Inside the Chamber 2022

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INSIDE THE

CHAMBER

VOLUME 51

THE DRIVING FORCE FOR BUSINESS

ISSUE 1

Sue Nicholson Retires

Higher Education

Local Awards

2021 Ribbon Cuttings

Sue retires from the Chamber and Roy Heatherly steps in her shoes.

Our city’s three local colleges share exciting things happening at their campuses.

From Top 20 Under 40 to Thomas H. Scott, individuals and businesses are awarded.

What a year! 32 businesses and counting have had ribbon cuttings.



CONTENTS Year in Review

Leadership Ouachita

Awards: Kitty DeGree and Rambin Silverstein

Awards: Thomas H. Scott

Awards: Top 20 Under 40

Biomedical Research and Innovation Park

Ribbon Cuttings

Higher Education: LDCC

Higher Education: VCOM

Higher Education: ULM

Good in the Community

A Letter from the Mayor

4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 2022 Board of Directors

Welcome to the 2021 edition of Inside The Chamber Magazine. As this year’s Chairman I have had the pleasure of working with a great chamber staff and some amazing volunteers. This year’s publication reflects their hard work and the great things happening in our city. Every day we work together to create an environment where our local businesses thrive. As you read this issue you will read about updates from our city, ULM, The United Way, VCOM and the Bio-Medical Research and Innovation Park, along with updates on all the fantastic things your chamber is doing. We continue to work as your business advocates. Infrastructure, governmental activities, and workforce development are always at the top of the list. We have also ramped up our messaging and have reached out to you through surveys to see where your chamber can better serve you. You probably noticed you received this copy from one of our Ambassadors. Our Ambassadors are a great group that represents us at events. By hand delivering each issue we want to thank you in person for your support. As we look to 2022… The best is yet to come!

TABLE OF

The Best is Yet to Come

M ESSAG E F RO M T H E C H A IR M A N

John Landry

Chairman Monroe Chamber of Commerce

CONT RIBUTORS PRESIDENT + CEO Roy Heatherly PUBLISHER + EDITOR Cassie Livingston CREATIVE DIRECTOR + LAYOUT DESIGN Meagan Russell PHOTOGRAPHY Kelly Moore Clark ULM

CONTRIBUTORS Darian Atkins Virendra Chhikara Desi Hammett Roy Heatherly Friday Ellis Brice Jones, Ph. D. Meghan Jones Michelli Martin ON THE COVER photo courtesy of Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau INSIDE THE CHAMBER 2022 3


THE BEST IS YET TO COME ROY HEATHERLY

President & CEO

RUTHIE WHEATLEY

Executive Assistant to the President

DAPHNE GARRETT Events Director

SARITA DANIAL

Membership Director

TERRI ARTHUR GALA Director Finance Director

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ou can feel it, you can sense it and you can see it. Something special is happening in Monroe and northeast Louisiana. This is our time! Throughout the history of our city the Monroe Chamber of Commerce has been a leader in positive growth and positive change. We have a very simple but powerful mission, “to create an environment where our local businesses THRIVE.” Everyday our staff and volunteers work hard to make that happen. As we introduce our new board and roll into 2022, there are so many good things going on. T H E C I T Y: OUR city is on the move. A downtown masterplan is being developed by our friends at Campo & Associates. Downtown is our heart, and the purchase of the Coca-Cola Bottling and Ouachita Candy Company building will be a tipping point of the Downtown Monroe development. This plan will create corridors to other parts of our city. Lighting and sidewalks are among the first developments which will open pathways to historic south Monroe, the Garden District and down DeSiard Street past the renovation efforts at the Miller – Roy Building (Thank you Michael Echols and Ben Marshall), with north Monroe following. St. Francis Medical Center is moving forward with a new Downtown Campus that will continue to provide excellent healthcare and spur other growth. We have a new Economic Development Leader, Kelsea McCrary. We have a new Airport Director, Charles Butcher. The Children’s Museum has announced plans to build a 20,000 square foot facility at Forsythe Park. Tom Pearson has the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo shooting upward. ULM has installed Dr. Ron Berry as their 9th President and “Our University” is celebrating 90 years of educating and service to the area. InterMountain Management has expanded their corporate offices. Tower Drive continues to spur new growth including our friends at First Baptist Church. The second class of future doctors has started at VCOM, which is a beautiful addition to our city and the ULM campus. Thanks to Joe Holyfield, Dr. Ray Armstrong, Virendra Chhikara, and others, the Bio-Medical Research and Innovation Park is close to seeing its first building go up. We have almost reached the final funding for Kansas Lane Connector. Things are moving on Garrett Road and the widening of I-20 from Millhaven Road to Hwy 165 will start soon. Janet Durden and United Way of NELA continue to show why our area is known for compassion. We have an amazing non-profit community. Our arts community is back up and going. Our grand Strauss Theatre is celebrating 50 years of performances. Dr. Vidrine and Dr. Coker are giving us great leadership for our schools. It’s a GREAT time to be in Monroe, Louisiana. THE CHAMBER: The Chamber is proud to be part of all the things mentioned above. This year’s board and executive committee along with Sue Nicholson navigated us through the Pandemic and we are stronger than ever. Our executive committee works extremely hard in government, infrastructure, workforce and looking after our membership. Our events continue to grow in popularity. We celebrate our Young Professionals, and other community leaders and businesses through our many awards like T.H. Scott, Kitty DeGree, Rambin Silverstein and Jim Shipp. Our Leadership Ouachita Class is amazing. We lost a good friend this year when Brent Henley suddenly passed away. Brent developed many leaders across the state including me. He will be missed. A special thanks to our Ambassadors Club who faithfully support our events and ribbon cuttings. As our new board comes out of our annual planning retreat look for us to expand our efforts to include a focus on small business and member value, technology, education, economic development, healthcare, diversity, and non-profits. Peter Drucker said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” Your Chamber and the leaders of this city aren’t waiting on others. We are focused on creating it. Hang on. It will be a wild ride and definitely THE BEST IS YET TO COME.



