Biz New Orleans July 2021

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Jumpin’ Jefferson A peek at the hottest new developments in the parish PG. 36

Back to the Office? Tips to help ensure employee mental and physical health PG. 20

Sake to Me The first sake made with Louisiana rice is selling fast PG. 60




JULY 2021





JULY 2021







HEALTHCARE................ 20

As employees return to the workplace, what are some things employers can do to ensure their mental and physical health?

LAW................................. 22


The pandemic has brought some positive changes for lawyers and their clients

DINING........................... 10


Think you’ve tried all the frozen treats New Orleans has to offer? Think again. TOURISM. . ...................... 12

This time of year I always look back to what was the beginning of it all for me.

With the PPP money and now everything beginning to open up again, what advice would you give to businesses experiencing a sudden spike in cash and business?

SPORTS .. ....................... 14

Despite salary cap troubles New Orleans vying to remain a playoff team ENTREPRENEUR.......... 16

Businesses face new challenges in an (almost) postpandemic world

GUEST. . ........................... 26

When it comes to choosing a wealth management partner, there is one thing you absolutely want.

GREAT WORKSPACES.........................................................56

Inspired by a famous rockstar’s home, PerkUP Financial Health’s new space aims for a peaceful feel that complements the company’s goal to help those on rocky financial footing. WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?. . .....................................60

Louisiana rice has taken on a whole different role thanks to two New Orleans entrepreneurs.



New & Notables

Jumpin’ Jefferson

In our fifth annual class of New & Notables, we honor 12 individuals that have spent the last year taking on the kind of ventures and leadership roles destined to lead our region into a new era.

A peek at some of the hottest new developments in the parish

ON THE JOB..........................................................................64

The annual Parade of Homes returns this month, offering the largest official showcase of the latest in home design trends in the Greater New Orleans area.

ON THE COVER Dr. Stacy Greene, Infectious Disease Lead, DePaul Community Health Centers; Meagen Moreland-Taliancich, Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer, Happy Raptor Distilling; Louis Lauricella, Managing Member,Lauricella Land Company Portrait by Greg Miles


The Dominant Dozen Publisher Todd Matherne


share them with you! We’ve never had a set number of honorees for these awards, and I like that. It means we can look over the past year and truly just choose the people we feel are the real standouts. Inevitably, the list will include names you may know who are taking on new roles and projects, as well as those whose names you may not know, but we think you should because they’re doing some exciting new things. I think the list of honorees always says a lot about the past year, and this time is no exception. As the biggest thing on everyone’s mind right now is trying to navigate a move out of a global pandemic, it’s no surprise that half our honorees are being celebrated for the work they’ve been doing — and continue to do — on this front, whether that’s going above the call of duty to get out the vaccine, or jumping in to lead a hospital, or a restaurant group, through one of the most trying times in recent history for both these industries. We celebrate the first paid director of a foundation dedicated to bringing government, business and community together in Jefferson Parish — an especially important task at the moment — and the co-owner of a craft brewery launched during the pandemic that’s pivoted to help the community in multiple ways. Our next biggest category this year was construction/development. Here, we found some obvious standouts that include the developer of two upcoming projects with the biggest buzz right now — Elmwood Center and the convention center’s planned River District Development — the new CEO of a company known as a leader in environmentally-friendly construction that is now moving to tackle our affordable housing crisis, a husband and wife team whose only two-year-old business is already taking on the largest stormwater management program of its kind in our region, and the man chosen to fill a newly-created position as the innovation leader of one of our top construction companies. Finally, we honor two leaders whose work is bound to affect us all — the new CEO of the company that provides us all with power every day, and the person behind what will be a firstof-its-kind STEM innovation hub designed to create the next generation of professionals that will undoubtedly be a part of powering our workforce into the future. Please join me in congratulating all our 2021 New & Notables for a truly remarkable year. Happy Reading,

EDITORIAL Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Director Sarah George Digital Media Editor Kelly Massicot Associate News Editor Rich Collins Contributors Ashley McLellan, Jill Knight Nalty, Chris Price, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Melanie Warner Spencer, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell ADVERTISING Sales Manager Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Senior Account Executive Brennan Manale (504) 830-7298 Senior Account Executive Jessica Jaycox (504) 830-7255 RENAISSANCE PUBLISHING MARKETING Coordinator Abbie Dugruise PRODUCTION Designers Rosa Balaguer, Meghan Rooney CIRCULATION Subscriptions Jessica Armand Distribution John Holzer ADMINISTRATION Office Manager Mallary Wolfe Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne For subscriptions, call (504) 830-7231

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Kimberley Singletary, Managing Editor



JULY 2021

Biz New Orleans is published monthly by Renaissance Publishing, LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005; (504) 828-1380. Subscription rate: one year $24.95, two year $39.95, three year $49.95—foreign rates vary call for pricing. Postage paid at Metairie, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biz New Orleans, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2021 Biz New Orleans. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Biz New Orleans is registered. Biz New Orleans is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Biz New Orleans are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.



It’s hot outside, we are in the midst of hurricane season, fall planning is in full swing and the staff is working hard while also enjoying some summer vacations. This month we will launch our second website in the past two months. Last month we launched and this month goes live, providing both these media properties with their own special identity online. As primarily a print media company, we continue to invest in digital assets and expand our audience. In more behind-the-scenes company news, we are working this summer on the 25th anniversary issue of St. Charles Avenue magazine, which will feature a complete redesign. You may not see Avenue on the streets for a couple of months, but come September, we know you will be amazed by the fresh new content and design. Also in the works is our first bridal show in nearly two years. On August 25, 2021, we will be back at the Hyatt Regency Downtown for another fantastic event that brings together the wedding community. For more details and information, visit On a personal note, I am proud to announce that I have accepted a new position — chairman of the University of Holy Cross. This university is a crown jewel of not only the Westbank and Algiers, but also the entire city of New Orleans and Louisiana. University President, Stanton McNeely, III, is moving up enrollment and creating new partnerships that continue to strengthen this 100-plus-year-old institution. I am proud to serve as its chair. Todd Matherne BIZNEWORLEANS.COM



How about we put it on Carrollton Avenue? How about Oak Street? We can have a ramp that comes down. And nobody wants it. So, if you don’t want it, we don’t want it, either. Amy Stelly, local activist, planner and designer speaking on BizTalks podcast episode 54 about why a part of the Claiborne Expressway needs to come down.



PRODUCTION VALUE — SECOND LINE STAGES SAYS THE NEW ORLEANS MOVIE BUSINESS IS BOOMING Trey Burvant, vice president of studio operations at Second Line Stages, discusses the state of the city’s film industry as it makes an impressive rebound from the pandemic shutdown.


HIGH ON THE HOG — HOGS FOR THE CAUSE RETURNS Festival season is back!!! And kicking it off is the 13th iteration of Hogs for the Cause — one of the largest barbecue competitions and music festivals in the country. Founders Becker Hall and Rene Louapre give us the inside scoop.



social media. But this type of engagement was completely disconnected from inventory that’s down the street. Unlike restaurants, movie theaters or big box retailers, you couldn’t look online to see what’s at local stores. Locally set out to fix that seven years ago and make local inventory visible.” – Mike Massey, third generation owner of Massey’s Outfitters, who teamed with Ben Hirsch and Dirty Coast Founder Blake Haney to form a tech company called Locally that helps online shoppers find local inventory. The company now has more than 20 team members across the country and more than 400 global brand partners, including Patagonia, New Balance, Yeti and Crocs. Locally’s team works with roughly 10,000 global retailers to capture their inventory data and uses search engine optimization and e-commerce tactics to guide shoppers toward local pickup and delivery rather than having an item shipped.



JULY 2021

THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IS TALKING ON BIZNEWORLEANS.COM Catch all the latest news, PLUS original reporting, people on the move, videos, weekly podcast and blogs, digital editions of the magazines and daily Morning Biz and afternoon newsletters. If it’s important to business in Southeast Louisiana, it's at


DECADE OF DEVELOPMENT — SOUTH MARKET DISTRICT CELEBRATES A MILESTONE On the 10th anniversary of the $300 million South Market District, Matt Schwartz, co-CEO of The Domain Companies, shares how the development came to be, what’s next for the area and what other projects are on the horizon for Domain.


Caitlin Sistrunk Sales Manager

(504) 830-7252

Brennan Manale Senior Account Executive

(504) 830-7298

Jessica Jaycox

Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7255





JULY 2021

In The Biz



DINING Think you’ve tried all the

frozen treats New Orleans has to offer? Think again.

TOURISM This time of year I always

look back to the beginning of my New Orleans adventure.

SPORTS Despite salary cap troubles,

New Orleans vying to remain a playoff team

ENTREPRENEUR Businesses face

new challenges in an (almost) postpandemic world


Ice Cream Underground Think you’ve tried all the frozen treats New Orleans has to offer? Think again. BY POPPY TOOKER


grow and evolve culinary horizons locally, ice cream has moved to center stage, with two notable newcomers popping up in just over the last year. To understand the ice cream revolution currently happening in the Crescent City, it’s important to understand the product before meeting the players. American ice cream is often referred to as “Philadelphia” style, a label born out of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, which took place in the City of Brotherly Love. RAHM HAUS ICE CREAM



JULY 2021


Laozi Ice Cream brought redemption to Sam Caruso, a former heroin addict who began selling his product in March 2020. Named for the ancient Chinese philosopher who inspired him with quotes like “Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems,” Caruso was newly in recovery when he began selling quarts of his ice cream for cash. The erstwhile restaurant worker soon enrolled in Delgado’s pastry program and learned how to properly make a proper custard base used to create his French-style ice cream. Like a psychedelic Willy Wonka, Caruso often embellishes his rich, velvety custard with store-bought candy like chocolate chips, peanut butter M&M’s and crushed Reese’s peanut butter cups. Add a smooth peanut butter base, and a half baked peanut butter pie with an Oreo cookie crust and the result is Laozi’s PB Lovers Lane. Sour Kitty Kat begins with Key lime custard and Key lime-infused graham cracker whipped cream finished with Key lime Kit Kats. Caruso excels at creating edgy names like the banana flavored “Monkeys Be Hatin’” and “Chocolypse,” which combines dark chocolate custard with half-baked brownies and dark chocolate fudge. He rarely offers the same ice cream twice. Neither business has its own storefront yet. Rahm Haus operates out of Courtyard Brewery in the Lower Garden District. Laozi Ice Cream sells from the back porch of Blue Dot Donuts in Mid-City. Both ambitious entrepreneurs are working hard to make New Orleans a little sweeter, one scoop at a time. n

