the partners say. “We’ve grown 40 percent from 2022 to 2023,” says Crowdus, 33. “We’re expecting to grow that much in 2024.” The company will expand to Lafayette and New Orleans next year.

—By Maggie Heyn Richardson • Photography by Don Kadair



Business Awards & Hall of Fame Meet the six honorees who will be recognized at the 2024 Business Awards & Hall of Fame, hosted by Business Report and Junior Achievement in March. This year’s winners, as selected by a panel of independent judges, are:

Hall of Fame Laureate

Hall of Fame Laureate

Executive of the Year

Company of the Year (fewer than 100 employees)

Company of the Year (100+ employees)


Young Businessperson of the Year





Founder, Guaranty Media

The Powell Group

President, Franklin Associates

Founder and Owner, Queen of Sparkles

Mo Vij, CEO

Scott Barringer, President and CEO


All of this year’s honorees will be profiled in the March edition of Business Report and honored at a

Issue Date: Jan2024 gala Adonproof #4 March 20, at the Crowne Plaza Baton Rouge. Sponsors of the event are Investar Wednesday, • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. Bank, Hannis T. Bourgeois CPAs + Business Advisors, Crowne Plaza Baton Rouge and Genesis 360. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700







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Cost: $28 million Architects: Coleman Partners Architects, Perkins&Will Contractor: Milton J. Womack Date completed: June 2023 Use: The 75,000-square-foot building is designed to meet the academic and student development needs at the undergraduate and graduate level and includes a library, social space, study space, a grab-and-go lunch area, administrative offices, chapel, green space and designated parking areas. A centerpiece is the 19,000 square feet of simulation space that allows students to work hands-on in their respective disciplines. “Mini hospital” floors are dedicated to intake and outtake. The building also houses a home health care area.

“Every student will have a reason to come to this building. In the big picture, we want the campus to move in and around St. Francis Hall. We want to convert it and be a really cohesive campus.” —TINA HOLLAND, president and CEO, FranU | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024






S O N D J F M A M J J A S 2022


280 275 270 265 260 255 250 245 240 235 230 225

Unemployment percentage


East Baton Rouge Parish unemployment rate for October 2023


Sales price (thousands)

Tax dollars (millions)

Sales tax collections in East Baton Rouge Parish for September 2023 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12


Median home sale price in East Baton Rouge Parish for November 2023

N D J F M A M J J A S O N 2023



5.0 4.0 3.0 2.0 1.0 0

N D J F M A M J J A S O 2022


SOURCES: U.S. Department of Labor, East Baton Rouge Parish Finance Department, Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, Louisiana Workforce Commission.



MobilOps, a proprietary plant management and field operations software developed a decade ago by Turner Industries, is in the hands of a new owner. Global chemical and manufacturing software firm Prometheus Group scooped it up in a December acquisition, calling it a strategic move that marks a significant milestone for both companies. The financial terms were not disclosed.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re clear about free speech at LSU. Because we have a long history of people critiquing us about whether this is a place for free speech.” LSU PRESIDENT WILLIAM TATE, on his belief that presidents should focus on defending students’ right to free speech. As reported by the Louisiana Illuminator, his comments were made to faculty in December in the wake of controversies involving his counterparts at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and their condemnation by Congress for their comments during a hearing about antisemitism on college campuses.


5 45


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BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |



It’s time to get out of the hellhole SINCE THE INCEPTION of the American Tort Reform Foundation’s Judicial Hellholes report in 2002, Louisiana has made the list a whopping 14 times. In the organization’s most recent report, Louisiana retains its rank from last year as the seventh-worst civil justice jurisdiction in the U.S. What does this designation mean? This annual report ranks the most unjust local courts and state civil justice systems in the country. From statewide economic and job losses and ongoing coastal lawsuits to trial lawyer-led insurance schemes targeting storm victims and the state’s vital trucking industry, Louisiana has earned its dubious distinction as a “Judicial Hellhole.” These kinds of abuses of our civil justice system cost every single Louisianan, extracting an annual “tort tax” of more than $1,100 per resident. Due to the costs associated with lawsuit abuse, nearly 50,000 jobs are lost annually, affecting the ability of Louisiana residents to afford basic essentials and impacting the state’s ability to attract and grow businesses. Lawsuit abuse harms hardworking Louisianans by clogging our court system with meritless and frivolous cases and increasing the costs of goods and services while driving up insurance costs and driving away jobs. Louisiana deserves better. A watchdog group with nearly 20,000 supporters across the state, Louisiana Lawsuit

Abuse Watch looks forward to working with our newly elected state leaders to change Louisiana’s long-known culture of lawsuit abuse. We must enact meaningful reforms, including improving transparency in litigation funding. The practice of third-party litigation funding does not currently require disclosure of litigation financing arrangements with funders, meaning they are not required to disclose any litigation financing contracts or agreements in which individuals, other than legal representatives, would have received or had a right to receive compensation contingent on the proceeds of the civil action by settlement or judgment. This requirement, passed by the Legislature earlier this year and vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, would have been a significant and much-needed step in addressing the extent of control or influence these funders have in critical litigation decisions. With reforms like these in place, businesses will be better positioned to flourish, generating quality jobs and improving the bottom line for all hardworking Louisiana residents.

Bye, bye barbecue Readers respond to our December report on the closing of The Shed BBQ

“That location is a restaurant graveyard.” Lee Moreau, via LinkedIn

“I will miss those ribs.”

Lana Venable, executive director, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, via email in response to our December report on the state’s latest Judicial Hellholes ranking.

Sean Harry Jr., via LinkedIn

s d n e i r f h t i w r e tt be

For life’s moments, big and small. We’re here with the strength of the cross, the protection of the shield. The Right Card. The Right Care. 01MK7923 R12/23 | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this A shorter timeframe will •apply for tightPHONE deadlines. Carefully check thisproof. ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS CORRECT NUMBER • ANY TYPOS • Additional revisions mustEnterprises, be requested and2023. may All be subject to production fees. This ad design © Melara LLC. rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700

Issue Date: Dec 2023 Ad proof #1 • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2023. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700

Giving generously can do more than help those in need. You can be rewarded by GRANDCHILD’S 529 making your contributions to charity from a retirement account. When you use your tax qualified to donate to a 501c(3) PLANIRA INTO A ROTH IRA charity, the withdrawal is not taxable as ordinary income. This can greatly help to reduce your overall taxable income for the year.



Individuals with Required Minimum Distributions (those over age 73). A required IS A QUALIFIED minimum distribution is a calculated mandatory amount that you must withdrawal ROLLOVER 529 PLANS INTO ROTH HOW CAN MY CHARITABLE DONATION CREATE INCOME? CHARITABLE DISTRIBUTION from your Traditional, SEP, Simple, or Employer plan upon reaching age 73. If not taken Starting in 2024, families who are saving for education in 529 plans will Individuals with Required Minimum Distributions (those over age a penalty could be imposed. By giving to a charity straight from these retirement RIGHT FOR YOU? Giving generously do funds morefrom thanthose helpaccounts those in by deduct withdrawals from their tax return if it is donated be allowed to roll overcan unused intoneed. Roth You can be rewarded 73) may to a accounts, youcontributions can help to avoid this penalty. making your to charity frombeneficiary a retirement account. When youcharity. use your tax individual retirement accounts (IRA) for the same without HOW CAN I LOWER qualified to donate a 501c(3) the withdrawal is not taxable as ordinary incurring taxIRA penalties. Someto provisions arecharity, listed below. MY TAXABLE INCOME? HOW MUCH CAN I DONATE? income. This can greatly help to reduce your overall taxable income for the• Starting year. in 2023, donors can also direct a one-time, $50,000 QCD to a There is a contribution limit of $100,000. • 529 Plan account must be opened for over 15 years. charitable remainder trust or charitable gift annuity.



•Individuals Funds used towith rollover held at least 5 years.Distributions (those over age 73). A required • The Charitable Gift Annuity provides lifetime income to the donor (and Required Minimum QUALIFIED specifically the spouse) and at the end ofIS theA lifetime of the donor(s), minimum distribution is a calculated mandatory amount that you must withdrawal •from Lifetime limit of $35,000 SEP, Simple, or Employer plan upon reaching age 73. Ifthe charity keeps the funds. CHARITABLE DISTRIBUTION your Traditional, not taken a penalty could be imposed. By giving to a charity straight from these retirement RIGHT FOR YOU? •accounts, Roth IRA in you the name of theto same 529 this beneficiary (student) can help avoid penalty.



There is a contribution limit of $100,000.


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |


Melodies and Mascots

Sometimes, a mere description of your company culture just doesn’t quite do it justice. But a song or a mascot—now that can put it all in perspective. So we asked six CEOs of companies known for their culture through Business Report‘s Best Places to Work this question: “If your company had a theme song or mascot, what would it be?”

“We are Family,” by Sister Sledge. We truly care about our team members and treat everyone as though they are a member of our families.

“Shake It Off,” by Taylor Swift. Be motivated by the opportunities for success and not the fear of failure created by obstacles that can be overcome.

—Susan Eccles, Partner In Charge-Baton Rouge, Adams & Reese

—Eric E. Bosch, president and CEO, LaPorte








—Nancy Steiner, CEO, DAA

A penguin would be a great Gresham Smith mascot. Penguins create thriving communities and are known for working together as a group so that each individual can succeed. Plus, our primary company colors are black and white, so a penguin would fit right in.

“The Family Madrigal,” from the Disney movie Encanto. We consider ourselves a family. We understand that everyone has different gifts and talents they bring to the table. The tempo reflects our optimistic and upbeat culture. —Steven Brooksher, Owner, Brooksher Insurance


Our company has a mascot. Come by and say hello to Moose, our office dog, anytime.




This may seem a little unusual for an accounting firm, but if I had to choose, “Raise Your Horns,” by Amon Amarth, would be our theme song. It touches on the theme of prevailing and battles bravely fought. As a company, we have a “Raise Your Horns” agenda item at our monthly staff meetings so we can highlight, recognize and raise our horns for any team member who has gone above and beyond in helping out a client or fellow LaPorte employee.








—David Bienvenu, Member, Bienvenu, Foco & Viator


—Bert Moore, State Transportation Leader, Gresham Smith | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


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BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |



Small Shifts

Small lifestyle changes in NUTRITION, EXERCISE, PERSPECTIVE and BEHAVIOR can lead to a better, healthier future

Pennington Biomedical Research Center


Health across the lifespan begins with SMALL SHIFTS AT PENNINGTON BIOMEDICAL, our passion is straightforward: prevent disease, treat disease, end disease. Through innovative research, and with the involvement of the Baton Rouge community, we are applying cutting edge technologies to improve human health. But in addressing nutrition, obesity, and diabetes, many approaches do not employ state-of-the-art lab equipment. Addressing them requires small shifts. Small shifts are something that everyone can do and can be incorporated into everyday life. Small shifts add up, and they are reinforcing, which further promotes the activity. From swapping a soft drink with water to parking further away from the front door, small changes in behavior can generate positive net effects that aren’t easy to accomplish otherwise. Our researchers are committed to addressing the triggers of chronic disease, but time and again we see that our prescribed guidance is paired with the encouragement of healthy behaviors and incorporating good health habits. We encourage minor adjustments because we know that major and extensive habit changes are challenging, leading to a resistance to embracing them, no matter how beneficial. Our researchers are exploring the “whys” of people’s behavior around food and around exercise; what makes us do, or not do, what we know to be good for us. This research has led us to explore good and easy-to-sustain food and exercise choices, and which ones are best suited for each age group. While improving our health is seen as a personal challenge, Pennington Biomedical is taking on the challenge at a societal level. We are hard at work exploring various ways to help our community achieve this collective goal, and the year ahead presents us all with many opportunities to make those minor adjustments—those small shifts—for a better, healthier future.


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

“In our mission to address and prevent disease, we feel that small shifts in diet, attitude, exercise and behavior can go a long way toward improving not only general health, but mental, physical and emotional health.” —Dr. John Kirwan, PhD, Executive Director

Pennington Biomedical Research Center


Swap soft drinks with water. This will save you lots of empty calories. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein.

Be mindful of why you’re eating (hungry, bored, lonely, stressed?)


Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Incorporate these healthy tips into your routine and you’ll be surprised how much progress you can make in a short time. Consistency is the key to success, and small adjustments can make a big difference.

Take regular breaks from social media.

Meditate for a few minutes each day.

Breathe deeply for five minutes to clear your mind.

Limit screen time so your brain can power down before bedtime.

Establish a set bedtime and try to get 7 hours of sleep each night.

Keep a gratitude journal to stay in a positive mindset.



Taking between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day is just as impactful as taking 10,000. And all types of physical activity boost your energy and improve your attitude.

Staying socially engaged with family and friends is great for your mental health. It creates a sense of belonging and provides you with support and encouragement in your daily life. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


Pennington Biomedical Research Center


“It doesn’t have to be 10,000 steps per day. Start anywhere. Get off your couch, get out from behind your desk, and go for a short walk.” —Pennington Biomedical and LSU Exercise Physiologist Neil Johanssen, PhD

“When you think you’re not doing much, just look back on where you started. You’ll see proof of how far you’ve come.” —Pennington Biomedical Exercise Testing Core Manager Angelique Litsey

Small Shifts Exercise I want to get healthy, but I can’t do 10,000 steps a day! I want to lose weight, but I don’t have time for the gym. I feel out of breath when I walk around the mall, so why bother getting off the couch at all? THOUGHTS LIKE THESE plague individuals who dream of getting healthy but don’t know where to begin. Start small, say researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The world-renowned diabetes and obesity research institute advocates integrating small changes, which can lead to big improvements in health and well-being over time. 30

“It doesn’t have to be 10,000 steps per day,” says Pennington Biomedical and LSU Exercise Physiologist Neil Johanssen, PhD. “Start anywhere. Get off your couch, get out from behind your desk and go for a short walk.” If you look closely, opportunities for movement are everywhere, says Pennington Biomedical Exercise Testing Core Manager Angelique Litsey. “People think, ‘I have to go jog around the University Lakes to really be exercising,’ but just getting your heart rate up by walking your dog or doing a wall sit in your office will make you feel better,” Litsey says. “An easy place to start is by

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

parking your car in the farthest possible space.” Small shifts like these will increase your energy level and give you the confidence to keep going. The trick is to not get discouraged. “When you think you’re not doing much, just look back on where you started,” Litsey says. “You’ll see proof of how far you’ve come.” For most of us, sitting is a big part of life, due to computer-centric jobs, long commutes and other factors. Johanssen points out that the COVID-19 pandemic made this already challenging situation worse. “Coming out of COVID, you see ultra-low physical activity levels

and a lot of issues with managing body weight,” he says. But research shows that even some exercise is beneficial and can lead to significant lifestyle changes. Accumulating between 5,000-7,000 steps a day, for example, is as impactful as 10,000. And exercising for half the recommended duration is also highly beneficial, Johanssen says. From opting for the stairs, to setting a timer to taking short walks throughout the workday, micro-changes can lower blood sugar and increase energy. “Do it for your kids,” Johannsen says. “Be more active and very quickly you’ll see improvements.”

Pennington Biomedical Research Center


“There’s an old saying, ‘Don’t let perfect get in the way of good,’ and it really applies here.”

“Even if you make what you consider to be an unhealthy choice, the whole day isn’t ruined. It’s about the longterm.”

—Pennington Biomedical Metabolic Kitchen Director Renee Stelzer, RD

—Pennington Biomedical Assistant Professor Jacob Mey, PhD, RD

Small Shifts Nutrition YOU’VE DECIDED IT’S time to lose some weight. But with all the diet noise out there, what’s the best way to take off those unwanted pounds—and keep them off? The answer lies not in radical changes, say experts at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, but in small increments. Easy and attainable adjustments, like staying hydrated, opting for more fruits and vegetables and eating mindfully, have a way of snowballing into longterm lifestyle changes that can help shed pounds and boost energy. “A common misconception is that good nutrition is all or nothing,” says Pennington Biomedical Registered Dietitian Renee Stelzer,

Director of the research center’s Metabolic Kitchen. “There’s an old saying, ‘Don’t let perfect get in the way of good,’ and it really applies here.” As a world-renowned nutrition research center, Pennington Biomedical has been on the forefront of how diet impacts health for decades. With hundreds of studies demonstrating the value of sound nutrition, the research center recently rolled out its Small Shifts campaign to showcase the cumulative value of daily common-sense changes. “A great place to start is by just making sure you’re eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, as well as lean, quality sources of

protein,” says Pennington Biomedical Assistant Professor Jacob Mey, who studies the impact of nutrition on conditions like asthma. Substituting fruits and veggies for less healthy foods is easy to do both at home and while dining out. Even if finding fresh produce is difficult, frozen fruits and veggies offer high nutrition value, as do low-sodium, low-sugar canned options, Stelzer says. Drinking plenty of water is another easy modification, and one that reaps double rewards. It keeps you hydrated, a must for the body’s many functions. And when you substitute water for sugary drinks, it saves you lots of empty calories.

Mey and Stelzer say integrating mindfulness is also key. Begin to think about what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. Chew slowly. Observe when you start to feel satisfied rather than continuing to eat thoughtlessly. “Everything in moderation,” Stelzer says. “If you’re mindful at mealtime, the calories will work themselves out.” Most of all, don’t let “imperfect” behavior derail your overall commitment to living well. “Even if you make what you consider to be an unhealthy choice, the whole day isn’t ruined,” Mey says. “It’s about the long term.” | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


Pennington Biomedical Research Center


“Sleep is complex, but it affects everything—your mental health and your physical health. Everything is interconnected.” —Prachi Singh, PhD

“This is a concept known as ‘resting in the margins.’ When we take small, seemingly insignificant breaks, our brain benefits. It speaks directly to the value of small shifts.” —Tiffany Stewart , PhD

Small Shifts Mental Health THERE’S NO QUESTION that how you feel emotionally can impact your physical well-being. By cultivating an open and positive mindset, we are better able to take care of our minds and bodies, e.g. exercising, getting enough sleep, or calling a friend. And vice versa—when we are engaging in habits to take care of our minds and bodies, it fuels our positive mindset. Giving your mental health the attention it deserves is just as important as nurturing your physical health. In fact, they’re interdependent. Making small changes to your mental health, like breathing deeply for five minutes, meditating or taking regular breaks from social media, help improve your total wellness, say experts from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “When we talk about health, we often think about things that are very physical, like nutrition and fitness,” says Professor Tiffany Stewart, Director of Pennington 32

Biomedical’s Behavior Technology Laboratory. “But we also need to have conversations about mental health and mental resilience.” Stewart says that daily stress and multidimensional tasking are at an all-time high, and that can push our minds into what feels like overload. “We have a lot of things thrown at us,” says Stewart, who studies emotional resilience among both elite athletes and soldiers. “We’re very distracted with technology and social media, and we respond to constant demands.” It’s not unusual for us to juggle personal and professional obligations all day long, only to take breaks by scrolling social media or reading emails, she says. Instead, we should make a conscious choice to give our brains a break. Just like closing the tabs on a computer screen, it’s important to also close the tabs in our mind from time to time. “This is a concept known as ‘resting in the margins,’” Stewart says.

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

“When we take small, seemingly insignificant breaks, our brain benefits. It speaks directly to the value of small shifts.” Stewart says three mental health traps often impede our pursuit of mental and physical wellness. Apprehension about starting something new can prevent us from taking the first steps on a wellness journey. Perfectionism can make us believe only perfectly executed habits are successful in getting us to our goals. And comparing ourselves to others, especially via social media, forces us to set an unreasonable calculus for success. Fortunately, we can become more mindful through small, incremental shifts. Along with deep, purposeful breathing and social media breaks, Stewart says meditating for a few minutes each day and keeping a simple gratitude journal is a great way to cultivate a positive mindset. When we improve our mindfulness, we tend to sleep better, which leads to healthier outcomes, says

Associate Professor Prachi Singh, director of the Pennington Biomedical’s Sleep and Cardiometabolic Health Lab. “Sleep is complex, but it affects everything,” Singh says. “Your mental health and your physical health, everything is interconnected.” If you find sleep challenging, try making small shifts to your routine. • Go to bed the same time every night. • Limit screens before bedtime so that your brain has time to power down. • Take a bath before bed or spend a few minutes meditating. Singh says that one of the best things about sleep is that we’re naturally inclined to do it. And it doesn’t cost anything. “Sleep is free!” Singh says. “It’s the easiest thing you can do to improve your health. If you focus on improving sleep, then depression and anxiety levels go down. You’re able to feel happier and see an improved quality of life.”

Pennington Biomedical Research Center


About Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Explorers in Search of Discovery RESEARCH AT PENNINGTON Biomedical is conducted across a network of laboratories committed to advancing health through science. Laboratories are grouped by area of focus: Basic Science, Clinical Research, and Population and Public Health Sciences. Basic researchers are explorers in search of discovery, dedicated to uncovering the fundamental mechanisms that influence human health. Whether the focus is genetic, molecular, cellular, endocrine, physiological, or neurological, the Basic Scientists at Pennington Biomedical seek to understand how the body works, as well as what we can do to reverse or cure the diseases that burden humanity. Clinical faculty and researchers are dedicated to improving the health of patients of all ages affected by chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and some cancers, leading to better physical and cognitive functionality from pediatrics to older age. In collaboration with basic scientists, clinical scientists design and implement novel studies that yield advances on the mechanisms, prevention, and diagnosis and treatment strategies. Clinical research is vital to our mission and is at the center of translational biomedical research that is advancing discovery from the bench to the bedside. Via clinical, translational and community-engaged research, the Population and Public Health Sciences faculty are working to inform the implementation of evidence-based prevention and treatment modalities in public health settings. Scientists are working beyond the walls of Pennington Biomedical to take research out of the laboratory and into a variety of settings, including communities, schools, medical clinics and the military.

Over the past 30 years, researchers have never lost sight of their mission: to discover the triggers of chronic diseases through innovative research in order to improve human health across the lifespan. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


Small Shifts Challenge!

Join us in making

#smallshifts Small shifts make lifestyle changes more manageable, sustainable, and less stressful.

When you sign up, you’ll get:

We believe that every small step, whether it's drinking more water, taking a daily walk, or simply taking a few deep breaths, can lead to big results.


A FREE health journal Monthly motivational, small shift emails Your name in our monthly giveaways, where you can win water bottles, t-shirts, Bluetooth earphones, and more!




LOUISIANA PORTS WORKING TOGETHER WE KNOW THE IMPORTANCE of the maritime industry to the economic well-being of our state. This includes the five deep-draft ports on the Mississippi River that can accommodate large, ocean-going ships – the ports of Greater Baton Rouge, South Louisiana, New Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines.

It’s been said, “A rising tide lifts all ships.” At the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, we look forward to the opportunity to lift all of Louisiana through increased economic developments made possible by this spirit of cooperation among our deep-draft ports.

When the total tonnage of cargo shipped from these five ports is combined, it qualifies the area from Baton Rouge to the mouth of the Mississippi River as one of the largest port complexes in the world.

THE FIVE DEEP-DRAFT PORTS OF SOUTH LOUISIANA ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER: • Port of Greater Baton Rouge • Port of South Louisiana • Port of New Orleans

To become more competitive with other ports in the U.S. and globally — and to attract more of the infrastructure money coming from Washington, D.C., it’s important for the five ports to work together.

• St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District • Plaquemines Port, Harbor and Terminal District

That important work has already begun, with cooperation among Louisiana legislative leaders, port directors, and port staffs.

