Biz New Orleans July 2018

Page 1

Marketing Do it Yourself: 5 Tips

pg. 38

Cooalla: Coolers made

by and for women pg. 76

High Tech: Operation Spark has coding covered pg. 82

New & Notables 13 Of Business’ Up and Coming pg 52

Cathy Alfonso, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce; John Nickens IV, Children’s Hospital New Orleans; Arlanda Williams, Delgado Community College

july 2018

2 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Publisher Todd Matherne

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Errol Laborde Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Directors Sarah George, Tiffani R. Amedeo Digital Media Editor Kelly Massicot Associate News Editor Alexa Harrison Social Media Assistant Becca Miller Multimedia Blogger Leslie T. Snadowsky

Contributors Julia Carcamo, Carrie Lewis, Keith Loria, Pamela Marquis, Ashley McLellan, Chris Price, Kim Roberts, Jessica Rosgaard, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell, Melanie Warner Spencer

Advertising Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 Sales Manager Maegan O’Brien (504) 830-7219 Senior Account Executive Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Account Executive Jessica Jaycox (504) 830-7255

Marketing Director of Marketing & Events Cheryl Lemoine Event Coordinator Whitney Weathers Digital Media Associate Mallary Matherne For event information, call (504) 830-7264

Production Production Manager Jessica DeBold Traffic Manager Topher Balfer Senior Production Designers Demi Schaffer Production Designers Emily Andras,

Administration Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive Vice President Errol Laborde Office Manager Mallary Matherne Distribution Manager John Holzer Subscription Manager Brittanie Bryant For subscriptions, call (504) 830-7231

AABP 2016 Bronze: Best Feature Layout AABP 2017 Bronze: Best Daily Email AABP 2017 Silver: Best Recurring Feature 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 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 2018 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.

4 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

top stories this month


ABOVE: Left to Right: Scott Niemeyer, founder and CEO of Deep South Studios; Randy Gervais, founder and owner of Checkerbox; Jessica Inman, Louisiana market manager for Lyft; and Terrell Boynton, director of DXC Technology New Orleans Digital Transformation Center

56 New & Notables The following 13 professionals are daring to try something new — developing a business, taking on a new role, or taking things to the next level. We honor their efforts as Biz New Orleans’ second-ever New & Notables. Photographs by jeffery johnston

july 2018 / Volume 4 / Issue 10

contents 10 / Editor’s note

Take Two 12 / publisher’s note

Happy Hosts 14 / Calendar 16 / industry news 18 / recent openings

30 / entertainment

A New Mix: Under new leadership, this year’s Tales of the Cocktail will focus on giving back and helping the hospitality industry learn from recent scandals.

20 / Events

32 / entrepreneurship

in the biz

Have a Cuppa: The coffee-based networking group 1 Million Cups could be a good fit for New Orleans.

perspectives 40 / banking & Finance

CPA Firms of the Future: A look at the tech and trends changing the industry 44 / law

Title VII: You Don’t Want to Be the Test Case: With courts across the country ruling in support of discrimination claims based on sexual orientation — and New Orleans already prohibiting discrimination — what can your business do to make sure you’re not faced with a lawsuit?

24 / dining

The Mother of All Iced Coffee: Enjoy an iced coffee on a hot day? You can thank PJ’s Coffee’s founder. 26 / tourism

Bone Temps: Traveling with Fido is gaining in popularity. 28 / sports

City of Champions: New Orleans continues to attract mega sporting events, financial windfalls of more than $1 billion.

34 / etiquette

Proper Credit: The etiquette of sharing the work of others on your social media business pages 36 / marketing

So, You Want to DIY Your Marketing?: A few tips for going it alone.

48 / healthcare

Physicians as Employees or Employers?: Where and how doctors choose to work has changed dramatically over the years.

from the lens 66 / great workspaces

Preservation of Place: Featured on Southern Comfort bottles for 75 years, Woodland Plantation moves into the future through the work of Foster Creppel, whose family owns the Columns Hotel.

50 / guest viewpoint

on the cover Three of the 13 professionals that made our second-annual list of New & Notables. Photo by Jeffery Johnston

Are You Leaving Money on the Table?: Six tips for navigating salary negotiations with poise and diplomacy

70 / why didn’t i think of that?

The Right Kind of Cool: Cooalla, the first high-end cooler made by and for women, launched by local outdoors writer Ann Taylor in April. 74 / making a match: businesses and nonprofits

The Spark We Need: Operation Spark is training local youth and adults for high tech careers of the future. 80 / on the job

Missing Miss Ella

Editor’s Note

Take Two Last year was our inaugural class of Biz

New Orleans New & Notables and it was so well received that we decided to make it an annual feature. In our first year I was part of a team of three that wrote the features on the honorees, but this year I decided to take on all the interviews and write-ups myself. It was a big job, but in doing so I got to speak with each of our 13 winners one-on-one and dive a little deeper into where they came from, how they got to where they are at now and what they have planned for the future. In this issue, we honor locals passionate about making their hometown stronger, like Terrebonne Parish native Arlanda Williams, who’s been leading Delgado Community College’s workforce development efforts for just over six months; and native New Orleanian Timothy Nickel, the man behind what will someday be the new flyover we’ll all be using to get to and from our new airport. And then there’s Kenner-native Cathy Alfonso, who is bringing her youthful enthusiasm and love for community involvement to the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce as its new CEO. There’s also the stories of those who dared to take a leap, like Beezie Landry, whose willingness to take a chance on what he loves to do in a market he wasn’t sure would support it, has paid off with a leadership position in a whole new division for Stirling Properties. Then there’s Randy Gervais, who, while a high school senior at Archbishop Rummel just three years ago, developed a simple business idea that quickly became more successful than he ever imagined; and Jonathan Tate, an architect whose innovative thinking and willingness to step outside of his traditional job description has brought a pocket of much-needed affordability to our housing market. There’s also those dedicated to the health and safety of our youngest citizens, like Ben Luzynski, who developed a new app to keep our children safe

10 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

from sex offenders, and John Nickens IV, the man charged with bringing Children’s Hospital New Orleans into the future. We’ve got professionals trying to grab more of a market share in New Orleans, like Jessica Inman with Lyft; those expanding their reach even further from our region, like Gas Pump TV’s Werlien Prosperie III; and those championing our region’s benefits, like Scott Niemeyer, founder of Deep South Studios. We also honor the people behind some of the year’s biggest deals, like Republic National Distributing’s $12.5 billion merger, led by CEO Tom Cole, and the largest tech project ever to come to Louisiana, DXC Technology New Orleans’ Digital Transformation Center, led by the center’s director, Terrell Boynton. Each one of these incredible professionals is working to make our region stronger in their own way and I am honored to share a bit of all of our conversations here. On that note, if you’d like to have a conversation with them too, please hold Wednesday, July 11 on your calendar and plan on joining us for hors d’oeuvres and drinks after work to mix and mingle with this year’s honorees at Felicity Church (1220 Felicity St.) down by Coliseum Park. I assure you it will be an inspiring evening. Happy Reading,

Kimberley Singletary Managing Editor

Publisher’s Note

Happy Hosts Last month New Orleans Magazine, Biz

New Orleans’ sister title hosted the City & Regional Magazine Association’s national conference here in New Orleans at the Marriott on Canal Street. We had over 375 attendees from over 75 cities from across the country representing their city magazines. For more information about CRMA, visit New Orleans Magazine has been a member of this organization for nearly 30 years, and three years ago I lobbied for CRMA to come to our great city in 2018 to celebrate with us as our city turned 300. The organization quickly accepted the proposal and the conference was set in motion. The staff of Renaissance Publishing rolled out the red carpet and treated our visitors to a memorable time along with a true New Orleans second line parade down Canal and Bourbon Streets ending with a party and dinner at Antoine’s. Our staff did our part, but all we kept hearing about for four days was the hospitality workers in New Orleans — specifically the great time everyone had and the warmth of our service industry. Whether it was dining at our great restaurants or listening to music, everyone I talked to commented on how friendly and welcoming the city was. I agree! And I salute all the hard working members of our hospitality industry. You left a lasting impression on our conference attendees. Todd Matherne

12 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Meet the Sales Team

Maegan O’Brien Sales Manager (504) 830-7219

Caitlin Sistrunk Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7252

Jessica Jaycox Account Executive

(504) 830-7255

Colleen Monaghan Vice President of Sales

(504) 830-7215 / 13


July 10 New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Power Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 1515 Poydras St. 5th Floor Auditorium

10 St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce Northshore Young Professionals Pop-Up 4 to 6 p.m. N’Tini’s 2891 Highway 190, Ste. D., Mandeville

10 Professional Women of St. Tammany July Luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tchefuncta Country Club 2 Pinecrest Dr., Covington PWST.Rocks


Biz New Orleans Magazine New & Notables Event 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Felicity Church 1220 Felicity Street

12 New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Alliance 5 to 7 p.m. Vessel NOLA 3835 Iberville Street


Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Prosper Jefferson: Building Your Brand Part 3 — Public Relations 101 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. JEDCO Conference Center 700 Churchill Pkwy, Avondale


New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Chamber After 5 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. HRI Hibernia Tower 812 Gravier Street


World Trade Center New Orleans C. Alvin Bertel Award Ceremony & Luncheon 12 to 2 p.m. InterContinental New Orleans Hotel LaSalle Ballroom A 444 St. Charles Ave


Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Business & Breakfast 7:45 to 9:30 a.m. New Orleans Marriott Metairie at Lakeway 3838 N. Causeway Blvd.

12 St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce B2B Networking (members only) 8 to 9 a.m. Chamber Board Room 610 Hollycrest Blvd., Covington

18 World Trade Center New Orleans Member Social 5 to 7 p.m. Location T.B.D.

19 ABWA New Orleans July Luncheon Knowledge is Power — Financial Strategies for Women 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Cannery 3803 Toulouse Street

14 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

For a more complete list of events visit We’d love to include your business-related event in next month’s calendar. Please email details to


Close your next deal at one of these business-friendly bistros.


The Governor

Bringing a sense of occasion to the French Quarter and excitement to Royal Street, Curio is an experience beyond compare - a place where flavor is the main attraction. Provoking curiosity with its unique take on New Orleans dining, Curio entices the public with its creative spin on classic craft cocktails and Cajun cuisine. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Weekend brunch featuring bottomless mimosas, rosé, or Bloody Marys. Balcony dining available.

The Governor restaurant features Louisiana-inspired cuisine, using only the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients from around the state. From old classics like Shrimp Clemenceau and The Peacemaker, to new creations like our andouille & fig casserole and Choupique caviar deviled eggs, The Governor is sure to delight. Explore our imaginative selection of shareable plates, along with fresh seafood and topped oysters from our seafood assembly bar. We also offer our power brunch all day long, seven days a week! Whatever your party affiliation, we’ve got a little something for everyone at The Governor.

Ralph’s on the Park

Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak

301 Royal St. • (504) 717-4198 •

900 City Park Ave. • (504) 488-1000 • Ralph’s on the Park is reviving their annual summer special of 3 Appetizers + a Glass of Wine for $33. Now through the end of September, sip and snack on Chef Chip Flanagan’s delectable menu of over 15 items like Tempura Fried Shrimp, Crab & Avocado Toast, Tuna Tartare and Watermelon Feta Salad. For reservations, call 504-488-1000!

301 Chartres St. • (504) 291-1860 •

215 Bourbon St. • 504-335-3933 • Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak is the perfect place for pre- and post-vacation pick-me-ups this summer! Now through the end of August, join us for extended Happy Hour, a special dinner pre-fixe menu and three select appetizers for $33. And don’t miss our Biz Night on Aug. 22! / 15

Industry News

Real Estate


Berkadia Announces $56 Million Sale

Nunez Instructor Named Chef of the Year

Alabama-based Multifamily Management Inc. purchased Gretna multifamily communities Cedarwood Apartments and Baywood East and West Apartments from Berkadia for $56 million on June 11. Managing Director Gregg Cordaro of Berkadia’s Louisiana office led the sale of the two properties on behalf of the seller, Delta Alliance Capital Management. Cedarwood Apartments — located just across the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter at 2350 Park Place Drive — is a 226-unit gardenstyle multifamily community that was upgraded following Hurricane Katrina in 2007. The community offers one-, two- and threebedroom units. Baywood East and West Apartments is a 514-unit gardenstyle multifamily community located at 500 Wall Blvd. The community offers one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans.


