Page 1

the

coolest secret in town

could help you save, or even generate income PG 60 Leslie Jacobs, chairwoman of YouthForce NOLA

Marijuana in the Workplace: What you need to know PG 52

Education & Beyond Leslie Jacobs’ latest initiative

september 2018

PG 64


6 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


bizneworleans.com / 7


Publisher Todd Matherne

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Errol Laborde Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Director Sarah George Digital Media Editor Kelly Massicot Associate News Editor Alexa Harrison Social Media Assistant Becca Miller Multimedia Blogger Leslie T. Snadowsky Contributors Topher Balfer, Julia Carcamo, Ari Goldfarb, Rachael Jeanfreau, Keith Loria, Pamela Marquis, Ryan D. Mayer, Ashley McLellan, E. Fredrick Preis, Jr., Chris Price, Kim Roberts, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell, Melanie Warner Spencer

Advertising Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 Colleen@BizNewOrleans.com Sales Manager Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Caitlin@BizNewOrleans.com Senior Account Executive Brennan Manale (504) 830-7298 Brennan@BizNewOrleans.com Account Executive Jessica Jaycox (504) 830-7255 JessicaJ@BizNewOrleans.com

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

Production Traffic Manager Topher Balfer Production Designers Emily Andras, Rosa Balaguer, Meghan Rooney

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 AABP 2018 Gold: Most Improved Publication AABP 2018 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.

8 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


september 2018 / Volume 4 / Issue 12

contents EVERY ISSUE

60

perspectives

from the lens

12 / Editor’s note 13 / publisher’s note 16 / Calendar 18 / industry news 20 / recent openings 22 / Events

in the biz 26 / dining

Hold The Alcohol Please

42 / insurance

The Changing Benefits Landscape 46 / banking & finance

Should You Be a B Corp?

68 / great workspaces

Well-Crafted

28 / tourism

FEATURES

Finger Lickin’ Growing Pains

54

60

Leslie’s Graduation

The Coolest Secret in Town

The woman who reinvented New Orleans’ educational landscape, Leslie Jacobs is now focused on the city’s workforce problems.

An energy solution that’s disaster-proof, efficient and environmentally friendly, plus opens businesses up to new revenue sources?

By Kim Singletary Portraits by Jeffery Johnston

by topher balfer Photos by cheryl gerber

72 / why didn’t i think of that? 48 / real estate &

Fore-Ward Thinking

construction

30 / sports

What’s the Plan?

Yardage King 32 / entertainment

NOFF Returns

76 / making a match: businesses and nonprofits

52 / guest viewpoint

These Treats Are Extra Sweet

Employment Drug Testing Policies: Up in Smoke?

80 / on the job

Deposits for Our Future

34 / entrepreneurship

Are You Protected? 36 / etiquette

Conference Confidence

on the cover

38 / marketing

Leslie Jacobs, chairwoman of YouthForce NOLA

Don’t be an IHOP

Photo by Jeffery Johnston


Editor’s Note

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year As I’m writing this editor’s

note, it’s the weekend before my daughter (finally) heads back to school, and I have just finished a lovely brunch with six other friends of mine, all moms. None of us could contain our excitement about the return of school. It’s basically exactly how our kids felt 2.5 months ago. For some of the moms, it’s a time of welcome relief — one that comes with getting back into a regular routine after a summer of shuttling around the city to various summer camps and/or all over the country visiting family. For others, the start of school is a kind of mid-year New Year, complete with a hopeful list of resolutions that typically includes trying to lose the weight gained by months of sno-balls and ice cream. For me, it’s both of these things, mixed with the promise that cooler weather (and Halloween) are both getting closer by the day. Back in April, when our cover Q&A was with Patrick Dobard, CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, I shared my own personal experience, and frustrations, with our school system here and the challenges involved with securing a space in the school of our choice. But the reality too is that my child is already bilingual. At an age when I was still struggling to read in one language, she can read and converse effectively in two. The opportunities that opens up for her — for college, for jobs — is unlike anything my husband or I ever had and this month’s cover person, Leslie Jacobs, is largely to thank for that. You can’t talk about the changes New Orleans’ schools have been through post-Katrina without talking about all the work Ms. Jacobs has done. What I’m excited about in this piece, though, is the opportunity to share her new passion — making sure the kids we’re graduating are going on to find jobs and careers that provide for their needs and the needs of our region. It’s a win-win for everyone and the key to the future of our region. Happy Reading,

Kimberley Singletary Managing Editor Kimberley@BizNewOrleans.com 12 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