W W W. P O R T G B R . C O M






Leadership Insights for 2024 Lessons from Capital Region entrepreneurs and executives POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC uncer-

Jenni Peters

tainties. Changing market demands and evolving business models. Intense competition for the best talent. Unprecedented technological transformation. A workforce that spans multiple generations, each with its own set of expectations, work styles, and communication preferences. A heightened scrutiny of trust and credibility. Successful leadership can feel like an ever-moving target. So as we prepare to navigate a new year, Business Report went in search of hard-won wisdom and fresh perspectives that offer inspiration and insights into successful leadership. We’ve reached out to 24 respected business and community leaders in Baton Rouge to share what they’ve learned on their own journeys. LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson talks about leading teams in high-stakes environments. WalkOn’s founder

Brandon Landry shares how he went about fostering a growth mindset, a crucial trait in today’s fast-paced world. Tee Brown of GMFS Mortgage shares insights on leading teams through fluctuating business cycles, and Pepper Rutland of MMR reflects on leadership lessons learned as an LSU Tiger. Neil Patel of Cornerstone Government Affairs discusses the art of building alliances, while Theresa Walker of Emergent Method offers five tips for young leaders braving the tides of leadership. Their stories and those of others we interviewed just might serve as a compass for those aspiring to lead with resilience, innovation, and a deep understanding of the evolving demands of leadership. All interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity. Business Report writers Sam Barnes, Kelli Bozeman, Holly Duchmann, Dillon Lowe and Deanna Narveson contributed to this report.

Josh Descant



Shooting straight: Clear communication is key to nurturing women executives FRESH OUT OF Emory University in the

pre-LinkedIn era, Laurie Lipsey Aronson set about finding her first job the old-fashioned way: with a phone book, a stack of resume paper, and a roll of stamps. “I knew the type of industry I wanted to be in, so I just started applying everywhere,” she says. One of the recipients of her letters didn’t have an opening suitable for Aronson’s skills, but she knew someone who did. “She passed my resume on to her roommate, who was looking for someone to work in the catalog division of an apparel business,” Aronson recalls. “I went in and interviewed and got the job.” Today, Aronson serves as chair and CEO of Lipsey’s, the wholesale firearms distributor that ranked No. 7 among Business Report’s 2023 Top 100 Private Companies. She’s one of just a handful of women at the helm of Baton Rouge’s largest corporations. Meanwhile, she also stands at the helm of the historic Louisiana clothing brand Haspel, having held the top position at both companies since 2002. And she says many of the skills that helped her secure and succeed in her first job— resourcefulness, open communication and a willingness to learn—remain relevant both in

her leadership roles and for other women who seek to forge their own career paths. “I’ve really had to learn to listen and to communicate,” says Aronson, who spent nearly a decade as credit manager and then chief operating officer at Lipsey’s before assuming the CEO position. “I’m not sure that females in any role are asked often enough for their opinions, so I’ve made an effort to include more people in more meetings and get their input so they feel like they’re part of what we’re doing.” Mentored by her father, Lipsey’s founder Richard Lipsey, Aronson says she still faced hurdles during her early days with the company when her young age and lack of industry experience caused her to be discounted by some. “I remember asking questions about things I just didn’t understand and, honestly, I remember some of the guys giggling under their breath, like they couldn’t believe I’d asked such a stupid question,” she says. “They didn’t say it, but I knew that’s what they were thinking. And I’ve never forgotten that.” But when Richard Lipsey passed the baton to his daughter, he did so with a line she still quotes today: “When you’re put in charge, take charge.”

Laurie Lipsey Aronson Chair and CEO, Lipsey’s

“That’s what he expected me to do,” Aronson says. And take charge she has, leading the company through a period of significant growth. The Lipsey’s workforce numbered “16 or 17 people” when she came on as credit manager in 1993, and today the company has 185 employees. “It’s been amazing,” she says. Her team hit her “big hairy audacious goal” of a sales number in five years, and the following year they doubled that number. Now in the works is an automation project that should provide efficiency gains in the Lipsey’s warehouse by the end of summer 2024. The advice Aronson says she’d give to women early in their careers is the same she would give to men: In addition to being confident to share your opinions and stand behind your decisions, don’t be afraid to ask the “stupid” questions—and let the giggles come. “It’s really the best way to learn, and it’s so important,” she says. “If you don’t ask, you’re never going to know.”


How collaboration can make you a more effective leader THERE’S THE IDEA that it’s lonely at

Linda Perez-Clark

Managing Partner, Kean Miller


the top, but I think it should never be the objective to be at the top on your own. Relationships lead to trust, and trust leads to higher degrees of collaboration, more willingness to be innovative, more willingness to be vulnerable, and more willingness to contribute, because you know the leadership has your back. Effective, supportive relationships are critical to effective leadership, and these relationships are built the old-fashioned

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

way—time spent with people and finding ways to work together. The smallest of initiatives can really have relationship dividends that are unexpected. For me as a leader, having a sounding board is important. To be able to tap into a network of relationships with diverse individuals who have different thoughts and different viewpoints is something that I find leads to better decision-making.

—Kelli Bozeman




3 things James ‘Pepper’ Rutland learned about leadership as an LSU Tiger AS THE FOUNDER, president and CEO of MMR Group, a large electrical and instrumentation firm based in Baton Rouge, James “Pepper” Rutland knows a thing or two about leading a team. But he began accruing leadership knowledge well before ever founding his company. Many of his lessons learned can be traced back to his time on the football field, where he played outside linebacker and served as defensive team captain for the LSU Tigers from 1968 to 1972. —Dillon Lowe • THE THREE KEY WORDS According to Rutland, there are three key words that he emphasized as a team captain, and that he continues to emphasize to his team at MMR Group to this day: “strategy, structure and execution.” “These three key words apply to everybody, whether you’re in business or on an athletic team. They mean, ‘What am I trying to do? Who am I going to do it with? And how are we going to do it?’”

• KEEP A STEADY HAND One of most important skills Rutland developed on the football field was the ability to stay calm in high-pressure situations—a skill that has also been invaluable in his professional career. “If you’re on the 2-yard line and it’s fourth-and-goal, you better not panic,” he says. “The same thing goes in business if you’re in a competitive situation. If you panic, everybody around you panics. Clients want to know that your team is going to be able to manage in a crisis scenario.” • SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES As a team captain, Rutland learned that motivating his fellow players was crucial to the team’s success. The same principle applies to business—if a leader is not constantly seeking to motivate and uplift his or her employees, that leader cannot reasonably expect strong results. “Never ask your employees to do something you won’t do yourself,” Rutland says. “Put yourself last, not first.”

Scott Bardwell

President and Founder, Bardwell Homes


The importance of investing deeply MY FATHER, PRINCETON, taught

me how to lead in the civic realm, in our community, and the importance of serving out of work. I was inspired watching him—if he can do it, I can do it. He’s not the type to go a mile wide and inch deep. He was very committed to a few things. I watched, saw the benefit of that and I’m similar. I invest deeply in the few things I’m involved with. I’m committed.


On leading a publicly traded company I DON’T THINK being publicly traded makes the leadership more difficult than a private one. You do have to find ways to effectively communicate the longterm business strategy along all areas of business. It’s important to your reputation to maintain expectations.

Brad Barber

CEO, H&E Equipment Services

James “Pepper” Rutland

Founder, President and CEO, MMR Group | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




‘Business is all about relationships’ WHEN PADMA VATSAVAI, a native of

India, first moved to Baton Rouge in 1999, she saw opportunity in the city’s fledgling tech sector. In 2008, she seized on that opportunity and launched a firm of her own: Vinformatix. The software company’s suite of services aims to help businesses and government agencies boost their productivity and increase their impact in the digital age. Vinformatix has seen steady growth in the years since its founding, even being recognized as one of the fastestgrowing companies in the U.S. by Inc. magazine in 2019. But success was never guaranteed. To reach the firm’s current heights, Vatsavai had to overcome a few challenges. “The tech industry was still pretty new to Baton Rouge at the time, so opportunities in and awareness of the field were somewhat limited,” Vatsavai says. “On top of that, folks around here were not used to seeing people like me—a foreign national and a woman—as an industry expert.” Perhaps the biggest hurdle Vatsavai had to overcome was the fact that she, unlike many other entrepreneurs in the area, had little to no local connections. “Business is all about relationships, especially in the South,” she says. “The fact that I did not grow up or go to high school here and lacked the local cultural roots presented additional challenges.” Crucial to navigating these obstacles was

Padma Vatsavai

LSU’s Louisiana Business & Technology Center. The incubator provided Vinformatix with an invaluable head start in terms of connections, infrastructure and resources. When it was time, the company left the incubator in an effort to shed the label of “startup,” because customers who are risk-averse are sometimes hesitant to give a major project to a young company. Soon after, Vinformatix began joining a variety of organizations while earning numerous awards, bolstering its recognition within the community and—as Vatsavai puts it—proving that it could compete with the best of them. So what advice does Vatsavai have for entrepreneurs starting businesses in new and unfamiliar communities? Surround yourself with people who excel in areas that you do not, she says. “I am by nature a geek and an introvert, so early on I hired extroverts who knew tech and business,” she explains. Equally as important to an entrepreneur’s success is making sure you do not neglect an aspect of your business just because it’s something you are not personally passionate about. “While technical excellence is so important—especially to me as a software nerd—at the end of the day, you need strong business development if you are going to leave your mark on the world,” she says. “You can’t neglect either aspect.”

Founder and CEO, Vinformatix


The most critical strategy for talent recruitment and retention

Yvette Marsh

Assistant Vice President of Talent Management, LSU Foundation


THERE ARE A few industry exceptions but, by and large, making the paradigm shift away from hard skills to more valuable soft skills is just simply a game changer. And it’s been a game changer for us here at the foundation, so I’m speaking from experience. Once we started focusing on sourcing for talent that understood how gifts like adaptability, tenacity, curiosity, humility and emotional intelligence translate to high performance, we really became exceptional. We’re always going to provide the resources to hone and perfect the technical and job-specific

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

skills, but the interpersonal talents have to come with you when you join us. When it comes to retention, I think employees who feel heard in an organization are ones who will stay with that organization. We ask our employees a lot: What do you think? What would you do differently? The idea is that over time, trust can be built. Employee engagement is also critical, and it’s important to pay attention so you can make sure you’re offering an array of engagement opportunities that recognizes the unique cultural needs of your staff.

—Dillon Lowe




How I fostered a growth mindset AS A 23-YEAR-OLD former LSU basketball player, Brandon Landry didn’t open his first Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux with growth in mind. He jokes that the immediate goal was simply to make payroll and not go broke. But both Landry and his restaurant chain have unquestionably matured over the last two decades. Today, WalkOns has some 87 franchise locations scattered across 16 states, and its spinoff restaurant, Smalls Sliders, operates 10 locations with an 11th to open soon. Landry, who stepped down as CEO in January, credits much of the company’s growth to a willingness to take risks, and an ability to accept and learn from mistakes. Business Report sat down with him to discuss the evolution of his growth mindset since the restaurant’s founding.

Brandon Landry Co-founder, Walk-On’s

—Sam Barnes HOW DO YOU DEFINE A ‘GROWTH MINDSET’ AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR ALL BUSINESSES? Fundamentally, I think a growth mindset is about understanding the difference between progress and perfection. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s about getting a little bit better every day and understanding your challenges and tackling them. I also think a positive mindset is critically important. Your team feeds off that. If you feel you can make your company grow, go do it. You don’t have to have approval from others or peers. Also, be authentic and true to yourself. Being yourself is what made your business work in the first place. HAS YOUR OWN GROWTH MINDSET EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS? The concept has grown and matured with us. We took a lot of risks in the beginning, but we had the mindset that it was OK to make mistakes, and that when we did make a mistake, we would correct it and figure out the right way to do it. Did I think we’d have almost 100 locations now? No, absolutely not. But we created a framework so that if the concept worked, there would be an opportunity to scale it up.

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED IN THE EARLY YEARS, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? Scaling everything up was tough. Having never done it before, and without a blueprint or franchise model, we had to figure it out on our own. Food consistency, manager training etc. … we were learning it all on the fly. Growing is expensive and when you’ve never done it before, you find yourself with all this overhead and it can be scary … there were some sleepless nights in those early days when we started growing. AS YOU’VE GROWN, HOW HAVE YOU ENSURED THAT YOUR TEAM MEMBERS ARE ALIGNED WITH THE COMPANY’S VISION AND MINDSET? At 23 years old, I didn’t know a lot about the restaurant business, but I knew how to be a great teammate, and I knew that being part of a team is about being part of something bigger than yourself. Everything that we talk about is authentic to our brand. It’s not like we got a consultant to come in and

tell us what our vision needed to be. The restaurant was built with the heart of a walk-on and having that team mentality that no one player is more important than the other. We’ve now amped that up; all our employees have cards in their pockets that state our purpose, vision and mission. They’re not just words; we live it out every day. It all starts with culture. HOW DO YOU ENVISION THE ROLE OF WALK-ON’S IN THE COMING YEARS? It has been an interesting year and a half. I’ve been the founder and CEO of Walk-On’s since our inception, but I think it’s important to know what you’re good at, as well as to know what’s not your skillset. I’m primarily an entrepreneur, so I felt I needed to step out of the CEO role. Chris Dawson, our new CEO, has been with us for six months now, and he’s setting our future goals for successful growth. Our plan is to have 200 restaurants in five years and more than $1 billion in company sales. We’re explaining our goals to the team, because they’ll ultimately play a huge part in helping us get there. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024





Succeeding in a high-stakes environment is about process, not results JAY JOHNSON IS no stranger to

high-pressure situations. As head coach of LSU baseball, Johnson and his team stared down an eight-game schedule over 10 days last June to win the College World Series. But the process of winning the national championship had begun months earlier. From the first practice of the season, Johnson kept his team of 19- to 22-year-olds focused on the task at hand, not the end goal. “We emphasized continuous improvement, and talked a lot about focusing on the process, not the results,” he says. “By having a solid process, you’ll get the results that you’re wanting.” In that way, Johnson adds, there are some similarities between athletics and the corporate world. In his own words, he offers these additional tips for leading a team in a highly competitive environment.

—Sam Barnes

RECRUIT FIRST AND SURROUND YOURSELF WITH TALENTED PEOPLE. The fastest way to get where you want to go is to get as many good people around you as possible. They should either be the best at the job that you need them to do or have some talent and a burning desire to be the best … but just need time and experience. ENCOURAGE DEVELOPMENT AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT. We strive to get 1% better every day. That way, we are different in April, May and June than we are in September, October and November, or even at the beginning of the season. You’re either getting better or worse. I really believe in that. If we can’t be fully invested in pushing ourselves forward, then I don’t feel like we’re getting better. FOCUS ON “WHAT’S IMPORTANT NOW” (WIN). Getting my players to focus on the present moment as opposed to dwelling on the past or looking to the future is a big challenge. We’re trying to get to peak performance, and to get to peak performance you must be

completely focused on the task at hand. You must execute a lot of things along the way. The College World Series was super intense, but I never really allowed myself to think about winning the national championship. It wasn’t until we were in the ninth inning of the last game and were up 18 to 4 … that I was like, “Holy cow, we did it. We’re going to do this.” Until then, we were so engulfed in that day, that game, that pitch. I felt like our whole team was like that. Present moment thinking is a huge separator. You can’t win the championship in week one, but you can win the game in front of you and improve as a team. CONSISTENTLY EXECUTE THE PROCESS. The self-discipline to execute the process day after day carries far greater value than any temporary motivation. With consistency, you’ll achieve the highest level of productivity that you can. You also must have peace of mind in your performance—a good plan is one where it’s so strong that even if you fail, you can accept the result. DO COMMON THINGS IN AN UNCOMMON WAY. In baseball, that’s pitchers throwing strikes, hitters managing the strike zone and defense controlling the ball. Those are simple things, but if we do those fundamentals in an uncommon way, we’re going to be successful. There are fundamental elements to every successful business that must be done at a high level. And if you do that, you function at a high level. EXHIBIT GOOD CHARACTER. Do what’s right, do the best you can and elevate the bar of what your best is.

Jay Johnson

Head Coach, LSU Baseball


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |




A hospital executive’s own strategy for peak performance EDGARDO TENREIRO

Mike Wampold Founder and CEO, Wampold Companies


If you’re in the right place, waiting for the right time makes all the difference WAMPOLD COMPANIES founder and CEO Mike Wampold’s decision to establish his business in Baton Rouge was based squarely on the city’s potential. The city is home to two major universities, serves as the seat of state government, and has a vibrant port and petrochemical industry in addition to a growing health care sector. “I know we are talking these days about an outmigration, but Baton Rouge is still positioned very well,” says Wampold, who’s the force behind the redesigned Rivermark Centres I and II, formerly the Chase Towers, and the Harveston mixed-use development, among other projects. While Wampold says it’s important to have staying power, he stresses the need to have patience “so that you’re not trying to force things to happen or not let things come to you.”

Wampold owned the property that would become the Crescent At University Lake condominiums near LSU for 20 years before he did anything with it. There was no track record of condos at those prices, but he saw a potential market—and was correct. Patience, again, came into play when a hurricane and economic crisis hit Louisiana. “You never know what’s around the corner,” Wampold says. “When we started building the Crescent condos, we didn’t know that Katrina was going to happen in New Orleans. Going into 2006, you have all of the contractors sucked into the New Orleans market rebuilding, and we had a very hard time getting the Crescent built—and then, when we came to the market, we got there in 2008.”

—Deanna Narveson

has been at the helm of Baton Rouge General since 2017, shortly after returning to the role of executive vice president and COO. In that time, he has led the hospital through multiple transformations involving its Mid City campus and a new partnership with Mary Bird Perkins. He’s widely known for his enthusiasm, strategic focus and inspiring those around him to perform at the highest levels. So how does he ensure he’s performing at his best, both at work and in his personal life? Instead of asking for his professional or medical advice, we asked him to share his own strategy.

—Deanna Narveson

1) Keeping a balance is essential. You need to have

a strong life outside of work, in terms of your family, spiritual life, recreation and exercise. Without that balance, it’s difficult to keep your performance at peak levels.

2) Do not try to be at 100% 365 days a year. If you look at a professional athlete, they plan their year around when their competitions are, and it is the same with work in other

professions. Just like athletes have peaks and valleys in their training, you have to pace yourself and have days of rest and days where you go out and go hard.

3) Physical exercise helps manage emotions. Whatever activity

you like to do, whether it is playing golf, hiking, pickleball or running, that is the activity you should do from a physical health perspective. This way, you will actually do the activity and reap the benefits.

4) Try new things. Don’t become so hyperfocused that you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing. Variety is important.

5) Strength train. Lifting weights and other forms of resistance training are critical. In fact, if you only have time for either aerobic/cardio training or strength work, do the strength work. Strength training helps prevent injury and strengthens bones. 6) Lead by example.

One leads by example. Your behaviors and your way of approaching work and life are best shown by how you act rather than telling people what to do; so you have to live these values, and hopefully people will see and imitate.

Edgardo Tenreiro

CEO, Baton Rouge General | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




How a chirping bird signals transparency to your team Brad Ives

Director, LSU Institute for Energy Innovation


New to a leadership role? Here’s how to get moving toward transformation BRAD IVES HAS a bit of experience in guiding

organizations through uncharted waters. Before joining LSU’s Institute for Energy Innovation as director in October, he assisted North Carolina’s Catawba College in becoming the first certified carbon-neutral college in the Southeast. And as North Carolina’s assistant secretary for natural resources, he drafted and negotiated wind farm legislation that led to the creation of the state’s first wind farm. In each new role, Ives has learned to hit the ground running. “As a new leader, you should meet with key decision-makers and influencers as soon as possible,” Ives says. “Then, be a good listener. Ask lots of questions and find out their stories. Understand why they came to the organization, their challenges, where they need help, etc. “You should also find ways to make their lives easier, and identify those things you can fix quickly,” he adds. “Most importantly, though, you should deliver on your promises. That will earn their ‘buy in’ to the process.” Next, new leaders should reinforce the organization’s “corporate vision” with a solid business plan. “To do that, you must know your market,” Ives says. “Precisely identify the problem you’re trying to solve, the product you’re trying to bring to market, etc. Then, identify those things that haven’t been working, while preserving those things that are.” And lastly, don’t be afraid to bring your own vision to the table. “You have been selected as a new leader because you have an ability to see over the horizon,” Ives says, “and perhaps envision something that’s new and next level that the group can’t see.”

—Sam Barnes


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

I LOVE COMMUNICATION. I think that’s the key to everything. I just was raised in a family where if you experienced conflict and you could get across the table from somebody, that there was a way to achieve compromise. There was a way to meet in the middle. So I’ve taken that with me all through my professional career. There was a point when there was a lot of things happening very, very fast. COVID was happening. The Ukraine war. You had the economy in a tailspin. But at the same time, [Turner Industries] had new leadership here. We had people retiring, moving on, and we had new leaders coming in. So we had a lot to explain to people very, very fast. I don’t know that the new generation and how we’re working today yields itself to people reading three-page memos about what’s happening. So here’s what we did. I grabbed the head of marketing for our company: Jason Broha. I said, “Hey, Jason, let’s go shoot a video with my phone.” He asked, “What are we gonna talk about?” I said, “I dunno.” I said, “We can talk about anything I wanna talk about.” So we started doing a short one-minute video. My commitment to the Turner employees is it’s unscripted, unedited. What happens, happens. So we began talking about things that were going on in the company. We began talking about things that were going on in the industry. I was visiting our job sites all across the nation. I would take the phone with me, I would do a video. I’d say, “This is who I’m here with. This is the job site we’re at.”

Stephen Toups CEO, Turner Industries

It enabled me to get a message out that we’re here, we’re open for business, and we’re gonna come out the backside of this thing. At the same time, I was able to talk about change. We were able to get a clear goal to everybody. Everyone was able to watch this video. My other commitment is no passwords, no firewalls. Anybody who wants to see it can see it. It’s on our website. Go look at the video section. You can go look at all these crazy things. When I was filming in November, I was talking about Armistice Day and what it meant, how it became Veteran’s Day. And there was a bird chirping someplace, and it’s just going to town. The little sucker’s just singing a song, singing a song, singing a song. And finally I just said, “Oh, the bird won’t shut up.” And that was still in my video. But I think my commitment has got to be clear, transparent. And in that case, to edit something like that out is unfair. I want our employees to see exactly what we’re experiencing, what we’re feeling. I want them to know that when we say something, it’s the truth. And so that’s what we did. So, I’m not exactly an influencer. I’m not exactly a social media guru. But we are doing these videos and that has been a wonderful way to increase communications, get that vision out there, get the strategy out there, and an open explanation of what’s happening. I don’t know if that’s a fantastic strategy. But it’s one that’s been working for us right now.

—Excerpted from Business Report‘s “Strictly Business” webcast




On leading with passion for change A MILLION LEADERS have said it—you have to be the change you want to see. But that’s the truth. If you want to see Baton Rouge become a better place, you need to step up to the line and do it. I think sometimes people go to

other places and complain about what Baton Rouge is and isn’t, but they don’t step up to the line. It’s not a short game. It takes the heart of an endurance runner to do this type of thing. It’s a long run for community change.