Anonymous Donation Doubled Prize Money for PitchNOLA Instead of splitting $10,000 between two entrepreneurs dedicated to increasing affordable access to health care and nutritious food for all New Orleanians, PitchNOLA: Living Well, presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, awarded $20,000 — $5,000 to each of the four semi-finalists — thanks to an anonymous donation that came in toward the end of the event on May 23. The four winners were: Okra Abbey — a giving garden that grows fruit and vegetables and shares free community meals for food insecure individuals in New Orleans. RePurpose Food Co. — which rescues food waste to create healthy baby food for low-income communities of color. Gienetix — provides innovative products that remove harmful plaque and bacteria to tackle periodontal disease and the systemic health issues they cause. Saul’s Light Foundation — helps New Orleans families navigate the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) journey by providing nonmedical, financial assistance and supports them through the trauma of infant loss by offering mental health-based services. Saul’s Light Foundation also received the Audience Favorite Award of $500.


University of New Orleans to Develop First “Cyber Range” The University of New Orleans has been awarded $195,400 through the Louisiana Board of Regents Enhancement Grant to develop the state’s first so-called “cyber range,” an advanced training facility for cybersecurity and operations that simulates real cyber threats in a contained virtual environment. The new facility will be closely aligned with the mission of the Greater New Orleans Center for Information Assurance at the University of New Orleans (GNOCIA), designated a Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. GNOCIA is led by UNO’s Department of Computer Science faculty member Vassil Roussev — who, along with co-faculty members Irfan Ahmed and Minhaz Zibran, will lead this new project. The new “cyber range” will be used in at least 12 undergraduate and graduate courses to help at least 250 students and working professionals each year to acquire workforce knowledge and skills in the growing field of cybersecurity.

16 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

The New Orleans chapter of the American Culinary Federation named Chef Ruth Varisco, program manager of the Nunez Community College Culinary Arts Program, its “2018 Chef of the Year.” Nunez’s Culinary Arts Program prepares students for careers in bakeries, restaurants, hotels, schools and cafés. Past recipients include Chef Paul Prudhomme.


New Orleans Ranked Among Top Cities for Job Seekers Job search firm Indeed. com recently ranked the 50 metro areas with the most job postings on its site to determine the top cities for job seekers based on: Favorability of the local labor market to the job seeker; Average salary, adjusted for cost of living; How employers scored on work/life balance on its review database; and How employers scored in terms of job security and advancement opportunities. New Orleans ranked No. 14 of the 50 metro areas, ranking 7th in job security and advancement, and 9th for work/life balance. When it came to job market favorability and salary, however, the rankings dipped sharply to 43rd for both categories.

“Often, after we’ve been working with a health care company, they would seek my advice on who else in the city understood how to provide the HIPAA specialized services they needed. I quickly realized that many other health care companies were in the same boat, and wouldn’t it be great if I could bring together an alliance of companies that could be a central resource?” David Bourgeois — founder, Louisiana Healthcare Support Alliance, which launches this month. The alliance is composed of a broad group of local experts that specialize in working with medical providers in Southeast Louisiana on issues ranging from HIPAA compliance to protecting and generating revenue to facilities issues. For more information, visit

Recent Openings



2 Oaks Apartments

B on Canal Hotel Following an extensive multi-million-dollar renovation, boutique hotel B on Canal is now open at 1300 Canal Street. The 15-story building houses 155 guestrooms and suites ranging from 231 to 863 square feet. The hotel also features more than 1,750 square feet of meeting and event space and its own signature restaurant, Madam’s Modern Kitchen + Bar.

New Orleans’ newest affordable apartment community, 2 Oaks Apartments, is now leasing the first 176 apartments of the planned 400-unit complex which offers one- to four-bedroom units. Located on a wooded 21-acre property in the Village de L’est neighborhood of New Orleans East, the $53 million redevelopment project is being developed by Mirus New Orleans LLC and managed by Commonwealth Management Corp. on the site of the former Versailles Arms Apartments at Dwyer Boulevard and Saigon Drive, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Randy P Schmidt photo

Accruent, the world’s leading provider of physical resource management solutions, celebrated the opening of its new office June 26. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Accruent services industries in more than 150 countries around the world. The company is currently working out of the Contemporary Arts Center’s shared workspace, The Shop, while work continues to solidify a permanent office space. Accruent plans to hire 65 employees in New Orleans this year, with staffing projections of up to 350 by 2020.

Pythian Market On May 31, Pythian Market — a new urban food collective located inside the recently renovated Pythian mixed-use development at 234 Loyola Avenue — opened to the public. The 11,000-square-foot space features 14 locallysourced food purveyors, fast craft cocktails and retail vendors and seats up to 140 people.

Dogtopia The newest location of national chain Dogtopia, the nation’s leading dog daycare, boarding and spa facility, opened May 19 at 9501 Airline Hwy. It is the second Dogtopia location in Louisiana and is owned and operated by local husbandand-wife team Joe and Lisa Thornhill and their daughters Maddy and Katie Thornhill.


Drive Shack

Goldbergs Fine Foods

Demolition at the former home of the Times-Picayune on 3800 Howard Avenue in New Orleans is expected to commence this summer to make way for the new-tomarket golf entertainment concept Drive Shack. A new, three-story, 62,000-square-foot facility which will include 90 indoor driving range bays, a restaurant and corporate and group event space is expected to open late 2019. The first Drive Shack opened just this past April in Orlando and locations are already planned for Richmond, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Marietta, Georgia.

The company’s first location outside of Atlanta — where it was founded in 1972 — traditional New York-style deli and full-service restaurant, Goldbergs Fine Foods, opened in May at 925 Common Street in New Orleans’ Central Business District. The 6,500-square-foot restaurant seats up to 160 and has created roughly 50 new permanent jobs.

18 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Events 1






Northshore Young Professionals Luncheon Monday, April 16 | Holiday Inn Covington

Jefferson Chamber Business Leadership Awards Luncheon Wednesday, May 9 | Hilton New Orleans Airport Hotel

Dr. Tommy Karam, department of marketing senior instuctor for Louisiana State University, discussed “marketing your personal brand” at the first Northshore Young Professionals Luncheon of the year.

Celebrated for the impact they’ve had on the parish, this year’s honorees included Entrepreneurs of the Year, Andrew Prat and Adrian Nidcast with Southern City Farm; Small Business of the Year, Chronos BHW; and Large Business of the Year, Sleep Number.

1. Carl Duplessis, Erin Byrd, Dr. Tommy Karam and Amanda Paxton 2. Ross McKnight, Noble-Bates Young, Eric Graffeo and Kayla Theriot 3. Scott Forte, Christina Rusca, Lesley Burke and Todd Whalley

1. Mayra Pineda, John Herrin and Natalie Newton 2. Myra Corrello, Jerry Bologna and Sheila Craft 3. Paul Johnston, Staci Richard and Joey Richie

20 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

photographs by cheryl gerber

Events 1






11th Annual ACG Louisiana Awards Thursday, May 17 | The Roosevelt New Orleans

Louisiana Energy Conference - “All Things Energy” hosted by Al Petrie Advisors May 29 - June 1 | Westin Canal Place Hotel

Honoring business professionals that “have made significant contributions to the economic vitality of our city and state,” the ACG Louisiana Awards celebrated companies, deals and professionals including Waitr as the Emerging Growth Company and Paul Flower with Woodward Design + Build, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year’s conference featured two full days of panels that discussed key domestic and international developments, plus field trips to offshore and onshore industry facilities and various networking events.

1. Claude Silverman, Ben Tiller and Rodney Greenup 2. Dorothy Clyne, Missy Meaux, Chris Meaux and Katie LeGardeur 3. Scott Whittaker, Donna and Paul Flower

1. Ron Montalbano, David Preng and Britton Seal 2. Nick Volkmer, Al Pietre and Oma Wilkie 3. Wes Harris, Chris Delange and Jerry Wenzel

photographs by cheryl gerber / 21

Biz columnist s spe ak out


Chilled to Order: Phyllis Jordan, founder of PJ’s Coffee, brought cold brew to the masses.

In The Biz dining

The Mother of All Iced Coffee Enjoy an iced coffee on a hot day? You can thank PJ’s Coffee’s founder. by Poppy Tooker

24 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

served less than piping hot was considered a travesty. But as temperatures climb in New Orleans, it’s hard to believe that for most of our 300-year history, a hot cup of chicory coffee was the standard here. Phyllis Jordan, founder of PJ’s Coffee, changed all that when she began a coffee revolution on Maple Street in Uptown New Orleans on September 5, 1978. From the very start, Jordan eschewed the term “coffeehouse.” At the time, that evoked images of dark, smoky places frequented by “beatniks.” Jordan imagined a sunny place that would serve as a neighborhood hub, welcoming moms and children, students and professors, encouraging them to linger over coffee and conversation. Shortly after PJ’s became the gathering place Jordan designed it to be, one of her coffee suppliers, Mike Buckley, introduced her to the Toddy Coffee Maker. Invented in 1964 by chemist Todd Simpson, the cold-brew system was originally intended to create a concentrate that would be mixed with hot water as a low-acidity alternative to hot brewed coffee. Jordan, who originally hails from St. Louis, Missouri, remembered her mother enjoying leftover coffee on ice in a nod to her German heritage – an abomination, as far as Jordan was concerned. But once Buckley urged her to taste cold-brew iced coffee served with a bit of vanilla extract in it, she was off to the races. New Orleanians embraced PJ’s iced coffee, although much of the nation didn’t share our enthusiasm. At annual meetings of the National Coffee Association in the mid-1980s, the future of coffee looked dim. “Young people will never drink coffee,” the old-timers proclaimed. “They want a cold drink!” Again and again, Jordan stood up and said, “Yes, I’m doing cold coffee in New Orleans and it’s doing quite well.” But no one paid any attention for a long, long time. They’re paying attention now. Geoffrey Meeker, owner of French Truck Coffee, says that in his business today, “Iced coffee is as big as hot coffee or bigger.” He estimates that 50 percent of his wintertime sales are for iced coffee. That number climbs to 75 percent when it’s hot outside. This relative newcomer to the coffee scene credits part of the French Truck success to the pebbly ice used in the

company’s iced coffee. “Once you finish your drink, there’s almost a little coffee snowball left behind to enjoy for dessert,” Meeker says. Tom Oliver’s Coffee Science on South Broad Street is one of New Orleans’ newest coffeehouses. A player in the New Orleans coffee business for over 30 years, Oliver is a former co-owner of Orleans Coffee and was the manager at Kaldi’s Coffeehouse in the French Quarter back in the 1990s. At Coffee Science, Oliver has recreated the 1990s iced coffee phenomena, Venetian Crème, a highly caffeinated cold drink of almost mythical status. According to Oliver, the drink was created by a mysterious Metairie resident known as “Mr. Anthony” who mixed together imported Mexican coffee concentrate with sugar and non-dairy creamer. Oliver now crafts Venetian Crème from espresso combined with coconut milk and fresh cream instead of non-dairy creamer, but it still packs quite a punch! Today the future of iced coffee seems limitless, with trade magazines often pointing to Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s as industry leaders in popularizing the trend. Jordan laughs when she remembers the first time she saw iced coffee advertised at a McDonald’s in Boston in the 1990s. The sign proudly proclaimed their iced coffee was impossibly “cold roasted,” a misnomer she didn’t even bother to address. So this summer, when you cool down and perk up with a delicious iced coffee, raise a glass to the mother of all iced coffees, New Orleans’ own Phyllis Jordan n

Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, Louisiana Eats! Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.

i llu st r at i on by Ton y H e a le y

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.