Publisher’s Note

Support for St. Elizabeth’s This month, the St. Elizabeth’s Guild is

celebrating it’s 48th Annual Volunteer Activist Awards, and I am truly humbled to have been chosen as one of the eight honorees. St. Elizabeth’s Guild was founded in the 1950s with the St. Elizabeth Orphanage and has seen many changes throughout its history. Today, the guild raises funds to support the efforts of children’s programs serviced by Catholic Charities. The proceeds from this year’s luncheon will benefit Padua House, St. John the Baptist Head Start, Cornerstone Kids, Isaiah 43 and Therapeutic Family Services. The full list of honorees include: Debbie Albert, Ann Duffy, Ann Heslin, Diann M. Sanborn, Carol Short, Alfred (Ted) Stacey, IV and Allison Giffin Talley, along with Hall of Fame activists Carol M. Porter and Mark C. Suprenant, who were honored as Volunteer Activists in 1994. I am honored to be included with this outstanding group of individuals. The luncheon is taking place on Sept. 28 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans and I know they would welcome any contribution you may want to donate to support these efforts. You can reach the guild online at StElizabethsGuild.org. Todd Matherne

bizneworleans.com / 13


Meet the Sales Team

Caitlin Sistrunk Sales Manager (504) 830-7252 Caitlin@BizNewOrleans.com

Brennan Manale Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7298 Brennan@BizNewOrleans.com

Jessica Jaycox Account Executive (504) 830-7255 JessicaJ@BizNewOrleans.com

Colleen Monaghan Vice President of Sales (504) 830-7215 Colleen@BizNewOrleans.com 14 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


Calendar

September 6 New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Alliance 5 to 7 p.m. The Ruby Slipper Café Mid-City 315 S. Broad St. NewOrleansChamber.org

6 New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Educational Seminar with NOLA SHRM: Recruitment & Retention — Best Practices 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 1515 Poydras St., 5th Floor Auditorium NewOrleansChamber.org

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

11 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce B2B Networking 8 to 9 a.m. Chamber Board Room 610 Hollycrest Blvd., Covington StTammanyChamber.org

13 New Orleans Chamber of Commerce with American Institute of Graphic Arts and Greater Mid-City Business Association Educational Seminar: Latest Trends in One-to-One Marketing 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Cannery 3803 Toulouse St. NewOrleansChamber.org

20

ABWA Crescent City Connections 2018 Women Can Drive Business Conference 12 to 6 p.m. NOLA Motorsports Park 11075 Nicolle Blvd., Avondale ABWANewOrleans.org

21

Jefferson Chamber of Commerce One-Day Workshop Performance Consulting: The What, Why and How 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 900 Convention Center Blvd. JeffersonChamber.org

25

Propeller SEO Tips for Small Business 6 to 7 p.m. Propeller Incubator 4035 Washington Ave. New Orleans GoPropeller.org

26

Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Prosper Jefferson: Happy, Healthy Workplace Part 1: Leadership 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. JEDCO Conference Center 700 Churchill Pkwy., Avondale JeffersonChamber.org

28

New Orleans Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurs’ Organization 3rd Quarter Luncheon with Drs. Peter and Susan Glaser Intercontinental New Orleans La Salle Ballroom 444 St. Charles Ave. NewOrleansChamber.org

13 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Explore Northshore — Business & Community Expo 3 to 7 p.m. Castine Center 63350 Pelican Dr., Mandeville StTammanyChamber.org

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

16 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


ADVERTISEMENT

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

Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak

215 Bourbon St. • (504) 335-3933 • Galatoires33BarandSteak.com Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak is the premier destination in the French Quarter for enjoying the finest cocktails and traditional steakhouse fare – right on Bourbon Street. This fall, stop in to Bar 33 for seasonal cocktails or enjoy football food and drink specials during all Saints and LSU games.

Flamingo A-Go-Go

869 Magazine St. • (504) 577-2202 • flamingonola.com Flock on over to the Warehouse District for food, fun, and the largest open-air (and pet-friendly!) patio in New Orleans! Enjoy lunch and dinner favorites every day, and our whopping selection of beer, wine, and flocktails. Join us every Saturday and Sunday for brunch, featuring $10 bottomless mimosas or sparkling rosé! We offer happy hour Monday through Friday from 4pm – 7pm, and late night bites and drinks until 2am every night.

Ralph’s on the Park

Broussard’s

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!

Join Broussard’s Restaurant & Courtyard from now until September 23rd as we honor our rich and vibrant history with our 1920 specials, which pay homage to the year of our founding and to 98 years of exemplary food and service. Enjoy our three-course dinner for only $19.20, featuring your choice of summertime favorites like our goat cheese tart, cane glazed pork tenderloin, mousse au chocolat, and more! We are also excited to offer select bottles of wine for $19.20 and our weekly featured punch during happy hour for only $1.92!