BOA R D O F D I RECTO RS

ROY HEATHERLY President & CEO

JOHN LANDRY Immediate Past President

JEREMY HARRELL Treasurer

DR. WENDI TOSTENSON VP Workforce Development

PAUL HUTCHESON VP Government/Non-Profit

JASMYNE MCCONNELL VP Membership

BEVERLY LEWIS VP Health & Member-at-Large

DR. RANDY ALDRET VCOM

MEG KEENE Stephens Media Group

CODY BAUMAN Drax

ALANA COOPER Discover Monroe-West Monroe

MARILYN DORRIS IBM

JEFF LAUDENHEIMER Progressive Bank

DR. RON BERRY ULM

MATT DICKERSON Legacy Metal Works, LLC

MARK SISK ReMax

JEREMY TINNERELO Glenwood Hospital

KIRSTEN GLADEN Catholic Charities of NLA

MARK KENT ANDERSON Mid-South Extrusion

ALBERTA GREEN ABG Counseling and Career

BILL WILLSON Century Next Bank

CHRISTINA DAVIS LA SBDC

QUENTIN DURR Origin Bank

JESSICA HALE Faulk & Foster

TERRI HICKS St. Francis Medical Center

AMANDA LYON The Hub

RANDY STONE KTVE/KARD

SUE PATEL Southern Hospitality Services

STEPHANIE POLK Lumen

MICAH PULLIAM Coast Professional, Inc.

COLBY WALKER InterMountain Renovations

LAMONT WINDOM Children’s Coalition of NELA

PASTOR IKE BYRD Mt. Zion Baptist Church

STEWART EWING InterMountain Management

KELSEY MCCRARY City of Monroe

PATIENCE TALLEY City of Monroe

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ur Executive Committee for 2022 is Tania Hilburn, with JPMorgan Chase, Chairman of the Board; Immediate Past Chairman, John Landry, with McNew, King & Landry, LLP; Jay Mulhern, with Express Employment Professionals, will serve as the Chair Elect for 2022; TANIA HILBURN Treasurer is Jeremy Harrell, with Guaranty Bank; Vice President of Chairman of the Board Workforce/Education/Economic Development, Dr. Wendi Tostenson, Louisiana Delta Community College; Roy Heatherly, President & CEO; Vice President of Government / Non-Profit & Technology is Paul Hutcheson, Homeland Bank; Vice President of Membership, Small Business and Diversity is Jasmyne McConnell, Cajun Title Agency; and Beverly Lewis with Ochsner’s LSU Health will serve as Vice President of Health and Member at Large. Serving on the board of directors are: Dr. Randy Aldret, with VCOM; Meg Keene, with Stephens Media Group, will be the Chair of our Ambassadors; Cody Bauman, Drax; Alana Cooper, Discover JAY MULHERN Chairman Elect 2023 Monroe-West Monroe; Marilyn Dorris, IBM; Jeff Laudenheimer, Progressive Bank; Dr. Ron Berry, ULM; Matt Dickerson, Legacy Metal Worx, LLC.; Mark Sisk, ReMax; Jeremy Tinnerelo, Glenwood Hospital; Kirsten Gladen, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana; Mark Kent Anderson, Mid-South Extrusion; Albert Green, ABG Counseling and Career Consulting; Bill Willson, Century Next Bank; Christina Davis, LA Small Business Development Center; Quentin Durr, Origin Bank; Jessica Hale, Faulk & Foster; Terri Hicks, St. Francis Medical Center; Amanda Lyon, The Hub; Randy Stone, KTVE/KARD; Sue Patel, Southern Hospitality Services; Stephanie Polk, Lumen; Micah Pulliam, Coast Professional, Inc.; Colby Walker, InterMountain Renovations; Lamont Windom, Children’s Coalition of NELA; Pastor Ike Bryd, Mt. Zion Baptist Church; Stewart Ewing, InterMountain Management; Kelsea McCrary, City of Monroe; and Patience Talley, City of Monroe and Chair of our NELA Young Professionals.

When I interviewed for the Chamber job, I asked the search committee if they knew who Phil Bengston was. No one knew. So I shared with them that he was the coach that followed the greatest football coach of all time Vince Lombardi. I feel a little like Phil did. Sue is truly the Vince Lombardi of chamber presidents. I have known Sue for over 30 years and she is the picture of a servant leader and community hero. She has served our community with honor and distinction. She woke up everyday and came to work with one goal – Make Monroe and northeast

THE MONROE CHAMBER IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE SELECTION OF OUR 2022 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

Louisiana better. Thank you, Sue – JOB WELL DONE!

ROY HEATHERLY, CEO + PRESIDENT

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PASSION. PURPOSE. PROGRESS. SINCE FRIDAY ELLIS TOOK OFFICE, HE HAS HIT THE GROUND RUNNING FOR THE CITY OF MONROE. BY MICHELLI MARTIN PHOTO BY KELLY MOORE CLARK