Cold coffee? At one time, coffee / 25

In The Biz to u r i s m

Bone Temps Traveling with Fido is gaining in popularity. by Jennifer Gibson Schecter

26 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

years, I’ve picked up on some trends in air travel – pajamas as acceptable clothing in public, four-star restaurants inside air terminals, a deep envy of those with TSA PreCheck – but the furriest trend is definitely the rise in pet travel, especially dogs. A strange thing happened at the dawn of the current century: A certain hotel heiress with a reality show influenced millions of people, and one of the things she became known for was taking her dog with her everywhere. Suddenly, an entire generation of young people thought taking their dogs with them to the grocery store was hip and it became more socially acceptable. Today, humans love their “fur babies” more than ever and a multitude of companies have developed to accommodate them. One such New Orleans-based company is Dig. “The Dog Person’s Dating App” was launched in the App Store in February 2018 and provides a platform for dog owners and dog lovers to meet and find a compatible date. The Android version is slated to launch this summer. Dig is everywhere now and its founders are traveling across the country to host launch parties and build brand awareness. Leigh Isaacson, a co-founder and CEO of Dig, is a New Orleanian who knows dogs. She said that according to Psychology Today, 90 percent of pet owners consider their pet a member of the family. From that perspective, dog owners are making more informed, and emotional, choices when they travel. “Although you don’t have to worry about boarding your dog because there are many great services now, such as Rover and Wag, that help make sure your dog is taken care of when you’re gone, it’s also easy to find dog-friendly accommodations where you’re going, too,” said Isaacson. “Because of that, there’s no reason to leave your family member home.” Understanding how mobile Dig’s users are, Isaacson and her team have developed the app to use geolocation, which in turn helps users find “dog-friendly locations near you” no matter where they travel. Isaacson also recommends websites like, which has a New Orleans page, to find dog-friendly events in the city. Of course she is a dog owner herself,

and she has insider tips for travelers who visit New Orleans with their dogs. “Thanks in part to the lively dogfriendly brewery scene, the food trucks and the very accommodating restaurants with patios, New Orleans has many options for dog-friendly outings,” said Isaacson. “Even Howlin’ Wolf open mic nights are dog-friendly! People know they can bring their dog and still experience some of the best parts of New Orleans. It makes us a much more attractive travel option.” Other business owners have seen an increase in travel with dogs to New Orleans as well. Allison Albert is CEO of Pet Krewe, a New Orleans-based pet costume company that ranks as the No. 1 online retailer for pet costumes. “Travelers are including their pets when they visit a new city,” said Albert. “Many times, we’ve seen our costumes used for out-of-town pet costume contests. People are also buying outfits so their dogs fit in at events here like Barkus, Jefferson Pet Fest and the Pride Parade.” Whether in costume or not, there is a growing demand for locals and visitors looking for a safe place to exercise their dogs. “We are experiencing tremendous growth of dog park equipment installations throughout the region – people want to make sure their dogs are healthy and active,” said Tania Hahn, president of Hahn Enterprises Inc. of New Orleans, a leading seller of gymnasium, playground and recreation equipment in Louisiana and Mississippi. “I’m constantly at the dog parks around New Orleans,” said Isaacson. “My favorites are Gretna’s dog park and the Lafreniere Bark Park in Metairie. A run along the levee or at the Crescent Park Dog Run is a beautiful way to exercise together and view the city.” n

i llu st r at i on by Ton y H e a le 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

As a frequent flier for the past 15




LOUISIANACOOKBOOK.COM Now in its second printing! / 27

In The Biz s po r t s

City of Champions New Orleans continues to attract mega sporting events, financial windfalls of more than $1 billion by chris price

When news broke in May that New

Orleans was the only city invited to bid on hosting Super Bowl LVIII and NFL owners awarded the game, to be played in 2024, it was yet another prize for the Big Easy’s growing trophy case and another feather in the cap of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation (GNOSF), a nonprofit 501(c) (4) organization whose mission is to attract and manage sporting events that have a positive economic impact on the Greater New Orleans area. In its 30-year history, the Sports Foundation has worked with the NFL, NBA, NCAA, AAU, numerous professional and amateur organizations, WWE and public and private partners to bring Super Bowls, College Football National Championship Games, Final Fours, All-Star Games, Junior Olympic Games, Bassmaster Classics, Wrestlemania and Olympic Trial events to New Orleans. The GNOSF has brought hundreds of events to the city and turned a $40 million public investment into a $3 billion economic impact for the state of Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans area. “That’s a significant amount of return on investment for Louisiana,” said Jay Cicero, GNOSF president and CEO. “It’s very satisfying to be able to look at the numbers that are generated for these major events and that’s fulfilling the mission of the organization.” The Sports Foundation’s success has not led the organization to rest on its laurels. Events lured by the GNOSF are projected to make an economic impact of more

than $803 million in the next four years, with five major events on the books or in the bidding process. Super Bowl LVIII will likely push that total north of $1.2 billion in total economic impact, including $48.8 million in state taxes. New Orleans hasn’t hosted the NFL’s championship game since 2013, when Super Bowl XLVII generated an estimated $434 million economic impact, with $15.2 million in state tax dollars. With Saints owner Gayle Benson and president Dennis Lauscha, the GNOSF began working on the Super Bowl bid in November. NFL owners approved the game for New Orleans after Benson and Lauscha made a 10-minute presentation at the annual owners meeting in Atlanta in May. It will be the eleventh time the city has hosted the championship game. An added unaccounted benefit comes to the city and state in the form of media coverage before, during, and after each event. There were 5,205 credentialed members of the media in town for a week during the Super Bowl in 2013. “To put a value on that positive media coverage is close to impossible,” Cicero said. “The Super Bowl is the biggest of the big as far as events that travel around the country that are bid upon by cities, states, and organizations like the Sports Foundation. It really does feel good that we are delivering something to the state of Louisiana that has such a high economic impact and exposure.” n

Super City New Orleans is famed as a host of major sporting events. Championship sporting events are expected to create an economic impact of more than $1.2 billion and create state tax revenue in excess of $48 million over the next seven years. Event Economic Impact State Taxes 2018 WrestleMania $142 million $6.2 million

28 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

$100 million

$5 million

2020 College Football Championship

$250 million

$8 million

2020 NCAA Women’s Final Four

$43 million

$2.1 million

2020 ESPN X Games (Bid Submitted)

$100 million

$5 million

2022 NCAA Final Four

$168 million

$7.3 million

2024 Super Bowl

$434 million*

$15.2 million*


$1.2 billion

$48.8 million

*Figures based on Super Bowl XLVII in 2013

i llu st r at i on by Ton y H e a le y

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

2019 ESPN X Games (Bid Submitted) / 29

In The Biz e n t e r ta i n m e n t

A New Mix Under new leadership, this year’s Tales of the Cocktail will focus on giving back and helping the hospitality industry learn from recent scandals. by Kim Singletary

30 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

of the Cocktail, an annual event that celebrates the art of the cocktail and all those involved in bringing it to life. At this year’s event — held July 17-22 — however, you’re going to see evidence of some changes. Now under new ownership — founder Ann Tuennerman sold Tales of the Cocktail to Gary Solomon Jr., head of the Solomon Group and Neal Bodenheimer, owner of the bars Cure and Cane & Table early this year after resigning due to a social media scandal involving blackface and associated inappropriate remarks — the event has been restructured as a nonprofit. Addressing questions on the changes, an open letter from the Caroline Nabors Rosen, the new executive director New Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, was published on June 5 that included the following: “Ann and Paul Tuennerman completely divested from the trademarks and all business associated with Tales of the Cocktail. Additionally, there was a complete overhaul of the board of directors for the nonprofit called New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society.” “We took over on February 15 with the goal to run not only a great event, but one of the foremost foundations in the country,” said Rosen in an interview I had with her mid-June. Rosen came to Tales of the Cocktail directly from having served as the executive director of the John Besh Foundation, another group that had a rough 2017. Much more than just a big industry party, Tales has always meant a strong economic boost to New Orleans in a time we need it most — July. According to a report by the University of New Orleans, 2017’s Tales of the Cocktail had an $18.9 million impact on the city, drawing an estimated 15,000 attendees. This year, however, thanks to the restructuring, the economic boost will also be extended to those in the industry. “We’re giving back $250,000 this first year,” said Rosen. “We’ve reviewed 144 letters of intent and 54 full grant opportunities have been offered, all focused on the three pillars of our organization — support,

advancement and education.” Rosen emphasized that local business professionals will find plenty of educational opportunities this year. Along with plenty of parties and tastings and “celebrating the Margarita of the Year,” this year’s Tales of the Cocktail will address issues associated with both the Tales of the Cocktail and Besh scandals. The foundation has even formed a partnership with Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR), a Louisiana nonprofit dedicated to providing support, education and advocacy to those affected by sexual trauma. Among the free seminars this year are, “A Seat at the Bar: Social Justice through Cocktails” — which aims to help participants use cocktails to “help unify our communities and narrow the gap of cultural representation.” Included in the seminar’s description is the question, “Where do we draw the line between appropriation and creative expression?” Another free seminar is called “Green Dot: Bystander Training for Bartenders” – designed to help bartenders reduce the chance for violence of any kind in their bars. Among the paid seminars ($65 each), is “Building a Healthier, Happier Bar Industry” – (which as of mid-June only had two seats left). This seminar focuses on drug, alcohol and mental health issues prevalent in the industry and how owners and operators can use specific techniques to promote wellness. There’s also “Inclusion in Hospitality: Why and How to Build a Longer Table” and “Dollars of Diversity” — a look at how to create both a diverse workforce and customer base. Being that both the Besh and Tales scandals centered on issues with leadership, it’s maybe not surprising that one seminar dealing specifically with this topic had already sold out more than a month ahead of the event. “Leadership and Influence in the Bar Business” will address issues like organizational culture and “being a leader in your community.” It looks like this year’s Tales will be mixing together equal parts sensitivity, inclusion, generosity and accountability — not such a bad recipe. n

i llu st r at i on by Ton y H e a le y

Kimberley Singletary is the managing editor of Biz New Orleans magazine. A 20-year Southern California veteran, she has been surrounded by the film industry for most of her life.

This will be the 16th year of Tales / 31

In The Biz e n t r epr e n eu r s h i p

Have a Cuppa The coffee-based networking group 1 Million Cups could be a good fit for New Orleans. by keith twitchell

32 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

your entrepreneurial success? An innovative entrepreneur support program from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation thinks so. Launched in 2012, 1 Million Cups is a “mostly weekly networking program where local entrepreneurs gather over coffee and tell their stories,” in the words of Matt Fischer, director of new entrepreneurial learning at the foundation. Now caffeinating more than 160 communities across the country, 1 Million Cups brings together all manner of stakeholders in the entrepreneurial opportunity. This can include various potential funders and investors, entrepreneurs at every stage of the journey, people still incubating their initial ideas and even government and nonprofit staffers. The format is the same regardless of the setting: Each week, people come together, enjoy their coffee and listen to two entrepreneurs tell their stories. After the speakers are done, the audience asks questions and provides feedback. According to Fischer, “presenters tend to be pre-launch or in their first three years of operations. Past that time, most people are pretty good at telling their story.” Fischer emphasized that 1 Million Cups “is not a pitch practice, it’s a storytelling opportunity.” In truth, entrepreneurs need to be able to explain their big ideas in any number of situations. Pitch contests are one example, but other examples include meetings with potential investors, marketing and media people – even potential customers. While practicing in front of a mirror can help, the opportunity to tell your story in front of a live audience and get an immediate, honest response is invaluable. In addition to bringing together a good cross-section of people within the entrepreneurship realm, 1 Million Cups also attempts to connect entrepreneurs with the larger community. While supporting startup businesses is the primary focus of the program, it has larger goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion. This goes two ways: It can inspire people who might not have thought of themselves as having entrepreneurial potential, while also

shining the light on new business opportunities in often-neglected communities. Although the program is housed within the Kauffman Foundation, it is not foundation-driven. In each city, an individual or organization takes the initiative to reach out to Kauffman. The subsequent partnership is led by the local organizers and volunteers, with foundation support. “We don’t actively seek new communities so much as respond to requests,” explained Fischer. “Once a new city is ready to roll out, we work with the local organizers to help get the word out.” This hands-off approach helps each city run its version of the program in ways that make it most effective for its particular participants. In the process, it subtly supports entrepreneurial innovation. 1 Million Cups is not presently operating in New Orleans, though Fischer felt that the program would have very strong potential here. “New Orleans has a lot of grit, which is incredibly critical to entrepreneurship and success,” he observed. Given that the Kauffman Foundation’s approach could be described as “please call us, we won’t call you,” getting 1 Million Cups brewing in New Orleans will require some individual(s) or organization to take the initiative. The program’s website,, provides more details along with foundation contact information for those interested in opening up the conversation. “1 Million Cups is about building a stronger and better entrepreneurial community,” Fischer said in closing. Considering that New Orleans is both a growing hub of entrepreneurship and a city with a rich coffee tradition, it could be a perfect match. Pass the cream and sugar! n

i llu st r at i on by Ton y H e a le y

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.