Jenni Peters

Owner, Varsity Sports



On discovering your niche Perry Franklin HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PROFESSIONAL PASSION OR AREA OF EXPERTISE? Franklin: I took a nontraditional path to leading a for-profit business. I started off in the nonprofit sector, really cutting my teeth by helping people. I did urban redevelopment work for a nonprofit called Mid City Redevelopment Alliance for 11 years. And then in 2005, I was volunteering for the state, leading a task force to create a statewide housing trust fund as well as doing some other things dealing with housing to help the poor. When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit, I had the skills and expertise that were applicable to try to help the state apply for money and get Congress to appropriate funds so that we could help the hundreds of thousands of people who were totally devastated. Little did I know, I was acquiring skills that were transferrable to the for-profit sector. For the past 18-plus years we’ve been applying those same lessons learned and those same skills to grow my business. I found my niche in helping people. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN OR DONE DIFFERENTLY WHEN YOU WERE FIRST IDENTIFYING AND ESTABLISHING YOUR BUSINESS’S NICHE? The first three years of my business, I basically worked 12 hours a day, seven

days a week on hurricane recovery, helping families who were impacted by Katrina and Rita. I was totally exhausted, and it took me a long time to recover from that first project. What was so interesting was that afterward, I missed that level of activity and that level of chaos. I guess it’s a little unfair to my newer employees because what I consider the baseline is so unrealistic, but when you work on these types of projects, you can’t slow up. People are displaced. They’ve lost all their worldly possessions. Some have lost family members. It’s not the time to take a siesta. So, in a weird way, I’m glad that I didn’t know that I couldn’t sustain that level. It’s now given the company sort of an unrealistic pace, but I think it’s that unrealistic pace that makes us successful.

Owner, Franklin Associates

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE LOOKING TO IDENTIFY THEIR NICHE IN BUSINESS? Don’t be unrealistic. A lot of opportunities have come across my desk since I’ve been in business, and any time it’s something that doesn’t align with my North Star, I reject it. You can’t jump at everything that comes across your desk. Running a business is hard, and you can’t sustain that level of effort if it’s something that you’re faking. You really have to be true to yourself.

—Dillon Lowe | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




Revving up for a rebrand IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS, rebranding is not just a marketing strategy. It’s a declaration of evolution. But evolution isn’t always easily embraced. It can disrupt comfort zones and challenge established norms, both for employees and clients. So when Eatel and its other two companies—RTC, and Vision Communications—decided it was time to rebrand under a single name, CEO Josh Descant knew he needed a well-crafted strategy. “For decades, these companies operated independently, with strong local ties in southeast Louisiana,” Descant explains. “Bringing them together under one brand wasn’t just about a new name; it was about operational coherence and preparing for a future beyond traditional telecommunications.” The decision to rebrand was both strategic and necessary. Says Descant, “Our footprint across nine parishes posed operational challenges. We needed clarity in the market about who we were as a combined entity.” But blending decades of brand equity for each of the three companies into a single new identity was not without its risks. “Eatel, for instance, had a legacy we couldn’t ignore,” Descant asserts. “We were rebranding not

because of a problem but to carry forward the value and equity of these brands.” The process was inclusive, with employee surveys and focus groups shaping the rebranding strategy. “Our employees faced real challenges, like technicians carrying different uniforms for different areas. They were ready for this change,” Descant shares, highlighting the importance of internal buy-in for a successful transition. The name ‘REV’ emerged somewhat serendipitously. “It started as a convenient acronym for industry publications,” he says. “But it symbolized more—a revving up of our capabilities and services.” The rebranding process wasn’t all smooth sailing. Hurricane Ida, for instance, delayed the launch. “It was a time to support our community, not to push our agenda,” Descant reflects, emphasizing sensitivity to external factors. Also, at one point, some customers assumed rebranding meant Eatel was now owned by out-of-staters. Why? “We did a very nice, elegant job with the logo and the design, and the advertisement is almost Madison Avenue-esque, if you will,” the CEO says. “Maybe to some of our customers, it didn’t feel like a local company.” The fix? REV designated ambassadors from each region who had a history with


the company to be a part of the messaging internally. Indeed, a critical aspect of the rebranding was maintaining local roots while embracing a high-tech future. “We’re more than a telecommunications company. Broadband is at our core, and we’re evolving with technology,” Descant says. “This balance between tradition and innovation was key in messaging.” The transition has proved a success. “Seeing customers positively associate with REV in surveys and interactions was our ‘aha moment,’” Descant notes. For businesses considering a similar path, Descant says these things are key: “Include your employees, be patient, and be prepared to adapt your strategy. It’s a journey, not just a change of name.”



The importance of seeking advice

Why building alliances should be a priority BUILDING A STRATEGIC

AS A LEADER, I have been

thoughtful about bringing the right people to the table, not just our closest friends and allies. It’s about being inclusive. As a leader, you should have the vision of what that looks like. The advice I would give a new leader: You don’t have the answers. Your ability to seek answers from others is key to success. You have to see what others see, what they need, with an open mind.


Josh Descant

Renee Chatelain Outgoing president and CEO, Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

alliance is smart and is important to achieve your goals. Doing so can help share innovative ideas, demonstrate respect and, in some cases, [pool] resources. It can be time-consuming, but being transparent and honest will lead to a stronger solution based on facts.

Nial Patel Principal, Cornerstone Government Affairs




Thinking of starting your own company? Consider these things FIRST, CONSIDER THE

season that you’re in. There are some seasons that are better than others, depending upon who you are. If you’re the breadwinner for your family, you might have some particular financial obligation that your current job provides for. That stability means you may need to continue that for a little while longer before jumping into it. I am a risk taker, but I am very calculated and thoughtful and do a lot of research before taking my risk. I think it is very easy for people to glamorize being an entrepreneur and saying like, “Oh, I get to make my own work schedule.” You do get to make your own work schedule. But what you will find is that because you’re a business owner, your own work schedule will mean that you’re working practically 24 hours a day. And with a lot of people having a focus on and trying to be intentional about worklife balance, that is something to consider, because for the short term, there won’t be a work-life balance. I think people should very much think about the financial risk. While I did have some savings when I started the business, I don’t know that I fully understood the capital that was required to successfully run a business. And I know for some people, that will be a very stressful factor. A lot of people think,

Norisha Kirts Glover Founder and CEO, NRK Construction

“I’m really good at this particular skill set, so I’m gonna do really great at it. And they think less about, “How do I make sure that I have the cash flow to sustain me in this particular skill that I’m really good at?” Beginning to identify the network of people who could be a resource for you will be important because, as an entrepreneur, there will be a lot of things that you won’t want to share with your employees. And so you will need other individuals who you can lean upon, whether it’s who’s going to help you with your IT or someone else in the industry who can serve as a mentor for you. You’ll want to make sure that you have an accountant and an attorney who are giving you great advice. You’ll have a lot of questions that you just did not think about or know to think about that will arise and you can’t be in your head about it all the time. You’ll get stuck.

—Excerpted from Business Report‘s “Strictly Business” webcast


5 tips for navigating leadership at a young age AT JUST 28, Therese Walker is the youngest member of Emergent Method’s leadership team. Since joining the firm in 2018 as a consultant, she has quickly risen through the ranks, being promoted to managing director in January 2023. Over the course of her professional journey, she’s learned a thing or two about navigating leadership at a young age and offers the following advice.

Therese Walker Managing Director, Emergent Method

—Dillon Lowe 1. OVERCOME IMPOSTER SYNDROME BY ACTING THE PART. Any young professional who is given the opportunity to take on a leadership position may fall victim to “imposter syndrome,” or the feeling that they are undeserving of their role despite their achievements and qualifications. To overcome imposter syndrome, act like the professional you aspire to become. Enter rooms with confidence, recognizing that your presence is justified. Focus on the role you want, not just the one you currently have. 2. EMBRACE MEANINGFUL WORK. It’s important to find impact and meaning in your work. Seek tasks that move the needle and contribute to the community, and do work that aligns with your values and aspirations. 3. DEMONSTRATE HARD WORK AND COMMITMENT. One of the reasons Walker has seen so much success in her career has been her willingness to “put in the work,” as she puts it. “People recognized that I was really committed to doing the hard work and learning from the people around me in the early stages of my career,” Walker says. “You really can’t beat hard work and commitment.” 4. SEEK MENTORS. According to Walker, having good mentors is invaluable to career growth. Actively cultivate relationships with individuals who have achieved success in your field. 5. BE MINDFUL OF HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF. Your professional presence matters. Put effort into your attire and body language, and make a habit of holding eye contact and remembering names. “Age is way less relevant if you’re acting like the leader you want to be,” Walker says. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




How executives can inspire creativity “IF STRATEGY TELLS us what we are going to say and who we’re going to say it to, creative tells us how we’re going to say it.” That’s how Jeremy Beyt, co-founder of ThreeSixtyEight, distills the many facets of his position as the creative agency’s chief creative officer. Much of his role is centered on ensuring that the firm provides the right conditions to allow team members to come up with the most compelling ideas and the best end products. “In our lexicon here, we talk about ‘uncommon thinking,’” Beyt explains. “The pace of culture and technology has driven this disposable-content sort of environment where any content you post today is out the window tomorrow and you need something new, and it has created this kind of frenzy. Our belief is that that’s not necessarily a good thing. There is a space for more thoughtful, more meaningful expressions, and more meaningful ideas.” But how can a leader guide his or her team to generate those meaningful creative concepts? We asked Beyt to share more about how to spark creativity among your team members—and keep the flames burning bright no matter the circumstances. —Kelli Bozeman WHAT MAKES CREATIVITY VITAL TO THE SUCCESS OF A COMPANY OR ORGANIZATION? Creativity is the antidote to commoditization and transactional relationships. It’s easy to make a widget and sell it, but then someone else will make that widget cheaper or faster and sell it for less. But if you can do something creative, something that has a true uniqueness to it, you can build an identity around it that is everlasting. And finding a story to convey that idea turns it into something you’ll never forget. WHY DO YOU THINK CREATIVITY TRADITIONALLY HAS BEEN UNDERVALUED IN THE BUSINESS WORLD? It’s the on-demand culture. Sometime in the early 2000s, we hit this space where people had access to everything all the time, and it was an embarrassment of riches where people sacrificed substance for dopamine, essentially. The economy optimized in the direction of


transactionalism, and creativity took a backseat in many ways. But I still believe that in a time when you can serve anything anywhere to anyone, the only differential that you have is your creativity. WHAT CAN LEADERS DO TO INSPIRE CREATIVITY AMONG THEIR TEAM MEMBERS? One way is to ask better questions. We ask questions that move us past the first ideas to the next idea, which often is more interesting. Another way is to change your environment; get them into a space that inspires them or challenges them and you’re going to change the ideas that come to you. And the last thing I would say is a fun one: Start with a bad idea. Ask the team to throw out the worst idea and take it from there; it takes the pressure out of the situation and then you start to have a little fun. Fun is definitely a prerequisite for being creative. HOW DO YOU KEEP THE CREATIVITY FLOWING, ESPECIALLY DURING BUSY OR DIFFICULT TIMES? There’s an old quote that says, “Great artists steal.” If you’re pressured for great creative, make sure you have some great creative inspiration on hand to reference. When you’re under the gun and you don’t have time for a big roundtable discussion, just go to your inspiration sources and that will often be enough to give you another way of thinking. A great creator is just the sum of their sources at the end of the day.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TO CREATIVITY THAT A TEAM MIGHT FACE, AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THOSE? There are three that stick out to me. The first is time: Time is most often not the best way to create restraint for creative work. Number two is energy: Creativity is not an infinite resource, and it diminishes, so you have to have downtime to refill your creative tank. The third is group dynamics— introverts versus extroverts and everything in between. A good leader will be mindful of being equitable and encouraging and cultivating ideas from everyone in the group, not just the loudest person or the person who speaks first. If you wait for that introvert and you harvest the idea from them, it’s often the best one Jeremy Beyt because they’re more Chief Creative Officer thoughtful and they’re and Co-founder, better listeners. ThreeSixtyEight

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

Tee Brown President, GMFS Mortgage CU LTU R E

Guiding your team through ups and downs I THINK THE most important thing that you can do as a leader going through tough times is communicate. Be very clear about what’s happening and how the organization is going to handle the challenge at hand. In the absence of communication, people have a tendency to fear the worst. Even if the information you’re communicating isn’t good, it’s better for you to deliver that message than for them to hear it from somebody else or project out some negativity that’s not even [accurate].



The importance of think time for leaders, and five ways to carve it out DEVIN LEMOINE WAS riding an elevator in an office building when a moment of small talk turned into a meaningful insight. “What are you doing here today?” asked a fellow passenger with a smile. When Lemoine, the owner and president of Success Labs, explained that she would be leading a workshop on time management, the man asked, “Are you for it or against it?” The encounter is one that Lemoine reflects on years later. “If you would Devin Lemoine have looked at my life, you would have Owner and President, sworn that I was against it,” she says Success Labs today. “And I would say the same thing is true for many business leaders when it comes to strategy. If I go to a group of executives and say, ‘How important is strategic planning?’ I think most are going to say it’s pretty important. But if I ask them a follow-up question, ‘How much time, energy and space do you carve out for that?’ Most of them would say, ‘not much.’” Lemoine shares these five approaches for finding time to devote to this vital element of effective leadership. —Kelli Bozeman 1. SCHEDULE A MEETING WITH YOURSELF. “We look down a lot. We’re grinding on our to-do lists, especially in as dynamic a time and market as we are in. But you have to calendar that think time just like any other appointment, and truly block it out.”

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2. PUT YOURSELF IN A DIFFERENT SPACE. “I’ll often tell leaders: The only way you’re going to get that time is to not go into the office. So pick a day once a month to go someplace different, maybe outdoors or to a coffee shop. Get around four different walls, and it’s a trigger for your brain.” 3. BE OPEN TO IDEAS DURING NEW EXPERIENCES. “I’m often struck by the fact that when I’m on vacation, it will trigger some idea that I haven’t thought of before. Even going for a run or lifting weights at the gym can open up space for new thoughts and ideas. There’s value in these times that aren’t defined as traditional think time.”


4. THINK COLLABORATIVELY. “Schedule time with another business owner, a friend or somebody on your team to kick around ideas. I think we’re more likely to do it when we have actually scheduled time with another person.” 5. REALIZE THAT GROUP THINK CAN BE A GOOD THING. “Being with a small group of people can help you come up with new ideas and fresh approaches. These can be team members or even customers. When you’re asking questions and listening, they might send you in a whole new strategic direction or help you uncover a new need or a new problem that needs to be solved.”





How to manage the unmanageable THE THING ABOUT disasters is that they aren’t partisan. They don’t care if you live in a red or a blue state. They don’t care if you’re mostly Republican or Democrat. “Leaders can be partisan, but disasters? They don’t care about that,” says Mark Cooper, whose career in disaster management spans enough named storms to field a football team. Cooper most recently served as Gov. John Bel Edwards’ chief of staff, but before that he was a part of disaster management during Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration and worked as senior director of global emergency management for Walmart. Shortly after graduating from LSU, he began his career in Los Angeles County, where he helped develop the nation’s first mass fatality management program just months

before the 1992 Los Angeles riots. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Louisiana represents the worst catastrophic event Cooper has ever been called on to help manage. “If the American people could have seen the bipartisanship on those calls between Vice President Mike Pence and those governors,” Cooper says, “I think ... for those who have discontent, it would have instilled their belief in democracy.” Cooper says that bipartisanship and resolve to overcome differences in the face of unforeseen challenges are critical to managing a crisis situation, particularly at the highest levels. Here are his other insights and recommendations for those in leadership roles when disaster strikes:



BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

1. IDENTIFY YOUR RISKS Prepare prior to and practice often on how you would respond if that risk were to occur. An example of this is the mass fatality management program Cooper crafted while in Los Angeles. That same plan came into play following Hurricane Katrina when L.A. County sent Cooper with a team to help with recovery.

Mark Cooper Former Chief of Staff for Gov. John Bel Edwards

2. ESTABLISH KEY RELATIONSHIPS Identify those needed to assist you as a leader before a crisis strikes. In the midst of a crisis is not the time to exchange business cards.


Sharing critical information in a timely manner with stakeholders is important, even if the news is bad and not to your advantage.

—Deanna Narveson

MMR is passionate about people. It is not equipment, buildings or dollars that have led to our success, rather the compassion, ingenuity and drive to succeed instilled in our people. We strive to support the communities in which we live and work and endeavor to make a lasting impact on the Greater Baton Rouge area.



ROUNDTABLE Connections, Solutions, Ideas

S P O N S O R E D B Y:

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GENESIS 360 TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS. Managed IT Services • Call Center Operations • Staff Augmentation • Reseller Services • Cyber Security Web Services Cloud Backup Services • Data Analytics • Office 360/Email Support • Social/Video Medial Services President Craig Stevens has a degree in IT and as an as a officer in the Air Force, he was responsible for implementing IT systems across several platforms. Craig guarantees your technology needs will be handled with precision and attention to detail like no other. Craig and Genesis 360’s commitment to excellence are reflected in their being named Business Awards company of the Year 2022, SBA’s Louisiana Firm of the Year 2022, SBA’s 2022 Business Person of the Year 2022, SBA Veteran Owned Firm of the Year 2023, and INC 5000 fastest growing company in America 2022 & 2023.






BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |




President/CEO Neighbors Federal Credit Union

Craig Stevens Owner/Founder Genesis 360, LLC

Kathy Trahan

President/CEO Alliance Safety Council

Lionel Johnson Jr. Mayor St. Gabriel, LA

Clay Young Moderator

Chuck Daigle (not pictured), CEO, Ochsner Baton Rouge & Lake Charles

Trends and Topics

FOR THE PAST six years, Business Report has invited influential thought leaders to a unique Roundtable to gather their opinions on some of the most critical issues facing our community. 2024 topics include

the economy, artificial intelligence, workforce issues, healthcare and more. In these pages, leaders share their thoughts on the trends that are transforming our businesses, impacting our work, and reshaping our society.

Comments made during the Roundtable have been edited and condensed for clarity and for space. Read and share the online version at businessreport. com/2024Roundtable. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |



ased on previous experiences, I really don’t want to skim over the issue of regional flooding. I think it is something that we all need to keep on our radar. But probably our most pressing issue for the region will be transportation. As we talk about subjects such as a new Mississippi River bridge, the expansion of Highway 30, LA 415 Connector, improving congestion on Airline Highway and Florida Boulevard, more people moving into Ascension and Livingston while working in other parishes … transportation is a real concern. The construction on I-10 that is happening now and will continue for the next few years, will also be one of the most pressing subjects for our region in the coming year. —Lionel Johnson


y response is quality of life. Our communities are not growing in population. We have to talk about things like infrastructure and transportation and beautification of our cities. If we want to be proud of our community and see it grow and flourish, we have got to focus on all the key items that really impact the quality of life as a whole. It’s easy to list the top three—traffic, education, and crime. Just this morning, there was a wreck on the Mississippi Bridge. Traffic was snarled. We are building a new bridge, but it will not resolve the issue we had this morning whatsoever. —Steve Webb


ith the tremendous amount of work on the horizon, two of the biggest challenges our industries are facing are permitting requirements and skilled labor shortages. For the work to progress, we must quell the misinformation circulated by out-of-state, anti-industry activists coming to our region and often usurping the needs of the local community to further their own agenda. Local projects can be stalled at local permit hearings when “concerned citizens” from other states outnumber local industry representatives. So with so much work on the horizon and the limited skilled workforce available, not only do we have to do more with less people, but we must make sure our industrial workforce rallies in support of these projects by showing up at events like permit hearings. Decisions at these hearings will impact our citizens’ livelihoods and cannot be left to chance. I also believe the 2024 elections are going to be huge for our industry in terms of whether the state climate remains amenable to our industry and to our local contractors and their need to work as well. —Kathy Trahan


What do you see as the most pressing issue for the Baton Rouge area in 2024?

ne thing that stands out to me personally and professionally is the rising cost of insurance. I have an example on a personal level … for my home, my insurance policy was renewed last year and I got a notice a couple of months prior that the insurance company was pulling out so I had to go and search for a new insurance company. My rate went up $400 a month. That is a lot of disposable income for the average consumer. Professionally, with my business, the same thing happened on our general liability this year. Our general liability insurance carrier decided to pull out of Louisiana, so we had to search and find other general carriers. To be able to fix the rising cost of personal and professional insurance is a big challenge. I don’t have the answer, but I am hopeful that our new insurance commissioner, Tim Temple, will. —Craig Stevens


orkforce development is, without question, one of the biggest issues facing our state. According to BRAC, the Baton Rouge region has $17 billion in new business projects being considered in the feasibility stage. We must develop and recruit a skilled workforce in order to ensure these projects come to fruition. It’s critical that we find a way to retain the bulk of the 20,000+ students who graduate every year from one of our local universities and colleges, and our vocational and trade schools. This is our future. We need all levels of government and business working with these schools—and the individual graduates—to create a sustainable pipeline for jobs. We also need education to partner with students and young people to develop an understanding of career paths and opportunities. Crime is another major issue facing our community. Economic development and opportunity for all is one of the key solutions to reducing crime and building a place where people can be productive and more harmonious. At the very basic level, humans need economic security, respect and self-esteem. They need to feel valued and have the opportunity to contribute to our society and to one another.

—Chuck Daigle | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




e have a tendency to group with people who look and act like us. This is a conversation I had with my 14-year-old daughter: I understand you’ll have your group and you don’t have to be friends with everybody else, but at least establish a rapport or relationship and have respect for every other group out there. I think the same thing should happen in the workforce. As managers, we need to come to the point where we hire the best person regardless of whatever. It should come to the point where we have respect for that individual and their professional capacities. So one of the things we have done is reformat our open enrollment. For government, by law, we have to do ethics and sexual harassment awareness, but this year we included diversity, equality, and inclusion just to have that conversation about respecting everyone. I don’t have to like you or be your best friend, but on a professional level I will respect you and we will get the job done. —Lionel Johnson


am thrilled to say we started a conversation with my board to create diversity and that definition is going to mean something different to everyone and what we are trying to achieve. You might think of race and gender, but there’s also age and professional experience. Most boards are made up of people my age or older, so we’ve been really trying to attract a younger person for a more diverse experience in the industry. We talk about a culture and a workplace full of respect. Respect is a mutual term that people do understand. I have lunch with every new employee to discuss this. We deal with people all day long from all walks of life. People walk in the door and they might have $10 or $10 million. It’s not for you to judge the person. Just respect them and thank them for choosing to do business with us. Unfortunately, the DEI conversations have gotten very polarized. It means this to one person, and something else to another. Let’s not judge people. Let’s just respect them. —Steve Webb



e refined our focus on a diversity and inclusion strategy at Ochsner Health in 2020. We hired a system vice president and chief diversity officer, and created a division partnered with human resources to educate our team and raise awareness of our different and unique perspectives, and the strengths of our team through our differences. Our goal is to ensure that all patients and visitors feel welcomed, comfortable and are able to give the needed input on the care they receive. In addition, it’s important that each member of our team, regardless of their role, background or differences, feels valued and understands their role is equally important as other roles when it comes to ensuring the highest quality of care for our patients. Our training, education and onboarding of new team members also focuses on Ochsner’s values of patients first, integrity, compassion, teamwork, excellence and inclusion. I can tell you from a firsthand perspective how these programs have made a difference with communication and understanding among our individual teams.