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t’s an exciting time for the City of Monroe. When the citizens of Monroe elected me, they were voting for progress. And since I took office, my administration and I have hit the ground running. One of the first things we did was create and meet with transition teams made up of community members who helped us find the areas of focus residents cared most about. Economic growth and development were at the top of the list and the suggestions were plenty. I am proud to announce that we have accomplished most of the teams’ suggestions. We currently have 50 capital projects in the works valued at over $230 million dollars, but there’s still work to do. Economic growth and development are based on more than numbers; it’s multifaceted and I knew for the City of Monroe to be successful in driving economic growth, we had to tap into what makes our city the place people want to be; a vibrant, historic riverfront community that begins with our culture. Our roots are in the Mississippi Delta and that is evident in our food, which is a little bit hog, duck, rabbit, quail; and our music, we’re a little bit country, gospel, R&B, and rock and roll. Our city has a rich history that demands to be known. That’s why when choosing an economic lead for our city, I made sure the candidate not only understood the traditional concept of economic growth, but also the importance of our cultural economy to our community’s ability to thrive. Kelsea McCrary joined our team as Chief Economic and Cultural Development Officer. Her depth of knowledge is multi-functional, and she’s got an eye for creating projects that create residual income and that’s exactly what the City of Monroe needs. I’m a firm believer in creating your own opportunities and we are doing just that in the City of Monroe. We have put a magnifying glass on areas of our city that have been disinvested for years and what we’ve found is endless potential for feasible growth. Monroe City Council recently approved our request to bring Campo and Associates on board to help develop a master plan that will help revitalize downtown Monroe. Campo Architects is an award-winning firm based in New Orleans and has been helping develop communities across the nation for the last 36 years. They offer a full range of architectural, planning, and interior design services for both new construction and renovation projects. Campo’s plan includes analyzing architectural implications, site visits, historical and physical research, vision boarding, and finding opportunities for mixed-use development projects. They have already started the process of incorporating community feedback with a survey that invited residents to tell us what “The Future of Downtown Looks Like.” Community support is important to our success. We are fortunate to have a strong relationship with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and it has been a pleasure getting to know and work with new Chamber leadership. Roy Heatherly is a breath of fresh air and the energy he brings to his position is exciting. We look forward to a dynamic future working with our Chamber. Community engagement is paramount. We need our citizens to join us as we work to move our city forward. There’s a saying that if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go farther, go together. Let’s work together to take Monroe farther.

There’s a saying that if you want to go fast, go

alone. But if you want to go farther, go together.

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good IN THE COMMUNITY

HOW DOES PHILANTHROPY ADVANCE THE MISSION OF A COMPANY OR BUSINESS OWNER AND CREATE BRAND AWARENESS FOR THEM? BY MEGHAN JONES

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he generosity of dedicated companies and business owners is a vital part of a healthy, thriving community. The Chamber members’ and business community’s philanthropic involvement allows non-profit organizations like United Way of Northeast Louisiana to partner with them and address pressing community issues. This corporate involvement is a way for companies or small businesses to advance their mission and the issues they’re most passionate about.


Some companies have a specific social platform, whether it be children and youth, education, or economic opportunity for all. Others simply want to make a general impact in the community. Janet Durden, President of United Way of Northeast Louisiana, encourages companies and local businesses to partner with local organizations and non-profits to make targeted investments in the community and work together to address community change. Her specific encouragement to companies and local businesses is this: evaluate how your company, business, and employees want to make a difference in this community, then partner with a trusted, local non-profit to accomplish that goal. During United Way’s Embrace Louisiana Project, launched after Hurricane Ida’s impact, some local businesses had employees with a desire and the capacity to drive a truck filled with goods and product to south Louisiana. But for the average business, such a response was outside of their scope, so United Way was able to partner with them to connect with volunteer opportunities, ways to donate goods, and ways to give monetarily. “Recently, United Way was pleased when a community partner came to us and said, ‘We want to do a volunteer project that will change the community and engage our faculty and staff.’ They took on such a project because it aligned with their company’s mission – education. And that’s what we want to do – help companies support the work they’re passionate about,” said Durden. So, what if a business owner desires philanthropic involvement without knowing exactly how to accomplish that goal? Amy Sawyer, attorney at North Delta Title Company and United Way of Northeast Louisiana Board Chair, recommends that companies and business owners pay close

attention to the accountability of an organization before partnering. “Look at the investments made. Be sure that the investments are and will be efficiently and effectively used with integrity. Do your due diligence when you choose to invest financially. Does the organization have an audit? Do they have a Board of Directors? These are the questions a company or business owner must ask when choosing to partner with a non-profit organization,” Sawyer said. Durden recognizes that not all companies are able to make financial investments. Corporate investments can be made monetarily, but they can also be made through donating in-kind goods as well as volunteerism. When Durden considers United Way’s own efforts to ensure that 3rd graders are reading on grade level, she knows that goal is accomplished through volunteer efforts. While a company may not have the capacity to contribute financially, they can choose to allow their employees to volunteer on company time as an investment in the community. According to Durden, United Way is always appreciative of financial investments but a company’s willingness to address volunteerism is equally valuable. “That investment truly works both ways,” said Durden. “The constant feedback we receive is that companies get employees who are more engaged and involved in the local community when their workplace creates a community culture of volunteerism.” While no one likes to say, “We do what we do for recognition,” Durden recognizes that the business world is a competitive environment. Having proper brand awareness when partnering with a nonprofit organization shows the public that the company and its employees give back to the community, and that fosters a deeper trust among clients and other residents.

UNITED WAY OF NORTHEAST LOUISIANA’S IMPACT IN THE COMMUNITY

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ver the last year, more than 51,000 households were pointed toward a better quality of life through the work of United Way of Northeast Louisiana. More specifically, nearly 13,000 families were equipped with the necessary resources to be successful in school and in life, almost 12,000 households gained access to economic opportunities, and 8,000+ volunteers and partners were mobilized to cultivate healthy and safe living. United Way of Northeast Louisiana supports many essential, day-to-day services in Northeast Louisiana, and investments from the community help make this possible. In addition to their ongoing work, United Way is tuned in to the most urgent and pressing needs in the community. They connect people to information and resources through 211, responding to basic needs like housing and food for over 20,000 people in 2020. 211 can also help with current issues such as sexual assault awareness and support and the Opioid Crisis. And when their neighbors in south Louisiana were faced with devastation, United Way of Northeast Louisiana responded rapidly, providing the community the opportunity to volunteer, donate goods, and give monetarily. “This data tells only a small part of a powerful story. When our community partners with United Way, they become part of this story – their investment has a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of real people right here in Northeast Louisiana. For that, we are truly grateful,” said Durden. Now, more than ever, United Way of Northeast Louisiana depends on the support of local partners in order to do what they do best – fight for lasting change in Northeast Louisiana.

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H I G H E R E DUCAT I O N

University of Louisiana Monroe EDUCATING STUDENTS FOR OVER 90 YEARS, AND CHANGING THE LIFE OF EVERY STUDENT THROUGH TRANSFORMATIVE EDUCATION By Brice Jones, Ph.D.