Could a cup of coffee be the key to / 33

In The Biz etiquet te

Proper Credit The etiquette of sharing the work of others on your social media business pages by Melanie Warner Spencer

34 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

post is the exception to this payment and permission rule. It’s also poor form to crop out the photographer’s watermark, so just don’t do it. If you pay for the image, the photographer will give you a version without the watermark. Sometimes the photographer will offer permission for use, with the caveat that the watermark stays (for the purposes of their own marketing), so again, cropping it out is a no-no. Feel free to ask for one without a watermark, but if the photographer says it stays, they get the last word. OK, you paid for the image and/or got permission and are now on your way to the perfect post touting your company and getting all the “likes” and “shares,” right? Not so fast. Here’s where we get to the real point of etiquette: Credit. Did you buy all of the rights to that image to use when and how you’d like on your social media channels? If so, you may not have to credit the photographer. However, while of course it’s just good manners to give credit where credit is due, it’s also good business. Crediting a photographer in a post is both great for networking and cross promotion. When you credit a photographer, he or she may repost and suddenly you are both getting all of the internet love. It’s a win-win. Note that simply tagging or hashtagging the photographer won’t cut it. Do tag them, but also include a proper photo credit, which can either be “Photo by Jill Smith Photography,” or the camera emoji followed by “by Jill Smith Photography.” With images that came to fruition via the work of a team, including models, hair, makeup and wardrobe professionals, and other crew, any time you can get this information, include it. Consider this for any post that involves the work of another person or a team, whether it’s video, an article or blog post, logo, photo or release of data or research. Again, you’ll get more eyes on the post, so it’s a no-brainer. n i llu st r at i on by Ton y H e a le y

Melanie Warner Spencer is editor of New Orleans Bride and New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and managing editor of Louisiana Life and Acadiana Profile. Spencer’s ever-expanding library of etiquette books is rivaled only by her ever-ready stash of blank thank-you notes. Submit business etiquette questions to

Social media has fast become big

business — especially for small businesses. According to an April article in, 10 million small businesses in the United States have Facebook pages. In addition, “the gig economy marketplace Fiverr shows freelance spending on Instagram has more than quadrupled since the beginning of 2017” and “50 percent of Instagrammers follow a business,” according to In January, social media management platform Hootsuite posted on its blog that “93 percent of people who follow small- and medium-sized business on Twitter plan to purchase from those businesses they follow — according to a report from Twitter and Research Now — and 69 percent have already made purchases because of something they saw on the network.” There are, of course, several other popular social media channels, including LinkedIn and Pinterest, which also have impressive numbers. Given the fact that literally millions of small businesses are clamoring to be seen and heard in the ever-changing social media landscape, it’s even more important to know how best to navigate the etiquette of the medium, especially as it pertains to your fellow creative professionals, such as photographers, graphic designers and writers. Since social media posts with imagery statistically gain more engagement, perhaps topping the list of priorities is properly crediting (and, or paying for) photographs. We won’t delve too deeply into photo copyright laws here, but a good rule of thumb is that if you didn’t pay for use of the photograph or get permission from the photographer, don’t post it (to your company blog or social media channels) until you take one or both steps. Keep in mind that many professional photographers will find it insulting to be asked for free use of their imagery, especially by a for-profit business, since they are trained experts and that’s how they make their living. However, re-gramming from the photographer’s (designer’s or writer’s) account, and leaving in information from the original / 35

In The Biz marketing

So, You Want to DIY Your Marketing? A few tips for going it alone. by Julia carcamo

I get it. “It costs too much to hire

someone.” I’ve heard it way too many times. The consumer is evolving at a faster pace than ever and the shifting marketing landscape continues to prove that we only thought we knew what we knew before. Whether you’re going the route of doing your own marketing, building an in-house team, or engaging an agency or consultant, there are a few things that will help you make the most of the tools and resources at your disposal. Understand Your Audience

Step one in creating a strong marketing plan is to understand your audience. Who are your customers and who do you want them to be? What are their struggles and how can you solve them? What questions are they asking and are you the resource they find when looking for answers? The art and science of building personas may seem like a boondoggle, but understanding your audience and having a level of empathy for them will guide you to develop the type of marketing programs that will have appeal and to achieve the results your business needs. Plant Your Brand Flag

36 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Digital Brand Knowledge

Digital brand knowledge is now mandatory. Marketers cannot control every single mention of their brands. Yelp, Google,


If you’ve been in the field of advertising or marketing for more than a year, you have undoubtedly come across articles entitled “Greatest Commercials of [FillIn-The-Blank].” What most don’t realize, however, is that these kind of rankings are likely the result of some wow factor — a surprise appearance by a box office draw, unique use of special effects, technology or some other executional element. Today’s typical CEO is now less attracted to awards and accolades and more attracted to reaching their business goals (and often their bonus). Creating marketing programs that make a business impact requires an understanding of data — how to gather it, interpret it and implement the learnings. Good marketing relies on good data. Creativity

If you think I’m going to suggest you take a painting or ceramics class, you’ve made a common assumption. Creativity is about curiosity and bringing new ideas to the table. It is a trait that can open new avenues for your marketing because you’re not limited to the status quo. Feed your creativity by reading excessively, watching movies, visiting new places, working with others or trying something new. Some of the best ideas can come to you when your brain is just open. These activities bring your guard down and allow you to see more than what you thought was there. Learning all of these things will make you a better DIY marketer, but it can also make you a better client because you’ll be able to clearly give direction and measurable goals so that both you and your agency, consultant or marketing director can be successful. n

i llu st r at i on by Ton y H e a le y

Julia Carcamo is president and chief brand strategist at J Carcamo & Associates, specializing in brand and marketing strategy. She is also the co-founder of espNOLA, a Hispanic marketing and engagement agency. Learn more at and

Understanding what your brand is and isn’t is the key to strong brand positioning. Here, like with most good habits, consistency is key to cementing your position in the consumer’s mind. Keep in mind, it’s not the end of the world if you take a step back and realize your brand is all over the place. Breathe deeply and start the work. There are steps you can take to reign in the outliers and center your brand. Establish a purpose. Develop brand guidelines so that everyone involved will understand what is good and bad for the brand. Articulate the emotion you want your brand to create so that everyone on the team can make a deep connection to the brand. Involve employees. Be aware of the competition so that you can always stand apart from the crowd. Finally, be willing to be flexible so that the brand can continue to grow.

Facebook and others have given consumers the platform to praise you as easily as criticize you. When a customer has a bad experience, they no longer have to go in search of “the manager” or a comment card. Today’s comment card is in everyone’s hand — as easy to submit as the touch of a button-like graphic. And just that fast, the whole world knows the good, the bad and the very ugly. / 37

hot topics in southe a st Louisiana industries

perspectives banking & Finance  /  law  /  healthcare  /  GUEST VIEWPOINT

Fewer physicians are owning their own practice than ever before.

Perspectives b a n k i n g & Fi n a n c e

CPA Firms of the Future A look at the tech and trends changing the industry by Keith Loria

Technology continues to add efficiency

and convenience to the daily business of a CPA, allowing firms to have a more flexible workforce and serve clients far from their location. Remote access to clients’ systems, along with video and teleconferencing, has allowed some firms to conduct virtual audits. While this instant-access environment enables CPAs to be more responsive to their clients’ needs, accountants need to carefully balance boundaries to ensure professionals have proper work/life integration. Innovation in the industry is making

40 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

this possible. For example, over the last several years, cloud technologies have become mainstream in most CPA practices — opening up markets and allowing firms to provide more timely service to clients by being able to access information from anywhere in the world at any time. “From our perspective, new technology has given us a lot more flexibility,” says William T. Mason III, president and CEO of LaPorte CPAs & Business Advisors in Metairie. “We are in the cloud with our entire information system and have the ability

for our people to work remotely, as long as they have an internet connection. It’s really made it flexible for people to work when they can’t get into the office for whatever reason.” CPA firms are also changing who they hire.

Dan Gardiner, CPA, CGMA, managing director and CEO of Postlethwaite & Netterville in Metairie says firms positioning themselves for the future are already becoming much more diverse in their experiences and educational backgrounds. “CPA firms are hiring more non-accountants than

ever before,” he says. “This trend will continue as firms develop talent in areas such as data science, math and engineering to complement the CPA professional staff.” Gardiner believes this diversity, combined with a greater focus on non-technical “soft” skills such as communication and leadership — along with further automation of mundane tasks, such as data entry, review and verification — will allow professional service teams to dive deeper into clients’ most pressing business problems. “Firms will provide more robust solutions, focused not only on accounting and compliance, but on all aspects of their business, including human resources, technology, strategic consulting, advanced analytics, and other operational and financial aspects,” he says. Jeremy Thibodeaux, senior manager with Ericksen Krentel in New Orleans, says there’s an abundance of new technologies and software to choose from and each firm needs to decide what suits its needs and capabilities. “The big four (Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC) are investing heavily in research and development and developing proprietary software that they can use and modify, and a couple of them are partnering with IBM and Watson to develop solutions tailored to their needs and clients,” he says. “For example, KPMG is partnering with IBM to apply the Watson Artificial Intelligence technologies with KPMG’s advisory and tax services. These AIs like Watson are able to read through several-hundred-page contracts, such as leases, and extract all relevant data in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.” These technologies are able to analyze the contracts and detect trends, patterns or anomalies that might otherwise escape the human eye. In 2017, Validis partnered with WolterKluwers on Audit Accelerator, which connects to an accounting database or application and downloads full transaction histories. It then reads the data and transforms it into a standardized set of reports for analysis. In minutes, an individual can have a set of working papers (accounting terminology) to perform an efficient audit. The Buzz on Blockchain

In the financial world, automation can be an enemy or a friend, depending on how quickly it is adopted. Blockchain is a public ledger where transactions are recorded and confirmed anonymously. It’s a record of events that is shared among many parties. More importantly, once information is entered, it cannot be altered. Tony Qadir, director of business development for Bourgeois Bennett, LLC in Metairie, says an emphasis on security and data protection is high on the firm’s list of priorities and believes accountants are the second-most targeted (after healthcare companies) entity by cyber

42 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Dealing with Challenges

New technology can bring with it new sets of challenges, as hackers often find it enticing to go after upgrades and secured data. For that reason, cybersecurity issues continue to wreak havoc on business. “We still see too many businesses that are not doing enough to protect their client and business information, even as cyber threats increase and evolve,” says Dan Gardiner, CPA, CGMA, managing director and CEO of Postlethwaite & Netterville. “We have invested greatly in our cybersecurity practice in order to help our clients better prepare, address, train and monitor for these threats.” He offers this advice to any business leader: If you do not have a good understanding of how, or if, your business is addressing these risks, now is the time to take action.

criminals because accountants carry Thibodeaux cites MindBridge AI as intimate information on individuals, an analytics company that has recently such as financial records and Social been a game changer. Security numbers. “It’s an extremely powerful tool. They “Automation, specifically Blockchain, have all these algorithms built in their is something that inspires equal parts system and you can upload a client’s fear and excitement among accounting information and it can spit out what professionals, but it does not have to be transactions look risky and the reasons,” something that remains unknown,” he he says. “It uses artificial intelligence to says. “Blockchain technology, once fully uncover material irregularities in data.” accepted and integrated, will increase Looking Ahead the efficiency of audit, attest and tax reporting. Some feel it may remove “The firms that don’t make that shift the need for audits altogether at some [toward new technology] will be the point. This will allow accounting firms to ones that die off,” says Thibodeaux, focus on higher-level advisory services.” who adds that new technologies will require newly rewritten standards to Analyzing Data incorporate them. On the individual side, firms are still Will human CPAs be replaced by evaluating how some of the IRS changes software? Unlikely, says Mason, who are going to impact clients going forward. predicts industry professionals of the With the changes in rates with the new future will play an even larger role as tax laws, some entities are evaluating advisors in the future, using their skill whether they will continue to be partner- sets to analyze and interpret data. ships for S-corporations or go back to “The traditional CPA firm has been more of a pyramid type of business being a regular corporation. Mason says technology has changed structure (partners at the top, followed some of what his firm does with tax by senior managers below, down to the preparation, as software packages have senior level, and staff at the bottom),” made a lot of the previous need for data Mason says. “But as we move forward 10 entry unnecessary. to 15 years, I think we will see more of a “A lot of times the data gets loaded vertical integration with CPA firms due electronically either through a scanning to cloud computing, AI and Blockchain situation or a download of a client’s — changing the structure to more of financial information into software an upright rectangle as more people packages and that information populates develop different skill sets.” n tax returns and financial statements,” he says. “There is also a lot more data analytics that allow us to analyze and interpret a lot more data when we’re working with clients than we could 15 or 20 years ago because of the speed it can be analyzed.” Rise of AI

CPA firms are already buzzing about the applications of artificial intelligence in the profession. Gardiner says the Big 4 already have working applications and many firms in the next tier are working with partners to develop solutions. “In addition, the use of bots and machine learning are taking root and starting to have an impact,” he says. “Several of our services will be impacted by these developments, which provide both challenges and opportunities. We see this evolution as an opportunity to spend more time with our clients focusing on services that provide greater value to their business.” / 43

Perspectives l aw

Title VII: You Don’t Want to Be the Test Case With courts across the country ruling in support of discrimination claims based on sexual orientation — and New Orleans already prohibiting discrimination — what can your business do to make sure you’re not faced with a lawsuit? by Jessica Rosgaard

The Civil Rights Act has been on the books

since 1964, when it was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to protect against discrimination based on protected classes. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act specifically deals with workplace discrimination — protecting employees on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion. Title VII also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. Title VII does not, however, explicitly cover protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. “Up until about 2015, there was a pretty strict idea among all courts in federal jurisdictions – and even the EEOC – that sexual orientation was not a protected class,” explains Andrew Baer, a labor and employment lawyer with Deutsch Kerrigan.