—Chuck Daigle

What steps are you taking to achieve diversity and inclusivity in your workforce?



y background is in corporate America and the Air Force. In the military, we were “purple,” meaning we were a blended group of people with different backgrounds, but one mission which was to serve and protect our country. When I was in corporate America as Director of Operations for Circle K, my store staff consisted of 95% women and that’s when I got the chance to see the resiliency of women in the workforce. So I started to evolve and ask, “How do I bring women into the construction (male-dominated) space? How do I find that quality female who can do the work?” I am not asking her to pick up 100 pounds or anything like that. I am asking her, ‘Can you do QA, quality assurance? Can you handle safety compliance?’ Making sure that person can handle those specific roles is optimum for me because again, the resiliency that women bring to the table can’t be matched. Just the thought of being pregnant for nine months blows my mind. But that just puts it into perspective; the resiliency of women. —Craig Stevens

veryone should have the opportunity to earn a living so they can support themselves and their loved ones. Ensuring every student comprehends the intricacies of safety protocols in their preferred language is one way that we help support a diverse workforce. Historically, we have worked alongside industry personnel to develop site-specific orientations in multiple languages. This year, we really dug in our heels to support workforce diversity in our region by hiring a fluent Spanish instructor with industry experience. We are now able to offer Basic Orientation Plus® (the reciprocal contractor safety awareness training program) in Spanish at our Gonzales location weekly. Over the next year, we will be translating several more of our flagship courses to Spanish. Meeting people where they are is important—especially when it comes to safety training. —Kathy Trahan

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hen my daughter graduated Baton Rouge High 8 or 9 years ago, I encouraged her to leave the state. She ultimately chose to go to University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which was fine, but my intention was for her to experience what I got when I was in the military. I traveled the world. I spent time in Europe and Asia, and I got a chance to see a different perspective on life. Well, a month ago she got accepted into a chiropractic school in Dallas, but I think she will come back to Louisiana at some point because of our unparalleled culture, just as I did. I think you are able to attract and retain people with the culture. Additionally, keeping your core values and ensuring that all the employees embrace it, coupled with the vision, will continue to drive them to stay with the company. —Craig Stevens


emote and hybrid work has opened the door to a new approach to hiring, where companies can tap into a larger and more diverse pool of talent, regardless of their location. However, when employees work remotely, there is not an immediate connection or understanding of exactly what the organization does and how they fit in with everyone else’s roles. So on the front end, you have to spend a lot more time orienting new team members—not just on your company, but on your members, your stakeholders and your industry. One way we support this is by incorporating daily standups. Everyone has varying workstyles, and some thrive with more peer-topeer interactions while others may consider that a distraction. Hybrid work environments allow people to work in ways that are most effective and efficient for them, but it must also align with what the organization needs to thrive. —Kathy Trahan

How do you manage hybrid work environments, and how do you retain native talent and recruit outside talent?


ne concern with remote and hybrid work is how do you maintain a sense of belonging to something when you are not there? We now have employees working in California, Florida … five years ago, I would have said, “Nah, good luck. Call me if you come home to Louisiana.” But we’ve learned that we can maintain a relationship with them (remotely). My son is in Boston right now. At least he picked a place I want to go visit. I have convinced my wife that I can fly to Boston quicker than I can drive to Houston so it’s a good thing. After all, how do you understand what the rest of the world has to offer if you never go see it? You need to experience that yourself. We are a community of good, compassionate, caring people, and when you come to other places and you don’t see that as much, it makes you want to go home. —Steve Webb


t boils down to messaging. We have to figure it out as a region. Maybe it is a combination of things. Maybe it is our hospitality, our industries, or our universities. We need to do a better job of branding the region. We have to find a way as leaders to help people understand all the great things we are doing in our culture and in our industries. —Lionel Johnson


s far as attracting talent, the entire Ochsner system has worked very hard over the past several years to build a culture of appreciation, trust and respect. We also have a strong commitment to workforce development. Over the past two years alone, Ochsner has invested several million dollars to fund about 30 separate workforce pathways with partnering programs and academic institutions that serve more than 1,200 individuals in Louisiana and Mississippi. These programs focus on increasing the number of nurses, making it easier for high school and college students interested in healthcare to enter training programs, and helping our existing employees advance. —Chuck Daigle | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024







BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |



chsner is growing a robust AI program that’s focused on making our clinicians more efficient and our response times quicker. It’s amazing to hear from our team how the technology is already impacting our delivery and quality of care. Healthcare involves massive amounts of information in nearly every aspect of what we do—patient treatment, research, medication, community health. AI is an incredible tool for organizing data, recognizing patterns and helping point out things much quicker. In one of our latest pilot projects, we’re using AI to manage patients’ messages to their care teams. Last year alone, we handled several million messages from patients across the Ochsner system. We’ve also seen an impact with imaging. AI can look at a brain scan or X-rays for signs of a possible stroke, for example. If something shows up, the program flags the image so doctors can perform an expedited review and plan for care. —Chuck Daigle

Artificial Intelligence has become an essential technology in the business world. How are you incorporating it into your own industry?


e have a couple of AI projects that will go live next year. We have not been hesitant to invest in the technology. It doesn’t mean we are anti-people. I love my people and we have a great team, but we are trying to make sure that we can leverage the technology to take care of more of the mundane, transactional items that are repetitive and kind of mindnumbing so that our people can have more critical conversations with our membership. We are making sure that we are being efficient and that we are the modern organization that the future community expects in banking. —Steve Webb


e offer an AI-driven remote proctoring solution that allows workers to complete training 24/7/365. The AI software flags anomalies and forwards them to human reviewers to assess whether any infractions occurred during the session. This allows discretion to be applied when necessary. This AI technology allows us to scale up quickly for unplanned outages and large turnarounds, unlike online human-proctoring services that can get bottlenecked by the availability of trained personnel. Using AI responsibly requires forethought. Early adopters need to know the source of the AI and understand the terms of using the software. Proprietary information can be inadvertently shared or forfeited when being placed into AI applications. Overall, however you intend to use AI, it must make sense. Using AI just for the sake of AI is like using automation for the sake of automation. At Alliance, we are intentional about how we use AI … we identify where AI applications make the most sense and provide the most value. We do this by thinking about how it can accelerate our business processes and our team’s productivity. —Kathy Trahan



f our infrastructure in this state is not dramatically different from today in 10 to 15 years, shame on us. If we don’t have rail from major city to major city, or if we haven’t built up the river to accommodate the things happening in the chemical facilities, shame on us. If we don’t have broadband in every nook and cranny of this state, shame on us. The same goes for updating our roads, our interstates and replacing our bridges that are failing … the money is there. If we don’t look drastically different in 10 to 15 years in terms of infrastructure, shame on us. — Lionel Johnson



ake for example the CHIPS Act … we are in talks with the US Department of Commerce on this issue, and the president has set aside billions of dollars for it. The CHIPS Act would bring semiconductor manufacturing to the states rather than having China do it. It’s a lot of money and there are so many companies that can be a part of that, so we are trying to figure out how do we scale. How do I help other businesses participate? What I am really trying to do is bring opportunities to Louisiana and then be able to share a piece of the pie.

—Craig Stevens | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




uring times of tragedy or disaster, we come together and have those conversations, but once the problem appears to be solved, we go right back into our silos. We need to do a better job of branding the region and not just those things that we as a particular industry, governing entity, or private business do well. Build up and support other people and organizations even if there is no direct benefit to you. I like the term “facilitative leadership.” Being leaders among leaders … coming together and having the discussion on ways to benefit the region. —Lionel Johnson


think the brand in this community is that we are caring and compassionate people. People will give up their time, their talent, or their financial resources more than any place I have ever been. We can create a better way to communicate our opportunities to do good work. We have a number of nonprofit organizations that do amazing work in Baton Rouge, but how do we make sure we are not duplicating services? That is a little bit of a frustration. And it’s easy to talk about the bad things. Criminals make up a very small percentage of the problem in Baton Rouge, but it’s not a ‘50% of the population’ problem. It’s 5%. So let’s focus on the 95% that really do great things in Baton Rouge. Let’s highlight the amazing nonprofit work that is being done in this community and maybe we can fire up some people and create some passion for all the good things that are happening here. —Steve Webb


e know there are challenges we face in Louisiana, but we also know we’ve made progress, and there’s an opportunity to make even more progress. There’s a willingness to work together, and there’s an understanding that we’ll need creativity and innovation in how we try to meet this state’s needs, especially healthcare. And it’s absolutely critical that we address these issues. Healthcare touches on so many aspects of our lives in terms of public safety, economic development, a strong workforce and any number of other socioeconomic issues. —Chuck Daigle

Compared to other markets, are we speaking as one cohesive voice … government, business, industry … to promote our “brand?”



fter participating in a True Alignment® workshop, we determined that although we had components of a participative and authentic culture in some areas of our organization … for the most part, we are an expert culture. Our services and training are regulatory and compliance driven. Our members expect us to provide them with accurate information. Working in your area of expertise is how we add the most value internally and to our members. Everyone doesn’t need to participate in every meeting. It’s okay to have silos. When you need to collaborate, you meet, you co-create, and then you go back to your area of expertise. Our expertise is creating quality content and delivering it in ways that save time and resources. We encourage our teams to stand in their area of expertise and, when needed, we assemble the appropriate experts from across the organization to solve the regulatory and compliance training and reporting issues our industries face. —Kathy Trahan

here is so much growth opportunity here in the state. I think the branding piece is tied to the quality of life. Louisiana has the lowest cost of living among most states and that’s an attraction. The problem is that companies don’t want to move here because of the crime, for instance, or the high insurance costs. So we have to figure out … how do we brand a quality of life that may be mirrored around the cost of living? And then promote the great things that Louisiana has to offer, the unique culture, for example. —Craig Stevens


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

Expert Cancer Care

Close to Home

Tyesha Taylor, NP Hematology Oncology Baton Rouge

Ochsner Health and MD Anderson Cancer Center have clinically integrated to provide advanced cancer care, right here in Louisiana. That means access to life-saving clinical trials for innovative therapies, more specialists and more resources for our patients. Through this collaboration, Ochsner is the first and only provider in Louisiana with a fully integrated cancer program based on MD Anderson’s standards and treatment plans. Learn more at Ochsner MD Anderson Cancer Center at Ochsner Cancer Center – Baton Rouge

Ochsner MD Anderson Cancer Center at Ochsner Medical Complex – The Grove




think we are going to be in a period of high interest rates for some time … at least the next 24 to 36 months. You know, it is shocking to us today to see interest rates staying around 7% … we got spoiled for more than 20 years when it stayed around 3%. I am actually old enough to remember that my first mortgage was double digits, and I was happy to get it. In some households, life is going to get more expensive. A car costs a little more than it used to, and the interest rate makes that car cost even more, and then there are the insurance rates. We have to adjust our habits. About 75% of the GNP is based on consumer spending, not on government spending, not on inventories. It’s based on you and I going to Walmart and Costco and wherever else we go out to eat and so forth. The consumer has been pretty resilient so far, but I am curious to see how we are able to maintain that going forward. As for the economy, the Baton Rouge community is pretty resilient and we have a lot of safety nets between state government, the university systems here, the medical complexes … those industries are pretty much recession-proof. Everyone thinks the petrochemical industry is all we have. It’s not, but I’m glad we have it. So being in the Greater Baton Rouge area is actually a good place to be. We don’t ever quite see the highest of the highs in the economic good times, but we rarely see the lowest of the lows in the economic down times. —Steve Webb

Participants offer their opinions and expertise on targeted topics.



oft skills and human touch is really the bottom line for our entire industry, especially because healthcare can be so fast paced and filled with high-pressure situations. We remind ourselves every day that everything we do at Ochsner is for the patient. It doesn’t matter what your job title is … if you’re employed by Ochsner, you’re ultimately here for our patients. We are a high-touch, high-tech industry, and we interact with patients and families at their most vulnerable times. We have very complex technology, advanced pharmaceuticals, and our team has incredible training and skill sets. But our patients and our community are why we’re here, and it’s important that they know we care about them. We have training programs in just about every discipline of care delivery. These can range from training in aspects of customer service to clinical protocols, to interpretation of clinical results. As an organization, Ochsner is constantly learning. The Ochsner Learning Network is our internal online training and continuing education system that enables us to deliver ongoing training for the growth and education of our colleagues. And because it’s online, it’s much more convenient for everyone.

—Chuck Daigle



believe my administration has worked well trying to reposition our relationships with local industry in St. Gabriel. We have been very supportive of them, particularly if they are looking to modernize their facilities. They are bringing in new products that are environmentally friendly and we have been very encouraged by that. I feel like we are doing really well at fostering relationships, talking the same language, trying to be more efficient and more effective. We are just putting it out there that there are some good actors in environmental and chemical fields, and we support them. Another priority is residential growth … we’ve had very little pushback because there is a real desire to grow. Also, investment in electric vehicles and bringing a grocery and other retail to St. Gabriel. What’s essential for me is sound policy, open communication, helping people understand the pros and cons of the issues that affect us, and why we decide to go in a certain directions. We try to stay above the noise, but we know it will always be there. —Lionel Johnson




e must spend extra time and effort reaching out to people, whether they are working remotely or not, making sure they stay and feel connected. There’s been a lot of publicity about the high rate of suicide in the construction industry. It’s critical that we foster human connection and educate our members on what they should pay attention to—disengagement, tardiness or other out-ofcharacter acts. There is a lot that has to happen in terms of mental health education. We have to ensure that workers are aware of the resources and the opportunity to receive the support they need. Most companies offer an EAP, but there is nothing like having someone who notices when you are out of sorts, particularly when you are a remote worker. It’s very difficult to get a pulse on that, but it’s important from the safety perspective of our industry. —Kathy Trahan


e are pretty broad and diverse, but if you take the construction division which consists of commercial, industrial, and federal, we are expecting massive growth. You know, Dr. Loren Scott said a few weeks ago that the metro area is getting $12 billion dollars’ worth of industrial projects with $19 million in the queue. That is exciting news for us. We learned at a recent conference in San Antonio that there are more coastal restoration projects in the next two years than in the last five combined, and many of them are in South Louisiana. In fact, we just finished a project in Grand Isle which is a few million dollars. The IT sector is going to be the same. I have said for a long time that our IT division is going to be bigger than all the divisions combined because 99% of businesses use IT services. So whether it’s as simple as managed services or as intricate as AI or cybersecurity, we have to position ourselves to go after those opportunities. And part of the growth model for us is how do we marry the two? How do we create a product or service for the average construction company? I just see continuous massive growth. I think it will come to the point that we can cherry-pick which opportunities we want. —Craig Stevens | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


CENTER STAGE: Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters after a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the U.S. Capitol last month.

‘This is our opportunity’ Louisiana now has newfound power in D.C. Here’s what it could mean. ANALYSIS BY JEREMY ALFORD


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

to power, the Bayou State also has two appropriators on the Hill in the form of Start Congresswoman Julia Letlow and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy. As members of the influential appropriations committees in both chambers, Letlow and Kennedy are certified budget drafters—and the budgets are where the money can be found. That said, Louisiana’s business community, along with other special interests from the Bayou State, now have the opportunity to influence federal policies and regulations through a powerful and ever more senior congressional delegation. As a result, the priorities of the business community will, in so far as they influence our Louisiana legislators, become the nation’s. No wonder there’s a mad dash from the Bayou to the Beltway to leverage these relationships.


IF YOU PERUSED social media pictures. In addition to holding platforms back in October, focusing what is arguably the most powersolely on personalities who make ful gavel in the country, Johnson is or spend money on Louisiana polinow second in line to become U.S. tics, you would have noticed an unpresident. missable trend. That’s when photos What an embarrassment of powent up on Instagram and Facebook litical riches for Louisiana, which and Twitter of politicos standing has never had two politicians servwith either Jefferson Congressman ing in these high-ranking positions Steve Scalise or Shreveport at the same time. Adding prestige Congressman Mike Johnson. Everyone with skin in the proverbial game—the game being federal politics in this case— wanted the world to know they were tight with Scalise, who at the time was angling to become speaker, but later settled for majority leader, the No. 2 position in the nation’s lower chamber. Scalise’s failed bid, however, gave way to Johnson’s election as the new speaker. And in reON THE HILL: U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise speaks at a sponse, social media accounts House Republican Conference media event at the were filled with his smiling U.S. Capitol.



In the new year, this desire will be most on display at Washington Mardi Gras in late January. The multiday networking event of balls and parties remains the premier political event of the year. Tyron Picard, a state and federal lobbyist from Lafayette who moonlights as a senior lieutenant for the Mystick Krewe of Louisianans, says krewe renewal rates for Washington Mardi Gras are at nearly 100%, thanks in no small part to the access the shindig will provide to actual, raw power. “My phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” Picard says. As Louisiana politicos prepare to turn access into policymaking, there is one other unknown factor in how the state will take its place on the federal stage: Gov. Jeff Landry, who represented Acadiana’s old 3rd Congressional District in the House from 2011 to 2013. “You have a really unique situation in Louisiana,” says Brent Littlefield, a Washington consultant with a long-standing relationship with Landry. “You have a new governor who has served on Capitol Hill and has maintained those relationship from outside the state. There are relationships not only with the delegation, but on the actual staff level. That will allow this governor to communicate with Washington in ways we haven’t seen before.” Among Landry supporters, there’s already talk about moves to loosen up the federal management of oil and gas leases and potential lawsuits over everything from insurance regulations to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While Landry has not yet publicly discussed his federal strategy, many of his top donors are expecting bold leadership. Regional politics (regional to Louisiana) will certainly come into play in this federal storyline. If we see it anywhere, we’ll see it in the House budget process, with a speaker representing both rural and urban north Louisiana, and a majority leader representing the state’s centers of business and industry near the coast. That also means Louisiana’s once and future industries will have a lot to say when it comes to spending priorities. The ports, our chemical companies, farmers, loggers and

“Having these relationships in place, it helps us in communicating our core needs, asks and wants.” JENNIFER L. MARUSAK, executive director, Ports Association of Louisiana

engineers will undoubtedly have the ears of the most powerful leaders in Washington, D.C.—in a new and important way. “Having these relationships in place, it helps us in communicating our core needs, asks and wants,” says Jennifer L. Marusak, executive director of the Ports Association of Louisiana. “A year ago, if we got a meeting with leadership there would be all of this time spent on the education piece. Now the top two leaders in the House already know our needs. Relationships pay off tenfold, and not because of access or anything like that. There’s a shared work history.” As such, expect to see familiar issues and themes in the big budget debates to come. From the River Parishes’ chemical industry monopoly to the new frontier of carbon capture and storage, from deep draft cargo focused ports to traditional oil and gas corporations, the issues facing these industries will get a new kind of attention. Michael Olivier, the former secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, says there’s a pragmatic side to all of this proximity to power—and that pragmatism can be found in partnerships. For example, when Louisiana has to negotiate anything (like energy royalties) with neighboring Gulf of Mexico states, it will suddenly have more influence than ever before. “You’re going to see some new things, like Louisiana and Texas having more of a symbiotic



relationship,” Olivier says. “I’m not saying there were problems before, but there’s going to be more of an alignment now. This puts Louisiana in a position to begin trading favors and making new alliances. Among those who like to think big, there are hopes that this new position of influence for Louisiana will mean the biggest barriers to expanding here at home for business and industry will get some attention, too. Perhaps some quality-of-life issues will take center stage, like with what’s happening in the Louisiana Legislature with its upcoming special session on crime. Those interviewed for this story hope that concern, in concert with other barriers to training and retaining both blue collar skilled workers and white collar office executives, will find its way into the federal spotlight. But most of all, Louisiana has a massive opportunity to improve its own public perception, from top to bottom. How that theme becomes an actual pet project of these influencers and our delegation is another issue. Maybe it manifests in the form of federal grants for infrastructure, tech and more. “This is our opportunity,” Olivier says. “No one wants it to go to waste. But we should all remember that leadership shifts and changes and we don’t know yet what the next federal election cycle will look like, what the presidency will look like or even what the Senate will look like.”

“You’re going to see some new things, like Louisiana and Texas having more of a symbiotic relationship. This puts Louisiana in a position to begin trading favors and making new alliances.” AI R DON KAD

MIKE OLIVIER, former secretary, Louisiana Economic Development and retired head of the Committee of 100

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A louder voice


INSIDE TRACK: Tyron Picard (center) with his team at The Picard Group. Three of his partners either served in Congress or the Louisiana Legislature with U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise or Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

There’s a growing demand for local lobbyists as Louisianans gain leverage on Capitol Hill. BUSINESS IS BOOMING for delegation—and not just because of Louisiana’s cadre of Capitol Hill Speaker of the House Mike Johnson lobbyists. As the state’s congressioand House Majority Leader Steve nal delegation gains prominence in Scalise—could become one of the key political positions, local lobbymost effective of them all due to the ists’ preexisting relationships—and various committees on which they sometimes friendships—with serve.” political leaders have Relationships and made them precious trust are critical to a commodities. lobbyist’s success, While it’s certainly Brooks says, and not the first time that that puts firms such the state has had seas his in the catbird nior leadership in seat. Adams & Reese Washington, the current is seeing a surge in delegation has the podemand from potential Jeff Brooks tential to become one of the clients as a result. most impactful in years. Jeff Brooks, “I’m spending nearly a third of a partner in Adams & Reese’s my time responding to new inquiWashington, D.C., office, says that ries, from both inside and outside has led to heightened demand for of the state,” he says. “A lot of peoany lobbyist with connections to ple profess they know the majorLouisiana. ity leader and the speaker of the “I’ve been doing this most of my House, but we not only know them, life, and our delegation over the we’re trusted by them.” years has been enormously powerTyron Picard, founder and manful for its size,” Brooks says. “But this aging partner of The Picard Group,

says the current dynamic has been unquestionably advantageous. The Picard Group is one of the largest state and federal lobbying groups in Louisiana, with some 45% of its work at the federal level. The firm has offices in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Ruston and Washington, D.C. “Three of my partners either served in Congress or the Louisiana Legislature with Scalise or Johnson,” Picard says, “so the familiarity and the trust level with those members and our staff is helpful. It’s not only about getting the right information in front of them; it’s about trusting what we’re telling them. “Trust is the most important thing, because if that trust is violated and that information is not accurate, then the tide goes out on a lobbyist’s credibility … and it never comes back.” Greg Frost, a partner at Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson LLP in

Baton Rouge, says that although he doesn’t do any lobbying, the prominence of Louisiana’s delegation in Washington could be advantageous for his health care clients. Frost represents several rural hospitals and physician groups with Medicaid issues. Using firms such as The Picard Group, Frost’s clients hope to persuade congressional leaders to help them resolve current Medicaid regulatory issues. While Medicaid is implemented by the state, the system is structured around federal rules. “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is taking administrative positions that some folks think are not supported by the regulations,” Frost says. “There have been discussions about whether there might be an opportunity to use some of the connections that Louisiana now has to make some much-needed changes to the way this is managed.” | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




gain bipartisan approval. In a narrowly divided Congress and Senate, it’s difficult to pull together instruments that can appeal to both the left and the right.” As a result, The Picard Group has become more “surgical” in its approach and tempered its expectations about what is achievable. “We’re having to focus on the things that we can pull out where bipartisan approval is possible,” he adds. “The more difficult issues, where bipartisan approval is not going to happen, are paused until there’s a clear majority on either side. “We’re looking at what is achievable, versus broad-based, largescale pieces of legislation,” he adds.

FOR THE CLIENTS: Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson partner Greg Frost doesn’t do any lobbying, but he says the prominence of Louisiana’s delegation in Washington could be advantageous for his health care clients. Frost represents several rural hospitals and physician groups with Medicaid issues.