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rick and mortar institutions of higher education all have one thing in common: they are anchored in a community. People may come and go, but universities stay. As a permanent part of any community, universities therefore have certain obligations to the places they call home. The University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) has been educating students for over 90 years, and changing the life of every student through transformative education is the clear underpinning of its mission. The education of students is, however, only part of the equation. This was clear to all during Investiture week for ULM’s ninth president, Dr. Ronald Berry, who shifted the emphasis away from himself to recognizing ULM’s valued community partners. To kick off the celebration of 90 years, Dr. Berry and his Executive Council delivered birthday cakes to area organizations as a token of 12 INSIDE THE CHAMBER

appreciation for their partnership with ULM, entities such as the Monroe and West Monroe Chambers of Commerce, the Cities of Monroe and West Monroe, and the United Way of Northeast Louisiana. To be sure, ULM is proud to be one of the largest employers in the region, a significant economic driver. It meets the needs of local business and industry by providing a trained workforce, enhances the quality of life of area residents through arts and humanities, and provides diverse services across many sectors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students from all four academic Colleges have collaborated with healthcare providers and other community partners to address critical needs, from the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations to assisting local residents with the transportation and scheduling of vaccinations. ULM’s Louisiana Small Business Development Center continues to help small businesses flourish; healthcare students fulfill meaningful internships;

faculty from every College participate in grant-funded projects that directly impact our community. Our Visual and Performing Arts programs offer annual performances, most of which are free to the public, and the ULM Natural History Museum has been educating the local public about natural history since 1962. Opportunities abound on campus through teaching and research, but ULM does not operate in a silo. It thrives because it is anchored in a vibrant community that is forward-thinking and forward-moving. The spirit of reciprocity is tangible. With our local businesses, city leaders, elected officials, and fine area residents, ULM continues to aspire toward a brighter future for our children, foster innovation and creativity, and create a healthier and more prosperous region. We are excited to celebrate 90 years as an institution, but we very much look forward to the many years ahead of us as we all collectively work toward common goals.


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H I G H E R E DUCAT I O N

The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine VCOM HAS A REPUTATION FOR PROVIDING STATE-OF-THE-ART MEDICAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH By Desi Hammett

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he Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) is a fully accredited, four-year professional graduate college offering the degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). The mission of the College is to prepare globally-minded, communityfocused physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically under served populations and promote research to improve human health. Founded in 2001, VCOM has four campuses and is the second largest medical school in the United States. The first campus, VCOM-Virginia, is located in Blacksburg, Virginia. Three additional branch campuses have been established: VCOM-Carolinas in Spartanburg, South Carolina, VCOMAuburn in Auburn, Alabama, and VCOM-Louisiana in Monroe, Louisiana. VCOM is committed to increasing healthcare access for those most in need with a number of outreach programs in rural areas. The College also has international outreach programs with full-time clinics in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Honduras. VCOM students make a difference locally and throughout the world while attending medical school. VCOM also has initiatives to increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce, receiving national Minority Access awards for providing under-represented students with opportunities in medicine. VCOM has a commitment to serving our military and veterans, with a large enrollment of students participating in the Health Professions Scholarship Program in order to serve the military in the future. Students also have experiences working with Veterans Affairs facilities where they learn to care for those returning from military service. With award winning programs in primary care, global medical outreach and sports medicine, VCOM has a reputation for providing state-of-the-art medical education and research. The practice of osteopathic medicine has grown to over 117,000 physicians practicing in the United States today. Osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest-growing health care professions in the nation; since 1990, the number of DOs has increased by 290%. Osteopathic medicine includes the full scope of medical practice and osteopathic physicians (DOs) are licensed in all 50 states. Osteopathic medicine includes state-of-the-art medical care common to 21st century healthcare with an emphasis on prevention, restoring good health and health maintenance, and the recognition that good health is dependent on a healthy body, mind, and spirit. About 60% of osteopathic physicians practice in primary care specialties (family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, and ob-gyn) filling critical needs in rural and medically under served communities. While the majority of osteopathic physicians practice primary care, graduates may also enter cardiology, neurology, critical care, surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, radiology and a host of other medical and surgical specialties.

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VCOM-Louisiana currently hosts two classes of medical students on its campus, for a total of just over 300 students. Over the course of the last several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, VCOM-Louisiana students have been able to safely find ways to help support the community and begin making a different for the people of Northeast Louisiana. Most notably, dozens of students, faculty and staff members aided the evacuees at the Monroe Civic Center following Hurricane Ida this fall. Other community service projects have included blood drives, food drives, school supply drives, and even a pillow drive last Christmas. As the students continue to mature in their medical education, VCOM-Louisiana looks forward to expanding its service offerings to Monroe and the surrounding communities. For more information about VCOM-Louisiana, visit www.vcom.edu.


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H I G H E R E DUCAT I O N

Louisana Delta Community College BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN THE CLASSROOM AND THE WORKPLACE IS ONE OF THE MANY THINGS THIS LOCAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE DOES BEST By Darian Atkins

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ne of the coolest careers on the planet is training community gatekeepers. Every community’s success or failure lies within the abilities, desires, and fortitude of its caretakers. Louisiana Delta Community College is invested in the people we train, the business & industries we serve under the mission we embrace. LDCC exists to do our part in ensuring the northeast corner of Louisiana is economically thriving with skilled workers in our industry’s pipelines. We approach that mission in several ways. LDCC listens. We don’t assume industries remain the same. We ask. Our partners are often advisors to the college’s programs. Their input helps to maintain relevancy in all our career paths. Students know LDCC has its pulse on what industry is looking for in skill attainment. 16 INSIDE THE CHAMBER