44 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

But as society has changed its views on sex and gender, so have the courts changed their interpretation of the law, including what constitutes discrimination based on sex. “It seemed to coincide with gay marriage becoming a more prominent social topic, and eventually being legalized in the court system,”

says Baer. In 2015, the EEOC held that “sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration;’ and accordingly an allegation of discrimination based on sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex discrimination under Title VII.” Essentially, the EEOC decided that heterosexuality / 45

and homosexuality are determined by a person’s biological sex, and therefore discrimination based on sexual orientation is discrimination based on a person’s sex. CHANGING TIDE

While federal law doesn’t currently grant protection against sexual orientation discrimination, recent circuit court decisions are signaling a change. In April 2017, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that Title VII does protect all gay employees from sexual orientation discrimination. In the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech, Kimberly Hively, an openly gay professor at Ivy Tech Community College, sued her former employer for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The court ruled 8-3 in Hively’s favor, including support from five Republican court appointees. More recently, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan became the second court to rule that federal sex discrimination laws apply to sexual orientation in a ruling this past February on Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., where Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor on Long Island, claimed that he was fired from his job after he told a customer he was gay and she complained. So far these rulings haven’t had a practical effect, says Leslie Ehret, a labor and employment lawyer at Frilot, LLC, “because all of the states that are covered by the 2nd Circuit — including New York, Vermont, and Connecticut — already have their own state statutes prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.” But, says Baer, “It’s kind of a big deal when an appellate circuit court makes the statement and provides an opinion such as the one that just came down from the 2nd Circuit,” because court decisions provide precedent for future decisions, including Supreme Court rulings. “Everyone thinks the Supreme Court is going to have to look at the issue,” adds Ehret. Currently the one circuit court that has ruled that Title VII doesn’t extend to protections for sexual orientation is the 11th Circuit Court out of Georgia in the case Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, decided in March 2017. “The whole question is whether or not the law as written right now actually encompasses sexual orientation,” says Baer. “The dissenting judges [in the 2nd Circuit case] even said the law should be changed to include sexual orientation discrimination as being prohibited.” “There’s a bit of a circuit split, which is why I think a lot of employment lawyers like myself think at some point the Supreme Court is going to take up this issue so we get some consistency,” adds Sarah Voorhies Myers, partner in Chaffe McCall’s labor and employment division.

46 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

The 5th Circuit Court – which operates out of New Orleans and has jurisdiction over Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — has yet to extend its interpretation of Title VII to protect against sexual orientation discrimination. “There’s an opinion from the late ’70s where the 5th Circuit specifically held that Title VII did not encompass sexual orientation discrimination – and that’s still good law,” says Myers. That case, Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp., in 1979, was cited as precedent in the 11th Circuit Court ruling (Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital). NEW ORLEANS BUSINESSES TAKE NOTE

While some states have their own laws that prohibit against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Louisiana currently does not. “Louisiana does have a state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, and that state law largely mirrors Title VII, the federal law,” says Myers. However, cities can pass laws that are more restrictive than state laws, and New Orleans has done just that. “There is a New Orleans ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by any person, including employers,” says Myers. The New Orleans Human Relations Commission enforces the city’s human relations rights laws. It has the authority to investigate and adjudicate discrimination complaints in employment, housing, public areas and private clubs. The commission mostly works to enforce the ordinance through sensitivity training, outreach and mediation.

statutory or jurisprudentially – that is going to impose an obligation on employers to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination,” says Baer. Leslie Ehret agrees with Baer that it’s not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when.’ “I certainly think there’s a very good likelihood Title VII will continue to be expanded to include sexual orientation, sexual preference and gender identity issues. So what should you do to protect your business from litigation? Employers should, in every instance, focus on employees’ ability to perform their job, and not things like gender orientation or gender identity. However, there are other things employers can do to protect their company from a gender orientation discrimination suit. 1. Reconsider your policies.

Baer says its always a good idea to have your human resources department consult with either in-house or outside counsel to make sure your policies are up to date – not only on sexual orientation discrimination, but overall. Make sure your policy includes language to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. “Really analyze your policies to make sure that you’re implementing the same types of policies and procedures that you currently employ for the definitive protected classes,” advises Andrew Baer. 2. Reevaluate your training.

“Most employers do training on non-discrimination in the workplace,” says Ehret. “You just want to make sure you include sensitivity toward sexual orientation, sexual preference and gender identity.”


3. Reconsider your bathroom policies.

As the legal landscape changes, employers need to be aware of local, state and federal laws. “This is a rapidly evolving area where more and more jurisdictions are starting to extend protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in a lot of cases,” says Myers. Even though the issue hasn’t been taken up again outside New Orleans, businesses in surrounding areas should also take steps to protect themselves against future litigation because, says Andrew Baer, “you don’t want to be the test case that finds out you’re on the wrong side of the law.” Remember – we’re not talking about a new law; this is a question of interpretation of an existing law. So, your legal liability is different. Hypothetically speaking, if the 5th Circuit Court takes a case and decides Title VII includes sexual orientation as a protected class, the employer is bound by the new interpretation of the law. “I would anticipate that in the next few years there’s going to be legal authority – whether

“The best, and easiest scenario, is to neutralize the bathroom situation by using single-stall restrooms that remove the opportunity for gender discrimination,” Ehret says, “but you could also institute a policy permitting employees to use the bathroom of their choice.” 4. Think beyond your direct employees and train talent acquisition people to ensure that discrimination doesn’t occur during the hiring process.

“You want to make sure someone wasn’t explicitly or implicitly excluded because of the way they present gender-wise, their gender orientation or their sexual orientation,” says Ehret. n / 47

Perspectives hea lt hca r e

Physicians as Employees or Employers? Where and how doctors choose to work has changed dramatically over the years. By Kim Roberts

A majority of physicians used to also

be business owners, but this is no longer the case. In 1983, 76.1 percent of practicing physicians owned their own practice. By 2012, that number had dropped to 53.2 percent, and by 2016, it dropped for the first time to less than half (47.1 percent), according to data collected by the American Medical Association. The same percentage of physicians were employed, while

48 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

5.9 percent were independent contractors. The number of physicians in solo practice is even lower. A solo practice is one in which the physician practices alone, without partners or other affiliations, usually with limited administrative or clinical staff. The solo practitioner handles all aspects of the practice, from patient care to paperwork, regulatory compliance and financial management. Today, only about one

in five residents chooses a solo practice. “Fifteen years ago, 60 percent of the physicians were in solo practice compared to about 10 percent today,” says Dr. Patrick Waring, founder of the Pain Intervention Center in Metairie, which provides advanced interventional spine pain management therapy through minimally invasive procedures and techniques instead of potentially addictive drugs.

Waring is among the nowminority percentage of physicians in solo practice. He says that while he bears the worries and costs of staff personnel management, facility maintenance, and compliance with government and third-party payor regulations, he also has “the satisfaction of helping to produce a clinical environment that our patients have come to appreciate and expect. “As a solo physician, I realize that I am only as good as my staff,” he says, adding that he feels fortunate to have kept the same staff for his 15 years in practice. “The consistency and strength of this core group have been the key ingredient to the success and reputation we have enjoyed.” While he may not share a space with other physicians, Waring says he does enjoy referral relationships with other private-practice physicians, especially neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons, to whom he refers patients from whom he also receives referrals, even though there is no formal business relationship. “One advantage of my practice is that I have no obligation to refer to a specific physician or imaging center because of an employment arrangement or other business relationship,” he says. “Outside of my practice, I have no ownership of any imaging center or therapy practice or any other clinical entity.” The Move to Group Practices

For those looking to be a part of a team of physicians sharing a business, private practices are organized into a corporate model where the physicians are shareholders, or where one or more physicians own the practice and employ other physicians or providers. These practices are almost exclusively for-profit. Physician practices are organized

Did you know? Hospitals can be for-profit, not-for-profit or governmentowned. For-profit hospitals make up less than 20 percent of the total hospitals in the United States.

Hospitals are Drawing Docs A growing number of U.S. doctors have left private practice for hospital employment and only one in three remained independent by the end of 2016. Source: Report by global professional service company Accenture.

into corporations for the tax benefits, as well as to protect owners from liability judgments. For many physicians, however, their role is now employee, not employer. “Traditionally, it was common for physicians to own their own practices,” says Kevin Schneider, president of Paradigm Health System, a boutique practice focused on brain, spine and orthopedic care with offices in Slidell, Lacombe, Mandeville, New Orleans East, and Metairie, as well as Sterling Surgical Hospital. “Over the last 15 years it has become in vogue for hospitals to employ physicians. So now when a physician is out of school, it is my experience that about 75 percent are employed by the larger hospitals versus joining a private practice. This is because it is becoming harder to be financially viable in a solo practice. Also, the external pressure creates a lot of stress.” Group practices, both single- and multispecialty, make up the majority of private practice settings. As the name implies, the environment is characterized by the sharing of patient care duties and physical space. Group practice is generally viewed as less volatile than solo practice and more likely to afford a controlled lifestyle. “Most hospitals take the stance that in order to be profitable they need to see as many patients as possible coming through the door,” Schneider says. “So, they employ

the gatekeeper i.e. the doctor and offer all medical service under one umbrella. Paradigm was birthed because our doctors wanted to take on the responsibility and operate the business as they saw fit. They did not want to work in an employed model but rather in a private practice that was set up from the doctor’s viewpoint and they would maintain control of the clinical care.” Generally speaking, private practice owners take a salary draw, split any receipts after all expenses are paid, and can distribute receipts monthly or quarterly. This leaves very little at year-end to be taxed through the corporation. In contrast, hospitals that employ physicians typically guarantee a salary and offer an incentive plan where the physicians earn more for seeing more patients and/or being more productive based on work. The benefits of managing a private practice include: control over HR, marketing, finance, IT, contract negotiation, facility management, putting your stamp on the practice, a family-style atmosphere, and quicker and more efficient decision-making. “Paradigm’s success as a private practice can be credited to better clinical outcomes, more personal one-on-one care, investment in personnel and a great work culture,” says Schneider. “There is an ownership mentality in a private practice as compared to a rent mentality: We take full accountability.” n / 49

Perspectives gue s t v iewpoin t

Are You Leaving Money on the Table? Six tips on navigating salary negotiations with poise and diplomacy by Carrie Lewis

After multiple rounds of

interviews, you finally receive a job offer from a company with a solid track record and opportunities for growth. There were many hurdles to overcome during the job search process and there’s one more step to consider before accepting the job offer: salary negotiation. According to a survey by my global staffing firm Robert Half, job seekers may not be speaking up for more pay. Only 39 percent said they tried to negotiate salary during their last job offer. Whether you’re interviewing for a job or asking your current employer for a raise, the key to successfully negotiating a salary is to diligently prepare for the conversation and then present your case with data and confidence. In a hiring market, where in-demand professionals often consider multiple job offers, companies know they must have some flexibility in their salary ranges.

50 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Salary negotiations can be quite intimidating for job seekers and existing employees. To help ease the stress, the following are some do’s and don’ts when discussing salary with a new or current employer. 1. DO familiarize yourself with industry salary trends. Information is your biggest ally. Review local and

national salary ranges for someone with your career path, position and experience level.  If you are a finalist for a job opening, the employer may be having a tough time finding someone with enough skills and experience, and that opens the door to negotiate higher pay. 2. DO give a specific salary. Some employers will ask about your expected salary early in the hiring process. Being willing to state a

specific number or salary range will help you and the potential employer figure out if you’re on the same page and if it makes sense to continue the interview process.  3. DO know when to wrap it up.

A reasonable employer won’t take an offer off the table just because you tried to negotiate. However,

dragging out the salary negotiation can frustrate the hiring manager and start your working relationship off on a sour note. If the company can’t meet your requirements after a few discussions, respectfully withdraw your application and focus on opportunities that better match your compensation expectations. 4. DON’T make it only about you.

Salary negotiations are a two-way street. When talking about your capabilities and career, you need to frame your request for higher compensation in a way that conveys what an employer will gain in return. Make sure to gather concrete examples of how your skills will benefit the company and remember to keep your tone positive as this will help you navigate the discussions. 5. DON’T overlook the benefits.

Salary negotiations often include some give-and-take on employee

benefits, not just dollars. Consider what’s valuable to you and what would make an offer more attractive to you and your lifestyle. Also, be mindful of the benefits that reach beyond compensation, like career goals and advancement opportunity within a company. These things should be part of your analysis of accepting an offer. 6. DON’T forget to get everything in writing. Once you and the hiring

manager agree on a compensation package, ask for written documentation of your salary and any special arrangements, along with a brief job description and a list of responsibilities for the role. Make sure the document is signed by both you and the employer to ensure you’re on the same page. Salary negotiations can also come up during annual performance reviews at your current job, so if you think your strong performance warrants a raise, remember the above do’s and don’ts. Do your

homework and present a case that shows how your work has benefited the company. That way your compensation will better match where you are in your career and set you up for a fruitful future. Other Factors to Consider

In addition to pay, there are other elements that candidates should evaluate when an employment offer is extended, including: Compensation. Remember to focus on the whole package, not only the salary. Job seekers are now asking more detailed benefit questions, especially regarding healthcare (e.g., premiums, deductibles and dependent coverage). For those with multiple offers, these things can be a deciding factor. Cost of living. Rising housing prices and other costs are top of mind. Workers should ask themselves, “Can I live comfortably and enjoy a good quality of life if I take this role?” Career path. Employees are now asking more detailed questions about ways to learn and advance in the organization. For instance, is “promote from within” the exception or the rule? What are the training and development opportunities? Commute. Longer commutes mean people want flexibility and jobs closer to home. Workers are asking about staggered work schedules, commute benefits (e.g., parking discounts and bus passes) and telecommuting options. Corporate culture. Do people enjoy working for the firm? What are the retention and internal referral rates? How is the company viewed in the industry and within its city? For employers, it’s vital to find creative ways to retain top employees and bring on new talent with in-demand skills. Here are some pitfalls to avoid: Feeling like candidates are lucky to get whatever is offered.