DIFFERENT TYPE OF LOBBYING Despite his relationships with key congressional leaders, Adams & Reese’s Brooks doesn’t expect his job to get any easier. In fact, the job of any lobbyist has become significantly more complicated due to the increased polarization in Congress. “Our existing relationships will enable us to get our foot in the door, but it won’t get any easier to get things passed because they’re in those positions,” he says. “It’s just not snapping your fingers; that’s not how it works. There are a lot of other moving parts.” To improve the odds, Adams & Reese strives to present solutions along with the issues in its meetings with congressional leaders. “It’s easy to come to Washington to complain,” he adds. “The hard part is providing them with a solution, and not only telling them what that solution is … but explaining how it


can be implemented. I call it substantive lobbying; it’s about identifying the problem and offering a solution in a way that shows them how to overcome any roadblocks or obstacles that might stand in the way.” Picard says the very nature of lobbying has changed considerably since he first dipped his toes in the water some 25 years ago as a lobbyist for Acadian Ambulance and then later the American Ambulance Association. “The evolution has truly been like night and day,” Picard says. “I started in the era of Billy Tauzin, John Breaux, Trent Lott and Bob Livingston. There was a unity that existed back then … not only among the members of the state’s delegation, but there were friendships with members from other states in different parties. “Sadly, that’s nonexistent these days. That’s made it increasingly difficult to build solutions that can

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

Picard says the image of a lobbyist has also changed significantly in the last couple of decades. “The perception of a lobbyist entertaining politicians with meals, etc.— that’s just not the case today,” he says. “These legislators are younger, wiser and many of them have families … so what becomes effective in conveying your client’s position is preparation, data and the potential impacts on constituents. “It’s almost like preparing for a trial. You must be able to make the case with succinct and salient points as to why you’re advocating for a certain position. While the relationship might get you the meeting, it’s not what wins the day.”

Are things looking up for the Baton Rouge-to-D.C. flight? IT BECAME CLEAR over the summer that American Airlines’ new— and much anticipated—nonstop flight between Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C., wouldn’t be sustained by Capitol Hill traffic alone. The flight’s “load factor” began respectably enough at 74% in June, but then dropped sharply to 49% in August during a congressional recess. (September numbers weren’t scheduled to be released by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development until the end of December, after Business Report went to press.) That got the attention of the airport’s administration, which subsequently launched the pledge campaign to encourage the community, local governments and businesses to utilize the flight whenever possible. “Ultimately, we want the load factor at 80 percent or higher over the long term in order to sustain the flight,” says Mike Edwards, director of aviation at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. Edwards says the campaign is beginning to bear fruit, based on his own personal observations, and he’s hopeful that the fall 2023 data will show an increase in the load factor. East Baton Rouge City-Parish government, in fact, prioritized the use of the flight by its employees, given that the fare difference is not more than $300. “Regardless of whether Congress is in session, you can still utilize this flight for great connections into the Northeast, and even into the Southeast,” he says. Edwards anticipates the flight will also be buoyed by increases in demand caused by the growing prominence of Louisiana politicians in Washington. “It’s an ideally timed flight for those needing to depart and return on the same day—the flight departs at 6:39 a.m. from Baton Rouge and arrives at 10:12 a.m. in D.C., then returns at 8 p.m. It allows someone to go up for meetings and come back the same day.” He’s confident that the flight will be included in American’s summer schedule once it’s announced in January. “American wants it to succeed,” Edwards adds. “They wouldn’t have launched this service had they not wanted it to be successful, and we’re optimistic that it will be.”








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ISN’T only focused on building foundations concrete and framing and commerc for residenti al ial specialization properties; their real is building “What makes relationships. JR that we provide Construction unique is a turnkey Managing service,” says Partner Jack Pou. “We have the labor, the materials , and establish relationships ed with local vendors to contractors allow to get materials supervision , labor, and at a price advantage.” JR Constru ction prides having experien itself on ced manage ically on the rs physjob with the general site communicating skilled craftsme contractor and n, not just expectations in from a remote location checking are missed craftsman allow for . To better can’t commun because the this commun the contract ication onsite, Pou holds icate with or. a Spanish that the work We’re onsite to ensure class monthly teaching employe , and that thosethat’s done is quality nicate effective es how to commuly with their communicated.”expectations are force, most labor of working with whom they have been As long-tim for over eight community, e members of the “In today’s years. local Pou and his world, many manager operations are Hispanic craftsmen make it a , and there priority for JR team to language can be a the get barrier. Sometim nity projects involved in commues some . They’ve donated and installed a handicapped ramp for




Kid’s Orchest ra and participa the 2022 ted in and Association 2023 American Heart Walk, the St. Jude Dream Day Foundat ion, Fishing Rodeo and SwollFest supporting Children’s OLOL Hospital. Along community involvement, with their in building Pou believes a strong compan he rewards y culture; his work by taking team for their hard them on group and hunting fishing trips. Last year, JR Constru ction had its

best year ever, doubling from 2021 its revenue and seeing an expansio throughout n southeast Louisiana, Covington from to Houma and Thibode They branche aux. d out to form ships with relationlarge and are looking builders in the area to continue this year. They’re focusing to expand more quality on control checklis putting place and ts in continuing manager craftsman and education. “As the residential market changes, we’re with it, and we’re having changing do what we to pivot and need to do business growth,” Pou to ensure says. JR Constru ction on more multifam has been working ily resident ects, too, ial projlike townhom ments, as es well as single-fa and apartUltimately, mily homes. JR Constru to deliver ction strives a quality project budget for within the of the property contractor and owner . “At the end day, we’re of the a service provider there make sure the general to owner are contractor satisfied and and best return getting the on their investm ent.”

TOP EXECUT ECT WITH IVES: Jack US Pou, Managin ADDRESS: g Partner; 17534 Old Ryan Engquist Jefferson Hwy., Suite , Partner; Alex A3, Prairievil Derousselle, le, LA 70769 Project Manager • PHONE: ; Melissa Rollins, 225.363.0020 Controller • WEBSIT E: jrconstru

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ANNUAL REPORT for the Capital Region

COMING THIS APRIL “In a world where people have a lot of choices, the story may be the deciding factor.*” *DR. NICK MORGAN, COMMUNICATION THEORIST AND EXPERT

To share your company’s story, contact Kelly Lewis at or call 225.421.8154 | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



On the


How Black entrepreneurship is growing in the Capital Region and beyond BY DILLON LOWE

“We have to reimagine what economic development looks like.”


MYRA RICHARDSON, chief development officer, Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

HISTORICALLY, Black entrepreneurs in the U.S. have had no choice but to navigate an economic landscape marred by systemic barriers to success. From enduring racial disparities to limited access to capital, the ability of Black business owners to fully participate and thrive in the nation’s business sector has for decades been unduly hindered. But there is reason to believe the tide is turning. According to Myra Richardson, who serves as chief development officer for the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Black business is booming in Louisiana, following national trends. “From my personal insights, there has definitely been an uptick in Black businesses across Louisiana and especially here in the Capital Region,” Richardson says. The numbers back up that claim. National data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey shows that in 2017, there were an estimated 124,004 Black-owned employer businesses (businesses with more than one employee) in the U.S. By 2020, that number had jumped to 140,918—a 14% uptick. A similar story is unfolding here in Louisiana. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, Black-owned businesses employed 53,766 people throughout the state in 2018, an increase of nearly 50% from 2017. The latest data from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy shows that the number of Blackowned employer and nonemployer businesses in Louisiana rose from 102,070 in 2021 to 105,570 in 2022. And a February 2023 analysis

published by Merchant Maverick rates Louisiana as the sixth-best state for Black entrepreneurs, up from 20th the year prior. Together, these points of data illustrate a clear trend: Black business owners are establishing a more significant presence in both the local and national economic landscapes. But what exactly is driving this growth, and what does the future of Black business in Louisiana look like? LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD One driver of Black entrepreneurship growth that cannot be overlooked—especially here in Baton Rouge—is the role minority chambers of commerce play in empowering Black business owners. Locally, the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Black Chamber of



“I took this leap of faith because I believed that I could help create the generational wealth in the Black community that so many speak about.” KENNY WELCOME, founder, KJW Capital

Commerce plays that role. Launched in 2018, the chamber has emerged as a steadfast advocate for the interests of Black entrepreneurs in the Capital Region. Many of its achievements in recent years can be at least partially attributed to the leadership of Richardson, who served as its executive director from January 2022 through February 2023. The chamber saw significant growth during that period, surging from 18 members to 400 within a single fiscal year. With a goal of inspiring and cultivating economic

success in Greater Baton Rouge, the chamber continues to provide valuable resources and networking opportunities to the region’s Black business owners. “I think that the hugest gap that a lot of these businesses face is a lack of access to the resources that exist,” Richardson says. “There is a huge number of free resources that these organizations historically didn’t know even existed. A lot of those businesses fell victim to their own ignorance and not knowing what was there to help them.”

According to Richardson, the responsibilities of minority chambers to their local business owners extend well beyond resources and networking. “I think chambers have a responsibility to help prime the workforce, to work with our universities, and to work with our banks to keep them accountable,” she says. “We have to reimagine what economic development looks like.” One local business that has directly benefitted from the services offered by the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce is Scenic Market, a grocery store on Scenic Highway. The neighborhood that the store is located in is considered by many to be a “food desert,” or an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



“A lot of people here don’t have vehicles, and they needed somewhere they could walk because the nearest dollar store is 3 miles up the road,” says Khaliel Kinchen, the grocery store’s owner. “This used to be a store when I was a kid, and we really just wanted to bring it back. There were a few obstacles, but we overcame those, and now we’ve been up and running for three years.” When Richardson learned about Scenic Market through social media, she was quick to visit the store and offer the chamber’s assistance—the beginning of a relationship that Kinchen says has been very fruitful for his business. “The chamber gave us a lot of exposure,” he says. “They helped us get exposure with the news, they supported us with our grand opening, and they connected us with a lot of political leaders like Mayor [Sharon Weston] Broome and the

council people. They really helped us raise the profile of our small business.” While success stories like that of Scenic Market are becoming more common in Baton Rouge, Richardson says it is important that the local business community avoids becoming complacent. “As more people decide to become entrepreneurs, there are also less people who come to work at and support those small businesses,” she says. “Most businesses fail within three to five years. They need more resources to stay open.” FUELING GROWTH It goes without saying that one of the most important resources for any entrepreneur is access to capital. Without funding, even the best business idea will struggle to reach its full potential. But historically, Black entrepreneurs in the U.S. have faced systemic disadvantages

in accessing capital. Minorityowned firms are much more likely to be denied loans than nonminority firms, and minority-owned firms that do receive traditional forms of financing are less likely to receive all the financing they originally sought. These challenges often stem from a lack of assets, lower credit and lower net worth, and they have perpetuated longstanding economic disparities. For investors like Kenny Welcome, bridging this financial gap has become a mission. In July 2023, Welcome founded KJW Capital, a New Orleans-based private investment firm that prioritizes providing Black investors with wealth-creating opportunities, often in the form of Black-owned entrepreneurial ventures. And while the firm may be only a few months old, Welcome is no stranger to the industry. Prior to establishing KJW Capital, he served as vice president

at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and cofounded its multibillion-dollar Diverse Wealth Initiative. “I took this leap of faith because I believed that I could help create the generational wealth in the Black community that so many speak about,” Welcome says. “I saw the needs that these companies had, like not having access to capital or not knowing the right questions to ask when getting in front of banks or corporations. I believe that I have the tools necessary to [help them].” According to Welcome, one of KJW Capital’s main goals is to provide more than just financial capital to clients and investors. What he refers to as “intellectual capital” and “social capital” are every bit as important, he says. “We try to lead with the intellectual and social capital,” he explains. “Social capital is who you know— the relationships that I’ve built working at some of the top firms on

“Less than 1% of venture capital goes to Black and brown businesses.”


CHRISTOPHER HILLIARD, co-founder and CEO, Suds Laundry Services


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |


“You ought to come see it. It’s great.”

“This used to be a store when I was a kid, and we really just wanted to bring it back. There were a few obstacles, but we overcame those.”


— Lynda M., Resident

KHALIEL KINCHEN, owner, Scenic Market

Wall Street over the past decade. Intellectual capital is what I’ve learned working at those firms.” A Baton Rouge business that recently benefitted from such investment is Suds Laundry Services. In November 2023, the on-demand laundry company was selected as one of 36 finalists for Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition Prize, receiving $75,000 in funding. Black Ambition is a nonprofit initiative aimed specifically at supporting Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs and closing the wealth gap in venture capital. The finalists will also enjoy continued access to the initiative’s resources and networking opportunities going forward. “Less than 1% of venture capital goes to Black and brown businesses,” says Christopher Hilliard, Suds Laundry Services’ co-founder

and CEO. “It’s because of programs like Black Ambition that I’m able to do what I’m doing, gaining these investments, pouring back into the community, and hopefully inspiring other Black and brown entrepreneurs here in Baton Rouge to do the same.” Hilliard regularly shares his experiences with young, aspiring entrepreneurs in Baton Rouge through unpaid speaking engagements and church-led events. One of his most common pieces of advice for them? Take advantage of the resources that are right here in the Capital City. “Take part in accelerator programs,” he says. “Take advantage of the resources that are provided by BRAC, LED, LSU Innovation Park, Nexus Louisiana and the local SBA centers. And stay resilient.”

More fun. More connection. That’s retirement at St. James Place. So much to do. So much to learn. So much to love. And it might just be more affordable than you think.

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333 Lee Dr. Baton Rouge, LA 70808 BRBR | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



“I think, plain and simple, it just comes down to geography.”


CHRISTOPER LUNDGREN, corporate director of entertainment, L’Auberge Casino & Hotel

Nowhere to go


What’s keeping more big name acts from calling on Baton Rouge? LAST YEAR, Garth Brooks performed in front of more than 102,000 people in a sold-out Tiger Stadium. The concert was earth-shaking—both literally and figuratively—for Baton Rouge. As the band launched into “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” a staple of LSU football’s pregame festivities, a seismograph set up in the Nicholson Building on campus recorded a small earthquake. But more importantly for the local economy, the concert brought thousands of visitors, including many from large, out-of-state markets like Nashville and Atlanta. Almost 42% of the crowd was from out of town, according to local tourism officials, spurring some $931,000 in incremental hotel


revenue compared to an average weekend. The concert was a phenomenon the city hasn’t seen since Bayou Country Superfest ended its run in Tiger Stadium in 2019. But Baton Rouge hasn’t hosted an event of that caliber since, and it doesn’t appear any comparable shows are on the horizon. Baton Rouge just doesn’t host as many big concerts as it used to, though some local leaders are working to reverse that trend. “It’s critical to us, to the economic health of our community, to continue our efforts to bring some of these types of events into the community,” says Jill Kidder, president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge. So why aren’t more major tours

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

stopping in Baton Rouge? Capacity is part of the problem. For example, Lafayette’s Cajundome edges out the Raising Cane’s River Center for concert capacity with 13,500 seats compared to 10,400. More seats and more tickets sold equals more profit for concert promoters and performers. The local venues most suited for large concerts—Tiger Stadium and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center—have their own issues. For Tiger Stadium, it has to be worth the cost of redoing the field every time a concert wants to use the facility during the off-season, says Cody Worsham, LSU’s chief brand officer. Acts like Garth Brooks that can sell out the entire stadium are few and far between.

The PMAC, with more than 13,000 seats, is a bit more complicated. The facility, built in 1972, used to feature concerts from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and even Elvis Presley. Lil Wayne was recently slated to perform in celebration of the LSU women’s basketball team’s national championship, but the show was postponed due to what LSU called “unforeseen circumstances.” Beyond that, there’s not much planned because the 50-plus-yearold facility lacks the amenities that most touring acts need. That means it requires a time-intensive custom setup to make things work, as well as working around four sports using the arena on different schedules, Worsham says. However, state officials have allocated $1 million to create a plan for the PMAC’s future. “Is the PMAC able to be renovated or do we need a new arena?” Worsham asks, emphasizing that the goal is to boost the arena’s economic impact. The proximity to major metropolitan areas like New Orleans and Houston, as well as the similarly sized arena in Lafayette, are also handicaps, says David Facey, a local entrepreneur who has worked in event promotion. “If the market’s not here, you’re not gonna have people willing to drop the money to do it here. Why come to Baton Rouge?” Facey adds. “I don’t think we are attractive enough. People don’t know how to tap into this market in a way that would secure their investment back to them.” As for the River Center arena, the largest venue outside of LSU, 18 concerts were held during a recent 18-month period, compared to 11 in the 18 months before the pandemic, says Wayne Hodes, the venue’s general manager. So there has been a noticeable uptick, even if the performers weren’t necessarily household names. The River Center did recently announce a relatively high-profile April concert featuring Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit—an in-demand country act who will also be performing at the Caesars Superdome in July—but it remains to be seen if such bookings will continue to be outliers going forward.


The River Center’s operators, ASM Global, has begun making incremental improvements to the venue, which could help in landing more concerts. In February 2022, the River Center’s theater was renovated, with back-of-the-house upgrades designed to benefit crews also taking place over the past 18 months. Up next will be a $2.4 million investment for upgraded retractable seating, as well as a new LED video board. The funding, totaling about $3.68 million, was approved by the Metro Council over the summer. The city-parish also received $4.3 million in federal grant money in 2021 for upgrades. “These are Band-Aids to get us to the point when we’re going to really sit down and see what we’re going to have at the River Center and what we may have at another spot,” Metro Council member Carolyn Coleman, whose District 10 includes downtown and the River Center, told The Advocate in June. Earlier this year, ASM conducted a facility market study on the River Center to assess the venue’s need for upgrades and refurbishment. The main takeaway from the study, which wasn’t publicly available when this story was published, was that the building itself is in fairly decent shape but the amenities are

in need of refurbishment and an overall refresh, Hodes says. The next step will be an engineering study to fully assess the cost of the needed upgrades. Hodes is optimistic about the future of the River Center as a destination concert venue. “It will be easier in the future, once we get the facility to this point [and] start to identify those needs,” he says. “We’re doing the best with what we have and hopefully that will be augmented with enhancements to the facility moving forward.” Another local venue known to book relatively notable names in comedy and music is the 1,600seat theater at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel, though Corporate Director of Entertainment Christopher Lundgren makes it clear that the theater is in no way in competition with venues like the River Center. This is partly because the acts that get booked at L’Auberge tend to tour on a “casino circuit” and are therefore unlikely to be booked elsewhere in Baton Rouge. Also, the main goal of these shows isn’t to sell tickets, but to attract big spenders to the casino floor. “We look at what we think will motivate our best comp players to come to the property,” Lundgren says. “We don’t necessarily look at


Louisiana and East Baton Rouge Parish have incentives in place that could be part of the solution for making Baton Rouge more attractive for concerts. Live Production Incentive Program Managed by Louisiana Entertainment with a cap of $10 million, the program offers tax credits ranging from 7% for live performances with expenditures from $100,000 to $300,000, increasing to 14% from $300,000 to $1 million and with incentives leveling out at 18% for expenditures over $1 million. Major Events Incentive Program While not dedicated to concerts, the program allows an event producer or host to receive up to 25% of the cost of the event with approval from state regulators. Local rebates Legislation approved during the 2023 regular session authorizes Baton Rouge and the parish, subject to the recommendation of Visit Baton Rouge, to rebate revenue from city or parish sales and use taxes collected on the sale of admission tickets to events held in a publicly owned facility that seats at least 7,500 people or a multiday event with average daily attendance of at least 7,500.

entertainment the same way the River Center does. They may need to sell every ticket. That’s not necessarily the case for us.” While he may not be competing with other local venues for talent, as a director of entertainment, Lundgren does have thoughts about

Baton Rouge’s attractiveness as a performance destination. In his view, the lack of big names coming to Baton Rouge isn’t a reflection of poor city management, and he believes the real answer is much simpler. “I don’t think there’s anything Baton Rouge as a city can or can’t do to improve upon it,” he says. “I think, plain and simple, it just comes down to geography. It comes down to the proximity of the larger markets surrounding the city. The buyers know where to put these shows to make the most money and maximize their ROIs.” Domenic Purdy, David Jacobs and Dillon Lowe contributed to this report.

“We’re doing the best with what we have and hopefully that will be augmented with enhancements to the [River Center] moving forward.” DON KADAIR

WAYNE HODES, general manager, Raising Cane’s River Center | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


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These Baton Rouge companies and organizations are on a quest to make a difference in the Capital Region.



S P O N S O R E D B Y: | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


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Assistant Library Directors Patricia Husband, left, and Mary Stein


nvest in YOU! The East Baton Rouge Parish Library brings value to your small business or nonprofit by helping you find the tools and resources you need to keep moving forward. The library offers dynamic, technologically advanced facilities with innovation and maker spaces. A new South branch is under construction, along with renovations that are underway at Scotlandville. 78

The list of resources goes on: Increased technological services. Expanded online Digital Library offerings. More meeting spaces. Career Center employment assistance and workforce training and skills development—even with augmented and virtual reality. Small business services. And more online classes and databases than ever. The nationally acclaimed East Baton Rouge Parish Library continues to increase

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

its services for the community, offering 14 convenient locations open seven days a week, as well as inspiring spaces for personal discovery, community meetings and access to free programs, services and resources all year. The Library’s resources deliver up-to-date training and new tech initiatives so local needs are met at a level that helps organizations grow and compete. And the best part about it? It’s FREE.

As the Library continues to expand its workforce development and emerging technology offerings, it also diligently strives to assist in the forward momentum of the city’s development, helping to build capacity and growth. Check us out at

7711 Goodwood Blvd. Baton Rouge, LA 70806 225.231.3750



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LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION Interim Executive Director Marjorianna Willman


he mission of the Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) is to ensure that every Louisiana resident is granted an opportunity to obtain safe, affordable, energy-efficient and resilient housing. Our commitment to addressing the daily housing challenges our fellow citizens face is unwavering. This commitment is upheld by a dedicated team of professionals who work tirelessly to allocate federal and state resources,


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

thereby transforming the housing dreams of low- to moderate-income families into reality. The inception of the LHC in 2011 marked a significant milestone in Louisiana’s approach to housing initiatives. It resulted from the Louisiana Legislature’s strategic decision to merge the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency with housing programs from various state agencies, including the Louisiana Office of Community Development. This

consolidation was aimed at centralizing Louisiana’s housing programs, eliminating duplication of efforts, and allowing for greater efficiency in addressing the state’s housing needs. The LHC oversees multiple initiatives to support renters, homebuyers, property owners, developers, nonprofit organizations, local governments and other stakeholders associated with the development, rehabilitation or redevelopment of affordable

LHC leaders conduct a groundbreaking for Capstone at the Oaks in Lake Charles.

Marjorianna Willman routinely speaks to community groups about housing issues.

Drake’s Landing is a new apartment complex designed for low-income families.

LHC leaders do a walk-through of the New Isle homes being built in Terrebonne Parish.

housing. The dedicated Team LHC, consisting of 154 individuals, is steadfast in its commitment to supporting the housing needs for the citizens of Louisiana. It is our goal to touch every corner of the state through the funding and programs available through the agency.