When students complete a program, they can be confident prospective employers know they’ve received quality training. LDCC trains. Bridging the gap between the classroom and the workplace is one of the many things we do best. We believe employers should reap the benefit of new employees on day one. To achieve this, LDCC fosters relationships with business partners across various industries in our communities. Our primary objective is to learn their needs. We want to know employment challenges to growth and expansion, then work to provide solutions. We deliver customized training to meet the needs of current and potential employees. If we don’t currently offer the training that’s needed, we develop it. LDCC partners. LDCC creates pathways with a smooth transition to assist students in achieving their academic

and career goals who start here and continue to other institutions. These agreements allow students to complete the first two years of their program at LDCC then transfer with the majority or all credits earned to a receiving university to complete the next two years. While much emphasis is given to workforce development, LDCC is mindful of and attentive to those students who aspire to higher degree attainment. LDCC delivers. Short-term, longerterm, on-demand, evening-time, etc., programs have been designed for specific needs. Area partners have expressed a need for heavy equipment operator training. LDCC developed this program at multiple locations. There’s an increased need for industrial maintenance workers. LDCC has expanded this program to multiple campuses to help fill the pipeline. Process technicians continue to be expertly trained and prepared for the field. Welders, draftsmen/women, and health science professionals: certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, patient care technicians, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and emergency medical technicians continue to find employment before graduating. LDCC responds to our industry’s needs, advises students of community demand, then trains the best employee prospect for the marketplace. New at LDCC. LDCC received tractors with front-end loaders, forklifts, skid steers, backhoes, and mini excavators for the Heavy Vehicle Equipment Operator program. There is even a heavy equipment simulator in the arsenal for mobile training. LDCC’s Automotive Technology program is no longer your granddad’s shop. It houses a state-of-the-art virtual reality training system where students can interact with the latest technology and build or repair automotive systems through simulation. LDCC reinstituted the Associate of Science in Teaching program. Students can complete the first two years at LDCC then transfer to a Louisiana state institution to complete the undergrad degree. It takes a village is not just an adage. It’s real life. LDCC works alongside the Chamber and many others who are like-minded in desiring to see the best versions of everyone working to care for and advance and prosper our communities. Our mission provides the citizens of northeast Louisiana with affordable and accessible high-quality educational programs, services, and modern workforce training.



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MILLER ROY BUILDING

MIDSOUTH MEDICAL

MONEY MAN ATMs

JOHNNY’S PIZZA

GORDON MCKERNAN INJURY ATTORNEYS

JULIA LETLOW

MONOGRAMS UNLIMITED

LOVE’S TRAVEL STOP

CNB

BLACK BAYOU LAKE WILDLIFE REFUGE

BAYOULIFE NUTRITION

ASADERO

ANOINTED HANDS BEAUTY SALON

ALEXIS CHERRELL SPA

318 CONSTRUCTION

AMAZING TRANSPORT

R IB BO N CUT T IN GS


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TACO BANDIDO

STRAUSS THEATRE

VINES CAPITAL MANAGEMENT

SPORTSMAN’S PARADISE

SOS, PETS OF OUACHITA

VFW POST 1809

PRIME TIME AT ROBINSON PLACE

OUACHITA VALLEY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

WHITTNEY’S ENTERTAINMENT

THE COOKOUT

ST. FRANCIS MEDICAL SPA

PRIME TIME AT THOMAS ROAD

XTND

ULM HUB

ST. FRANCIS PODIATRY

SIT, STAY & PLAY


sense OF PLACE

THE BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION PARK By Virendra Chhikara

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uachita Parish is closer to the establishment of a Biomedical Research and Innovation Park (BRIP) with the creation of a non-profit organization working in collaboration with the University of Louisiana Monroe and the ULM College of Pharmacy. The mission of BRIP is to establish and grow biotechnology-based start-up companies and other compatible business to increase investment in the community and to create new jobs for Northeast Louisiana. BRIP was developed to respond to the importance of innovation for sustained economic growth and competitiveness in today’s global and knowledge-based economy. Research and innovation parks foster collaborative research between

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universities and private companies and create an environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship that leads to the commercialization of products or processes. This interaction can include providing internship and employment opportunities for students and the community and sharing facilities, equipment and research labs at the research park. In Monroe, BRIP will develop a “Sense of Place” for entrepreneurs, innovators and private companies that are interested in biotechnology research and innovation. Currently, BRIP is working to develop approximately ten acres of property near the ULM College of Pharmacy and will build a sixty thousand square foot building which will include office, laboratories and research space.

The initial building will house research labs for ULM pharmacy, VCOM and a private biotech company. The park will have space to accommodate additional buildings. The Small Business Development Center at ULM will occupy an office in the building and will create and manage an incubator for biomedical related businesses. The SBDC will also provide services to all of the businesses located in the park. The goal is for many of these enterprises to commercialize university research and open businesses in the region, Commercialization developed in a research park can have a measurable economic impact on a community including new investment and job creation. Through collaboration and


networking the BRIP can help build a development pipeline which can become a key economic driver for Northeast Louisiana as companies commercialize new products and establish new businesses. BRIP is a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit with a board of directors representing various organizations in the community. Joe Holyfield serves as Chairman. Dr. Ray Armstrong serves as the Vice-Chairman and Amanda Hatten Edge serves as the treasurer. BRIP is working closely with the University of Louisiana Monroe, the ULM College of Pharmacy, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, the cities of Monroe and West Monroe, the Ouachita Parish Police Jury, Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Technology Transfer, North Louisiana Economic Partnership, Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance, the Monroe and West Monroe Chambers of Commerce, and private business. These organizations have joined together to establish the BRIP to work with businesses to develop and commercialize biomedical technologies and spin off companies in pharmacology and other disciplines to create jobs, develop new businesses and to enhance the economy of northeast Louisiana.