Most ice creams produced by Jillian Duran of Rahm Haus Ice Cream are of the Philadelphia style. When Duran relocated to New Orleans from Long Island, New York, in 2015, her work experience included everything from Chinese eateries to Michelin-starred restaurants, where the self-described “art school drop out” found her true calling in the composition and esthetics of fine dining’s plated desserts. In New Orleans, Duran found herself working at Maypop, where Chef Michael Gulotta welcomed her exotic palate and sensational f lavor combinations. In early 2020, the budding pastry chef was studying German in anticipation of an exclusive internship at CODA, Berlin’s two-star “dessert dining” phenom, but the pandemic changed that. While furloughed and on unemployment, Duran pursued her passion for frozen desserts, founding Rahm Haus in a nod to the missed opportunity in Germany. (“Rahm” is the German word for “cream.”) She offered her former boss a nominal sum for use of Maypop’s professional 2-quart ice cream maker. Gulotta agreed, allowing her free access to Maypop with the stipulation that he would be her first customer, immediately featuring her ice cream at his flagship restaurant, MoPho, which remained open during the pandemic. On July 28, 2020, the first Rahm Haus menu appeared on Instagram and the fledgling business took off. Duran views ice cream as “a medium with limitless opportunities,” as evidenced in sophisticated flavor combinations like “Black & Gold” — which combines black garlic and honey ice cream with dark chocolate coated, salted honeycomb candy — or “Duckie Luck” — butterscotch Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, ice cream swirled with duck fat caramel. “Louisiana Eats!” Saturdays at 3 p.m. and The highly skilled, professional pastry Mondays at 8 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.


A native New Orleanian, Poppy Tooker has spent her life devoted to the cultural essence that food brings to Louisiana, a topic she explores weekly on her NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! From farmers markets to the homes and restaurants where our culinary traditions are revered and renewed, Poppy lends the voice of an insider to interested readers everywhere.

chef couldn’t resist taking her product a step further, crafting exquisite ice cream cakes with semifreddo, a frozen Italian dessert that’s molded and sliced, not churned. Her Crown Jewel Cake combines semifreddo with pate de fruit, fresh fruit, edible flowers and gold leaf wrapped in a joconde cake exterior. Rahm Haus’ fantastical “Cloud Cake” with its otherworldly, abstract appearance is also semifreddo based.




Rites of Summer This time of year I always look back to the beginning of my New Orleans adventure. BY JENNIFER GIBSON SCHECTER



JULY 2021

drab, run down airport terminal. The fine hairs that framed my face curled, and the rest of it frizzed. When the glass doors slid apart and I stepped outside into New Orleans for the first time, the July heat was stifling, the air was soupy, the smell of flowers I could not yet identify enveloped me — but I knew I was home. Typically choosing the path less traveled, I wanted the first time I experienced New Orleans in person to be the worst time of year—the dog days of summer in the week that bled from July into August. My potential relocation from New York City to New Orleans had to be tested. Could I handle the humidity, the potential hurricanes, the afternoon rains and the pace of summertime in New Orleans? Married for less than a year, I dragged my husband with me so we could suffer this crucible together. If I could get him to fall in love with New Orleans in July, I knew there was a chance he would realize there was a pretty interesting world west of the Hudson River. Our cab wasn’t air conditioned and I was immediately grumpy. We arrived at our hotel, Lamothe House on Esplanade Avenue, and argued with the cab driver, who said he couldn’t accept a credit card. I observed the live oak and palm trees and the iron balconies, I felt the sweat drip down my back, and realized I needed to shift my entire mindset. In that moment, I became a New Orleanian. I sighed, handed over the cash, and decided that for the next few days I would just see where the summertime would take me. My dad and stepmom, who were living in Bogalusa, Louisiana, at the time, drove down to spend the weekends with us. We ate at Frank’s on the Balcony overlooking the Joan of Arc statue and I tried my first muffaletta. We ate at Felix’s and I experienced my first oyster poor boy, dressed, and pledged my allegiance to Felix’s forever. I also made the critical decision to favor Crystal over Tabasco. We saddled up to the bar at Erin Rose, loving their curated jukebox (ain’t dere no more) and Frozen Irish Coffee (still dere). The mingling of the air conditioning from the back of the bar with the outdoor air seeping through the plastic flaps hanging in the doorway created a middle ground. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it was interesting. At the Moonwalk, with my first view of the Mississippi River, I recalled Mark Twain and Tennessee Williams. I wondered if I would ever write about the

roiling water with its hidden currents, and I just had to touch it, carefully walking down the steps to dip my big toe in while my husband held my hand. We strolled Frenchmen Street and listened to the trad jazz of Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns at the Spotted Cat, crushed up against sweaty strangers in a way that was much more pleasant than the NYC subway. Later, when we caught Glen David Andrews at D.B.A., I watched people dancing and I cried at the joy and freedom of it all. My dad and stepmom’s Toyota Corolla was stolen from the hotel parking lot, and coincidentally, our own Toyota Corolla would be stolen from the zoo parking lot years later. Because New Orleans is not perfect. This wasn’t purely a vacation. I was a tourist with job interviews lined up. On Monday morning, I peeled the sheets off my body in a room where the window air conditioning unit seemed to add more moisture than remove it, and I took a tepid shower. Being a New Yorker, I donned my best (only) suit, a black polyester affair. I walked seven blocks and arrived at my destination feeling like I’d made the worst mistake of my life. I’m sure I shocked the receptionist with my bright red sweaty face. I came to understand why linen and seersucker are summertime sartorial staples. A week of interviews, experiences and evening strolls had us convinced. We would move to New Orleans. The last weekend, when I hugged my dad goodbye at the airport beneath the statue of Louis Armstrong, I knew the next time I came to New Orleans would be in a moving van. I wasn’t exactly correct. My dad died in an accident a few weeks after we left, changing the course of my life like the river before the levees were built. It took a few years to get here, bringing our infant son with us when we did, but we made the move. Every July, for a day or two, I imagine I’m a tourist again and try to see my city with fresh eyes. I visit the river, I eat an oyster poor boy and I toast my dad, just another visitor to this uncomfortable, interesting city. n I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on





Will Saints Surprising Draft Add Needed Talent? Despite salary cap troubles, New Orleans vying to remain a playoff team BY CHRIS PRICE

H AV I N G J U S T S H E D M O R E T H A N $ 1 0 0

million in salary commitments to get under the NFL’s $188.4 million salary cap for the 2021 season, the New Orleans Saints entered the 2021 NFL Draft with needs at cornerback, linebacker and quarterback. In the days leading up to the draft, the Saints were rumored to have tried to move up into the Top 10 — presumedly to land a QB or CB. However, the team wasn’t willing to mortgage a haul of future highround picks — the most frugal way to build a quality roster — to move up this year. Gone are familiar names who helped the Saints win, including QB Drew Brees, WR Emmanuel Sanders, TE Jared Cook, LB Kwon Alexander, CB Janoris Jenkins, DT Sheldon Rankins, DE Trey Hendrickson and P Thomas Morstead. With so much talent removed — and experts predicting the team to win nine to 10 games this season — the Saints were expected to select players who would make an immediate impact in keeping them a playoff-caliber team. While they drafted players at each of the positions of need, the order in which they did so and the players they selected raised some eyebrows. Many experts have said the Saints reached with some picks — leading to average-to-below-average draft grades. While they may not have selected household names, the Saints may have below-radar prospects who will help the team continue to win for years to come. That doesn’t mean the Superdome’s lights won’t shine a little bit brighter on them in this season of transition. SAINTS 2021 DRAFT PICKS



JULY 2021


Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football. Price also authors the Friday Sports Column at

New Orleans held on to its 28th pick and selected Payton Turner (DE, Houston), a player who had some injury issues and was slated as a second- or third-round pick. With overwhelming size, length, and agility, he saw his draft stock soar following the Senior Bowl. He joins fellow first-round DEs Cameron Jordan (2011) and Marcus Davenport (2018) on the team’s defensive line. Many experts think Turner’s selection came too early. He will see playing time this year but may need time to develop and may not have the impact expected of a firstround draft choice. In the Second Round, they added Pete Werner (LB, Ohio State), a 6-foot, 2-inch, 242-pound, three-year starter, two-time all-Big Ten Conference honoree, and a 2020 Butkus Award semifinalist. Expect him to play alongside Demario Davis and

Zack Baun in three-linebacker sets and with Davis in the Saints’ 4-2-5 defense. New Orleans sent Denver the 98th and 105th overall choices in the third round to move up and select Paulson Adebo (CB, Stanford) with the 76th overall pick. Adebo opted out of the 2020 season but was graded a potential first-round pick. The 6-foot, 1-inch, 192-pound DB ran an unofficial 4.42-second 40-yard dash at Stanford pro day and started 21 of the 22 games he played for the Cardinal. Although his draft stock was hurt by sitting out, expect him to contribute immediately — possibly as a starter. He may be one of the steals of the draft. Next to Turner, the Saints selection of Ian Book (QB, Notre Dame) in the fourth round was a head-scratcher, but head coach Sean Payton likes his pedigree. The winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history (30-5), Book played in 45 games and completed 728 of 1,141 attempts for 8,948 yds., 72 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, while carrying 361 times for 1,517 yards and 17 touchdowns. He led the Irish to the College Football Playoffs twice in three years; however, most draft experts say he will need to further develop his skills to be a starter in the NFL. The Saints like the 6-foot, 210-pound passer’s energy, athleticism and play-making ability. The offensive line has been one of the main keys to the Saints’ success in the Payton era, and they added a monster in 6-foot, 7-inch, 321-pound Landon Young (OT, Kentucky) in the sixth round. A two-time All-SEC selection, Young can play four of the five positions on the O-line, giving the Saints additional versatility and depth up front that they like. New Orleans traded two picks to the Colts, No. 218 and No. 229, to move up to get him. He is expected to split time with All-Pro Ryan Ramczyk and Pro Bowler Terron Armstead on the edge. It would be nice to have a player his size guarding the edge for years to come. The Saints added Kawaan Baker (WR, South Alabama) in the seventh round with the 255th overall pick. The 6-foot, 1-inch, 210-pound pass catcher is a surehanded target who runs a blistering 4.45second 40-yard dash and has a 39.5-inch vertical jump. With Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith seemingly set at WR1 and 2, look for Baker to split time with Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris in 3-plus WR sets. n

Join Biz New Orleans as we recognize our 2021 group of

Virtual Video Celebration Wednesday, July 28 LIVE on Facebook at 7:00 pm Stay tuned and follow us @bizneworleans