Remember that top performers are essential in any economy, but especially in today’s marketplace, where

specialized talent is in demand and, often, in short supply. Being unwilling to negotiate. By being inflexible, you may lose your top candidate to another company. Not being prepared. It’s important for hiring managers to have knowledge of prevailing salaries in their industry and geographic area. In order to get a better salary offer, you have to ask for it. Job seekers and existing employees looking for raises too often accept the first salary they’re offered. The more prepared and professional you are, the more likely you are to negotiate a great salary. Equip yourself by gathering as much knowledge as possible about the position and comparable salaries for your industry. Know your worth, practice your pitch and speak up for yourself. All it takes to find out if there is wiggle room in the budget is a simple question: “I was hoping for something closer to [specific amount]. Is that possible?” Then wait for the response. n

Carrie Lewis is a certified public accountant with over 15 years of experience in public accounting, governmental audit and as an assistant controller with an international specialist merchant of agricultural commodities. She is a recruiting manager and vice president with Robert Half, a global staffing firm specializing in the placement of highly qualified accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals on a direct hire basis. / 51

portraits by jeffery johnston

The following 13 professionals are daring to try something new — developing a business, taking on a new role, or taking things to the next level. We honor their efforts as Biz New Orleans’ 2018...

New& Notables 52 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Arlanda Williams Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development and Institutional Advancement, Delgado Community College When it comes to workforce development in Southeast Louisiana, Delgado Community College is leading the way, and leading Delgado’s efforts as of last December is Arlanda Williams. A Terrebonne Parish native who’s served on the parish’s council for three terms, Williams has always been a proponent of the importance of workforce development, and recently served on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ transition team for the Department of Economic Development. This new role at Delgado includes overseeing the school's Maritime and Industrial Training Facility, the Workforce Center of Excellence and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. In each of these areas there is excitement and big plans. “At the Maritime Center we are working on being recognized as a federal center for excellence, which also means federal contracts,” she says, adding that the Goldman Sachs program is currently in its fifth year and its most recent class, at 33 participants, is its largest to date. Next month, Delgado will also open the Advanced Manufacturing Center for Excellence in Avondale, a 10.5-acre, $27 million facility in the Churchill Technology and Business Park that offers training in welding, precision machining, electrical/electronics engineering technology, electronics service technology and industrial maintenance. “My push and my passion is for Delgado to continue to have a regional impact,” Williams says. “Community and technical colleges are growing by leaps and bounds and we are placing people in the workforce in good-paying jobs. We are helping people realize that the American dream is not as out of reach as they may think.”

Ben Luzynski CEO, Watch Systems Ben Luzynski’s job is to protect children, and he says he couldn’t be happier about it. In November 2017, Luzynski was promoted from executive vice president to CEO of Watch Systems, a Covington-based company whose premier product is OffenderWatch, the largest sex-offender-registry system in the United States. “We work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and currently have a presence in 37 states,” he says, adding that the company pioneered the notification system that emails residents if a registered sex offender has moved into their neighborhood. This past March, the company announced its first international partnership: OffenderWatch was awarded the contract to assist the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in modernizing its database. “[Canada] has new legislation that requires their sex offender app to be able to be accessed by the public, who can use it to sign up for email alerts, so we’re rebuilding their app,” he says. Later this year, OffenderWatch also plans to release a new software program called Safe Virtual Neighborhood, aimed at protecting youth from online sexual predators. “The app can be installed on a child’s phone," he says, "and if a registered sex offender tries to contact them via email, phone, text or Snapchat, or if they are hanging out near a registered offender's house, they will receive a notification on their phone, and so will their parents.”

Jonathan Tate

Beezie Landry Vice President of Investment Advisors, Stirling Properties Hammond native Beezie Landry joined the full-service commercial real estate company Stirling Properties right out of college more than 17 years ago as a real estate agent working mostly with retail properties. “During that time I had worked off and on with a handful of investment sales and found that I really enjoyed it,” he says. “I got my degree in accounting so I really like working with numbers and figuring out ways to make them work.” In 2014, Landry decided to make the leap and devote himself almost solely to investment work. He has since been responsible for the acquisition and disposition of nearly $500 million of investment assets in Louisiana and Mississippi, primarily in single and multitenant retail and medical offices. This past May, following the retirement of one of the company’s owners, Jeff Marshal, who headed up acquisitions, Stirling Properties announced that it was forming an Investment Advisors Division that encompasses acquisition, disposition and investment sales. Landry was chosen to lead the division, which he says is currently “in full swing.” “This new division is more focused and specialized,” he says, “something we haven’t had before. It's a more team-oriented approach that offers something we feel competes with the national companies. These are markets we know and our team has so much knowledge across so many property types and markets across the Gulf South that I think it will be hard to compete with what we’re doing.”

Principal, OJT In a city that struggles with a lack of affordable housing, local architectural and urban design firm, the Office of Jonathan Tate (OJT), has stepped beyond its typical role to offer up something completely new. Together with developer Chuck Rutledge and contractor Pierre Stouse, Jonathan Tate finished construction this past winter on 12 homes in the Irish Channel priced starting at $288,000 — less than half the average home cost in this high-demand historic neighborhood. The project is called St. Thomas/ Ninth and it’s the result of an innovative approach that utilizes out-of-the-box thinking on land purchasing mixed with contemporary design strategies to create more attainably priced homes. After success building on small lots that Tate describes as less like your typical home plot and more “like someone’s yard,” a plot of land was identified near Tchoupitoulas Street, one block from the Mississippi River, that encompassed vacant land and half an existing warehouse. On that 12,800 square feet, OJT designed 10 single-family homes and one two-family home with the idea of building up, not out. Homes range from two to three stories and 919 square feet to up to 1,561 square feet with two or three bedrooms. “We’ve invested in quality materials, like lifetime warrantied high-impact windows and a metal skin that comes with a 20-year-warranty,” Tate says, explaining that the idea is to make not just homebuying easier on first-time buyers, but home owning as well. The project has so far gained favor with the Louisiana Landmarks Society, who honored it with a 2018 award for Excellence in Historic Preservation for New Construction/Design, as well as with homebuyers — half the homes have already sold. “I think we’ve exercised the ideas we were trying to exercise,” says Tate, who is now working on a project with a nonprofit homeownership organization, along with one in Louisville, Kentucky. “We definitely had no desire to be developers, but we needed to be for this.”

Timothy Nickel Project Management Administrator, LADOTD With a new airport comes a lot of excitement and economic opportunity, but increased travel and tourism also mean increased traffic demands. To serve these demands, the LADOTD is working on a new flyover for the Interstate10/Loyola Drive interchange to replace the current flyover on Williams Boulevard. “Congestion currently exists on Loyola Drive at its interchange with I-10 and at its intersection with Veterans Boulevard and is expected to worsen with future traffic from the airport's new North Terminal,” explains Timothy Nickel, LADOTD’s project manager. A New Orleans native, Nickel is a registered professional engineer with 20 years’ experience in design build, innovative design, expedited projects and projects with environmental sensitivities such as the I-49 Lafayette Connector ($1.2 billion) and elevated LA 1 project in Leeville ($350 million). The Loyola Drive project will bring all of Nickel’s experience into play, plus it is likely to consist of complex ramp structures and roadways while maintaining traffic and minimizing impacts of day-to-day activities in the area. Many of these large jobs entail working closely with other organizations in a team effort to deliver a project beneficial to all involved. For example, the Loyola interchange includes the airport, both the cities of Kenner and New Orleans, along with Jefferson Parish and the Regional Planning Commission. “We’re currently in design build procurement and we’re expecting to receive environmental clearance by the end of 2018,” says Nickel, “with construction to begin in the summer/fall of 2019. Depending on the proposed design, we are hoping to finish construction in three years, with costs estimated to be up to $125 million.”

56 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Cathy Alfonso CEO, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce In September 2017, Kenner native Cathy Alfonso was named the new CEO of the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce. Alfonso’s background is in public relations, including work at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and Visit Baton Rouge, and she served for a year as the admissions director at her alma mater, Archbishop Chapelle High School. “My passion is anything involving student or community involvement,” says Alfonso, “so this job is just an incredible chance to do something I really love in the community in which I live.” Alfonso says St. Bernard Parish has seen a huge increase in new construction lately, noting that this year the parish is projecting to see triple the amount of home permits as in 2017. “We have safe schools, low crime and great streets,” she says, “so naturally people are moving here and more people means we’re better positioned for more business.” Alfonso says the chamber is heavily focused on programming and professional development — including programs like Grow St. Bernard (now in its second year) and Leadership St. Bernard. “One of the biggest things we’re working on right now is creating a 100-day action plan as part of our strategic plan,” she says. “Our goals are to grow our membership — most of which are small businesses — grow our events and really focus on our community presence. We want people to know us as a resource and be a visible force in the parish.”

John Nickens IV President and CEO, Children’s Hospital New Orleans “I’ve visited the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country and I can tell you that what we’re creating here right now is going to match that level of excellence,” says John Nickens IV. This past September, Nickens became the new president and CEO of Children’s Hospital New Orleans, just as the hospital is undergoing a $300 million multiphase renovation. Nickens has not only visited the top 10 children’s hospitals, he most recently served as senior vice president at one — Texas Children’s Hospital, ranked No. 4 nationally by the latest U.S. News & World Report honors. He says he was drawn to New Orleans by the tremendous possibilities he sees here. “There is no place in the country where a children’s hospital has created it’s own system,” he says. “The idea is to switch from just healing the sick to creating a total environment of health.” Expected to reach completion in December 2020, the hospital’s renovations include a long list of new care centers — from cardiac to behavioral health — expanding the footprint from 394,500 square feet to 629,500. Nickens, however, says he’s most excited about the opportunity for parents to stay with their children while they are admitted, noting that almost all rooms will be private with places for parents to stay and participate in their child’s care. “This isn’t about just adding more beds,” says Nickens. “It’s about providing patient-centric care in a family environment with state-of-the-art technology. It’s about practicing medicine in the way it’s going to look, in say, 2035.”

Werlien Prosperie III CEO, Gas Pump TV Chances are you’ve been standing at a gas pump filling up when suddenly a screen on the pump popped to life, offering you local news, weather, sports or entertainment to amuse you while you wait. This is Gas Pump TV (GPTV) — the creation of Houma native Werlien Prosperie III. Back in 2010, while a sophomore at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Prosperie had already tried, and failed, to break into the billboard business. It was only then, while pumping gas one day, that he had the idea for a way to reach consumers in a new way. “Out of my failure, I found success,” says Prosperie, whose product is present at the pumps of most designated market areas in the United States. Now, thanks to a deal announced in April, GPTV is positioned to become the second-largest media company from Louisiana next to Lamar. In January, Prosperie signed a longterm partnership with Bennett Pump Co. One of the largest fuel dispenser companies in the world, Bennett products are found in more than 85 countries. Together, the companies are launching a program aimed at helping gas stations recoup some of the costs of new fuel dispensers required to comply with updated credit card authentication standards estimated to cost U.S. retailers between $5 billion and $7 billion by October 2020. “Fuel dispensers that offer GPTV come with a financial incentive for retailers while also providing them with an opportunity to showcase their own store promotions,” says Prosperie. “We can help reach that age-18-to-48 consumer that is active, on the go and participating in the economy. Plus you’re providing customers with the ultimate fueling experience.”

58 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Terrell Boynton

Jessica Inman Louisiana Market Manager, Lyft It was only three years ago in April that the New Orleans City Council voted to allow ride-sharing companies into the city, and only a little over a year ago that Lyft joined Uber in the marketplace. “We’ve only had a dedicated team on the ground since January of this year,” says Jessica Inman, Lyft’s market manager for Louisiana, who currently leads a team of five and growing. The New Orleans native is tasked with the goal of overtaking Uber. “Our goal is to gain 51 percent of the market share and we’re definitely getting there,” says Inman. While she wouldn’t share the company’s current market share in Louisiana, in May an article in USA Today reported that, “some 48 million people will ride Uber this year in the United States, which is up 18 percent over 2017’s 40.7 million but lower than eMarketer’s original projection of 51.4 million. Rival Lyft will serve 29.9 million riders in 2018. That’s a 41 percent jump over 2017.” Inman says the company’s strategy is to build up its local base in the region, in part by providing “a great experience for big events, which we know results in a bump in our market share.” She has also been focused on creating local partnerships: Lyft is currently the official athletic sponsor for Louisiana State University, offers rides to participants of the Youth Empowerment Project and has partnered with the Urban League of Louisiana to help recruit and train drivers. “It’s still difficult because Louisiana is one of the few states in the country where regulations vary from parish to parish, but we’re working on that,” she says. “It’s important to provide this kind of opportunity to people.”