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THIS YEAR’S GROUP OF YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IS HELPING TO SHAPE THE FUTURE OF NORTHEAST LOUISIANA PHOTOGRAPHY BY KELLY MOORE CLARK

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he Monroe Chamber of Commerce, the NELA Young Professionals, BayouLife Magazine, Origin Bank, Thomas & Farr and Reeves, Coon & Funderburg recognized fifty-seven regional young professionals at the Top 20 Under 40 celebration. Recognized as the 2021 Top 20-Under 40 for their outstanding accomplishments professionally, personally and for their work in community service were: Joseph Beard, Account Executive, Home Lending Division, JPMorgan Chase; Reggie Carroll Jr, Vice President, Guaranty Bank & Trust of Delhi; Bryan Creekmore, Attorney, Campbell and House; Sarah Mouton Floyd, Dream Home Specialist, St. Jude’s Research Hospital; Maggie Generoso, Teacher, Louisiana Purchase Zoological Society President, Monroe City Schools; Kelli Green, Vice President/Marketing & Member Engagement, Centric Federal Credit Union; K’Shana Hall-Davis, Social Service Counselor, HSA Office of Prevention & Wellness; Susie Lefebvre, Owner, Sit, Stay, and Play; Desmund Lighten, Entrepreneur, Fit4Life; David Loyless, H2 Project Manager, Drax; Jon McCartney, General Manager, 318 Construction; Mary McDaniels, Branch Manager-Vice President, Chase; Brittany McNamara, Digital Marketing Specialist, KTVE/ KARD; Tyler Neal, HR Business Partner 2, St. Francis Medical Center; Dr. Laura Petty, Medical Doctor, The Woman’s Clinic; Lincoln Powell, Jr, Family Therapist, The Center for Children & Families; Richard Royal, Senior Portfolio Review Specialist, Business Alliance Financial Services; Patience Talley, Director of Community Centers, City of Monroe; Tiffany Terra, Nurse Practitioner, Geaux Family Health; Jared Walker, Executive Vice President, InterMountain Renovations.

Also nominated for the award were: Jessica Brady, ULM; Jaela Casey, Casey Academy; Randy Diffy, Coast Professional; Marilyn Dorris, IBM; Erin Etheridge, Homefinity; DJ Fortenberry, City of Monroe; Taylor Gaines, High Klass Hair; Chris Hall, Easter Seals Louisiana; Kacie Hobson, MedCamps of Louisiana; Gary “Scooter” Howell, Parish Purchase; Dr. Luke Hunter, The Foot & Ankle Clinic; Billy Joiner, Centric Federal Credit Union; Landon Joiner, Cross Keys Bank; Brittany Liner, Origin Bank; Ryan Lloyd, Gordon McKernan Injury Attorney; Kristen Mardis, Monroe City Schools; Michelli Martin, City of Monroe; Wade Matthews, Cross Keys Bank; Alexis McKnight, Alexis McKnight Wellness Spa; Christopher McNeal, JPMorgan Chase; Melanie Moffett, Centric Federal Credit Union; Lena Ormond, Summit Financial Wealth Advisors; Janssen Peck, Sleepy Hollow Furniture; Dominique Penton, Law Firm of Eddie Clark; Hank Pipes, Guaranty Bank; Gregory Pritchard, Green Qube; Tiffany Rigal, Blooming Potential; Meghan Risinger, City of Monroe; Anna Little Robinson, Small Cakes; Anne Marie Sisk, ULM; Dawn Stanfield, Ouachita Parish School System; Jacob Stephens, City of West Monroe Fire Department; Jessica Tico, Goodwill; Desirae Trappey, Desirae Gooding Photography; Nicholas Trappey, Pelican Wealth Management; Lorenzo Treadway, Pelican Wealth Management; Matthew Wilson, City of West Monroe. Presenting sponsors is Origin Bank, Thomas & Farr, Reeves, Coon & Funderburg and BayouLife Magazine. Additional sponsors are City of Monroe, Heard, McElroy and Vestal, NAI Faulk and Foster, KTVE, Stephens Media Group, and The Radio People.

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Thomas H. Scott Awards HONORING COMPANIES MAKING SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE OUACHITA PARISH ECONOMY

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it, Stay & Play, Midsouth Medical, Inc., Edward Via College of Osteopathic MedicineLouisiana Campus, Mid South Extrusion and InterMountain Management were honored with Thomas H. Scott Awards of Excellence during a reception held Thursday, May 13th at The Hub in downtown Monroe. In addition, three businesses received special judge’s awards. The selections came from fortytwo nominations for the prestigious awards, which honors companies making significant contributions to the Ouachita parish economy through capital improvements, expansion, job creation, and community involvement during 2020/2021. This year’s nominees collectively created or retained 1,274 jobs in Ouachita parish and made capital investments of over $180 million. Sit, Stay & Play won the award in the category for small businesses (10 employees or less). The concept for Sit, Stay & Play was laid out by Susie Lefebvre on a napkin during a dinner conversation. The concept became a reality in June, 2020. Sit, Stay & Play is a luxury boarding, daycare and grooming facility for our furry, four-legged family members. Sit, Stay & Play supports the community through donations to local schools and organizations like the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter and the NELA 24 INSIDE THE CHAMBER

Cancer Society. Sit, Stay & Play is located at 2410 Duval Drive. The winner of the medium business category (11-50 employees) was Midsouth Medical, Inc. Jonathan Lee and Becky Jones acquired Midsouth Medical in 2010 with a staff of three, and now they have thirty-four employees. In 2020, Midsouth Medical purchased their own facility located at 3209 Breard Street. This purchase and renovation made Midsouth Medical the largest medical retail supply and equipment store in the state of Louisiana. Midsouth sponsors numerous little league teams, but their biggest contribution is taking care of the elderly and injured and providing the tools they need to live independently at home. Recognized as the large business winner (51 to 100 employees) was VCOM. The Osteopathic Medical School first opened its doors to students in Blacksburg, Virginia during the fall of 2003 and graduated its first class in 2007. Since then, VCOM has opened campuses in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Auburn, Alabama and the fourth campus in Monroe. The opening of the Monroe Campus in 2020 created 96 jobs. In July 2020, 149 students began their first year at VCOM. The college is committed to outreach to medically under served communities, both rural and international. VCOM seeks to train medical students to be caring, practical, capable and