Opening/Reopening Realities Businesses face new challenges in an (almost) post-pandemic world. BY KEITH TWITCHELL



JULY 2021

Business owners are also facing tough and controversial decisions in these latter pandemic stages. In particular, face masks and vaccination are inducing some real headaches. The state has dropped its mask mandate; though as of this writing, New Orleans retained its mandate, that, too, will end. Yet medical authorities strongly recommend mask wearing in public indoor settings until we can really call an end to the pandemic. At this point, it is no longer viable for business owners to require customers to be masked in the absence of a government mandate. Requiring staff to wear masks is another story and is recommended until the holy grail of herd immunity is reached. The last thing any entrepreneur wants is for his/her businesses to be a late-breaking super-spreader. The vaccination subject may be even more touchy. This is obviously an internal issue only, as there is no realistic way to require that of customers, possibly with the exception of large venues like sporting events or concerts. However, with a few limitations, business owners can require staff to be vaccinated. While this could further complicate the staffing process, entrepreneurs establishing a new business may be at a small advantage here. Requiring existing or returning employees to get vaccinated is a greater challenge than making vaccination a condition of new employment. If you are preparing to launch a new enterprise at this time, it might be helpful to talk with a few people you know who are operating similar types of businesses. If they will share the specific post-pandemic issues they are facing, you can be better prepared to meet, and beat, those challenges yourself. n


Keith Twitchell spent 16 years running his own business before becoming president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. He has observed, supported and participated in entrepreneurial ventures at the street, neighborhood, nonprofit, micro- and macro-business levels.


realize that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over — “variant” is now one of the scariest words in the English language — many small businesses are reopening or scaling up operations. Similarly, many entrepreneurs who held off on business launches are now ready to move forward. In speaking with friends who are small business owners, most are finding that their clientele is very happy to see the doors open once again. However, every one of these businesses has faced challenges connected to the pandemic circumstances, and those challenges will of course apply to startups as well. Here’s a look at some of the most common issues. Staffing is an almost-universal problem. Unless the business was somehow able to retain its full staff throughout the pandemic, new hires must be made and trained. For lower-wage jobs, continuing unemployment benefits are keeping some individuals out of the workforce, while others are still reluctant to go to a workplace because of the virus. Entrepreneurs should prepare for a more difficult staffing process than in pre-pandemic times. Supply chain issues continue to plague many industries. Manufacturing and shipping were both severely impacted by COVID-19. Where possible, establishing redundancies for your supply and product needs is probably going to be beneficial for the foreseeable future. Social distancing and other necessary safeguards are still required and important. This applies to both retail and office settings. Businesses whose staff can continue working from home at least part of the time have an advantage, but hospitality operations — especially restaurants, tour companies, etc. — will need to be careful and creative in maintaining staff and customer safety precautions. As an aside, the model of more people working remotely is almost certainly a permanent adaptation, and if your new enterprise can accommodate that, going that route from the beginning is probably a wise choice. Reluctant customers are still restraining many businesses. Restaurants, theaters and other sectors and venues that bring larger numbers of customers together are particularly experiencing this; but across the board in retail, online shopping remains popular, which means having a strong online sales presence, and marketing it aggressively, is essential.





JULY 2021


HEALTHCARE Tips for employers to

ensure employee mental and physical health

LAW The pandemic has brought some

positive changes for lawyers and their clients.

BANKING+FINANCE Expert advice for

businesses experiencing a sudden spike in cash and business

GUEST When it comes to choosing a

wealth management partner, there is one thing you absolutely want.


DR. ROBERT CHUGDEN CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER WEST JEFFERSON MEDICAL CENTER We are doing many things to ensure our employees and physicians maintain optimal physical and mental health. I’d advise ensuring employees are protected, both from infection and from potentially frustrated customers, patients or visitors; communicating that you understand their concerns and want to keep them safe; encouraging open discussion about concerns in the workplace; encouraging physical and mental health by offering break times at work; expressing gratitude and appreciation to employees and staff for the dedication and hard work; and offering counseling to those in need.

BRADY RIVET, BSN, RN CHIEF NURSING OFFICER RIVER OAKS HOSPITAL Maintaining your own mental health is more important than ever during these times. Employees returning to work should ensure that they have a strong social network outside of the workplace. Employees should also focus on outdoor or leisure activities that are soothing for them. Reading a book or walking outside are two examples of leisure activities that are helpful in relieving stress and maintain a balanced work/ home life.





As employees return to the workplace, what are some things employers can do to help ensure their mental and physical health?

JULY 2021

RICH BAUDRY CEO BAUDRY PHYSICAL THERAPY I have three tips to make a smooth transition to the work environment you want. First, welcome your team back with a celebration, to show how much you appreciate them. Second, be extra accessible to your employees’ and their concerns. And third, commit to a culture of health by forming a health committee. By showing your employees you are committed to providing a healthy environment, you will certainly accelerate the transition back to the productive environment you want and expect.

The tips we would offer is first, acknowledge that this has been a difficult year for your employees and for their families, with lots of uncertainty, anxiety and loss. Let them know that it’s OK to not be OK. Second, welcome your staff back and let them know how important they are to you and to the success of your organization. Ask them what their priorities are and share yours with them. Third, remind them of the importance of their own health. All forms of exercise can help ease stress, and as little as 10 minutes a day makes a huge impact! Finally, practicing gratitude helps us to see the positive things in life. At the end of the day, take a minute or two to define one thing that happened during the day for which they are grateful (a gratitude moment) and one way that they have made a difference to someone (a legacy moment).




Legal Ease The pandemic has brought some positive changes for lawyers and their clients. BY RICH COLLINS

F O R M O R E T H A N A Y E A R , T H E D E A D LY

COVID-19 pandemic completely disrupted the nation’s economy. However, paradoxically, the historic event has also had many positive side effects. For example, members of the New Orleans legal community say the pandemic sped up the implementation of new technologies and procedures that have saved time, cut red tape, created work flexibility and improved quality of life for clients and lawyers. The biggest change, of course, is that everyone has learned to work away from the office. “Clients, judges and, more importantly, people who manage law firms are learning that we can do a lot remotely,” said Bruce Cranner, a defense trial lawyer at the Mandeville office of Talley Anthony Hughes and Knight. “That means a lot of people can practice law and make a great living without necessarily having to be in an office in an urban or suburban environment on a full-time basis. That opens a lot of opportunities for people to have a better lifestyle, job satisfaction and better longevity in the practice of law than ever before. That’s a very big positive.” Charles H. Abbott, litigation partner at Forman Watkins & Krutz, agrees. “The biggest long-term impact of the pandemic is the remote technology: the Zoom hearings, the Zoom conferencing, and the potential elimination of in-person appearances moving forward,” he said. “There are certain things that no doubt as a litigator you still want to be in person, but there are other things where video conferencing is more efficient, such as non-confrontational status conferences where attorneys may be driving down to court for 10 minutes just to set the trial date.” Cranner said he’s an “old-time guy” who sees the benefit of showing up to the office, but he also sees the benefit of having the flexibility to work remotely. “It gives me the opportunity to enjoy traveling, to enjoy living a more relaxed life that doesn’t include commuting, and



JULY 2021

Now, I can even make appearances and take down depositions remotely, whereas I would have been locked into being in my office or in Louisiana. So, for me it’s a great thing, but it’s even more important for young mothers or young fathers who want to spend two, three, four days working at home so they can be there for their kids. That’s tremendous. Bruce Cranner, defense trial lawyer, Talley Anthony Hughes and Knight

that’s great and that’s extending my career,” he said. “I still want to be active, still want to litigate. I want to continue to practice for many years, but my kids are grown and I have the ability to travel, to do more things. Now, I can even make appearances and take down depositions remotely, whereas I would have been locked into being in my office or in Louisiana. So, for me it’s a great thing, but it’s even more important for young mothers or young fathers who want to spend two, three, four days working at home so they can be there for their kids. That’s tremendous.” Jeffrey Hoffman, a partner at Hoffman, Nguyen and Kuehl, said that a big benefit of the video conferencing that’s become standard practice in the last year and a half is that it’s cutting down on wasted time. “From a client’s perspective, meeting virtually over a Zoom platform is now commonplace and much easier for clients than going through the hassle of coming downtown,” said Hoffman. “Even more important, with the courts, minor issues like a rule or motion that needs to be heard can be done on Zoom. It saves a bunch of time and money because you don’t go down there to sit and wait for hours, so you can get your requested relief or divorce judgment faster.” Hoffman said the hour or two that he’s no longer sitting in court can be filled with productive work on another case. “That’s really been an improvement in efficiency because the courts can stagger the start times,” he said. “You just log on

when it’s your staggered time and they can handle it pretty quickly — as long as you make sure all your stuff is turned in beforehand.” ‘ACCELERATE WHAT WAS ALREADY HAPPENING’

Lawyers tend to be slow to change, said Nicholas P. Arnold, partner at Blue Williams, but the events of the last year and a half have changed all that. “All the pandemic did was accelerate what was already happening,” he said. “It was something that most of the bar would recognize needed to happen and it was the perfect catalyst. It’s driving firms to be leaner in their administrative overhead thanks to the pandemic requiring us to be flexible in our approach to what it means to be productive.” George Mueller, a partner at Chehardy Sherman Williams, said the pandemic built on changes that have been in the works since life after Hurricane Katrina. “One of the reasons most of the firms in town were able to immediately pivot and transition to working remotely is that after Katrina, everyone had to learn what the cloud was,” he said. “So, after 16 years and an increased leverage on connectivity and IT, everyone was able to go home, sign in and do what they normally do. Everyone peeled the tape off their laptop cameras and transitioned right to Zoom and Microsoft Teams.” TO ZOOM OR NOT TO ZOOM?