Director, DXC Technology New Orleans Digital Transformation Center Hailed as a “game changer” by state leaders as the largest tech project ever to come to Louisiana, DXC Technology’s announcement that it was heading to New Orleans topped headlines last November, and the project was recently named one of the Top 20 Economic Development Deals in North America for 2017 by Site Selection Magazine. The company’s new Digital Transformation Center — opened May 23 at the Freeport McMoRan building on Poydras Street — is expected to create 2,000 tech jobs within the next six years. The global company currently works in approximately 70 countries helping public and private sector clients use digital solutions to solve their problems. The man tasked with running the New Orleans center is Atlanta native Terrell Boynton, who started his tech career working with Hewlett-Packard after college in the company’s automation development department. Boynton says he’s excited for the move because he sees tremendous opportunity in New Orleans. “It’s unbelievable the amount of talent being produced here that is leaving New Orleans because of a lack of tech opportunity,” he says. “Our goal is to capture that talent base locally, engage the higher education programs and help draw other tech companies to the area.” Yes, DXC is actually eager for competition. “If there are not enough companies in an industry you will soon see a decline of talent,” he explains. “That’s why we’re working with organizations like LED Fast Start and the economic business development teams. DXC is going to be just the beginning.” / 59

Tom Cole President and CEO, Republic National Distributing Company The biggest news to hit the national wine and spirits industry over the past year happened last November with the announcement that Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) is merging with Breakthru Beverage. The two companies currently hold the titles of second- and third-largest wine distributors (respectively), with RNDC posting $6.5 billion in annual revenues, followed closely by Breakthru at nearly $6 billion. Together they are estimated to hold nearly a 60 percent market share with the new company, the name of which has yet to be announced. It has been announced, however, that RNDC president and CEO, Tom Cole, who has led the 9,500-employee company since its 2006 inception, will serve as the CEO of this new venture. An Ohio native, Cole has called New Orleans home for 28 years. The company operates in Louisiana out of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. “The beverage industry is consolidating and as we looked at opportunities to continue to grow — we’re in 23 states now plus the District of Columbia — Breakthru was a good fit," he says. "It’s a solid, family-run company, like us, that shares our values.” The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year but work has already begun to create a company Cole says will be “different, sustainable and transformative. “You’re only new once,” he says, “so we’re going to make the most of it. We’re good now, but the goal is to be the best.”

60 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Scott Niemeyer Founder and CEO, Deep South Studios Confidence in Louisiana’s film industry is coming back, and Scott Niemeyer, founder and CEO of Algiers’ Deep South Studios, is enthusiastic about praising the state’s efforts to proclaim to all that Hollywood South is here to stay. “Thanks to the state’s new entertainment incentive program which Gov. Edwards signed into law last year, we have an even stronger ecosystem that supports and recognizes the importance of the entertainment industry to this state,” says Niemeyer. In 2012, Niemeyer — a producer of films including the hit, “Pitch Perfect,” — began working on creating the largest independent film and television full-service facility ever constructed in the Southeast. Deep South Studios has currently completed three of the 11 buildings planned for Phase 1 of the project, totaling 35,000 square feet. Current plans include approximately 262,000 square feet of studio space. The company has had a string of successes recently, including being chosen late last year as the state’s first Qualified Entertainment Company (QEC). Under a new state program, entertainment employers qualified by Louisiana Economic Development can receive tax credits on annual wages paid on full-time jobs created for Louisiana residents. QECs may qualify for up to $1 million in payroll credits per year. Then in April, Deep South welcomed its first tenant, Production Resource Group, a global entertainment and live event production services company. “I’m eager to see Louisiana back at its maximum potential in this industry,” says Niemeyer, “and we’re well on our way to getting there.”

Randy Gervais Founder and Owner, Checkerbox Three years ago, a senior at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie named Randy Gervais — whose family owns the audio/ visual company Royal Productions — went looking for his own business idea. What he came up with was socks. “I was looking for something everyone needs,” he says, “something that is relatively inexpensive to make but has a high profit margin. So I thought, ‘Why not socks?’” Gervais focused specifically on men’s dress socks. “I looked at what was out there and I saw a lot of stripes, polka dots and argyle, so I thought I’d do something different — a checkerbox print.” In August 2015, Checkerbox was born. Just a few months into launching, Gervais sold $30,000 worth of socks in just two weeks. “I told my mom and dad, ‘I think this thing is going to work!’” he says. Now just 22 years old, Gervais runs a strictly online business that offers “socks that stay up all day” crafted from 100 percent combed cotton or a cashmere blend in more than 50 different patterns, as well as ties and pocket squares. Along with checkerbox prints in every color, he offers fun prints like coffee cups, camouflage and even pink flamingos. One of his most in-demand socks, however, came about as a result of a request from Louisiana’s Lt. Gov., Billy Nungesser. “He called me and asked if I could make a state sock that he could wear at the capitol, so I took the state seal and put it on a blue sock," he says. "They sell out as fast as I release them.” / 61

64 / Biz New Orleans / july 2018

Southe a st louisiana businesses in full color


Woodland Plantation serves many functions, including a venue for events and conferences, a bed and breakfast, and a home for many local creatures.

From The Lens g r e at wo r k s pac e s

Preservation of Place Featured on Southern Comfort bottles for 75 years, Woodland Plantation moves into the future through the work of Foster Creppel, whose family owns the Columns Hotel. by Melanie Warner Spencer photos by Sara Essex Bradley

Whether or not you’ve ever visited

Woodland Plantation — located about 40 miles south of New Orleans in West Point à La Hache — if you are a tippler you’ve likely seen it. The circa-1834 main house was featured on the label of the whiskey-based liqueur Southern Comfort’s bottle from 1934 to 2009. Surrounded by 50 acres on the Mississippi, the plantation serves as a wedding and event venue, retreat and conference center (heavily utilized by fishermen), and bed and breakfast. The plantation is also a nature and wildlife refuge of sorts, as the location of one of the oldest cypress trees in Louisiana (the Louisiana Cypress Legacy #4) and as a partner attraction via the America’s Wetland campaign to save coastal Louisiana. Jacques and Claire Creppel — owners of the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue —

Woodland Plantation, located 40 miles south of New Orleans in West Point à La Hache, was purchased in 1997 by Jacques and Claire Creppel — owners of the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans — along with their son, Foster.

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along with their son, Foster, purchased the plantation, sight unseen, in 1997. “The first time I saw it, I said, ‘Oh Mom, this is a terrible idea. Why did we buy this dump?’” says Foster Creppel, who now serves as the sole proprietor. The family began extensive restoration of the main house — a red-roofed, 10-room mansion — in December 1997 and opened for business the following year. They also acquired the deconsecrated, Gothic-style, circa-1833 St. Patrick’s Church, which was located 14 miles away in Homeplace, cut it in half, moved it to

the property, renamed it Spirits Hall and opened it in 1998. Creppel says the first big wedding was held on the property that year. Over the years, the plantation became home to Louisiana State University Ag House and the store from Magnolia Plantation. The Creppels have also restored the overseer’s house, “little house” and the old slave cabin. Woodland Plantation was built by Capt. William Johnson, thought to be one of the first chief river pilots in America. Johnson operated the property as a sugarcane plantation, but continued his work on

The 10-room mansion serves as a wedding and event venue, retreat, conference center and bed and breakfast. / 67

Half of St. Patrick’s Church — which used to be located 14 miles from the plantation — was transferred to the property and now serves as Spirits Hall.

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Left: Foster Creppel is the current sole proprietor of Woodland Plantation. Right: Photographs in Spirits Hall document the plantation’s rich history.

the river, which also included partnering with the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte in the slave trade. Foster Creppel doesn’t gloss over any aspect of the history of the plantation, which is all outlined on the plantation’s website and in the photo gallery in Spirits Hall. While restoring and preserving the history of the property, he says he is passionate about doing the same with the coast. “People said, ‘Who is going to want to come here?’” says Foster Creppel. “But I think if we keep restoring buildings like this and places like this, people will want to come here. We gotta restore our coast. Our wetlands and delta are going to

take longer and cost more but just this place took longer and cost more and we did it. We can do it.” Foster Creppel has increased production crops, such as bamboo, and planted more trees (20 Chinese chestnuts and 10 cypress) on the plantation. He also looks for other ways to farm the plantation, all while running what he calls a “small country inn.” “I like meeting nice and interesting people,” says Foster Creppel. “We have wonderful food. I love to cook. I love to landscape design and hunt, fish and drink. I figure if I run a country inn, I can do all of that stuff.” n / 69

From The Lens w h y d i d n ’ t i t h i n k o f t h at ?

The Right Kind of Cool Cooalla, the first highend cooler made by and for women, launched by local outdoors writer Ann Taylor in April. by Ashley McLellan photos by sara essex bradley

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After many summers spent struggling

with bulky, leaky ice chests and coolers, Ann Taylor — outdoor sports accessories designer, outdoor enthusiast, writer, mom and entrepreneur — had a light bulb moment. Why not design a cooler that would be lightweight, well-made, stylish and designed specifically to fit a woman’s body? Together with a team of designers, Taylor just launched Cooalla, the first high-end cooler made by and for women, this past April. Nationally, sales of camping equipment is on the rise, with sales of coolers specifically rising from $283 million in 2007 to more than $488 million in 2017. Cooalla is looking to tap into those numbers, banking on female consumers’ strong sales showing in the market — women account for 63 percent of spending on activewear according to

an April 2017 Outside Magazine report. That same report cites sales of outdoor gear by women at $50 billion annually. Taylor’s idea, which was two years in the making, came together through personal experiences she had with coolers. “We have a camp in Grand Isle, and I’d buy coolers to have on hand for myself and the kids,” she said. “They didn’t keep ice cold or they would start to leak by the end of the day. There really was a gap in the market. You had the dollar store inexpensive soft coolers that leak or don’t stay cold because they are too thin. Then you have the really high-end coolers that are very expensive, but still weren’t exactly what we were looking for.” An avid sportswoman, Taylor knows firsthand about the special needs and rigors outdoors equipment must go through in South Louisiana, and

Currently available in two colors, the soft neoprene Cooalla was designed to fit like a women’s shoulder bag.

women on the move

Percentage of Outdoors Activitity participants that are women

49% Running 48% Day hiking 45% Car-camping 44% Cross-country skiing 44% Downhill skiing 41% Road biking 38% Snowboarding 34% Backpacking 30% Fly-fishing Source: April 2017 Outside Magazine

“[We wanted] to create a comfortable to carry insulated tote that performs like a high-quality cooler but looks and feels like your favorite shoulder bag.”

beyond. She has served at-large for the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, as a member of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association and International Women’s Fishing Association, and is managing editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine. Through her work writing about the booming outdoor sports business, Taylor said she has also seen an uptick in the number of women looking to participate in outdoor activities, along with a demand for specially designed equipment for women, in look, feel and performance. “We fish a lot. We do see a huge upsurge in women becoming interested in sports and fishing especially,” she said. “Traditionally, we saw manufacturers slapping pink on something and saying it’s for women. Now we are starting to see products designed more for women. We wanted to address those issues we see when we are out there. Just because we are on a boat fishing, we still want to look good and feel good. [We wanted] to create a comfortable-to-carry insulated tote that performs like a high-quality cooler but looks and feels like your favorite shoulder bag. And of course, we really wanted to keep our beer and wine cold.” Taylor and her team were looking for a bag that could carry perishables, but also ice and beverages, way beyond the capacity of a picnic tote. Comparable ice totes are available from outdoors specialty brands such as YETI and Filson, and typically sell for around $300. But while those high-end brands worked to keep things cool, Taylor found the fit was either uncomfortable or unwieldy for her and her friends. She said / 71

taking the lead

Outdoor Brands with Women CEOs Gert Boyle, president of Columbia 1970-1998 Sales growth from $800,000 to $427.8 million. Kris Tompkins, CEO of Patagonia 1979-1992 Sales growth from $2.5 million to $100 million. Sally Jewell, CEO of REI 2005-2012 Sales growth from $1 billion to $1.92 billion. Sally McCoy, CEO of CamelBak 2006-2015 Value growth from $256 million to $412.5 million.