well-rounded physicians. Their goal is to create national and international healthcare leaders for the future while providing students with rewarding, service-based learning opportunities. VCOM’s Louisiana staff and students have donated to the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, and The Wellspring. The corporate business of the year award (Over 100 employees) was presented to Mid South Extrusion, a plastics manufacturer specializing in flexible films and bags to serve the flexible packaging industry targeting industrial and foodgrade applications. In January 2020 with over a $13 million dollar investment, CEO Mark Anderson and President Ron Mason installed their newest production line that added approximately 10,000,000 pounds of production capacity to their campus. During this production expansion, Mid South added additional office space, 15,000 square feet of warehouse space, a stateof-the-art reprocessing line and four new silos. Mid South Extrusion supports United Way, area grade schools, ULM and North Louisiana Economic Partnership. The Thomas H. Scott Award was presented to InterMountain Management. The company was founded by Dewey Weaver and his father in Monroe. They initially operated the company out of his mother’s spare bedroom. Over the years, the company grew to become a national


leader in hospitality management. Dewey eventually moved the headquarters to a beautiful building on Tower Drive. In February 2020, he expanded the headquarters by opening a second office next door to the first. The headquarters employs 65 people locally and 35 remote employees across the country and supports over 80 hotels with 1,530 employees nationwide. InterMountain supports The Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum, the Soup Kitchen, and NELA Food Bank. The Spirit of Resilience Award was presented to Genusa’s Italian Restaurant. If 2020 was not hard enough on restaurants, Genusa’s got a double whammy. Once when a kitchen fire did extensive damage to the restaurant and again when the pandemic shuttered restaurants across the country in 2020. But, the disasters provided the opportunity for Cherry Genusa to add 1,000 sq feet for a new kitchen and additional storage space and redesign a new entryway. The restaurant in now back in business with more clients then ever before. The Spirit of Enterprise Award was presented to Medina Market. This award is given to a business that shows the true spirit of entrepreneurship and displays the desire to do what it takes to start and own a small business. Medina Market is more than just a business. It is a place that connects Hispanic families with each other and with other local Hispanic owned businesses. It offers the community a unique experience to sample authentic foods from Latin America. The Spirit of Innovation Award was presented to King Springs and to a gentleman who is committed to innovation, excellence, and entrepreneurship. Not only did Dr. Terry King excel in his chosen field as a physician, he invented the “cardiac umbrella” to close holes in the heart without surgery, and was the first to implant the device in humans. Later, he developed Kingsland Ranch and raised grass fed beef cattle that produces some of the best steaks you will ever taste. Through the ranch he distributed beef, hay and dirt. This year he added natural spring water that is pure and sustainable to the mix. With an investment of over 1 million dollars, he developed King Springs which is now available in stores all across Northeast Louisiana. The twenty-five nominees in the small business (10 employees or less) category are: Amazing Transport, LLC, Bold Creations of Monroe LA, Care Pregnancy Clinic, Downtown Nutrition, Durrett Law & Title, Michael Donohue, Edward Jones Investments, Genusa’s Italian Restaurant, LLC, GiGi’s Kountry Kitchen, Glaze Junkie, Guice Law Co., King Springs, Kitchen Cooking, Luna Piena Italian Bistro, Medina Market, MSB Mortgage, NELA Driving Academy, Revelry Nutrition, LLC, Sit, Stay and Play, SouthStar Urgent Care, Step It Up Nutrition. The B Law Firm, The Black Sugar Bakery, The Cookout, LLC, The Sugar Shack and Vines Capital Management, LLC. The nine nominees in the medium category (11-50 employees) category are: 318 Construction, LLC, Alex Latin Restaurant and Cafeteria, Catahoula’s, Discover Monroe-West Monroe, Five 19 Tap House & Tapas, Magic Grill 165, Midsouth Medical Inc., Regions Bank and The Foot and Ankle Clinics. In the large business (51-100 employees) category, the three nominees are: The Business Alliance Financial Services, LLC, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Louisiana Campus and River City Ready Mix, LLC. The five finalists for the corporate category (over 100 employees) are: InterMountain Management, Mid South Extrusion, Monroe Housing Authority, Ouachita Valley Federal Credit Union and Surge Entertainment by Drew Brees. The Thomas H. Scott Awards of Excellence Reception is hosted by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s College of Business. Presenting sponsor for the event is Scott Powerline and Equipment and Strauss Interests. Additional sponsors for the reception are: Origin Bank, Heard, McElroy and Vestal, IberiaBank, Holyfield Construction, Progressive Bank, KTVE/KARD. Stephens Media Group, The City of Monroe, and the Radio People. INSIDE THE CHAMBER 2022 25


Kitty DeGree and Rambin Silverstein Award HONORING PAST LEADERS BY RECOGNIZING LIFETIME ACHIEVERS

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ooking back on the history of Monroe there are names that are synonymous with lifetime achievements and community service. David Silverstein, Melvin Rambin and Kitty DeGree are at the top of the list. Each year your Monroe Chamber of Commerce honors today’s game changers with awards named after these past giants. Ms. Kitty DeGree established her award in 2003 and it is presented annually to an individual who had demonstrated outstanding achievements as a business leader throughout their career. This year, James Moore, Jr. was awarded the 2020 Kitty Degree Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in Business. The Rambin Silverstein award is based on a person’s contributions to the community over many years of service, evidence of their leadership ability, and evidence of their personal, professional, and business integrity. Susan Hoffmann was named the winner of the RambinSilverstein award for outstanding leadership and service to the community. The Monroe Chamber salutes our current winners and thanks them for all they do. They join a long list of community servants who were past winners. Past Kitty Degree Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in Business winners include: Glen Post, Sam Rubin, Sister Anne Marie Twohig, Sol Rosenberg, Clyde Webb, Don Beach, Jim Bershen, Dr. Terry King, Bucky McElroy, Dewey Weaver, Elton Kennedy, Charles Marsala, Benny Evans, Jr., Stewart Ewing, John Hunter, Tom Scott, and Frank Wilcox. Past Rambin-Silverstein Award Winners include: George Moses, J.C. Loftin, W.L. Howard, Governor James A. Noe, Garland Shell, T. Arthur Grant, H.M. James, George Phillips, Jim Williams, R. Lee Vanderpool, Clifford Strauss, John L. Luffey Sr., T. H. Scott, Grayson Guthrie, Paul Fink, Ed Whetstone, George T. Walker, Pat Regan, Baily Grant, George Roex, George Riser, Saul A. Mintz, June Sherrouse Holmes, Dr. August Danti, Nelson Abel, Jr., Kitty DeGree, Clarke M. Williams, James A. Altick, Williams Sanders, Harvey Hales, Hugh McDonald, Lawson Swearingen, Jr., James W. Moore, Jr., Tom Nicholson, Melvin Rambin, B.D. Robinson, George Cummings, III, George Mouck, Guy Barr, Melinda Mintz, Van Pardue, Roy Johns, Joe and Linda Holyfield, Sharon Taylor, Malcolm Maddow, Morris Mintz, Clyde White, Joe Farr, Glen Post, Cindy Rogers, Billy Haddad, Anne Lockhart, Janet Durden, David Hampton, and Dr. Nick Bruno. The Chamber is currently accepting nominations for both awards. Nomination forms are available.