A civil tort defense attorney by trade, Arnold said he works “just fine” using

video conferencing and other tools. “In fact,” he said. “I did a lot of work from my deer camp in Texas during the shutdown.” But remote work doesn’t suit every type of lawyer, he said. “It could be a problem [with] collaboration for some lawyers,” said Arnold. “It’s not ideal to push a team-based practice area into a more remote work environment. For individual practitioners, it’s fine, but if you are working in a more complex arm of law that requires a lot of hands on deck and frequent communication among the team, sometimes technology can’t replace what needs to be an in-person collaboration. There are many moving parts to a class action, for example, and that requires many different professionals and specialties.” Charles Abbott agrees. “For me personally, I still want to do depositions in person,” he said. “There are some of those intangibles of actually being across from a deponent that I don’t think Zoom gives you.” Video conferencing is also less-than-ideal for mentorship, an important aspect of a young lawyer’s career. “With remote practice, the opportunities for face-to-face meetings are fewer so we need to be more mindful, especially those of us that are senior, that we need to make time for mentorship,” said Cranner. MORE CIVILITY

In a surprise twist, the shared challenges of the last year and a half have brought about a new level of civility among lawyers. Arnold said even the most hardened, “combatant-type” litigators have had to become practical and realistic about what it’s going to take to move their cases forward. “Folks like me have put down their swords a little bit and fight about what really matters instead of going after every potential objection you can lodge to something,” he said. “It forces people to be more surgical and resolution oriented. It’s good because the pain in my practice is dealing with the blowhards on the other side who fight for everything and the pandemic made them humble themselves to realize it’s about the client, not your ego. The level of civility I have encountered is really pretty awesome.” Mueller seconds that emotion. “There’s a shared burden, all dealing with COVID-19, trying to get everything done,” he said. “And frankly, with that in mind, it’s a lot harder to be uncivil. The natural inclination is to get along —while not sacrificing client advocacy by any stretch — but things come off a little easier.” n

Folks like me have put down their swords a little bit and fight about what really matters instead of going after every potential objection you can lodge to something,” he said. “It forces people to be more surgical and resolution oriented. It’s good because the pain in my practice is dealing with the blowhards on the other side who fight for everything and the pandemic made them humble themselves to realize it’s about the client, not your ego. The level of civility I have encountered is really pretty awesome. Nicholas P. Arnold, partner at Blue Williams






With the PPP money and many businesses beginning to open up, what advice would you give those experiencing a sudden spike in cash and business?



JULY 2021

Often small businesses do not have the capacity to focus on daily operations along with prioritizing a communications and marketing budget that will effectively generate longterm brand exposure and revenue. So, if an influx of capital becomes available — whether through PPP assistance or increased business — I recommend focusing on developing and designing innovative communications and marketing campaigns that will position the business to welcome consumers back, increase sales and continue to build brand awareness and relevance. Now would be the time to be intentional about allocating some resources to further stimulate growth in the business by anchoring a solid communications and marketing strategy. Well-designed messaging that clearly articulates who you are, what you do, how you do it, and who you serve will have the best chance of adding value to campaigns that have the potential to elevate consumer relationships while growing the bottom line.

If excess cash is created beyond quintessential core operating cash management, then an effort should be made to diversify and consider at least a small allocation to long-term strategic initiatives that have a low correlation or are even inversely correlated with the core business. Organizations that embrace this approach will not only create potential defensive revenue streams but will also enhance and develop the decision-making processes and human capital within their existing platforms.

ERNST DEN HARTIGH OWNER THE ALTERNATIVE BOARD NEW ORLEANS NORTHWEST The three most critical short-term issues during a potential spike in cash and business will be supplies, cashflow management and staffing. Not enough supplies and staffing could lead to dissatisfied customers and can destroy future business, while insufficient cashflow can lead to bankruptcy. Stay connected with fellow smallbusiness owners and share experiences and lessons. For those with a long-term view of the business, this would be the time to revisit your SWOT analysis and modify your strategic plan accordingly. If you do not have a strategic plan, this might be a good time to build one.




Whom Do You Trust? When it comes to choosing a wealth management partner, there is one thing you absolutely want. BY JILL KNIGHT NALTY


the person with whom to trust your money and investments, is one of the most important financial decisions you will make in your adult life. It is crucial to work with a financial advisor who is also a fiduciary. Many firms and individuals call themselves a financial advisor, investment manager, money manager, wealth advisor or broker, but are they a fiduciary? What does it mean to be a fiduciary, and what does that mean to you as an investor? Understanding the differences between a fiduciary and non-fiduciary is imperative because it affects the quality of wealth management advice you receive and the type of professional providing it. Legally, there are two criteria that govern financial advisors: the fiduciary standard and suitability standard. Under the suitability standard, advisors must make sure investments purchased for clients are suitable for their clients’ needs. The investment does not even have to be the best option. It only has to be appropriate for the client. With the fiduciary standard, advisors are required to act in the best interest of their clients. That means the advisor has to evaluate a variety of factors when recommending investments, including the riskiness of the investment, reasonableness of fees and any potential for conflicts of interest. Fiduciaries and non-fiduciaries are also compensated differently. Here are two key differences: • Non-fiduciary advisors may receive commission fees on the investments they recommend. This form of compensation opens the door to potential conflicts of interests between the advisor and the client. For example, the advisor may recommend a mutual fund with hefty front-end fees (and receive a commission



JULY 2021

Jill Knight Nalty serves as business development officer for Argent Trust Company. Knight Nalty, who has more than 15 years of trust, finance and banking experience in New Orleans, is responsible for new client outreach and strengthening current customer relationships. She may be reached at jnalty@argenttrust. com or (504) 291-8860.

from the sale) — even when similar, but less expensive options are available. • Fiduciary advisors are compensated by charging agreed-upon fees for providing investment services. Generally, the fees are based on the monetary value of assets under management or, in some circumstances, an hourly rate for services. These advisors are not paid by what investment product they purchase for a client, and they do not earn a commission or trading fees. Research by the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors found that conflicted advice provided by financial planners reduced client investment returns by around 1% each year — with the total loss exceeding $17 billion each year. Because a fiduciary is legally required to always act in your best interest, you are much more likely to work with a professional who you trust. According to a survey by wealth management research firm the Spectrem Group, 55% of investors cited trust as the main reason they chose to work with an advisor. The next two factors were expertise (46%) and education about investing (40%). It can be challenging to find an advisor who you will trust with your hard-earned wealth. Here are three tips to help you on your wealth management journey:

• When selecting an advisor, talk to your most trusted friends, relatives and neighbors, and ask them who they would recommend. When interviewing wealth management advisor candidates, ask them up front if they will be serving you as a fiduciary. • Make sure the advisor has a clear understanding of your current and future goals, cash flow needs and tolerance for risk. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building wealth because no two clients are the same, so talk to advisors about how they customize their approach for different client needs. • Work with an advisor who also has the necessary resources — IT systems, client support teams and secure communications channels, for example — so you feel confident they have the tools to provide you superior service and help you achieve your goals. I believe that being a fiduciary is the gold standard for serving clients. Being a fiduciary means being loyal to your clients, building long-lasting relationships and fully understanding their needs to help them achieve their financial life goals. It’s not about using complex investment models. It’s about providing clients with easy-to-understand financial plans that can be modified quickly when needed. n


Continuing Education C

hanging careers is common—various statistics suggest people change their career an average of three to seven times in their lifetime. Whether you’re looking for a fresh start, to improve a current skillset and knowledge base, or to simply add to your life experience and job qualifications, going back to school can be a helpful next step. This could involve working towards a two- or three-year post-graduate degree or simply a certification offered by a training program lasting eight to twelve weeks. Today’s schools offer a variety of options to match the busy lifestyles of working professionals choosing to continue their education. Online courses and night classes offer flexible learning opportunities, and they may not be cost prohibitive—from scholarships and financial aid to reduced tuition with no application fees, you can likely find a path forward that won’t break the bank.

Delgado Community College Workforce Development provides personal, professional and customized training for a range of industries and is steadily rebuilding Louisiana’s workforce. Small business owners can retrain and upgrade their existing workforce, or individuals hoping to start a career in health care or other industries can be matched with educational opportunities. Delgado’s Youth Occupational Skills Training prepares young people to enter high-demand areas and transition to work, resulting in further growth and development of local professionals who can contribute their talents to the region. Delgado Workforce Development is also growing by adding new technology and advanced manufacturing learning opportunities for future workers. Keeping up with global trends, the technology department is expanding offerings to ready workers for the demands of companies in the digital age.

Delgado Workforce Development is proud to announce the new Reboot Your Career program, which is designed to support workers who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 and re-train them for available jobs on high-wage career pathways. The Reboot Your Career program offers training opportunities in Construction, Medical Assistant, Medical Records and Health IT, Pharmacy Tech, Computer Network Support, Information Security, Web Developer, Manufacturing, and more. “We’re excited to help rebuild our state’s workforce after the pandemic by offering training programs for certifications that are much quicker to attain than a degree,” says Kim Tubre, Director of Corporate, Community and Continuing Education. Instead of several semesters, these trainings have durations of only eight to twelve weeks. Additionally, the Reboot Your Career program comes with reduced tuition and no application fees. To register or learn more, visit or contact the department at 504-671-6474 or via email at University of Holy Cross (UHC) invites students of all ages and backgrounds to launch a meaningful career and live a life with purpose. Steeped in Catholic heritage and tradition, UHC promotes the ideals of service and care for others in an environment of mutual support and faith, where every student is more than just a number. Set on a lush, serene campus just minutes from downtown New Orleans, UHC’s campus offers the best of both worlds. The student body is small enough to accommodate a personalized education experience, encouraging one-on-one engagement with educators, faculty and peers, while maintaining a larger community of compassion, care and accountability. Whether pursuing an undergraduate, master’s or doctoral degree, there’s a program to guide you through every stage of your career. Flexible scheduling also makes it easier than ever to balance continued education with an existing career. The University of Holy Cross is a top choice for receiving a high-quality education without the debts typically associated with a private education; in fact, UHC graduates finish school with less debt than at any private college in the region. Financial aid and scholarship programs help students cover college costs, and academic skills center counselors host FAFSA Fridays every week to help applicants fill out the federal financial aid form. With over 65 majors and programs and an average class size of 13, an education at University of Holy Cross is the first step toward maximizing your potential, achieving your dreams, and living the life you’ve always envisioned for yourself. For more information on available programs and admissions, visit ■



It’s been an unprecedented year for us all — a year full of challenges, but also new opportunities. In our fifth annual class of New & Notables, we honor 12 individuals that have spent the last year taking on the kind of ventures and leadership roles destined to lead our region into a new era.