2415 Quail Dr. Baton Rouge, LA 70808 225.763.8700



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The Alzheimer’s Services Team


lzheimer’s Services has been the local resource for those affected by Alzheimer’s in the Greater Baton Rouge area for the past 40 years. The organization is an independent nonprofit governed by a local board of directors, and achieves its mission to teach, care for, and connect with those affected by Alzheimer’s or a related impairment through compassionate staff providing programs and services. These include education programs on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias; support services for the memoryimpaired, physicians, and caregivers; a Resource Library; telephone HelpLine; social activities for families and affected individuals; Charlie’s Place Activity & Respite Centers in 82

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

Baton Rouge and Gonzales; and the Respite Reimbursement Program (for in-home respite care). Alzheimer’s Services strives to be on the forefront of setting best practice standards for Alzheimer’s care to meet the needs of those it serves. “We offer families a hand to hold and guidance to navigate their Alzheimer’s journey. By increasing awareness of the services we provide, we can reach caregivers and those affected earlier in the disease process and positively impact their journey by helping them prepare rather than react. Such preparation can significantly improve the quality of care and quality of life of those affected and their caregivers.”

3722 North Blvd. Baton Rouge, LA 70806 225.334.7494


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CEO Kenneth Campbell


or more than a decade, New Schools for Baton Rouge has partnered with education, nonprofit and community leaders on the national, state and local levels to transform the educational landscape of Baton Rouge. Anchored by the tenet that every child in Baton Rouge—regardless of geography or ability to pay—should have access to an engaging, high-quality education, NSBR works to cultivate a citywide educational ecosystem that attracts highly successful public charter schools, assists with funding and resources for their academic development and operation, and empowers their communities to ensure that the schools are designed with those they serve in mind.

Collaborating with its partner organizations, Teach225 and EnrollBR, NSBR also works to develop and implement programs that empower schools across Baton Rouge to recruit, nurture and retain both new and veteran educators, as well as ensure families have equitable and easy access to excellent schools through a common application system. In 2019, NSBR piloted Family, Schools and Community Connects, a program designed to help schools increase and refine collaboration initiatives to connect and engage with the students and families they serve. The NSBR portfolio currently consists of 23 schools, serving more than 10,000 students across Baton Rouge.

100 Lafayette St., 2nd Floor Baton Rouge, LA 70801 225.337.0212



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(From left) Kelly Garrett, Deputy Director for Client Services; Andrew Hundley, Executive Director; and Meagan Snedigar, Staff Social Worker


ince 2016, Parole Project has operated a residential re-entry program for men and women who have served long prison sentences. The organization helps people rebuild their lives after incarceration with the goal of helping clients become self-sufficient and active members in our communities. By providing skills training, mentoring, housing, transportation and other resources to clients, Parole Project seeks to turn people who were once tax burdens into thriving taxpayers. Through its Employment Enhancement Program, Parole Project works with employers to meet their workforce needs by connecting


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

them to skilled talent who are motivated to prove they are worthy of a second chance. The organization’s Reentry Health Initiative provides social work care and wraparound support to returning citizens to ensure that they overcome the challenges they will face upon their return to society. Parole Project believes that clients who are engaged in their communities are more likely to be successful. Through volunteer opportunities, formerly incarcerated people can give back to neighborhoods that have been harmed by crime and transform their own lives through restorative justice.

319 3rd St. Baton Rouge, LA 70801 225.399.3132


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(From left) Tamma Gray, DDS; John Fidanza III, PsyD; and Carol Patin, MD


pen Health Care Clinic, a stalwart in the healthcare landscape, has been an unwavering pillar of support for the Greater Baton Rouge area for more than 25 years. As a federally qualified health center, it stands at the forefront, addressing critical health care needs regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Open Health is a comprehensive source for diverse needs such as primary care for adults and children, dental, mental health, diabetes care, infectious disease, gynecology, schoolbased health clinics and even mobile medical services. The organization’s values—commitment, compassion, diversity, integrity and quality—

are not mere words, but rather guiding principles that resonate in every aspect of service. The clinic’s commitment to reducing social stigma is embedded in its fabric, fostering an environment of inclusivity. Open Health envisions a community where access to highly qualified and culturally competent preventative and primary medical care is not a privilege but a right. Open Health epitomizes healthcare with a heart, ensuring that individuals—regardless of their needs or insurance status—receive the care they deserve. In this way, Open Health not only heals bodies but also uplifts communities, leaving an indelible mark on the path to a healthier, more equitable society.

Multiple clinic locations in Baton Rouge & Denham Springs 225.655.6422



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Founder and CEO Sonia Daniels, PhD


Daniels Consulting’s founder and CEO Dr. Sonia Daniels started her career working at several nonprofits and government agencies in the Baton Rouge area. This evoked her desire to engage in consulting with community organizations in the city. For the past six years, S. Daniels Consulting has served as a social impact strategy and advisory firm to local organizations including BRAC, New Schools for Baton Rouge, 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, and Line4Line, to name a few. The firm’s services 86

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

include designing, planning and implementing strategies for capacity building and organizational development, with the desired objective of increasing impact and revenue. SDC’s mission, now and in the future, is to maintain a steadfast commitment to driving positive change as the premier social impact strategy firm in Baton Rouge by offering comprehensive support to nonprofits, businesses, corporations and brands that are dedicated to investing in community-focused projects and maintaining ethical and social responsibility.

Baton Rouge, LA 70816


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President and CEO Phillip May


ntergy Louisiana provides clean, reliable and affordable electric and gas services to thousands of customers across the Greater Baton Rouge area. The company also steps beyond the power grid to support its communities through philanthropy and volunteerism. Entergy Louisiana has provided grants to support education initiatives through City Year and Teach for America, workforce and economic development initiatives through the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and initiatives to improve quality of life through the Baton Rouge

Area Foundation and Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, among other focus areas in partnership with local nonprofits. Employees have also dedicated their time volunteering at local food pantries, building a home in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and weatherizing homes to lower customers’ utility bills and raise awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency. By directly giving back and volunteering in the communities we serve, Entergy Louisiana is building a better future for everyone.

446 North Blvd. Baton Rouge, LA 70802 800.368.3749



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oodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana is proud to operate four retail stores, an attended donation center (ADC), and an Opportunity Center in the Baton Rouge area. Last year, the organization served more than 325 Baton Rouge residents at its Opportunity Center, with services such as workforce development, digital literacy classes, re-entry

services, job readiness training, employment assistance and much more. The sale of your generously donated items helps to fund these programs that serve those with barriers to employment of any kind. In short, your donations allow us to do what we do best: put people to work! In the future, we hope to expand our offerings in the Baton Rouge area and assist even more of our local neighbors in need.

11358 Perkins Road Baton Rouge, LA 70810 225.308.0220



BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

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(From left) Aaron Piha-Paul, Commercial Supervisor; Stephanie Millican, Commercial Manager; Amanda Baker, Commercial Administrator; Jewel Moore, Commercial Assistant Administrator; Quincy Mouton, Small Business Liaison


he Department of State’s Commercial Division—along with geauxBIZ, its online business portal—is the onestop shop for Louisianians’ business needs. That role includes making it easier for people to do business in Louisiana. The Department of State, with input from experts in the Commercial Division, works alongside the state Legislature to implement regulatory reforms that benefit small businesses and reduce the red tape that can often act as a roadblock to entrepreneurs. The Small Business Protection Act, for instance, requires the department to post information about proposed state rules that may affect small businesses on its website and to notify interested parties when the rule

information is posted. Making small businesses aware of proposed state regulations prior to implementation is key to creating an effective partnership between state agencies and small businesses. In the 2023 legislative session, our office partnered with Rep. Mark Wright to pass House Resolution 212, which tasks our office with creating an online portal where citizens can provide feedback on unduly burdensome statewide regulations and to propose potential alternatives. This measure, like many others, will serve to strengthen the partnership and foster communication between the Department of State and small business owners across Louisiana.

8585 Archives Ave. Baton Rouge, LA 70809 225.925.4704



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YWCA CEO Dianna Payton (seated) and staff members


here you start in life is not where you have to finish.” With this philosophy, the YWCA has empowered thousands of women and families through education, career development, access to early childcare, and housing assistance. They are on a path to achieving a quality of life that would be unimaginable without the YWCA’s help, and these services would not be possible without strategic partners from businesses, foundations, and non-profits. In education and career development, the YWCA connects women to certification and credentialing programs leading to jobs and career advancement. YWCA has expanded services in domestic violence with legal counseling, representation, and wraparound services, and will soon unveil the Providence Place apartments 90

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

to enhance the safety and recovery of women and children as they heal from emotional trauma. Stable, affordable housing leads to healthier communities and benefits the whole city. In the past few years, the YWCA has helped 3,030 families gain stability through its rental assistance program. The Early Childhood Education program opens doors to mothers for jobs or continuing their education by safeguarding their infants and toddlers and teaching them school readiness skills. A new strategic plan will add capacity for these services throughout the city. The YWCA continues to develop effective programs through the talent of its team and the incredible support of its community partners. You are invited to join them in their goals of empowering women and eliminating racism.

Administration Office: 8120 Kelwood Ave. Baton Rouge, LA 70806 225.383.0681



A NEW YEAR means new opportunities. One such opportunity is hiring a new CEO for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. After 15 years, Adam Knapp has departed to become the CEO of the statewide Committee of 100. BRAC Chair David Mullens and the search committee will choose the next leader at a tenuous time in Baton Rouge. It’s no secret Louisiana has lost population and jobs. Since the 2020 census, Louisiana is down 84,000 residents, the third-highest drop among states. Our parish and city are also losing residents. East Baton Rouge Parish has seen its population decline by 6,000 since 2020.

are driven by a strong business community that embraces the concepts of risk, evolution and growth. Business unites to lead, and the politicians follow. We have witnessed the lack of vision, experience and leadership—as well as an aversion to risk—from mayors. But was our business community and BRAC bold enough to speak truth to power and seize the leadership mantle? (It was BRAF that generated most of the new ideas and change.) Mullens believes BRAC is ready to step forward with its new hire, saying, “The process of selecting a new CEO is of utmost importance to the BRAC board of directors.” He says BRAC’s five-year strategic plan will serve as the blueprint for its new leader. “We recognize the need for bold leadership to implement this strategic agenda. We are seeking a leader with tenacity, a bias for action, and a commitment to pushing beyond the status quo,” he says. (This is a description of former BRAC CEO Stephen Moret.) BRAC’s search for a new CEO is critical. I would argue it’s more important than the upcoming mayor’s race. Yet business can’t simply surrender its voice to BRAC. The entire business community must realize there is much at stake and hold BRAC and the new CEO accountable—as well as the mayor and our political leaders. Unfortunately, too many in the business community prefer staying publicly silent while complaining loudly in private. They know change is necessary, but instead, stand mum on the sidelines because they fear losing a City Hall contract or falling out of favor with the political ruling class. That’s not a formula for excellence

BRAC needs bold, independent leadership Rolfe McCollister Jr. is chairman emeritus of Business Report and a contributing columnist.

The Baton Rouge region has been a bright spot in the state’s economy thanks primarily to construction jobs tied to our petrochemical industry along the Mississippi River. The projections for the next two years are strong, but construction jobs can end. From where will the new businesses and jobs come? What’s the plan to reverse the exodus of young, educated talent and start attracting and retaining workers and graduates? What is being done to create a quality of life attractive to today’s workforce? These are all questions—and challenges—this community has been wrestling with for years. But who is leading the way? In Louisiana, we often look to our politicians to lead. But why? Do you associate words like “innovation” and “bold leadership” with government? Most successful cities and regions


ARMOR OF GOD: THE SHIELD OF FAITH This feature is a tribute in honor of Business Report founders, Rolfe McCollister Sr. & Rolfe McCollister Jr.

THE FOURTH PIECE of armor is extremely important! Having taken up the first three pieces, notice the shield of faith is to be “taken up-held up.” Ephesians 6:14 says, “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.” What a provision and what a protection! The enemy’s missiles are flaming and are hurled at our minds with lies and accusations. For example, “you can’t approach God, for you have done this fault so many times, you are not worthy to be accepted back; give up and do life on your own.” Our faith is justification by faith in Christ’s

or growth. It’s why incumbents and the status quo remain. It’s why the reality of Baton Rouge remains far below its enormous potential. Without strong and growing businesses that create jobs and pump critical dollars into the economy, our families and the Capital Region will not prosper and grow. Government must play a role, but it’s not the leadership answer. Remaining on the sidelines and playing it safe can no longer be an option; business must step forward and lead in 2024. HEISMAN HERO Tiger Nation was ecstatic when they called out Jayden Daniels as the winner of the 2023 Heisman Trophy. What a remarkable story and season he provided with his LSU teammates to all fans. It was amazing and record-breaking. I know that LSU and all the fans are proud of Jayden and how he has represented our flagship university and state. His humility, character, leadership and faith in God—which he acknowledged first in his acceptance speech—is inspiring. Jayden is an excellent role model to young people, including my grandson, Caden (pictured below). We believe his spirit of excellence and work ethic will serve him well in the NFL and wish him continued success.

performance, not our own. Yes, all of us continue to fall short and sin, but God’s heart is reconciliation, not condemnation. Condemnation is a major missile of the enemy. The shield of faith is the truth that says, “There is now therefore no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Another big missile is “don’t forgive, for they don’t deserve it.” This leaves us in bitterness. And we are “to forgive others as we have been forgiven.” Our shield extinguishes all the flaming lies on the enemy.

—Jeff Mitchell, Retired COL and Army Chaplain | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



LOUISIANA’S FIGHT for education freedom has been long and weary, but the end may be near. From public schools’ systemic suppression of Cajun French nearly a century ago through its history of poor academic outcomes, Louisianans have long recognized that the state’s education will not improve until parents can choose what’s best for their children. As early as 1985, Louisiana thinkers like novelist Walker Percy were making the case for modern school choice policies, years before other states began adopting them. Louisiana lawmakers eventually followed suit, passing a voucher program—albeit one crippled by burdensome regulations—in 2008.

Expanding school choice is overdue

Rachel Alexander Cambre, Ph.D., is a visiting fellow with the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies and the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation. A native and resident of Baton Rouge, she formerly taught political science at Baylor University, Princeton University, and the University of Virginia. She is a former staff writer for Business Report.

The viewpoints expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Business Report or its staff.


In the wake of elections driven by concerns over Louisiana’s low quality of education, and in which school choice advocates won handily, lawmakers should correct past blunders and restore parents as the primary educators of children. Almost 40 years ago, contributing to a Times-Picayune symposium on Louisiana’s future, Percy explained why improving public education required expanding school choice. As many reformers set their hopes on raising teachers’ salaries and standards, Percy warned that regulations would do little as long as public schools retained a monopoly over K-12 education. Policies that allowed public funding to follow the student rather than the school, on the other hand, would break up that monopoly, benefiting public and nonpublic schools alike. “Why are GM cars getting better?” Percy quipped at a time when foreign competition was prompting General Motors to refine the quality of its vehicles. “Not because of increased government subsidies or higher salaries. Because of Toyota.” Empowering parents with freedom to choose the best education for their children would similarly strengthen public schools, Percy argued, forcing them to innovate and improve to compete for students.

BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

A TRAGIC HISTORY Allowing parents to choose schools and curricula that support their principles strengthens the integrity of the family, moreover, thereby better facilitating the preservation of Louisiana culture. As Cajun and Creole descendants know well, the loss of Louisiana French can be traced to the successful attacks that district schools made on Cajun and Creole culture throughout the 20th century, undermining values taught at home. School teachers and administrators humiliated children who spoke French through corporal punishment, such that within just a few decades, children were no longer speaking their parents’ native tongue. Nor is this tragic piece of history simply a relic of the past. When COVID-19 lockdowns sent students home to learn remotely, parents across the U.S. were shocked by the subversive content schools were teaching, spurring widespread support for school choice expansion. Policies that put parents back in the driver’s seat of K-12 education protect the family bonds and values that preserve unique cultures like ours in Louisiana. School choice has grown popular not only in theory but in practice, particularly in Louisiana, where parents opt for private schools at the third-highest rate in America. Louisiana’s home-schooling population is also on the rise, up by 51% since 2017, according to a Washington Post dataset. While all states saw home-schooling surge during the pandemic, Louisiana remains one of only four states in which it has continued to expand.

VOTERS SPEAK Hence, it’s unsurprising that Louisiana voters this fall elected a slate of school choice proponents, sending supermajorities to the Legislature and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. With a pro-school choice superintendent of education and a governor-elect who appointed school choice advocates to his transition team, Louisiana has the opportunity to embrace education freedom, reversing its history of imposing onerous regulations on school choice participation.

Central to the history of school choice has been the Louisiana Scholarship Program. Signed into law by former Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2008 and expanded in 2012, the LSP seemed promising, providing low-income families with vouchers to send their children to nonpublic schools of their choice. Yet in practice it has helped few: Only 1 percent of students—or 3% of those eligible—participate in Louisiana’s scholarship programs, in part because nonpublic school participation remains low, with just over one-third participating.

A CASE STUDY In their case study of the LSP, Lindsey Burke and Jason Bedrick, policy experts at The Heritage Foundation, traced Louisiana’s low participation rates to costly regulations, like those requiring participating schools to adopt open-admissions policies and administer state tests, rather than any nationally norm-referenced test. These requirements discourage high-performing schools concerned with maintaining rigorous academic standards and missionoriented curricula from participating. Consequently, participating students often land in low-quality private schools not much better than their public counterparts. Indeed, research published in 2015 showed many participating private schools experienced attrition prior to entering the program, suggesting that poorer-performing and less competitive schools were willing to incur regulations to reap financial benefits. That likely explains why, of the many randomized control trial programs studying the effects of school choice on academic achievement, only two—both on the LSP—have ever found negative effects.

CALL TO ACTION Incoming lawmakers can remedy the LSP’s problems by removing its burdensome regulations and extending eligibility to all families, regardless of income level. Lawmakers attempted to pass such legislation in 2022 and 2023, but were thwarted by opposition from Gov. John Bel Edwards. House Bill 98 in 2023 would have improved Louisiana’s school choice offerings


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School choice has grown popular not only in theory but in practice, particularly in Louisiana, where parents opt for private schools at the third-highest rate in America. in crucial ways, shedding requirements that interfere with participating schools’ admissions policies or curricula, while extending eligibility to any student entering kindergarten or enrolled in a public school. More importantly, HB98 would have increased the choices available to parents by administering the program through education savings accounts rather than vouchers. While vouchers must be used for tuition, ESAs allocate some of the school districts’ per-pupil spending to accounts that parents can use for tuition, home-schooling curricula, personal tutors, special needs therapy, and more. Furthermore, ESAs incentivize fiscal responsibility by allowing parents to save unused funds from year to year. They thus invite parents to assume greater discretion over their children’s education, customizing curricula to their particular talents and needs, and planning ahead for their future. Louisiana lawmakers should champion this

discretion, modeling future legislation on HB98’s original text, and avoiding the late amendments last session that attempted to exclude home-schooling families from ESA participation. In another one of his essays on education, Percy lamented that standardization of American schooling had eliminated the student’s opportunity for “sovereign discovery of the thing before him.” No genuine education can occur without individual initiative and ownership on the part of the student, he argued, elements that passive acceptance of “educational packages” tends to foil. Universal ESAs, by contrast, would liberate parents and students alike to take charge of their education in new and ambitious ways. As lawmakers approach a fresh legislative session this spring, they should prepare to extend this freedom to all students in the state. Louisiana families have waited long enough.

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COMPANY NEWS The LSU Law Center recently welcomed a delegation of Bangladeshi attorneys general to Baton Rouge for appellate advocacy training. The delegation of 10 senior lawyers from the Office of the Attorney General of Bangladesh arrived in LSU Law Center November for a weeklong training session on appelin treating rectal cancer. The latest late advocacy led by LSU law facrecognition makes BRG the only ulty. LSU law professor Jeff Brooks, hospital in the state with all three who serves as director of field key cancer program accreditations: placements and the moot court/ Commission on Cancer, NAPRC for trial advocacy program, helped rectal cancer, and NAPBC for breast bring the delegation here through care. In 2009, BRG’s cancer prohis work with the Philip C. Jessup gram was the first in Louisiana to International Law Moot Court be granted NAPBC accreditation. Competition, which is the world’s largest moot court competition. AWARDS HONORS Tonnisha Ellis, seACCREDITATION CERTIFICATION Baton Rouge General has nior manager of edearned a three-year accreditation ucation and from the National Accreditation workforce policy and Program for Rectal Cancer, a qualresearch for the ity program administered by the Baton Rouge Area American College of Surgeons, for Chamber, has been Ellis providing the highest level of care honored as a

recipient of the 2023 Association for Chamber of Commerce Executives’ Forty Under 40 Award. Ellis is the staff lead for education and workforce development, focusing on programming and initiatives from cradle to career. A member of the BRAC team since 2021, she also engages in advocacy activities with local and state elected officials and administrative staff on BRAC’s education and workforce policy agenda. Recently, she was an integral part of launching a $1 million, multiple school district truancy-reduction pilot, aiming to address chronic absenteeism. She also spearheaded legislation that led to a House resolution study on internship tax credits.


LSU law professor Michael Malinowski’s recently released book, Personal Genome Medicine: The Legal and Regulatory Transformation of

US Medicine, has been honored with the 2023 Best in Law award from the American Book Fest. Published by Cambridge University Press in August, the book is a groundbreaking examination of the ethical, legal and social implications of direct-to-consumer genetic health risk testing services such as 23andMe’s Personal Genome Health Service. Neighbors Federal Credit Union recently made a $10,000 donation to Baton Rouge Community College and the BRCC Foundation to champion student success through scholarships. The scholarship awards are specifically aimed at advancing the educational pursuits of student-athletes at BRCC. Scholarship recipients were Jacob Barry, men’s basketball; Janae Pierce, women’s basketball; Owen Ponthieux, baseball; and Sevihun Turner, men’s basketball. APPOINTMENTS MEMBERSHIPS Fifteen small businesses from across the state have been selected

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BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |


to participate in the third annual Diversity in Entrepreneurship Initiative, a Louisiana Economic Development program targeting accelerated business growth for minority- and women-owned companies. This year’s initiative launched in November via a partnership between LED and the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation. Participating businesses from the Baton Rouge area include: Alfaro Bros Concrete Construction, Gonzales; Audio Appliance Experts, Geismar; Codegig, Baton Rouge; LAP Services, Baton Rouge; Leroy’s LipSmack’n Lemonade, Baton Rouge; Louisiana Internal Medicine & Pediatric Associates, Baton Rouge; and The Royal Treatment, Baton Rouge. PHILANTHROPY GRANTS Entergy Corporation and its Louisiana subsidiaries will provide around $224,000 by the end of the year to food pantries and nonprofits to reduce food insecurity in local communities. The companies’ efforts also extend beyond funding

as hundreds of employees volunteered their time packing boxes and assisting staff at food pantries across the state. During the annual Clays for a Cause sporting clays tournament hosted by Neighbors FCU, teams from regional businesses competed to raise money for the Neighbors Capital Area Foundation. Proceeds from this event benefit the foundation’s scholarship program—the Neighbors Way Tuition Assistance Award. To date, the foundation has granted more than $250,000 in scholarships to more than 50 students in the Greater Baton Rouge area.

Olalekan Michael Ogundele, associate professor of anatomy and systems neuroscience in the department of comparative bioOgundele medical sciences at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, has received a grant of $1,826,550 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The grant aims to support Ogundele’s research, which focuses on understanding how our brain circuits work when we encounter positive or negative things in our environment and how these experiences influence our behavior.