TOP: JAMES MOORE, JR., KITTY DEGREE WINNER

BOTTOM: SUSAN HOFFMAN, RAMBIN-SILVERSTEIN WINNER 26 INSIDE THE CHAMBER


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leadership IN THE COMMUNITY

TWENTY-THREE GRADUATE FROM LEADERSHIP OUACHITA PROGRAM

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hamber and Leadership Council’s 2021 Leadership Ouachita program was held at Bayou DeSiard Thursday, November 4th, and twenty-three participants graduated at the Monroe country club. This was the Leadership program’s 33rd graduating

class. The purpose of Leadership Ouachita is to develop and empower the emerging leaders of Northeast Louisiana to transform the region into a place recognized as one of the best places to live and do business. Class members engage in a series of sessions focused on education and workforce development, economic development and infrastructure. The program also provides insight on public decision making, practical and in-depth discussions on public issues pertinent to Ouachita Parish, an expanded knowledge and understanding of the community in which we live, and the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with growing and established leaders in a neutral environment. Since the class inception thirty-two years ago, over 850 people have graduated from the program. The 2021 Leadership Ouachita graduates are Tyler Baugh, Origin Bank; Tammy Belleau, St. Francis Medical Center; Jamie Donaldson, Goodwill Industries; Caleb Etheridge, Etheridge Pipeline and Conduit; Josh Etheridge, Etheridge Pipeline and Conduit; Maggie Generoso, Monroe City Schools; Kirsten Gladen, Catholic Charities of NELA; Vic Hendricks, Lexicon dba Steel Fab; Kristal Horne, Monroe City Schools; Andrew Hubenthal, JPMorgan 28 INSIDE THE CHAMBER

Chase; Ashley Letsinger, Ochsner LSU Health; Rachel McIntyre, Durrett Law and Title; Justin Nowlin, Acadian Ambulance; Chris Post, City of West Monroe; Monohn Prud’homme, NOVA; Meghan Risinger, City of Monroe; Ly’Detera Ross, City of Monroe; Mark Sisk, Re/Max Premier Realty; Diane Tabulog, Vaco; Patience Talley, City of Monroe; Dr. Wendi Tostenson, Louisiana Delta Community College; Dr. Dani Walker, VCOM; and Chad Wilkinson, MOEbiz. During the ceremony, Alan Brockman, with Sunquest Properties, was named the 30th Annual James M. Shipp, Jr. Memorial Young Business Leader of the Year. This prestigious award is presented annually to a young man or woman in Ouachita Parish who has displayed outstanding leadership and service. The award was named in honor of James M. Shipp, Jr. Jim was the IMC general manager that was tragically killed during the explosion at the IMC plant in Sterlington in 1991. He was a Monroe Chamber board member and an active leader in the community. Past recipients of this prestigious award include: Brent Henley, Tom Nicholson, David Cattar, George Cummings, Harvey Hales, Ed Major, Debbie Sawyer, Mike Ryan, Bruce Hanks, Dr. David Uth, Terry Baugh, Jerry Daigle, Taylor Cagle, Jim Crotwell, Judge Wendell Manning, LJ Holland, Aimee Kane, Christian Creed, Stephen Harrison, Kevin Woods, Stewart Keyes, Michael Echols, Laura Kilpatrick Marchelos, Ashley West, Jeff Laudenheimer, James Moore, III, Matt West, Alberta Green, Jeremy Harrell and Damon Marsala.


IN REMEMBRANCE Brent Henley Our city, this chamber, our state, and our region lost a

GIANT when Brent Henley suddenly passed away in August. In Louisiana, Brent’s name is synonymous with leadership. Brent founded The Pyramid Group in 1980 and has been

shaping leaders ever since. We will miss Brent’s joyful spirit, friendship, teaching and leadership. His legacy lives on through the leaders and communities he has touched. Thank you Brent, rest in peace – Job Well Done!

Sponsors for the 2021 Leadership Ouachtia program are: St Francis Medical Center, Specialty Management Services of Ouachita, Atmos Energy, Holyfield Construction, IberiaBank, Strauss Interests, Stephens Media Group, The News Star & The Radio People. 2022 Leadership Ouachita class nominations are being accepted now and are encouraged from all segments of the community. Individuals may apply or nominate those they feel best exemplify the philosophy of Leadership Ouachita. The application deadline for the 2022 class is December 31, 2021. Applications may be picked up at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce or interested parties may contact Daphne Garrett at 8074018 or dgarrett@monroe.org for more information.

THANK YOU Cody Bauman

For the last 6 years Cody has faithfully led our Young

Professionals. Cody is a picture of servant leadership. Thank you Cody on a job well done!

John Landry

The Monroe Chamber would like to give a shout out

to our Chair John Landry. Like most of our volunteers John has a servant’s heart. John took over the

Chamber in the middle of a pandemic and helped the transition to a new president / CEO. John’s presence

is a stabilizing force. This is John’s second time as our chair. Thank you John for your service and leadership.

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