“This [virus] has shed more light on the disproportionality of how minorities are affected by diseases in this country.” Dr. Stacy Greene

Dr. Stacy Greene Infectious Disease Lead, DePaul Community Health Centers


Michael DiSimone


“I think the pandemic has taught us a lot about being focused on being the employer of choice.” Michael DiSimone


ho moves to New Orleans to head a restaurant group in the middle of a global pandemic? Michael DiSimone. When COVID-19 closed the hotel DiSimone was working for in his home state of Michigan, he was offered the chance to return to New Orleans — where he had previously served as COO of celebrated food hall Politan Row — to take on the role of CEO of Link Restaurant Group, whose many successes include James Beard Foundation-winning restaurants Herbsaint, Cochon and Peche. DiSimone officially joined LRG in August 2020. He said he relied heavily on his nearly 25 years of senior leadership experience in hotels, restaurants, food halls, catering, private events, and concessions to help guide the 20-year-old group through a crushing time. “There was a very intentional direction that we took, and we followed the science tirelessly, constantly updated ourselves and constantly read,” said DiSimone. Under his leadership, LRG is using what they’ve learned from the past year to expand — new policies have been implemented, the parklet dining additions are here to stay, and menu offerings have been streamlined and scaled back. “We’re in the same boat as everybody else in the entire United States as far as re-staffing and the challenges that we have,” said DiSimone. “But I think the pandemic has taught us a lot about being focused on being the employer of choice. We want to be a leader in what we pay people, in how we treat our teams, and in the benefits that we offer — not just be in the middle of the pack; we want to set the standard. I think all those things have really defined who we are as a company moving forward.” ­— K.M.

“WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.” This is the message Dr. Stacy Greene, infectious disease lead for DePaul Community Health Centers, wants everyone to hear in relation to getting the COVID-19 vaccination. Formerly known as Daughters of Charity Health Centers, DCHC operates 10 community health centers throughout the New Orleans area and — through hosting vaccination sites and teaming up with partners like Dillard University and UnitedHealthcare — has vaccinated thousands of Southeast Louisiana residents, predominantly minority populations, but Greene realizes there’s still a long way to go. Between March 9 and March 22, 2021, 42% of vaccinations went to Black New Orleanians, a group that represents 60% of the population. “Vaccination hesitancy is a big challenge,” he said, adding, “African-Americans historically have not been treated well by the healthcare system.” Greene said the answer to hesitancy is, “Education, education, education.” He has personally been very hands-on in this area, frequently stepping out into the community to share his knowledge and expertise with community groups. “We have to answer the questions, use data to show that the vaccines are safe and effective, and dispel the misinformation. Remember that this [vaccine] technology has been around for years.” While COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have dropped significantly from their peaks, minority populations remain the most highly affected by the disease — something Greene said is not surprising. “This [virus] has shed more light on the disproportionality of how minorities are affected by diseases in this country,” he stated. “Going forward, we have to do something about these social determinants of health.”­— K.T.

“Healthcare has gotten very business-like, but this still feels more like a family.” Richard Tanzella

Richard Tanzella


CEO, East Jefferson General Hospital BECOMING CEO OF A HOSPITAL during a pandemic is challenging enough. Stepping in when the hospital was just sold and is integrating into a new system is even more so. Despite the challenges, however, Richard Tanzella is quick to call his new role as of February, 2021 his “dream job.” Tanzella became CEO of East Jefferson General Hospital then, just months after it joined the LCMC system. Tanzella previously spent 12 years with the Piedmont Healthcare System in Atlanta but said two things drew him to the New Orleans metro. First, his mother grew up in New Orleans, and the family took several vacations to the city. Second, during the interview process, he said he found that LCMC’s vision for healthcare stood out from the crowd. “Healthcare has gotten very business-like,” he said, “but this still feels more like a family.” Engaging the physicians and other staff at the 50-year-old hospital, who experienced considerable uncertainty during the lengthy sale process, was Tanzella’s first priority, and he said he loved what he found. “The people here are just incredible,” he said. “The doctors are incredibly engaged, and this is the best nursing I’ve been around in my life.” Tanzella’s current focus is reorganizing the hospital around “service lines,” meaning all staff working, for example, in cardiology, or orthopedics, work together as a team. “This makes them better able to bring new practices, new information, new technologies to each other,” he noted. “From the patient standpoint, it means more services can be offered.” Ultimately it’s the people, Tanzella said, that are the force behind the success and future of East Jefferson General Hospital. “The staff is really excited about where we are going,” he said, “and I’m excited to be here.”­— K.T.



JULY 2021


Meagen Moreland-Taliancich

W “We get to really craft this company and make something special with it from the bottom up.” Meagen MorelandTaliancich

hen many think of the distilling industry, the general impression is it’s mostly a man’s world and we’re all just living and imbibing in it. Local rum distilling company Happy Raptor Distilling bucks this myth. Distillery co-founder, chief brand officer and majority owner Meagen Moreland-Taliancich; her husband, Mark Taliancich; and their partner, Peter Rivera, co-founded the company in 2018, and opened the distillery and tasting room in February 2020 — only a month before COVID-19 hit. In April 2020, the company focused on cocktails to-go and offered batches of cocktails for customers to pick up and enjoy at home. During that first summer, like many distilling companies, Happy Raptor began making hand sanitizer, partnering with local organizations like Hands On Nola to provide 3,500 bottles to frontline workers. To increase the pool of distillery employees, Happy Raptor has also created partnerships with the University of Holy Cross and Delgado Community College and launched a distilling apprenticeship in which students can come to the distillery to learn the craft. Always focused on the next opportunity, the company plans to launch a line of bitters and syrups in the fall. “It’s a really creative time,” said Moreland-Taliancich. “It’s a time of growth, we get to really craft this company and make something special with it from the bottom up. And that is completely priceless.” ­— K.M.

the next major project in the pipeline is the River District, development of the land adjacent to the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention Center. Lauricella assembled a diverse team of local contractors and developers to create a proposal for the project, winning a competitive bidding process earlier this year.

LOUIS LAURICELLA’S company was among the principal developers of Harahan’s Elmwood Shopping Center when it opened in 1975. Twenty years later, the company acquired sole ownership of the tract, and as of 2018, is in the midst of transforming the strip mall into a town center in what he called, “the biggest transformation in the history of Elmwood.” “There is a huge transformation in the world of shopping centers,” added Lauricella, managing member of the Lauricella Land Company. “They are adding residential, offices, services, medical, creating a real mixed-use environment.” Innovation and change at the largest scale are Lauricella hallmarks, and

To say that Lauricella is excited about it is putting it mildly. “This is an opportunity to take a 50-acre urban blank canvas on the river, enhance the convention center, enhance the neighborhoods around it and fill in the last piece of the puzzle,” he said. “I really wanted the team to be New Orleanscentric, to be people who really understand

what this project means.” The River District, too, will be mixed-use and designed to appeal to locals and visitors alike. Lauricella is very mindful of the impacts of work of this magnitude and its importance to the city. “I know that if we’re successful at what we do, it’s helping to grow our economy, creating more jobs, more opportunities for people,” he said. “That’s what drives me.” ­— K.T.




WHEN YOUR BROTHER is Captain America (actor Anthony Mackie), but you’re the real superhero in the family, you are obviously doing great things. Dr. Calvin Mackie, founder and CEO of STEM NOLA, fits that bill. His current project will benefit underserved children, educate parents, create new community opportunities and position New Orleans as a national leader in STEM innovation.


STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — has traditionally not been the province of people of color. Mackie broke that mold himself, emerging from New Orleans public schools to get four STEM degrees and become

the first Black professor at the Tulane’s former School of Engineering. Yet he still saw these opportunities bypassing young people in New Orleans — but not for lack of interest. “The thirst for knowledge in the community blows me away,” he observed. “People say that certain communities don’t want this, or can’t handle it, but really STEM has just never been presented to them in a way they could hear.” To remedy this, Mackie is building a community technology hub in New Orleans East, in a building donated by Ochsner Health System. The center will provide courses like predictive analytics and cell biology that are not available in local schools, as well as hands-on learning and experimenting opportunities. The NOLA STEM approach is already being replicated elsewhere in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast, with franchising all over the country being the next step. “The goal is to build the NOCCA of STEM,” Mackie explained. “We can change an entire community. community.” ­— K.T.



JULY 2021

“For a variety of reasons, the practice of constructing the built world has been slow to take advantage of the technological progress that’s been made in other industries.” Joshua Webb

Christine Briede Executive Director, Jefferson Community Foundation


Joshua Webb


“I want to know what are your dreams, what are your visions, and how can the foundation help you.” Christine Briede


ome of the world’s most famous buildings have been around for thousands of years — and so have some construction methods. Joshua Webb is out to change that. On Jan. 27, 2021, Webb took on the newly created role of technology and innovation leader at Palmisano, a New Orleans firm that bills itself as “the next generation of construction professionals.” Webb’s role is “to champion innovation and change for an organization that prides itself on that mindset.” Webb brings with him a background of seeking out new approaches and opportunities across a wide variety of industries, from renewable energy to digital marketing to commercial banking. Bringing innovation to the world of construction may be his biggest challenge yet. “For a variety of reasons, the practice of constructing the built world has been slow to take advantage of the technological progress that’s been made in other industries,” he said. “There is a deep, almost Promethean significance to the challenge of adopting, adapting and evolving that progress against this new set of problems.” Within Palmisano, Webb is introducing initiatives as varied as deploying drone-based 3D photogrammetry, enterprise-wide cloud migration and advanced data practices. More fundamentally, he is “building the innovation engine required to identify, accelerate and execute against whatever opportunity comes next.” While the construction industry is highly competitive, it is paradoxically cooperative as well, and Webb is delighted that “Palmisano is emphatic about bringing this [innovative] mindset, and the value it creates, to the industry at large. “We are at the vanguard of something very special,” he said. ­— K.T.

“IF WE WANT TO GET BETTER — not just grow, but get better — we have to work smarter.” For Christine Briede, executive director of the Jefferson Community Foundation, this means bringing parish government, business interests and the general community together as partners. This is particularly important as Jefferson Parish emerges from the pandemic. The foundation was launched after Hurricane Katrina, but is reaching new heights since hiring Briede as its first paid director in March 2020. Briede previously spent 20 years as the owner of a restaurant supply company, and after taking a break to spend more time with family, she was looking for new challenges. JCF works in fields such as education, health and wellness, transit, neighborhood support, and senior programs, all with an overarching focus on race and equity. Current priorities include establishing pre-K for all Jefferson Parish children and redeveloping the Hope House campus on the Westbank. The foundation also provides local nonprofits with grants that are funded by individual and corporate contributions. “Community donations go 100% back to the community,” Briede noted. Despite having lived there for 30 years, Briede finds that “there is so much I didn’t know about Jefferson Parish. I love learning about the place.” She said her top priority is building awareness of the foundation, and in the process, advocating for the parish as a whole. “I want to know what are your dreams, what are your visions, and how can the foundation help you,” she said. “We need to promote Jefferson Parish as a thriving area.”­— K.T.