Entergy volunteers

Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Vanderbilt University Medical Center have received $13.8 million for five years of research funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study the ideal “dose” of behavioral interventions to treat childhood obesity in rural and minority communities across Louisiana and Tennessee. Pennington Biomedical’s Amanda Staiano and Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Bill Heerman are co-principal investigators on the randomized, multisite trial. Southern University Ag Center has received a pollution prevention grant of nearly $800,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nationwide, 24 recipients were awarded $16 million in grants through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, part of the Biden administration’s Investing in America agenda. Southern University’s grant will fund a project to reduce water pollution from industrial facilities.

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We’re your people. Alexandria • Baton Rouge • Lafayette • Lake Charles • New Orleans • Northshore • Shreveport | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024




BANKING & FINANCE Don Hingle has been named executive vice president, managing director of the Capital Region market for b1Bank, the banking subsidiary of Business First Bancshares Inc. In the position, Hingle will lead all banking operations in the Baton Rouge market and serve on the production leadership team that develops long-term strategic plans for b1Bank. Hingle has over 40 years of Louisiana-based banking experience, including 12 at multiple executive positions with b1Bank. EDUCATION Terrilyn Cunningham has been appointed chief human resources officer of Baton Rouge Community

TERRILYN CUNNINGHAM Baton Rouge Community College

KIYANA KELLY Southern University Ag Center

College. Cunningham is a seasoned human resources professional with 21 years of experience. In her most recent role as a strategic business partner with JenCare Senior Medical, Cunningham played a pivotal role on the regional executive leadership team, where employee retention rates increased as a result of her work performance. Prior to that, she served as human resources director at River Oaks Hospital, collaborating with the CEO and CFO to enhance the onboarding process and elevate engagement and retention through establishing trust and transparency. At both companies, she led transformative initiatives in people processes, engagement, onboarding


DONOVAN DUFFY Meyer Engineers

LEAH SELCER Neel-Schaffer

and compensation realignment. Kiyana Kelly has been appointed director of the 1890 Center of Excellence for Nutrition, Health, Wellness and Quality of Life at the Southern University Ag Center. Kelly has a wealth of experience in the field of nutrition, health and wellness. She has served as the center’s associate agent for family and consumer sciences and youth development since 2014. During this time, she also implemented the COE’s Sister’s Together: Move More, Eat Better program.

years of human resources experience, Bonnette’s understanding of the need to remain focused on people in the fast-paced face of automation, AI and over-digitalization remains a central and directing tenet. Prior to joining REV (thenEatel) in 2015, Bonnette spent 12 years as an HR leader—locally, regionally, and nationally—with Amedisys, developing and executing strategic plans and priorities during the home health care provider’s various mergers and acquisitions.

HUMAN RESOURCES Sarah Bonnette is the new vice president of human resources and talent for REV. With more than 20

ENGINEERING & CONSTRUCTION Donovan Duffy will lead Meyer Engineers as its president. Duffy succeeds Rick Meyer, who has






Your direct pipeline to REACH industrial DECISION MAKERS


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |


Selcer is a registered professional engineer in Louisiana.

COULTER MCMAHEN Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association

BRIANNA “BRI” BARRETT Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation

served as president since 2000 and who will remain with the company as a principal focusing on business development and mentoring. Duffy began his career as a structural engineer designing offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. After obtaining his MBA from the University of New Orleans’ executive program, Donovan worked for a civil engineering firm specializing in water and wastewater treatment and transmission. Duffy joined Meyer Engineers in October 2017 as a project manager assigned to a wide variety of design projects. Meyer was purchased in December 2022 by Thompson Holdings, which is also parent company to Thompson Engineering,

BEAUX JONES The Water Institute

Watermark Design and Thompson Consulting Services. Leah Selcer of Neel-Schaffer has been promoted to the role of Louisiana hydrology and hydraulics lead. With nearly 10 years of experience, Selcer brings a wealth of expertise to her new role, specializing in H&H and coastal engineering services. She currently provides support on a variety of water resources projects including project management services for two pivotal projects for the H&H team: the CS-87: Calcasieu-Sabine Large-Scale Marsh & Hydrologic Restoration project and the Jimmie Davis Bridge design-build project for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.


NONPROFITS Coulter McMahen has been appointed president and CEO of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association. McMahen joins LADA from Taylor Porter, where he has a proven track record of success in representing clients across various industries, making him a strategic choice to lead LADA into a new era. As president and CEO, McMahen will lead LADA’s strategy and advocacy efforts as well as oversee the operations of LADA and its subsidiaries, focusing on elevating the profile of the association and championing the interests of Louisiana’s automobile dealers. RESEARCH Brianna “Bri” Barrett has joined Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation as chief development officer. Barrett has 16 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She most recently worked as senior director of philanthropy at the Scripps

Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Prior to Scripps, she held various development roles in the sciences at the University of California, Riverside, her alma mater. Barrett began her fundraising career in museum education and historical preservation. Beaux Jones has been named president and CEO of The Water Institute. Jones is an environmental lawyer with extensive experience in coastal and environmental policy who previously served as the institute’s general counsel and chief of staff. He has served as acting president and CEO since July. Prior to joining the institute in 2019, Jones served as environmental section chief at Louisiana’s Office of the Attorney General, where he advised state agencies including the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Office of Coastal Management, and regional levee boards. He has argued at every level of state and federal court in Louisiana, including the Louisiana Supreme Court and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


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Jan 2024 BRBR Ad_Final_to_pub.indd 1

12/20/23 3:29 PM | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



Accounting firms

UPCOMING LISTS: Feb. Residential Real Estate Firms Commercial Real Estate Firms TAX PLANNING/PREP




Ranked by local accountants and CPAs


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Hannis T. Bourgeois LLP 2322 Tremont Drive, Baton Rouge 70809 225-928-4770 |

Jay A. Montalbano Managing partner

78 50

111 154

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2/5 Baton Rouge 1924



Faulk & Winkler LLC 6811 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge 70806 225-927-6811 |

Tommy J. LeJeune Managing partner

43 21

54 58

n n n n n

n n n

3/3 Baton Rouge 1984



LaPorte APAC dba LaPorte CPAs & Business Advisors 8555 United Plaza Blvd., Suite 400, Baton Rouge 70809 225-296-5150 |

Wendi Berthelot, Thomas Freel Directors

23 10

29 192

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Apple Guerin Co. LLC 6421 Perkins Road, Bldg. A, Suite 1-B, Baton Rouge 70808 225-767-1020 |

J. Guerin, R. Apple, J. Apple, T. Guerin Partners

15 13

16 DNR



Daigrepont & Brian APAC 910 S. Acadian Thruway, Baton Rouge 70806 225-927-3760 |

Robert Daigrepont President

15 7

17 17



Chesteen & Associates LLC 2181 Quail Run Drive, Baton Rouge 70808 225-761-4400 |

Chip Chesteen Member

9 6

2 2



TWRU CPAs & Financial Advisors 527 E. Airport Ave., Baton Rouge 70806 225-926-1050 |

Sara M. Downing Managing partner

7 11

13 DNR



The Levy Co. APC 412 N. Fourth St., Suite 200, Baton Rouge 70802 225-343-5123 |

Gus Levy President

7 5



Kidder and Schultz CPAs LLC 10630 N. Oak Hills Parkway, Suite A, Baton Rouge 70810 225-341-4136 |

Lee Kidder, Heather Schultz Partners



Horne 10000 Perkins Rowe, Bldg. G600, Baton Rouge 70810 225-755-9798 | 888-821-0277 |





323 4,000


146 70


Dan Gardiner Partner-in-charge



4/35 New York 1965




EisnerAmper 8550 United Plaza Blvd., Suite 1001, Baton Rouge 70809 225-922-4600 |





MAJOR AREAS OF FOCUS Accounting and auditing, tax, business consulting, outsourcing, cybersecurity and technology, disaster recovery, grants administration, forensic and valuation services Tax planning and preparation, audit and assurance, client accounting and advisory services, litigation support, business valuation and consulting Income tax planning, retirement plan design and compliance, outsourced CFO and accounting, consulting, audit and assurance

1/5 Metairie 1946

Audit, tax, client accounting services (CAS), and advisory services

n n n n n n n n n

1/1 Baton Rouge 1987

Attest services, consulting, tax planning/prep, bookkeeping

n n n n n n n n n

1/1 Baton Rouge 1987

Audit, tax preparation, bookkeeping, outsourced accounting

1/1 Baton Rouge 1988

Tax planning and structure, accounting services

n n n n n n n n n n

1/2 Baton Rouge 1948

Accounting, audit, tax, financial planning, business consulting and valuations

8 8

n n n n n n n n

1/1 Baton Rouge 1995

Helping small business and their owners achieve their goals, manage their finances, and minimize their taxes

7 3

7 7

n n n

1/1 Baton Rouge 2007

Small business/nonprofit accounting and income taxes

Rud Blumentritt Partner

5 4

55 DNR

1/15 Ridgeland, Miss. 2008

Construction, financial institutions, franchise, government, health care, public and middle market

Frazer & Persac LLC 7520 Perkins Road, Suite 280, Baton Rouge 70808 225-769-4123 |

Peggy M. Persac, Shawn Frazer Owners

4 4

5 5


1/1 Baton Rouge 1980

QuickBooks, tax and small business services


Kernan & Lambert CPAs APC 8989 Interline Ave., Suite A, Baton Rouge 70809 225-923-1129

Hubert J. Kernan, Brent J. Lambert Partners

4 2

1 1

n n n n n

n n

1/1 Baton Rouge 1977




Garrety & Associates CPAs LLC 11816 Sunray Ave., Baton Rouge 70816 225-291-7011 |

Bryon Garrety, Craig Taylor Partners

3 3

30 40

n n n n

1/3 Baton Rouge 2001




Schoen & Company 4137 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite 120, Baton Rouge 70816 225-293-1924 |

Thomas E. Schoen Owner

3 2

5 5

n n n

n n n n

1/1 Baton Rouge 1987




Planche-Politz-Ledet LLC 10616 Timberlake Drive, Baton Rouge 70810 225-291-4141 |

Randy Ledet Managing member

3 1


n n n

n n n n

1/3 Baton Rouge 1994

Owner-operated businesses



Baxley & Associates LLC 58225 Belleview Drive, P.O. Box 482, Plaquemine 70764 225-687-6630

Margaret Ann Pritchard Managing partner

2 2

2 2

n n


n n n n

1/1 Plaquemine 1961

Governmental audits and tax preparation


William D. Mercer 13360 Coursey Blvd., Suite A, Baton Rouge 70816 225-755-0300 |

William Mercer Owner

2 2

5 5

n n


n n n n

1/1 Baton Rouge 2006

Audits, small business accounting and tax services, nonprofit organizations

n n n

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n n

DBA-doing business as DNR-did not respond NR-not ranked To be featured in Business Report's Listmakers, accounting firms must have at least one office in the nine-parish Capital Region. The Business Report presumes the provided information is accurate. Information about 21 firms that responded will be available to subscribers on our website. To be considered for next year's list, please contact Alaine Keisling at Published in the January issue.


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

Researched by Alaine Keisling

Confidence comes with knowing who you can trust. LaPorte’s commitment goes deep.

Proving ourselves to our clients is a commitment we make every day – and have for over 75 years. We stand (and sometimes sit) by our clients over the long haul: as they face difficult challenges and new opportunities. With LaPorte, you gain industry knowledge, technical resources, and broad perspectives and understanding. As your trusted advisor, we instill the deep confidence you need to make big and bold decisions – over the lifetime of your business needs. CALL US AT:

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PRESIDENTS’ FORECASTS OPPORTUNITY. OUTLOOK. CHALLENGES. GROWTH. In this special section, business owners, CEOs and other leaders in the Capital Region share their opinions on what to expect in the coming year.


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

check ad T for:I CORRECT Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY SPE C ITYPOS A L A D V E R T I Carefully SING S this EC O N ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700



Baton Rouge & East Baton Rouge Parish

Aerowest International



IN 2024, East Baton Rouge Parish is positioned for a robust economy, emphasizing our role in Louisiana’s employment growth, small business vitality, and housing expansion. Despite representing less than a quarter of the state’s population, projections from the Louisiana Workforce Commission indicate our area is on track to contribute nearly one third of Louisiana’s new jobs. Local economists anticipate 8,500 jobs in 2024 and 8,200 in 2025. Key developments, such as the opening of an Amazon fulfillment center, the establishment of the Burrell Aviation Air Cargo hub, and ongoing industrial construction projects, contribute to our strong employment outlook. Through the City-Parish Office of Supplier Diversity, we are showing our commitment to an inclusive economy by certifying over 200 small businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans, leading to $39.4 million in contracts and purchases, with a 25% participation goal for these types of business going forward. We are also enhancing living standards for working families by prioritizing affordable, high-quality housing near workplaces. In 2023, our efforts culminated in 420 completed homes and housing units, withDate: plans toJan24 add more Ad in 2024 across#2 communities like Scotlandville, Issue proof Merrydale, and Eden Park. Our dedication to progress is evident • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. through thriving economy notare only showcases resilience and • AD WILL RUN ASa IS unless approval or finalthat revisions received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. shortersets timeframe will apply for deadlines. growth. dedication butA also a precedent fortight Louisiana’s

FOR 140 YEARS, AeroWest International has stood as a beacon of trust and innovation in the world of odor control, air freshening, and hygiene solutions. As a family-owned business, we take pride in our commitment to enhancing the lives of cleaning professionals and the facilities we serve. Our journey, marked by decades of expertise, has led us to create products and services that foster safer, cleaner and more inviting environments. With a network of dedicated franchisees spanning across the United States, we continue to expand our reach, by providing exceptional services. As we embark on a new year in 2024, we acknowledge the prevailing economic uncertainties. In response, AeroWest is geared up to support young entrepreneurs seeking an alternative to traditional college education and individuals yearning for a break from the corporate grind. We invite them to join our franchise family, where they can be in business for themselves, yet not by themselves. At AeroWest, we are not just about products; we are about people. We are passionate about fostering a culture that celebrates diversity, inclusion and equity.Ad In 2024, we #1 look forward to new Issue Date: Jan2024 proof opportunities and challenges, as we strive to create a brighter, more • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. future forapproval all. or final revisions are received within 24 hrs • AD inclusive WILL RUN AS IS unless

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Ascension Parish Government

Associated Grocers, Inc.


ASCENSION PARISH REMAINS a shining example of economic vitality and sustainable development for Louisiana. Our strategic location, robust infrastructure, and welcoming business climate have propelled our parish into unprecedented progress for another year. Our commitment to education is evident in Donaldsonville’s transformative Early Childhood Education Center. Thanks to the Juvenile Justice Program Fund, the new center will provide a firm educational foundation for children in our community. This investment reflects our dedication to shaping the leaders of tomorrow. Our industrial landscape is also evolving, with $20 billion in capital investment and 1,200 new jobs in the pipeline over the next five years. Beyond economic benefits, these projects bring a wave of social responsibility, resulting in increased corporate contributions, volunteerism, scholarships, and internships. The ongoing and potential projects, especially on the Westbank, signify a bright future for Ascension Parish, solidifying our position as a thriving hub for innovation and progress. Proposals for more than $7 billion in new projects underscore the confidence businesses have in Ascension’s potential. Many new ventures on the horizon position us for sustained growth in 2023 and beyond. Ascension Parish is witnessing growth and actively shaping a future of prosperity for our citizens.


THE RECENT ECONOMIC situation caused inflation to rise, which affected the prices of goods and services. Although inflation is subsiding now, our independent retailers have been able to withstand the pressure and maintain their competitive edge. They have done this by offering customers the best fresh, quality options and value for their money. Associated Grocers will continue to position our retailers for growth as we invest in the technologies and systems to support that effort. We know that consumers have many choices when it comes to grocery shopping, but it is the sustained unparalleled customer service, unique products, and conveniences that set our retailers apart. Thank you for your continued support of our independent retail stores. We appreciate your loyalty and trust. Best wishes for a healthy and successful 2024! | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


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Baton Rouge Clinic

Baton Rouge Community College

OVER THE PAST YEAR, The Baton Rouge Clinic, AMC has undergone remarkable growth, marked by the acquisition of new locations, the introduction of Family Medicine as a new specialty, and the addition of exceptional physicians to our team. Notably, our December announcement unveiled our expansion into Ascension Parish with the opening of our Prairieville office, while in November three new physicians and The Family Clinic – Opelousas joined our group, fortifying our capacity to serve patients not only in Baton Rouge but in Opelousas, Prairieville, and the surrounding areas. The expansion of our family of physicians last year represents yet another milestone in our commitment to “Caring for Generations,” symbolized by the inclusion of the next generation of physicians who proudly carry on the legacy their parents have built. Their presence, in conjunction with our Mayo Clinic Care Network affiliation, ensures the perpetuation of our dedication to providing exceptional patient care while bringing the latest advancements in healthcare to our community. As we embrace the new year, The Baton Rouge Clinic, AMC remains steadfast in its readiness to confront the evolving healthcare challenges our community. For over#2 75 years, our clinic has been a Issue Date:of Jan24 Ad proof beacon of healthcare excellence, nurturing the dream of our founders • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. through our unwavering serving our patients and our • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval orcommitment final revisions areto received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. community.

AS WE STEP INTO 2024, Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) proudly continues to be a significant part of our community’s growth and prosperity. This year is especially important as we celebrate our 25th anniversary—a milestone that marks a quarter-century of service, education, and partnership. In reflecting on the successes of 2023, we are proud of the groundbreaking of the new state-of-the-art Our Lady of the Lake Nursing and Allied Health Building at BRCC. This new facility represents our commitment to providing quality healthcare education to our students and ensuring that our community’s health sectors are powered by skilled professionals. Our 25th anniversary has not only been a time for celebration, but also a period of exceptional growth. We achieved record-breaking enrollment, demonstrating the trust and value placed in our institution by the Baton Rouge community. The recent release of our five-year strategic plan has laid a robust foundation for the future. Looking ahead to 2024, BRCC remains steadfast in its mission to be the preferred provider of talent for a globalDate: marketplace. As we honor past, #1 we eagerly anticipate the Issue Jan 2024 Ad our proof new year as we continue to serve the Baton Rouge community with • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. excellence and pride. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs

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Baton Rouge Gallery - center for contemporary art

IN MY 16 YEARS AT BATON ROUGE GALLERY – center for contemporary art (“BRG”), I’ve had the privilege of a front-row seat to the dramatic growth of the arts in Louisiana’s capital. In the past 12 months alone our monthly opening receptions ballooned to see 500, 600, even 750 guests come out on a Wednesday night to engage with Louisianabased artists. Area residents and businesses are collecting the work of local artists more and more, with art sales at BRG growing more than 360% over the past four years. This all compounds the impact the arts sector has on the local economy. In fact, a recent Riverbend Research study found BRG alone had an impact of over $8 million in the ten years leading up to the pandemic and that every dollar invested in BRG’s mission led to over $5 in economic impact (compared to the U.S. nonprofit average of $2.55). With post-COVID audiences back and engaged - and renewed excitement around how local art will enhance quality of life and economic development in Louisiana’s capital in 2024 and beyond - the forecast for the future is an inspiring one. There’s never been a better time to be (or become) an art lover in Baton Rouge.


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |


IN 2024, hospital systems and physicians across the country will be challenged by the consolidation of the health insurance industry into a handful of mega-corporations. These will continue to selectively integrate with other sectors and increase their leverage with employers, physicians and hospitals, shifting financial risk to hospitals. In addition, we’ll see continued labor shortages in all roles, from physicians, specialists and nurses to computer programmers and accountants. And at BRG, we will continue to weather those challenges by remaining locally led and independent, focused on physicians and patients. We will continue to grow in several key clinical areas including robotic surgery, oncology, and primary care as well as expanding our geographic reach.

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Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR)

BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo

IN 2023, BTR saw a 15% increase in passenger volume, making BTR the second largest airport in Louisiana. The new daily nonstop flight from BTR to Washington Reagan National Airport on American airlines, and an increase in BTR’s overall airline seating capacity, drove this growth. While the airport’s percentage of seats filled is the highest in its history, the bookings on the new nonstop Washington DC flights have been the exception. It is essential that our capital city maintains nonstop service to our nation’s capital, but we need your help to do it. That’s why we are asking area businesses, and organizations with travel to DC in 2024 to take the BR to DC pledge by visiting By signing the pledge and encouraging your employees to use the BTR nonstops to DC on American Airlines you can help us ensure that our community maintains this critical service. Flying local supports economic development in our region and provides confirmation to the airlines that new BTR nonstop routes will be supported by the community. With flights to some of the country’s largest hub airports on American, Delta, and United, BTR provides convenient destinations Issue Date: Jan24service Adtoproof #1 worldwide. We look forward to serving you in 2024! • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

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2024 WILL BE remembered as a year of transformation for BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo marked by a momentous celebration in the spring to unveil the completion of the first phase of its reimagination. Coming through a new entrance in Greenwood Community Park, guests will embark on a global journey through redesigned animal displays following a new, modern zoogeographical model. The first phase will introduce six new exhibits, twelve renovated exhibits and twelve new buildings. This marks a significant milestone and sets the stage for future phases, enhancing the overall visitor experience. The return of the Coca Cola Express and the latest electric train engine adds to the excitement after a hiatus during the pandemic. Prepare for up-close encounters with giraffes in a spacious new habitat and feeding station which emphasizes animal well-being. New species aligned with the zoo’s master plan will enhance regional diversity, complemented by interactive experiences fostering deeper connections between animals and visitors. We hope you become a member and enjoy exclusive access during this year of adventure, fun andAd exploration into wild habitats. Stay Issue Date: Jan 2024 proof #1 connected for updates on this exciting journey and we look forward • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. welcoming youapproval into your new zooareonreceived your within next24visit. • AD to WILL RUN AS IS unless or final revisions hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

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Capital Area United Way

Citizens Bank & Trust


CAPITAL AREA UNITED WAY remains steadfast in our fight for the health, education, economic mobility, and basic needs of every person in our 10-parish service area. Our work in mobilizing and connecting volunteers and resources to address the complex issues that impact our communities has given us a clear sense of purpose. Thank you to everyone who has donated, advocated, or volunteered to support this work over the past year. As we enter our 99th year of serving this community, now more than ever, your investment in this community through United Way can make it possible for more families to lead healthier lives, more people to increase their income to become more financially stable, and for more children to succeed in school. You are the key to helping our communities become the thriving, vibrant communities we all dream about. Please join us in Living United as we continue realizing our vision of a community where everyone is empowered to achieve their full potential.