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products that advertise being designed for women, such as picnic totes and baskets from companies like Columbia, were inexpensive but never met up to Taylor and her team’s standards. “Unlike other soft coolers, we wanted to pay attention to the weight of the product. I had three of my friends receive high-end, high-quality soft coolers for Christmas one year, and they all hated them. They couldn’t carry it even without drinks in it. I thought there has to be a better way,” she said. Cooalla weighs in at 3.2 lbs, as opposed to many other heavier soft coolers, such as the YETI Hopper, which weighs 5.5 lbs.

“We really talked about the weight of it. I took it every single place I went, carrying it to test the weight,” said Cooalla’s social media director and resident cooler-tester Jocelyn Boudreaux. “It really feels right. It’s about the way it fits on the hip, especially with the strap in front and in back. It doesn’t feel awkward.” Taylor’s team is composed of experienced outdoors product designers, connections she made through working at Louisiana Sportsman magazine and its catalog of branded hats, UV protection gear, shirts and more. Together the team tested prototype after prototype to zero in on the best bag for the buck. The end result is a high-quality, lightweight, insulated bag that sells for $179. “We were lucky enough to meet some women designers who had years of experience with Patagonia,” Taylor said. “They helped us pull the whole bag together and were very inspirational. It was not an easy task. The Cooalla is not like other bags. The sewing has to be perfect. The seams have to fit just right to be waterproof.” Features of the bag include: neoprene insulation, puncture-resistant and foodgrade liner, padded shoulder strap and carry handles, and one-handed zipper technology. Cooalla currently has three full-time senior staff, a team of freelance designers and an overseas manufacturing base, according to Boudreaux. While the Cooalla design team is located locally (Cooalla headquarters are in Boutte), Taylor said she is still in search of ways to bring the manufacturing to the United States. “The bag is designed in the U.S. and manufactured overseas. We tried to find someone to help us manufacture in the U.S. but we could not find someone experienced with neoprene. We would love to be able to manufacture here,” she said. Boudreaux agreed, stressing the importance of the specific, high-quality materials used. “After much research, the manufacturer was chosen first and foremost for being the most recognized expert in neoprene innovation. This is a key factor in the function of the Cooalla. Seeking to create a lightweight, yet very well insulated cooler, finding the most advanced ‘neoprene on steroids’ is what ultimately gives Cooalla its cutting edge,” she said. Besides the Cooalla being an asset on fishing and hunting trips, Taylor said she

sees it as an integral part of any busy woman’s life, from shopping at the farmer’s markets to picnics, tailgating, festival-going, kids’ soccer games and more. “We wanted it to be super functional, especially for moms, outdoorswomen; it needed to be versatile. It also works as a laptop bag and for grocery shopping. I have a friend who has a daughter who is a soccer player, and she can use it to keep foods cold while waiting for soccer practice to be finished. I also like to bring my own good beer when I go to events, festivals or fishing,” she noted. Cooalla is currently available in two colors, Bondi Blue and Shark Bay Gray, with the team currently at work perfecting new designs and colors. But while sleek, stylish design was one of the top goals of creating the bags, Taylor stresses that there have been no compromises on quality. “We also really want people to know that just because our bag is lighter [and made for women] doesn’t mean it isn’t as strong as something that was designed for a man,” she said. “We wanted to make sure the product really works. We wanted to develop quality. I personally tested the prototype. I loaded it up with ice and drinks and left it in my car in August. Those drinks stayed cold for a full eight hours.” Cooalla is available nationally on Amazon— currently the company’s main source of sales — through Cooalla’s website, and locally at the Basketry in Luling, with efforts to recruit more retailers underway. Boudreaux added that Cooalla is just scratching the surface of this market, with plans already for expansion. “We’re thinking all the time about design,” she said. “As we get feedback, we will definitely be adding color and styles. We want it to expand the line, maybe even create an entire women’s line [of additional outdoor accessory items].” n

“Traditionally, we saw manufacturers slapping pink on something and saying it’s for women. Now we are starting to see products designed more for women.”

Taylor designed the Cooalla to be light and easy to carry, but also to keep drinks cold in the hottest weather. The price, at $179, is a competitive alternative to other pricier soft-sided coolers.

In addition to being useful for outdoor sports activities, such as fishing and camping, the Cooalla is made to be functional and fashionable in social settings, such as at the farmer’s market, picnics, tailgating or gathering on the porch with friends. / 73

From The Lens m a k i n g a m atc h: b u s i n e s s e s a n d n o n pro fi t s

The Spark We Need Operation Spark is training local youth and adults for high-tech careers of the future. by Pamela Marquis photos by cheryl gerber

“It should be clear as day that the future

will be closely tied with computers,” said Kendall Spears, a software engineer for Select Laboratory Software, a North Carolina medical software developer with offices in New Orleans. “I think we have a unique chance to change the landscape for the people of New Orleans and get them jobs

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that can more than pay their rents.” Spears is a graduate of Operation Spark, a local organization that presents a fast route for lowopportunity individuals into careers in software development. Upon graduation, participating students, many lacking college degrees, successfully find careers with an average salary of $65,000.

Over 80 percent of all public high schools in New Orleans currently host Operation Spark coding classes. All students start out in a two-week session where they try out coding to see if they’re interested.

“This place needs to be in every school in New Orleans. Let’s become the city with the workforce of the future. The earlier we can start teaching kids how to program the better.” Kendall Spears, software engineer, graduate of Operation Spark

According to Stacey Sharer, Operation Spark’s director of finance and operations, investing in a software economy is a smart bet. For each job created in the high-tech sector, approximately 4.3 jobs are created in other local goods and services sectors across all income groups, including lawyers, dentists, schoolteachers, cooks and retail clerks, among many others. Software engineers’ lifetime earnings are 40 percent greater than the typical college graduate and computing jobs are the primary source of new wages in the United States with 500,000 openings across every industry and state. “Our track record in providing upward mobility is why Forbes recently cited Operation Spark in an article on restoring the American Dream,” said Sharer. Over the course of six months, the staff transforms people with zero coding knowledge into job-ready software engineers. Operation Spark casts a wide net by meeting people where they are: in their community centers, neighborhoods, churches and schools. Over 80 percent of all public high schools in New Orleans currently host Operation Spark coding classes. The organization is on track to see twice as many students in the program next semester. Operation Spark grads have been invited to attend or speak at White House events six times. One of the organization’s high school students was even named a “White House Champion of Change.” “Our students are chronically under and unemployed, with many coming from low-income backgrounds,” said Sharer. “Operation Spark is the first nonprofit code school to offer underserved communities a clear, rapid path to upward mobility. While the code school model is widely successful across the U.S., the majority of programs are inaccessible to populations that could most benefit from high-wage software engineering skills.”

All students start out in a two-week session called Prep, which helps them try their hand at coding prior to committing to a class. Then Bootcamp, a 60-hour introduction to programming in JavaScript, continues their journey. It also teaches functional programming and basic web development. This program prepares students for the organization’s three-month immersion program.” In the immersion program students learn how to think like a software engineer and gain all the skills needed to start a career as a full-stack engineer — someone with knowledge in all stages and sectors of software development. “This program is more rigorous than most educational programs or full-time jobs,” says John Fraboni, founder and CEO of Operation Spark. High School to High Wage is another Operation Spark program designed to provide an introduction to computer programming and is designed for those with little to no prior experience. “This program offers low-income high school students, who too often lack the resources to be successful in college, an alternative path to post-secondary education,” Fraboni said. Frabroni said that while he believes in all the programs, the organization’s youth program is especially close to his heart. He believes the education pipeline for the at-risk, impoverished youth in New Orleans is lacking and does little to end the problem of generational poverty. “They just can’t keep their curriculum current or keep up with trends,” he said of local schools. Fraboni is beyond passionate on this topic and with more than 20 years of professional experience in software development, he certainly knows of what he teaches. He’s won the NOEW Education Pitch and 4.0 Schools’ Launch accelerator, and was invited to the White House three times for his work in this field. Fraboni has worked for a diverse set of clients including Tabasco, Tulane University, The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Microsoft, Ernst and Young, Disney and Sony. The program began in August 2016 with startup funding from Google. Enrollment has since doubled every semester. Operated in partnership with one of the top code schools, Hack Reactor, Operation Spark uses its curriculum, admissions and career support processes. “Students are recommended by their counselors and they learn how to build mobile aps, websites and video games, said Aaron Schwindt, director of high school programs. “And while they do these things they are also building their portfolios and they earn an Industry Based Certification.” Not only do the students learn about software, but also, maybe just as importantly, they learn

Success Stories

Jay Kindell Kindell is 30 years old and is an instructor and software developer at Operation Spark. He said if anyone had asked him five years ago where he would be, helping others journey into the tech industry would definitely not have been his answer. “But this is where my path brought me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said. Kindell believes that Operation Spark is a spark of life for the community. “The way they are putting people in better positions in life is really incredible.” Kendall Spears A 27-year old software developer, Kendall Spears said Operation Spark was a springboard in his life. While working for a traffic engineering company and as a bartender for a local bar, Spears said he was doing okay for himself but didn’t see a good future. “I just felt that I needed to be in the software field,” he said. So Spears started looking into different programs around the city. A coworker told him about Operation Spark. “It was one of the best pieces of information I have ever received,” he said. “I went there to gain the knowledge I was seeking and gained so much more. Dreams that I thought might have died are opening back up and new opportunities are presenting themselves.” Maddie & Selena The vibe at Operation Spark is comfortable and relaxed but everywhere one looks one sees students and instructors focused and engaged. Helping immensely with that process are Maddie and Selena, Operation Sparks’ feline instructors. The once circus cats offer moral support daily via cuddles, kneading and purrs as they encourage students to reach their full potential. / 75

Operation Spark started in August 2016 and graduates have already been hired by local tech companies, including 13 by GE.

Success of services

key life skills and professional conduct development. The organization offers the following in its guidelines: “At Operation Spark, we accept everyone for who they are. We encourage you to be your true self and become whatever you want to be, except a jerk. Here’s why: Being a jerk gets you nowhere. It stunts your growth, limits your maturity and is poison for those around you. People stop respecting you when you’re being a jerk and no one wants to be around someone like that. As young adults, you are on the verge of having to make your way in the world, and if you can’t show yourself to be mature, trustworthy and capable, people will begin to move away from you, and eventually you’ll find yourself struggling. This will deeply affect your success and our mission is for you to

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Location: 748 Camp Street, 2nd floor Phone: (504) 534-8277 Website: operationspark. org/contact Funders: Kellogg Foundation, Entergy, Capital One, Google and AT&T Employer Partners: GE Digital, Mums Software, DXC, Lucid, iSeatz, LookFar and Revelry

A good Match

For companies who Can offer jobs, be mentors and/or guest speakers

succeed.” Local companies have been snatching up Operation Spark graduates.For example, GE hired 13. “Operation Spark is a true disruptor of the classical software engineering education domain,” said Tim Blackmon, CIO of Mumms Software, a local company that has provided software for the hospice industry since its inception in 1989. So far Mumm has hired six Operation Spark graduates. “Their graduates possess real-world experience in today’s modern technologies,” said Blackmon. Operation Spark also hires its own graduates such as Kindell, who said he’s “proud to give people in my community the chance to learn new skills

and pursue goals that maybe they thought would never be available or obtainable for them. OpSpark has given me the opportunity to be the representation I want to see in the tech industry. It means I get to help change the world. And it’s amazing.” n

60 people have graduated from Operation Spark’s Immersion Program with a 100 percent placement rate at average salaries of $65,000. GE Digital removed its college degree requirement because they wanted to hire the organization’s graduates. 161 adults and young adults have attended Intro to Programming Bootcamps. Over 1,200 K-12 students have attended ‘What a Career in Software Looks Like’ sessions and 158 K-12 students and 43 teachers participated in coding workshops. Over 80 percent of all public high schools in New Orleans currently host Operation Spark coding classes. 85 percent of these students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The organization is on track to see twice as many students in the program next semester. RESULTS SINCE AUGUST 2016 / 77

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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From The Lens ON THE JOB

Missing Miss Ella photo by David G. SPIELMAN

©David G. SPIELMAN-18

The culinary world took a hard hit this summer, losing two iconic figures within only eight days — first famed restaurateur Ella Brennan on May 31, then celebrity chef, author and documentarian Anthony Bourdain on June 8. In true New Orleans fashion, both were quickly immortalized within days with the announcement of a poor boy at Café Reconcile called the “Bourdain and Brennan.” New Orleans born in 1925, the fourth of six children, “Miss Ella” was the esteemed matriarch of the Brennan family, a name synonymous with quality dining throughout Louisiana and beyond. Though she never learned to cook, after taking the helm of Commander’s Palace in 1974, she was responsible for introducing the world to the joys of a jazz brunch and bananas foster and touched the careers of greats like Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. In 2009 she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. A toast to you, Miss Ella, a force too strong to ever be forgotten. n

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