“We have to provide safe, reliable and affordable power to our customers while addressing climate change.” Deanna Rodriguez

Deanna Rodriguez


Greg and Nicole Nixon


President and CEO, Entergy New Orleans DEANNA RODRIGUEZ has gone home again — and again. After many years working with Entergy New Orleans, Rodriguez returned to her native Texas and a position with Entergy there. On May 9, however, she returned to the Crescent City, taking over as president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans. “It’s so great to be back,” Rodriguez said. “I love this city. It has such an incredible history and such a bright future.” Rodriguez was drawn back by the opportunity to lead a company that, in her words, “touches every aspect of the city, businesses and residents.” In that context, one top priority for her is “improving our communications, with the [city] council, with our partners, and certainly with our customers. We have a lot of opportunity.” To this end, Rodriguez will be focusing on stakeholder engagement, getting out personally to meet with neighborhood and business associations. “I just want to go in and listen,” she said. She said she also looks forward to expanding Entergy’s role in solving the climate crisis. Yet she understands that “keeping the lights on is what matters most. We have to provide safe, reliable and affordable power to our customers while addressing climate change.” Having been greeted in her first week on the job with severe street flooding, two tornadoes and a boil-water advisory, Rodriguez recognizes that she has taken on a tall task. “It will get worse, and it will get better,” she observed, “and we will learn as we go.”­— K.T.

A “Homeowners and developers need to know if they are facing a stormwater management situation, and so do the professionals like the realtors and appraisers.” Greg and Nicole Nixon

dvocacy, education and construction might seem like an odd mix for a single firm, but for Ubuntu Construction, all of these things make up both a business model and a way to contribute to community improvement. Founded and owned by Greg and Nicole Nixon two years ago, Ubuntu specializes in green infrastructure, specifically water management installations like permeable paving and water gardens, which can be used to reduce stormwater flooding on individual properties in entire neighborhoods. The Nixons received their first training at ThriveNOLA, and are now nationally certified in these installations. Consequently, they have gone from subcontracting in the city’s Community Adaptation Program, a Gentilly stormwater mitigation effort, to being a prime contractor in the $5 million initiative. “We want to be the head of this industry, not just the hands and feet,” said Nicole Nixon. “This work is definitely needed, and it needs more attention and innovation,” added Greg Nixon. Currently, the supply of materials such as permeable paving is limited, and some technologies used elsewhere in the world are not available at all. Ubuntu is looking both to expand the supply chain and develop its own innovations. The never-ending challenge, however, is building awareness. “It’s not all about the pumps,” explained Nicole Nixon. “Homeowners and developers need to know if they are facing a stormwater management situation, and so do the professionals like the realtors and appraisers.” Ubuntu is a South African concept meaning “I am because we are,” a connectedness among people. For the Nixons, it embodies their company’s goals and the way everyone must come together to create stormwater solutions.­— K.T.

WHILE GREEN COAST Enterprises is renowned as a leader in environmentally friendly construction — with local projects including the Pythian Building and Pythian Market — the company is much more than just a builder and developer.


“My top priority is expanding the cadre of developers in Southeast Louisiana that are committed to green building,” said Jackie Dadakis, the recently named president and CEO of Green Coast. “The group is really growing, and we need to be a reliable source of information for them.” Dadakis joined the company in 2013, and rose to the position of chief operating officer, where she expected to remain, but when founder Will Bradshaw decided to open the door to new leadership, Dadakis stepped in as CEO in November 2020. “A unique year for us to make this transition,” she noted drily.

While she enjoys supporting other firms, Dadakis said Green Coast’s own projects give her the most satisfaction. “I love walking on our job sites and seeing the buildings come out of the ground,” she said. In addition to climate change, Green Coast focuses heavily on affordable housing. The company is currently working on a pilot project to produce scattered-site affordable housing using manufactured homes. “This will help address the jack-o-lantern effect that is still visible in so many neighborhoods,” observed Dadakis. “We are being very intentional with our design, so that the houses will fit well with their surroundings. “We are at a unique moment to get serious about the affordability of our housing stock,” she added. “I hope to be part of the solution.” ­— K.T.




Jefferson Parish. One would expect no less of the president and CEO of Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO). But commercial development is happening across the east and west banks of the Mississippi River that is driving the reimagining of some of the area’s long-established neighborhoods, multi-million-dollar construction projects, and the creation of high-paying, permanent jobs. Biz New Orleans profiles some of the exciting new projects — from a local family’s business to two-person partnerships to corporations with multistate presence — moving Jefferson forward. “The projects that we have on the drawing board all serve to diversify our economy, and that’s what’s important,” Bologna said. “We have industrial projects, retail projects, commercial projects all over the parish, and the more we can diversify our economy, the more resilient our economy becomes.” “Most of these projects entail a good deal of construction. So you’re not only creating construction-related jobs, but there’s a longterm employment impact with newly created, high-paying jobs. The economic impact for those projects is innumerable right now.” Now that pandemic precautions are being relaxed, Bologna expects commerce to ramp up quickly.

“It’s a good time here in Jefferson. We’ve spent the year of COVID-19 really investing in infrastructure and getting ready to emerge. And now that we’re emerging, I think we see a lot of momentum on a number of different fronts.”



intersection of South Clearview Parkway and Veterans Boulevard since 1969, but a $100 million redevelopment of the 35-acre location will turn it into a more than 1-million-square-foot mixed-use property including heath care, residential, office, retail, grocery, hotel, and entertainment areas. “Our vision is to turn this space into the type of dynamic, one-of-a-kind destination that doesn’t exist anywhere else in our region,” said Clearview City Center Managing Partner Thomas Richards. “This development will redefine the mixed-use concept for our area while becoming a live-work-play destination for the next generation.”




The plans call for an almost complete transformation of the site. Clearview City Center will retain its current tenants, including Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and AMC Theaters, and add 100,000 square feet of commercial office space, open-air restaurants and nightlife with rooftop access, upscale apartments, additional retail tenants, a hotel, and 14,000 square feet of green space for outdoor events and concerts. “That’s such an ideal piece of real estate. Clearview has had some ambitious plans to redevelop their property for a number of years, and now you’re seeing it come to fruition,” Bologna said. “You’re going to see a resurgence in that geographic area. It’s an ideal piece of real estate because of ingress and egress to the interstate and access to the major retail corridor that is Veterans.” Regions Bank has already added a state-of-the-art, 3,500-square-foot facility where the Sears auto center once stood, with further modernizations on the way, including a 270-unit, $55 million luxury apartment community. Ochsner Health is developing a super clinic of comprehensive healthcare services in the 185,000-square-foot former Sears anchor location. The site will offer a 10-bed micro-hospital to accommodate overnight stays, as well as same-day surgery, women’s



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and men’s health, and some specialty services. “This new facility will have over 70 multispecialty physicians and offer comprehensive services including operating rooms, endoscopy suites, cardiac catheterization labs, pain management procedures, imaging services, physical therapy, a medi-spa and a drive-through pharmacy,” said Rob Wolterman, CEO, Ochsner Health — South Shore Region. “So much of health care is moving away from the hospital and into ambulatory and outpatient settings where services are more convenient for patients, so we’ve designed this new facility 100% with our patients in mind, and it aligns perfectly with the future of health care.” “These new tenants are combining with current ones to reinforce our vision for this project and also build momentum that is very much a catalyst in driving additional interest and development throughout the site,” Richards said. Greater New Orleans, Inc., the regional economic development nonprofit organization serving the 10-parish region of Southeast Louisiana, said related construction will create up to 1,608 jobs and $123 million in economic impact. Once the phased redevelopment is complete, it will provide as many as 420 jobs and deliver a

Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) has won a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess brownfields, properties taken out of commerce due to the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant, and help municipalities attract prospective businesses and developers to vacant industrial and commercial properties in underserved communities in Avondale, Bridge City, Westwego and parts of Marrero. Remediation is often expensive, but the federal grant will help to offset some of those costs. “We’re really proud of the fact that we won this grant. It’s extremely rare to win one,” said JEDCO President and CEO Jerry Bologna. “In many cases, those properties have been out of commerce for decades, if not generations. They’re ideal properties. This grant will help us start to repurpose some of that land, remediate the environmental issues, and get them back into commerce. That would be a real boon for the West Bank.”

$26 million annual economic impact. The clinic alone is expected to create 200 jobs, with an average annual salary of $70,000. “There is always a risk when you introduce a new concept and big vision that’s different from what people are used to seeing, but this has been one that so many in our area have already bought into,” Richards said. “This is an exciting project for our region, but it’s also a personal one for my family, which has owned and operated Clearview for more than 50 years. There is nothing that gives us more satisfaction than knowing what this investment will do for this area and beyond — enhancing quality of life, creating jobs, bringing in new residents, providing quality entertainment and amenities, and elevating the footprint of the entire region in the process.”



Metairie’s Copeland Tower is in the process of being converted into an active adult living community with hotel-like services and amenities. Copeland Tower Living will offer 95 one-bedroom, 750-square-foot apartment suites. “Our family has been in the hospitality business for a very long time,” said Al Copeland, Jr., CEO and chairman of the board at Al Copeland Investments, which owns the property. “We’ve owned hotels, and, then of course the restaurant business [has] been in our family. So, this just fit right in. It’s just an evolution of our hospitality business.” Copeland Investments conducted a $16.4 million renovation in 2015, which converted the building’s nearly 200 hotel rooms into 95 two-room suites marketed to business travelers. The current remodeling is converting the suites to apartments by installing gas, electricity, and water utilities and appliances, including a television with cable and high-speed internet, washer/dryer, dishwasher, stove, refrigerator, and microwave oven. The upgrade will also convert the building’s nine meeting spaces into common areas, including a Copeland’s restaurant-inspired dining room and cocktail lounge in the lobby, and a full-service salon, state-ofthe-art wellness center, yoga studio, and spa on the facility’s 16th floor. Residents will also enjoy housekeeping and maintenance-free living. Copeland Investments’ offices will remain on the 17th floor.