CITIZENS BANK & TRUST is excited about our prospects and potential for growth in 2024. With the expectation of more stable economic conditions, we stand ready to support the business and financial needs of the Greater Baton Rouge community. Citizens Bank & Trust remains steadfast in delivering the products and services that provide our customers with the tools and insight to help them achieve their goals. We wish all our customers and business partners a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2024. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


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Baton Rouge General Foundation

DAA Media + Marketing

AS WE EMBARK ON A NEW YEAR, the Baton Rouge General Foundation extends heartfelt thanks for the steadfast support and dedication of our friends and supporters. Through programs such as Arts in Medicine and the CARE Initiative, plus launching the hospital’s first mobile health unit, we remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing important healthcare initiatives for patients and families in our community. Your ongoing support is vital, empowering our hospital to continue its role as a leader in delivering exceptional service and top-quality healthcare. Looking toward 2024, we are excited to continue this journey with you in the new year and in the years ahead. We wish you and your families a year of health, happiness, and prosperity. To learn more about our mission and how you can be a part of our initiatives, please visit our website at

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DPI Anesthesia

ANESTHESIA PROVIDER SHORTAGES in 2023 brought a lot of uncertainty to hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and anesthesia groups. These groups dealt with wage inflation of close to 40% for anesthesia providers in some markets, creating a financial burden we have never seen before. Even with the increased compensation, many facilities in Baton Rouge are still not fully staffed. DPI grew 15% last year and is poised for exponential growth in 2024. DPI’s success is built on a foundation of great culture, competitive compensation, and a flexible staffing model. DPI leadership does a tremendous job of finding creative solutions to ensure we are fully staffed while providing the best experience for our patients. “Better never rests”


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

THE U.S. LOCAL ADVERTISING INDUSTRY is projected for growth in 2024, with digital advertising continuing as the driving force in expansion. After continued declines in recent years, traditional advertising spending is poised for stabilization in 2024 thanks to the impact of an election year. The evolution of media consumption aligns with our strategic focus at DAA Media + Marketing. Echoing industry trends, we have witnessed the increasing investment on digital channels in 2023, particularly social video and Connected TV, shaping our client plans for 2024. Our proactive response to these changes in the media landscape included building out our digital team to include in-house programmatic traders and data analysts, enabling turnkey omnichannel solutions for our clients. This approach ensures our agency remains a comprehensive, one-stop solution for clients seeking integrated media strategy. A deep understanding of our clients’ business models has positioned us uniquely as a strategic partner. Paired with improvements in reporting and attribution solutions, DAA provides reassurance that our client’s are being Issue Date:advertising Jan24 budgets Ad proof #2optimized toward their definition of success. We look forward to continued growth through • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. existing andIS new remaining committed • AD WILL RUN AS unless clients, approval orwhile final revisions are received within 24 to hrs our team of from receipt of thisemployees, proof. A shorterthe timeframe will apply tightcontinued deadlines. success. talented backbone offorour • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

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KATRINA STOKES DIRECTOR East Baton Rouge Parish Library

2024 IS THE YEAR TO INVEST IN YOU! The nationally acclaimed East Baton Rouge Parish Library is committed to strengthening business, promoting workforce development, and supporting entrepreneurship throughout the parish. We continue to enhance our technology services, databases and online resources to meet your needs, offering up-to-date training resources and new tech initiatives to help businesses compete globally. We regularly expand the premium business resources offered freely via—all you need is your library card. Our programs and resources enhance the quality of life for business professionals and their families. The Digital Library provides access to thousands of free employment training courses, educational assistance programs, and business-related databases, as well as online movies, eBooks, magazines, music, foreign language lessons, hobby courses, news, archives, and more. The Library’s SMALL BUSINESS SERVICE includes free programs, resources and tools to help businesses grow, including consultations with business librarians. They can guide you in the use of robust tools such as Data Axle, Mergent Intellect, and Gale Business: Plan Builder. Skill Mill, our newest platform, even delivers VR and AR training. We also offer concierge service to design a curated collection of Continuing Ed courses for your staff. Contact us at

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REFLECTING ON THE achievements of 2023, EFCU Financial is grateful for the support of our members and our communities. As we bid farewell to a year filled with remarkable successes, we look forward to celebrating 90 years of service to the Greater Baton Rouge Area in 2024. What began as the 13th chartered credit union in the U.S. with 178 members and a total investment of $941.70, has grown to more than 65,000 members and over $1 billion in assets. Throughout our history, we have remained committed to serving you with excellence as we worked to build a stronger, more vibrant community. Our commitment to excellence is fueled by our members, and we look forward to serving you in 2024.


FIRST AMERICAN BANK AND TRUST celebrates 114 years of service to the citizens, businesses, and organizations of Southeast Louisiana. Strength, independence, and innovation are traits that have become pillars supporting the Bank as it looks ahead to the future. The Board of Directors is committed to making our region stronger while retaining its top core value of customer service. It is this commitment that has helped expand the Bank’s footprint from a single-branch bank in St. James Parish to serving 11 parishes with 25 offices. The Bank’s mission is to meet the financial needs of Southeast Louisiana’s businesses and citizens while delivering high quality customer service. The Bank has become a leader in the community banking industry by offering innovative products equal to those of national banks but with the personal and caring touch that only a fellow local bank can provide. It’s the spirit of First American, a banking tradition since 1910.

Issue Date: Jan24 Ad proof #1

Issue Date: Jan 2024 Ad proof #1

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Iberville Parish Government

Livingston Economic Development Council

IBERVILLE HAS TAKEN a step towards the future as I begin to take office as only our 2nd Parish President in 26 years. As we prepare for the new Mississippi River Bridge that the Baton Rouge area and Iberville so desperately need, we will be proactive. As one of the only parishes along the river without a bridge, we must now plan for the future. As a commuter bridge, this bridge will alleviate a lot of traffic and open new corridors for the future of our region. We need to continue the mentality of “long term thinking” as we advocate for additional funding on the state and federal levels. Iberville’s economy and sales taxes are at all-time highs as we begin to plan our future masterplan. We are going to focus more on small business and make sure that we are attracting what our residents want. We will also focus on smart growth throughout all of Iberville and make sure that our current residents are always top priority. I see a bright future for Iberville Parish and look forward to working with our municipalities towards tomorrow’s future. Have a Happy New Year!

BUSINESS AND RESIDENTIAL growth continue to drive a robust economy in Livingston Parish. The business outlook for the Capital Region remains strong with continued demand for products and services driving additional capital investment and new jobs. Multiple major projects have completed, including the single largest industrial investment in parish history. Major companies such as Weyerhaeuser, Aurorium, and Pipe & Steel Industrial Fabricators expanded their presence in the parish recently with significant investment and commitment to retain and grow their workforce. In total, eight projects will spend over $200 million, retain over 700 jobs, and add over 200 new jobs. Northshore Technical Community College’s new campus is growing and helps to provide a strong workforce pipeline to support industrial growth. Livingston Parish is growing, but still maintains that smalltown feel. For more information about the Livingston Parish advantage, visit our website at | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


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Livingston Parish Government

Louisiana AGC

2023 WAS TRULY a historical year for Livingston Parish. The winds of change blew strongly as the people elected a new Parish President, seven new Council Members and an entirely new Legislative Delegation. In 2024, we are truly embarking on a New Day for Livingston Parish. We could not be more excited about the direction we are headed. A Parishwide Drainage Plan will be first priority. As the fastest growing Parish in Louisiana, we intend to accelerate our infrastructure into the 21st century to become an attractive location for industry. Our school system remains among the top in the state and continues to appeal to working families. Crime is low in our parish and our retail establishments are buzzing with visitors. As Parish President, my job will be to protect and ensure that the voice of the people is heard and valued. Great things are in store for Livingston Parish in 2024 and beyond.

I USUALLY START any piece I pen with a reference to a 60s rock song. Not this time. And I do not want to retread the same waters I have been in for the past 2 1/2 years. Since late 2020 everyone that has read what I have shared knows that construction activity was coming, it’s here and will be so for some time. Commercial builders, surface infrastructure, underground and coastal protection are going great guns. And we’ve only scratched the surface. Why excites me as much today is the work the new State Administration wants to do with our government agencies that will oversee all this work. The term “customer satisfaction” is being used a lot. And we are those agency’s customers. Public works construction will be at an all-time high and we anticipate the State’s construction industry meeting all challenges. Such changes do not occur overnight but take time, effort and cooperation. So, I am encouraged that change may come to the bureaucracy that the industry experiences every day. If I coin a song for this, it would have to be Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful Life It Would Be”.

Issue Date: Jan24 Ad proof #2

Issue Date: Jan2024 Ad proof #2

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Centene Louisiana


A MECHANIC WITH DIABETES from Monroe is injured, loses his job while he’s in the hospital recovering and, as a result, finds himself homeless. A strawberry farmer in Bogalusa loses his spring crop to floods, then his fall crop and home to a hurricane; now he can no longer afford health care for his family. A fifth grader from Breaux Bridge struggles to adapt to the foster care system, overcome past traumas, and deal with the anxieties she feels. These are just a few of the people Louisiana Healthcare Connections serves as a Medicaid health plan. But any of us can experience life-altering circumstances that affect our health and so much more. If in these times of need we only treat someone’s diagnosed illness, the opportunity to address the root-cause barriers to long-term wellness is lost. Our mission is to transform Louisiana’s health, one person at a time. Strategies for whole-person care beyond traditional health care — transitional housing, workforce training, mental health care, food assistance — are the keys to surpassing illness treatment and achieving health transformation. Louisiana Healthcare Connections (Medicaid), Ambetter (Marketplace), and Wellcare (Medicare) are a family of Centene health plans that help people get the care they need at every stage of life.


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

LWCC WAS FOUNDED with a clear purpose to help Louisiana thrive by providing consistent, reliable workers’ comp coverage to the state’s business owners and their workers. Over the years, we have explored and enhanced that purpose alongside our stakeholders. Our loyalty to Louisiana is woven into everything we do. We are loyal to Louisiana’s businesses, providing best-in-class coverage and workplace safety support. As a private mutual company, we share our financial success and put money back in the pockets of our policyholders, fueling economic growth statewide. LWCC has returned more than $1.25 billion in dividends to our policyholders since 2003. We are loyal to Louisiana’s workers, offering expert guidance on accident prevention and empowering safer workplaces across every industry. When workers are injured, we provide medical and wage benefits while helping them return to work and a meaningful life with compassion and care. We are loyal to Louisiana’s future, using our voice to celebrate it, leveraging our resources to elevate it, and catalyzing partnerships to accelerate it. We invest in Louisiana because it’s more than just our job to make sure Louisiana thrives. It’s our purpose.

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Majestic Medical Solutions

Operations Laboratory

IN JULY OF 2024, Majestic will celebrate its 20th anniversary of serving radiology departments in hospitals, imaging centers, and private medical practices throughout Louisiana. As the largest independent medical imaging equipment dealer in the Gulf South region, Majestic partners with its customers to provide creative medical imaging solutions for general x-ray, fluoroscopy, CT, MRI, and other diagnostic imaging modalities. In our industry over the past several years, capital budgets have been cut and purchases of new radiology equipment have declined. As a result, our customers—from rural hospitals and clinics to the largest health systems in Louisiana—are forced to find ways to extend the life of existing equipment. We expect this trend to continue in 2024. Majestic’s ability to service nearly any diagnostic imaging modality from a variety of manufacturers has ensured that our customers are able to weather these kinds of budget cuts and not diminish patient care. Since it was founded in 2004, Majestic has passionately focused on its mission to meet or exceed customer expectations and creatively solve customer problems. We have long-term relationships with customers appreciate overall #1 value we bring and the quality Issue Date:who Jan24 Adtheproof products and service we offer. We continually strive for improvement • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. in allRUN areas ofunless our approval business, forrevisions the benefit of our our • AD WILL AS IS or final are received withinemployees, 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. timeframe will apply tight deadlines. customers, andA shorter the communities we for serve.

THE CURRENT JOB market faces an unprecedented disparity between available work and available workers, with the lowest unemployment rates in Western history. Louisiana is at 3.3% and only 15,000 individuals are currently receiving unemployment benefits. Traditionally, a 5% interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve would significantly increase unemployment, but this pattern no longer holds due to the size of the work-to-worker gap. Meanwhile, a surprising 51% of US workers are actively seeking new jobs, according to Gallup. Everyone you are recruiting already has a job, but they are looking. To address this issue, hiring managers must adopt a more strategic approach. Just offering jobs no longer works. They all have one already. You have to have a strategy. What specific and ongoing jobrelated problems can you solve for them? Start here: find out why your current employees remain with your company and start offering that to future hires. It’s time to abandon outdated “Help Wanted” signs and prioritize clear communication of your employment value proposition to attract and retain talent in this evolving job landscape.

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Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700

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FOR 100 YEARS, Our Lady of the Lake Health has served the Greater Baton Rouge community with a steadfast commitment to bringing the highest caliber of care with the region’s leading providers and worldclass partners. Improving the health of our community requires a relentless pursuit of excellence and laser focus on providing life-saving services such comprehensive cancer care, cardiovascular care, neuroscience, trauma, and children’s health. Achieving this goal also requires partnership with higher education institutions for workforce development and groundbreaking research. Our own Franciscan University, LSU, and our other educational partners will all be critical in improving healthcare outcomes over the coming year. Together, we will continue to improve access to care for all, provide expert care for all of those in need, lead collaborative research and innovations — such as our first-of-its-kind method of testing for sepsis in emergency rooms — and our ongoing mission to set a new standard for healthcare delivery, research and education. We recognize that our community relies on us during the most vulnerable times. We’ve taken that responsibility seriously over the last century and will continue to do so for the next 100 years. Together, we can improve health of the communities we are privileged to serve.


Pennington Biomedical Research Center

AT PENNINGTON BIOMEDICAL, we are committed to putting science to work for a healthier Louisiana. From cells to society, we are promoting metabolic health, and we are determined to prevent metabolic disease through our scientific discoveries. While Pennington Biomedical researchers are hard at work exploring the triggers of obesity and diet-related diseases, we see time and again that minor shifts in behavior have the greatest likelihood of staving off latent diseases while also easing the pressure on patients to make significant changes in their health. In 2024, we are encouraging small shifts, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or eating smaller meal portions. Small shifts in behavior are easier to adopt, integrate into your life and can make a lasting impact over time. If you’re not sure where to start, our clinical studies are always in need of participants, and we have more studies underway now than in the past five years. Residents in the Greater Baton Rouge area can play a key role in leading scientific discoveries right here at Pennington Biomedical, and I encourage everyone to join us in the new year in our pursuit of health solutions and cutting-edge research. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024


• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY check ad T for:I CORRECT SPE C ITYPOS A L A D V E R T I Carefully SING S this EC O N ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700


THE BIGGEST ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT NEWS involving the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, and all Mississippi River ports, is the development of a new $1.8 billion container facility – the Louisiana International Terminal (LIT) – that will be constructed in St. Bernard Parish below New Orleans. This container terminal will be capable of handling the United States’ largest ships. As a result, Louisiana’s import and export capacity will increase, while containers will be transported utilizing container-on-barge services, six class-one railroads and the state’s interstate highways. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge has partnered with the Port of New Orleans to shuttle loaded containers down the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, specifically for overseas exports. The LIT will enable our port to shuttle more full containers downriver in the future resulting in a competitive advantage to our regional shippers and a significant reduction of trucks on our highways. Our staff and commissioners will collaborate with other Mississippi River ports to develop synergies allowing each port to take full advantage of this new opportunity presented by the LIT. Through these synergies, each port will be able to develop expand itsAd container Issue Date:orJan24 proofservices #2 for exports and imports along the entire Mississippi River. • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions.


FOUNDER, CEO, FRY COOK & CASHIER Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers

2023 WAS ANOTHER great year for Raising Cane’s as we served our Customers 383 million times and partnered with over 45,000 local organizations to donate more than $20M to our local communities. We grew to over 775 restaurants across 37 states and entered 15 new markets – including NYC for the launch of our Global Flagship in Times Square – and along with that growth came endless opportunity for our Crewmembers. In 2023 alone, we created over 15,000 new jobs, promoted 1,700 Crewmembers internally, and continued leading the industry across all metrics. I am also proud to share we were recognized as one of QSR Magazine’s Best Brands to Work For in 2023 in addition to many other accolades highlighting our amazing Crew and quality product. Despite this growth, we have remained true to who we were when I founded Cane’s 27 years ago, at the north gates of LSU’s campus. I never imagined that we would reach the success we have, I remain grateful to the community of Baton Rouge and citizens of Louisiana for all their years of endless support.

Issue Date: Jan24 Ad proof #1

• AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700

Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700






SSA Consultants

THE MARKETING INDUSTRY constantly evolves, presenting opportunities for those ready to embrace change. This past year we intensified our focus on crafting personalized messaging strategies to amplify our clients’ engagement and connection with their target audiences. We continue to acknowledge the significance of leveraging first-party data to gain valuable insights into audience behavior and preferences. SASSO distinguishes itself as a team of dedicated problem solvers who place our clients’ goals at the center of everything we do. Striving for impactful outcomes, we understand the importance of adaptability in delivering the best results for our clients. In 2023, our agency witnessed an exceptional year, achieving record growth in clientele, revenue and team expansion. We take pride in successfully implementing creative solutions for our clients on local, national and international scales. As we reflect on our journey, our success in marketing, advertising and communications positions SASSO as more than just a service provider. We are a strategic partner in your business journey driving both brand and revenue growth. Looking ahead to 2024, we are committed to fostering innovative solutions and deepening our partnerships to ensure client success.


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

THE SSA CONSULTANTS’ TEAM foresees a year of abundant opportunities and sustained growth for businesses in 2024. Despite the turbulence of recent times, our clients continue to demonstrate their resiliency and adaptability which sets the set the stage for an optimistic outlook. Our clients are focusing on leadership development, succession planning, and recruiting and retaining talent to prepare for and create opportunities for expansion. Many have realized that the digital transformation, accelerated by the pandemic, will continue to be a cornerstone for their success. Embracing technological advancements and leveraging data analytics will empower their businesses to enhance efficiency, streamline operations, and tap into new markets. Additionally, the global economy’s gradual recovery is likely to foster an environment conducive to expansion and investment. Companies that demonstrate agility, flexibility, and a commitment to their people are likely to lead the charge in this renewed era of growth. In conclusion, 2024 holds immense promise for businesses ready to adapt, innovate, and capitalize on emerging opportunities. Embracing change and fostering a forward-thinking approach will undoubtedly pave the way for remarkable growth and success.

• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

• Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hrs from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

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United Weld Holdings

Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation

2023 WAS A SUCCESSFUL year for our portfolio of advanced manufacturing companies including EPIC and BendTec, as they continued to grow and meet the needs of a changing world. The outlook for 2024, driven by the energy transition and investments in cleaner fuels and alternative energy, bodes well for our business. We see federal IRA and CHIPS funding for semiconductor and EV battery manufacturing as promising opportunities, especially given the reshoring effort on manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Our piping products play a key role in projects that these investments support, positioning United Weld Holdings as a strategic partner in these growing markets. This not only contributes to domestic growth in a robust market but also underscores potential for further expansion of our international operations. As countries around the world also prioritize cleaner energy and sustainable solutions, there is growing demand for products that support these initiatives. Given our role in the supply chain for essential piping components, we are well positioned to capitalize on these opportunities. Our goal is to remain agile and adaptive to ever-changing market Issue Date: Jan24 advancements, Ad proof #1 dynamics, technological and regulatory trends to • Please respond byour e-mail or phonepotential, with your approval minor revisions.our focus on maximize growth whileor maintaining • AD WILL RUN AS IShigh-quality unless approvalstandards or final revisions received within 24 hrs innovation, andarestrategic partnerships to further from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. enhance our competitiveness. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

URBAN RESTORATION ENHANCEMENT CORPORATION (UREC) has the privilege of overseeing several community development projects that are transforming North Baton Rouge. This work entails developing and expanding neighborhood development projects within a three to five mile radius—all of which are bringing new and affordable homes to local families. In 2023, we completed construction of both the Foster Oaks (Phase I) and Satinwood Grove neighborhoods, adding 22 new homes to North Baton Rouge. This year, we are expanding Foster Oaks, constructing the Hollywood Garden neighborhood which will create eight single-family homes for ownership, and developing 2.5 acres of land along Winchester Avenue to create more quality, affordable housing options. UREC is also growing partnerships with community banking, real estate, and community development to prepare more individuals for homeownership through UREC’s Lock & Key Homebuyers Club and homebuyer education seminars. We are equally committed to ensuring high school students gain Industry Based Credentials, college, career, and ACT Prep readiness through UREC Trailblazers Academy. The academy provides after school and summer pre-law, entrepreneurship, Issue Date: learning Jan24opportunities Ad proofin #1 technology, healthcare, and ACT prep. • Please respond by e-mail or phone with your approval or minor revisions. ToRUN learn support, or revisions invest in community • AD WILL AS ISmore, unless approval or final areour received within 24 hrsand youth from receipt of this proof.initiatives, A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. development visit or call 225.356.8871.

Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700

Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700

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Window World of Baton Rouge

Woman’s Hospital

IN THE FACE OF A TURBULENT ECONOMY a noticeable shift in market dynamics is emerging. Unlike the previous year, the current economic landscape has stabilized, bringing a semblance of normalcy. This change is reflected in the predicted decrease in home renovation spending, which is expected to dip from $486 billion to $457 billion in 2024. Amidst these economic fluctuations, Window World stands out as a success story. Celebrating over a 20-year family run legacy, Window World has not only achieved a milestone exceeding $100 million but has also secured its position as the leading replacement window installer in both Baton Rouge and across the country. This achievement has been recognized by Qualified Remodeler, further cementing the company’s reputation for excellence. However, at Window World, we understand that resting on our laurels is not an option. Our commitment extends beyond past achievements to future aspirations. We continuously strive for improvement, driven by our impressive customer satisfaction rates in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. Our focus encompasses every aspect of our business—from service and materials to workforce, management, and community engagement. As we look towards the new year, our gratitude for the success and support we’ve received from our community remains at the forefront. Window World is excited to embrace new opportunities and challenges, continuing to set industry benchmarks and exceed expectations.

IN 2023, WOMAN’S HOSPITAL celebrated our 55th birthday, marking significant milestones for our patients, our team, and our community. Since opening in 1968, Woman’s has welcomed more than 390,000 babies, making it the largest birthing hospital in Louisiana. When Woman’s opened, approximately two mammograms were performed per day on women who had a lump or other breast cancer symptoms. Today, Woman’s combines advanced technology with specialized care to detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer. The hospital has performed more than 1.1 million mammograms since 1968, including nearly 40,000 this year. Although Woman’s is recognized primarily as a birthing facility, its roots are in cervical cancer research. Since its inception, Woman’s Cancer Detection Laboratory has processed more than 3.3 million Pap smears. In 2024, Woman’s will open Louisiana’s first inpatient mental health unit dedicated to treating pregnant and postpartum women. Maternal mental health conditions are among the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting one in five women. Of those affected, 75% go untreated. By meeting these needs, Woman’s continues to advance our mission of improving the health of women and infants. | BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024



John Snow Partner, Emergent Method, with sons Cullen, 6, and Brooks, 3. One-year-old daughter Blake, known as Lil Foodiette, is also part of the Lil Foodiez instagram presence they created together, with more than 2,400 followers and counting.


“Running [@lilfoodiezla] has really helped connect the kids with the world around them, and it has really helped drive awareness for some of the local concepts around here.”


BUSINESS REPORT, January 2024 |

Going Above and Beyond in Baton Rouge. Jones Walker LLP is committed to helping clients address today’s challenges, maximize opportunities, and set the stage for future success. We practice in key industries — from energy, real estate, and tax and estates, to banking and finance, intellectual property, and other rapidly changing, technology-driven industries. Our attorneys practice law at the highest levels of creativity and efficiency, with an emphasis on delivering the best possible legal representation no matter the market condition or specific situation. It’s no wonder that BTI Consulting has repeatedly recognized Jones Walker as a member of its Client Service A-Team. Brandon K. Black, Office Head 225.248.2000

Suite 800 445 North Boulevard Baton Rouge, LA 70802

ALABAMA | ARIZONA | DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA | FLORIDA GEORGIA | LOUISIANA | MISSISSIPPI | NEW YORK | TEXAS Attorney Advertising. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other attorneys. EC Filing #: LA-22-14447

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