Copeland Tower Living is targeting demographics that every municipality wants — well-heeled, active local retirees, and snowbirds looking for a second home to escape northern winters. Rents will start at about $3,400 per month on a year-long lease. “When you’re talking about amenities, location is the key amenity here,” Copeland said. “So many senior living centers are in areas where land is inexpensive, and only one or two levels, maybe three. So having the views this property has, on top of being centrally located with area restaurants, the mall, and entertainment, really is just super fitting to this.” “That’s an ideal repurposing of that facility,” Bologna said. “Every community wants to not only attract young people, but also hold on to their older residents. When you talk about retirees, typically they have disposable income. They have the ability to continue to shop and support the local economy. They’re going to be supporting the local restaurants and retailers, and they keep their families close to them. So, it’s a way for


us to not only hold on to our residents, but to attract additional residents as well.” Brentwood, Tenn.-based Vitality Living, which runs senior living facilities in 10 Southern states, will operate the facility, their first in Louisiana. Copeland said they chose Vitality for its experience, the way the company does business and relates to its residents. “COVID-19 hasn’t slowed us down. The renovation is going along great, it’s on schedule, and we’re anticipating that we’ll move our first residents in in September,” he said. “It’s been very well received. We’re giving tours and taking reservations now. We’ve had over 100 inquiries and people who’ve already made commitments.”



Southport) celebrated the opening of its tasting room in May. The cidery, one of a handful of solely female-owned distilleries, breweries, or cideries in the nation, exclusively produces alcoholic apple ciders and perry, sometimes referred to as pear cider. Kingfish was the realization of a fouryear dream for owner Colleen Keogh, who first developed the idea for the cidery on a summer trip to Austin, Texas. “We went to the cideries, tried several of them, and it was just such a cool experience,” she said. “Cider is more akin to a dry white wine, and a perry has a little champagne taste to it. I [thought] I’d love to have something like this at home, but then was like, well, you know, I kind of need to know how to make it.” Keogh enrolled in a weeklong workshop at Washington State University to study cider- and perry-brewing methods, tinkered with her recipes, and entered them in NOLA On Tap’s home-brewing competitions. After getting positive responses, she bundled personal assets with a loan from JEDCO and launched her dream.

CHURCHILL PARK DEVELOPING IN AVONDALE In a nearly fully developed parish, undeveloped land can provide a novel opportunity. Jefferson’s business leaders targeted an approximately 480-acre portion of the planning area within the levee-protected areas in Avondale for

a commercial development known as Churchill Technology and Business Park, or Churchill Park. The site is already home to JEDCO’s administrative offices and conference center, the Delgado Community College River City Campus, and Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy. “We’re seeing many of the warehousing and logistics firms that moved to Elmwood 20 and 30 years ago are now

expressing an interest in moving just to the other side of the river,” said JEDCO President & CEO Jerry Bologna. “The Elmwood district has been so successful that it almost doesn’t make sense with the cost of real estate there to continue doing warehousing and logistics. It’s priced as a commercial and retail hub, so we’re seeing some businesses start to consider the land right on the other side of the bridge. It only adds five minutes to

Keogh said she chose the Southport neighborhood by design. “I live in Old Jefferson, which I think is just a very sweet spot here in the metro New Orleans area,” she said. “We wanted something that we didn’t have to drive all the way to Tchoupitoulas.” Kingfish’s ciders and perries pay homage to Louisiana’s famous/infamous political family and their times. Huey Perry is a nod to former U.S. Sen. and Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long, while Uncle Earl, a hopped apple cider, is named for the Kingfish’s younger brother, former Gov. Earl K. Long. Also on the menu are Blanche, a dry apple cider; Prohibition, a dry perry; and a rotating, seasonal perry made with local produce like strawberries and blueberries. “I wanted to try to make it as Louisianacentric as possible through whatever means as I could, and through the name and branding none of them says Louisiana more to me than the Long family. Additionally, I’m only serving Louisiana local craft breweries and liquors. For now, Kingfish is only available at the taste room, but the cidery is working toward distribution in the future. “That’s a really cool project and one we’re really proud to have worked on,” Bologna said. “Data shows that communities that have been able to attract microbreweries and taprooms are a magnet for young talent and technology jobs. We’ve been working for some time now to bring some of those types of developments to Jefferson. We see this as a magnet for young talent.” Southport has traditionally been an industrial neighborhood, but the area has grown into quite a design district with a number of design firms, furnishings stores and antiques dealers that have all located in that area, he said. “It’s a neighborhood definitely under transition. It’s got a mixture of industrial businesses and commercial entities. And from a residential standpoint, Ochsner’s continued development around there kept real estate moving in the right direction further upriver into old Jefferson as well.” n

the commute, and the land is plentiful and cheaper.” Bologna said initial infrastructure is in place and the park will grow according to a master plan. “I think this is probably realistically a 10-to-15-year project to get the rest of the infrastructure throughout the property and see full development,” he said.

Many Voices, One Parish It’s easy to look around Jefferson Parish and see the effects that local economic and business development organizations have on the community. More than 200,000 people work in Jefferson Parish’s rapidly growing and diversifying business climate, and more than 170,000 households earn incomes well above national averages. But who are the organizations contributing to such a robust and vibrant quality of life in Jefferson Parish, and what exactly do they do?

JEDCO JEDCO is an economic development organization that operates as an independent extension of the parish government. “JEDCO’s mission is to build a resilient, equitable, diverse and competitive economy by driving the retention and creation of quality jobs, entrepreneurship, innovation and investment in Jefferson Parish,” says Jerry Bologna, JEDCO President & CEO. The organization assists businesses of all sizes at every stage: they can help new or scaling companies find ideal workspaces, secure funding, apply for tax incentives and many other services that contribute to the longterm sustainability of a business. They’re even available to help budding entrepreneurs find the best path forward in establishing their own businesses by identifying target demographics. “JEDCO was designed to serve businesses at all levels of development,” says Bologna. “We have resources for entrepreneurs who are just getting started, and we build from there.” In addition, JEDCO works closely with LED and GNO, Inc. to attract new businesses and industries into Jefferson Parish, ultimately contributing to a more competitive and prosperous economy and a more diverse workforce. Because JEDCO is a quasi-government agency, they do not retain a membership base, instead securing funding through other means such as occupational license fees. That classification also means the organization is unable to advocate or lobby for legislature at any level of government, which is why partnerships with other entities such as the Jefferson Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, GNO, Inc. are so critical to fulfilling JEDCO’s overall mission.



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Jefferson Chamber of Commerce This 5-star accredited Chamber serves as the legislative voice of the business community. It also serves to convene business leaders and the local workforce through community programming and educational sessions. “We do economic development by being that independent voice that focuses on the policy side to create a place that is attractive to do business,” says Jefferson Chamber President Todd Murphy. “We work for items like tax reform, early childhood development funding, tort reform, and common-sense legislation that will create jobs and a better place to live.” The Chamber’s three-pronged approach to strengthening the business community consists of advocacy, education and connection. On top of hosting signature networking events like Tour de Jefferson and Liberty at the Lake, the 8-person Chamber team visits Washington D.C. and Baton Rouge annually to represent the Jefferson parish business community at the state and local levels. The Jefferson Chamber is neither a government organization nor an extension of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, so its funding model is primarily sustained by membership fees, investments and annual events including a crawfish boil and a golf tournament. This allows the Chamber the independence necessary to effectively represent the community’s legislative interests.

What They Do Together While their functions and means are so different, JEDCO and the Jefferson Chamber together create an environment where businesses are set up to thrive from the very beginning. Not only are entrepreneurs and corporate leaders given resources necessary to establish, grow and scale, but their long term needs and interests are constantly heard and represented. “It’s important to have both the Chamber and JEDCO because our roles are so uniquely different,” says Murphy. “We work in tandem, and while we have separate lanes, we are always working together.” The Chamber’s educational efforts directly feed into quality-of-life initiatives outlined in the parish’s economic development plan Jefferson EDGE, which JEDCO has managed for more than 20 years, and the two have even collaborated on the monthly seminar series Prosper Jefferson where small business leaders can learn and grow together. “The Chamber’s work is integral to JEDCO’s work,” says Bologna. “While our organizations share many of the same values, it is always helpful to have varying perspectives, voices and ideas to help shape the economy. We’re serving the business community extensively by having two distinct organizations that cover every facet of the economy in Jefferson Parish.”





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Pictured: Dr. Shondra Williams, CEO



non-profit Community Health Center, InclusivCare provides access to high quality and affordable healthcare services. With a network of five clinic locations across Jefferson Parish and growing, InclusivCare is a one-stop provider of Primary Care, Dental, Behavioral Health, and a host of specialty services to suit the entire family. The organization operates two convenient in-house pharmacies—one in Avondale and one set to open this summer in a new facility at 7001 Lapalco Blvd. in Marrero. “Our new state-of-the-art healthcare facility located in the heart of the Westbank will be well suited to manage the care of thousands,” says Shondra Williams, PhD, CEO. The location will raise the bar on the patient experience—it’s equipped with the latest digital technology and adorned with modern artwork. The public is invited to its grand opening on August 13 at 10 a.m. “InclusivCare is true to its mission as a community centered organization,” says Dr. Williams, a Jefferson Parish native. “We set ourselves apart by providing care that’s personable. We take pride in each and every visit with our patients. We are dedicated to ensuring that all of our patients are treated with the highest level of dignity regardless of their insurance status.” InclusivCare’s motto of “One Team One Dream” goes beyond the walls of its clinics and right to the heart of the community.



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The organization has invested considerable resources to save lives amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to protect impoverished populations. “Our community is hurting,” says Dr. Williams. “We are committed to healing through mental CPR—while the world is opening up, the mind must be equipped.” In 2021, InclusivCare was named a Top Place to Work by The New Orleans Advocate. It is Nationally Accredited by the Joint Commission and the National Committee on Quality Assurance and is a US Chamber 2020 Community Support and Leadership Honoree.






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(504) 830-7252



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Financial Frontrunners PERSPECTIVES

Healthcare Real Estate & Construction Dining & Entertainment



Proud New Orleans Chambers Members PERSPECTIVES

Banking & Finance Healthcare Real Estate & Construction


Real Estate and Economic Forecast: Top Influencers PROFILES


Senior Solutions PERSPECTIVES

Education Healthcare Law


WORKSPACES PerkUP Financial Health’s new space

aims for a peaceful feel that complements the company’s goal to help those on rocky financial footing.

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT? Louisiana rice has taken

on a whole different role thanks to two New Orleans entrepreneurs.

ON THE JOB The annual Parade of Homes returns,

offering the largest official showcase of the latest in home design trends in the Greater New Orleans area.


A Welcoming Space in Uncertain Times Inspired by a famous rockstar’s home, PerkUP Financial Health’s new space aims for a peaceful feel that complements the company’s goal to help those on rocky financial footing.

For the interiors of its Howard Avenue offices, PerkUp Financial Health worked with Nomita Joshi-Gupta, of Nomita Joshi Interior Design. Joshi-Gupta designed the large graphic mural, painted by muralist Liz Kamarul. The look of the space was inspired by the home of rocker — and former occasional New Orleanian — Lenny Kravitz.



stressful for anyone in the midst of a crisis or for those who are vulnerable. So, when Ben Allen, president of PerkUp Financial Health, was making design decisions for the company’s new, 2,500-square-foot New Orleans offices on Howard Avenue, he took that into consideration. “Ben told me he wanted an inviting space for his clients that did not look branded and [felt] more like a home,” says Nomita Joshi-Gupta of Nomita Joshi Interior Design, “especially during the pandemic. He wanted a peaceful and warm, stress-free space for his staff and clients.” PerkUp Financial Health began five years ago as part of Dolphin Debit Access. The company delivers a wide array of products and services designed to provide a financial safety net for lower income workers. Workers connect to PerkUp’s online technology platform to access financial coaching, innovative savings products, emergency cash grants and free emergency loans, all of which are made available by their employer and a collaboration of nonprofit partners. The platform enables PerkUp to connect employers and employees to a network of nonprofit organizations across the country. Employees in seasonal jobs and sectors that experience a lot of financial instability are PerkUp’s audience. “We partner with large companies and in New Orleans, we focus primarily on



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The mural is what brings it together. It gives it a kind of a tropical feel appropriate to New Orleans. It’s very vintage as well. Ben Allen, PerkUp president



Joshi-Gupta used authentic reproductions of pieces by Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier created in 1953 for the modern city of Chandigarh in India’s city hall. The pieces were made in and imported from the designer’s home city of Bangalore, India.


805 Howard Ave., Suite 201 DATE COMPANY FOUNDED

hospitality,” Allen says. “Right now, we are working with seven or eight companies in New Orleans [and] some of the largest hotels and restaurants in the city, [including] Hilton Riverside, Windsor Court, Hyatt Regency. Some we’ve been working with for five years, but a large number of companies we started working with last year actively as part of relief and assistance during the pandemic, related to COVID.”



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In addition to large corporate entities, PerkUp works with Allen says the company is working on a pilot program for the New Orleans hospitality sector that wraps up at the end of 2022. It is funded by grants from JP Morgan Chase and the Conrad Hilton Foundation. “The goal is to establish a model that we will roll out to Fortune 500 companies next year,” Allen says. “So, we are really

experimenting with this model right here in New Orleans.” Prior to the pandemic, Allen says PerkUp employees were already working in a hybrid in-office/remote model that is now common to many businesses. PerkUp employees work in-office two days per week and two days remotely, with Fridays off (but they are on-call if needed). “If there is something you need to get done [on Friday], you do it,” Allen says. “But [staff members] don’t need to feel guilty about going swimming or to the park. We have standing group meetings that every day we are in the office we’re we spend time going over everything we are involved with to make sure we are strategizing and communicating.” To create the peaceful, airy office space, Joshi-Gupta focused on residential design elements. “I was inspired by Lenny Kravitz’s home in Brazil with large murals, and came up with my own ‘super graphic’ concept, which I had muralist Liz Kamarul paint,” Joshi-Gupta says. “I also used natural materials for partitions and designed partitions for office area and storage. Greenery and lamps add to the calmness.” The bold graphic serves as a focal point to the space. “The mural is what brings it together,” Allen says. “It gives it a kind of a tropical feel appropriate to New Orleans. It’s very vintage as well.” n

January of 2020 as PerkUp, but it was a business unit of another company for five years prior DATE OF BUILDING

Circa-1920s MOVE-IN DATE


Approximately 2,500 square feet PERSON IN CHARGE

Ben Allen, president of PerkUp Financial Health NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES


Nomita Joshi-Gupta of Nomita Joshi Interior Design FURNISHINGS

Authentic reproductions of pieces by Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier created for the modern city of Chandigarh in India for its city hall in the 1953. Made and imported from Bangalore ART

Graphic concept by Nomita JoshiGupta and painted by Liz Kamarul




Sake to Me

are serving our products. Unfortunately, we are not able to sell our products online yet, nor are we able to ship our products. Liquor laws are very strict when it comes to a producer selling its products retail or shipping them across state lines.” Wetlands Sake produces two variations on a theme, traditional sake, available in filtered and unfiltered, and new, on-trend sparkling sake, available in Blood Orange and Passionfruit. All are currently avail-

Louisiana rice has taken on a whole different role thanks to two New Orleans entrepreneurs. BY ASHLEY MCLELLAN PHOTOS BY SARA ESSEX BRADLEY


Wallis and Lindsey Brower launched Wetlands Sake, the first woman-owned brewery of its kind nestled in a historic warehouse in the Lower Garden District, a venture that takes Louisiana rice off the dinner plate and way beyond red beans and etouffee. “Our shared love of sake was the main inspiration,” Brower said. “In our travels we both noticed sake consumption starting to trend up in cities around the United States. It was appearing on more and more restaurant and bar menus, and it was just more visible than it had ever been before. Also, the fact that Louisiana is the third-largest rice-growing state in the USA was a huge part of why we started Wetlands; we weren’t going to do it if we couldn’t use Louisiana rice.” Wallis brings her entrepreneurial know-how working in the healthcare industry to the venture, while Brower’s portfolio of hospitality management, front of house and fine dining marketing adds to the company’s experience, dedication to community and knowledge of New Orleans palates. And what do New Orleanians and their palates love? Knocking back a brew or two, and trying the latest locally made creations. Microbreweries in New Orleans have become neighborhood staples — currently there are 16 — each with its own unique spin, from Zony Mash’s outdoor food and fun beer experience to the newly transformed Faubourg Brewery to Broad Street Cider and Mead keying in on cooking up apple and honey-based brews. Wetlands Sake adds to the mix with its unique blends of traditional and fruit-infused sakes. “We are thrilled to say that sales so far have been robust,” Wallis said. “We have had repeated reorders for all of our sakes ,and more and more bars and restaurants



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(right) Wetlands Sake owners (left to right) Nan Wallis and Lindsey Brower brew up unique canned sake using Louisiana short grain rice at their distillery in the Lower Garden District. A taproom is scheduled to open to the public soon. (facing page) Four varieties of Wetlands Sake are currently available: traditional filtered and unfiltered sake, along with sparkling blood orange and passionfruit.

RICE — BY THE NUMBERS Louisiana is the third-largest riceproducing state. More than 425,000 acres of rice were planted on 823 farms in 2019. Rice production contributes more than $308 million to the state economy.

able for purchase at most major local grocery and liquor stores, as well as in Baton Rouge, on the Northshore, and soon in Thibodeaux, Houma and Lafayette. Sake brewing in the United States is booming, having taken off as early as 2015 in some areas, as consumer interest grew in novel brews and fermented products including hard kombuchas and ciders. Wetlands Sake joins a group of only 20 sake breweries in the U.S., although the

number is growing, according to a recent tally by the nonprofit Sake Brewers Association of North America. “We were not really surprised that there were no other sake breweries in the state of Louisiana and that we are the first brewery because it is only recently that a handful of sake breweries have started popping up around the country,” Brower said. “Also, even though Louisiana grows a lot of rice, almost all rice grown in the state is long grain rice and sake is typically made with short grain rice. Each season, we are having to grow the short grain rice we use to produce Wetlands Sake. This adds another whole layer of complexity to opening a brewery, and I’m not sure too many people would be willing to take that on. From the beginning, Lindsey and I had decided that we would only open our brewery if we could use Louisiana rice, so it became part of our mission.” While the number of breweries is small, sales and demand for U.S. sake consumption is high; a 2019 Fortune Business Insight report stated, “the sake market was valued at US $7.35 billion in 2018 and projected to reach US $10.47 billion by 2026.” Sake and specialty brews appeal to a wide age range of consumers, from younger imbibers looking for a new trend, to older drinkers who appreciate a quality product and aren’t put off by a higher price point as compared to traditional large beer or wine labels. In addition to providing a high quality, small batch product, the duo has pledged to support their home state, and its lush natural resources, by donating 2% of profits from the brewery to wetlands conservation through Save America’s Wetlands. Their eye on sustainable practices and packaging is carried through in the presentation of their sakes in individual, recyclable 8- and 12-ounce cans. “Growing up in Louisiana, Lindsey and I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by the beauty, benefits and protections that wetlands provide to both people and wildlife,” Wallis said about the company’s decision to give back. “In the process of learning about growing rice in Louisiana, we learned even more about the importance of wetlands and wetlands conservation. Using cans for packaging our product was an obvious decision from a conservation perspective: cans are more eco-friendly for the environment and they are more easily and readily recycled than any other beverage packaging mate-

CRAFT BREWING AT A GLANCE Fewer than 6 million barrels of craft brews are produced every year, yet the industry contributed $82.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2019 and provided more than 580,000 total jobs. The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewer. SOURCE: BREWERS ASSOCIATION

rial. From a business standpoint it made sense as well, because cans work great for extending the shelf life of sake; they seal in the freshness and they keep light from hitting the sake which is one element that is most harmful in maintaining the longterm quality.” A Wetlands Sake taproom is currently under construction and is scheduled to open later this summer, featuring views of the brewery and a large outdoor seating area, according to Wallis.

“We think the taproom will be an exciting new venue and experience for New Orleans,” she said. “People will be able to come and try different sakes that we will be making in the brewery and that will rotate regularly. The sakes served in the taproom will be different from our canned sakes that you see on store shelves. We are really looking forward to welcoming people and sharing our love of sake with them.” n

The sake and brewing communities, both locally and nationally, have been nothing but welcoming and helpful to us as we built and launched our brewery. People seem excited about us being based in New Orleans and making quality sakes with Louisiana rice. To date it has been a really positive experience.” Nan Wallis, co-owner, Wetlands Sake



PUBLISHER’S NOTICE: All real estate advertised herein is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Ace and the Louisiana Open Housing Act, which make it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. We will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law. For more information, call the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-273-5718.



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Finishing Touches The annual Parade of Homes returns this month, offering the largest official showcase of the latest in home design trends in the Greater New Orleans area. PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER


outside sales for Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery — looks over lighting choices for this year’s 19 homes at Ferguson’s Metairie showroom to ensure only the best designs are featured. Presented by the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans over two weekends — July 17 and 18 and 24 and 25 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. — the POH offers a free chance for anyone to experience the homes through either an in-person tour or a 360-degree 3D virtual tour, accessible by downloading the “New Orleans Parade of Homes” mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play. The app also includes a full list of homes, including locations, directions, builder contacts, sponsors and vendors. n