900 City Park Ave. • (504) 488-1000 • ralphsonthepark.com

819 Conti St. • (504) 581-3866 • broussards.com

bizneworleans.com / 17


Industry News

this just in

new program

Big Easy Budget

Facebook and National Urban League Announce Digital Skills Training Partnership

The Committee for a Better New Orleans (CBNO) has announced the mid-year results of bigeasybudgetgame.com, a data-driven, crowdsourced interactive website that residents can use to balance the city budget with their own spending priorities. Over 300 residents have participated to date.

On Aug. 1, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and National Urban League President Marc Morial announced a new partnership to provide digital skills training to entrepreneurs and small business owners in New Orleans and 12 other cities nationwide beginning in 2019. The goal is to train 1 million people and small businesses across the country in digital skills by 2020.

Highlights from the mid-year report include:

28%

increase in spending for departments related to improving infrastructure

$9 million

in additional local spending for affordable housing

70%

increase to departments that offer mental health care services including the Health Department and the Coroner’s Office

15%

cut to administrative departments such as the Chief Administrative Office and Finance Department

awards

Millenial Award-Winners Winners of the 2018 Millennial Awards — conceived and produced by the Spears Group since 2013 — were unveiled on Friday, July 27 at the Ace Hotel New Orleans. The awards honor young professionals making significant impacts in their respective fields and surrounding communities. Among the 19 award winners were the following: Business - Amy Landry, founder and president of Fuel Success Academy; Culinary Arts - Austin Kirzner, executive chef of Red Fish

Grill and Greg Tillery, owner of We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp; Education Jonathan Johnson, founder and CEO of Rooted School; Changemaker - Aaron Frumin, founder and executive director of unCommon Construction; Innovation powered by Chevron - Luke Hooper, president at FACTOR 10; Healthcare - Dr. Chenita Landry, OB/GYN and cohost of “The Doctors”; Economic Development - Mea Boykins, CEO of Global Management & Marketing and Ashley Llewellyn, deputy director economic development at St. Tammany Parish Development District; Financial

Services - Damon Burns, executive director of Finance Authority of New Orleans; Hospitality and Tourism - Lisa Larsen, director of sales at Galatoire’s Restaurants; Law - Alanah Odoms Hebert, executive director of ACLU of Louisiana; Real Estate - Melissa Burns McClendon, president of New Orleans Women’s Council of Realtors; Best Millennial Restaurant presented by Yelp - The Big Cheezy; For more information on the Emerge Summit and Millennial Awards, visit millennialsmeet.com.

From Aug. 7-9, Facebook offered in-person training for individuals and small business owners in New Orleans on the company’s tools, including Business Pages, Messenger and Instagram. Attendees to the Facebook Community Boost, part of the event’s 50 city tour, were granted access to free online support.

education

25%

New Online Master’s Program for Cybersecurity

81%

Tulane University’s School of Professional Advancement (SoPA) is now enrolling students in a new online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Cybersecurity Management program.

cut to the Orleans Parish Prison (largest cut)

of users support more money generated by short-term rentals being used to pay for more affordable housing

75%

of users had never participated in the city budget process before The game remains open year-round, but the final data report will be compiled alongside the actual city budget in October.

18 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

“Delgado has implemented capital improvements totaling some $150 million, including nearly $28 million for our new River City and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in Avondale…Delgado has been successful at educating the regional workforce for nearly 100 years. We’re getting ourselves geared up for the next 100 years of educational excellence.” Arlanda J. Williams, MPA, vice chancellor of Delgado Community College’s workforce development and institutional advancement program, dean of technical education and the executive dean of the school’s new River City center, which opened Aug. 18.

The program will target students who are currently working in cybersecurity or wish to further their career in IT security, cybersecurity, information assurance and information system security by teaching them how to build and maintain secure networks, as well as thwart cyber attacks.


bizneworleans.com / 19


Recent Openings

COMING SOON COMING SOON

Canal Place Additions

OCH Building Renovation

Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch and G Star Raw will open their first and only locations in the Gulf region at Canal Place. Lifestyle brand Tory Burch will open mid-September with a 2,300-square-foot space, and luxury denim brand G Star Raw will open this month as well. Louis Vuitton is scheduled to open February 2019.

Construction has begun to renovate a 9,000-square-foot building at 1626 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard — the last blighted property on the 1600 block of the boulevard. When completed, it will serve as the offices for Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and Gideon Community Development Corporation — the owner of the building — as well as provide commercial storefront space.

New Orleans Career Center

Pan-American Life Student Center

The only college and career training provider of its kind, The New Orleans Career Center (NOCC) opened at 2539 Columbus St. in the 7th Ward on Aug. 20. The first class of 120 high school juniors and seniors from seven Orleans Parish schools will earn industry-based credentials in healthcare and manufacturing. The program will eventually expand to including IT, engineering, manufacturing, automotive and more.

Students of Loyola University New Orleans are currently enjoying their new $1.25 million Pan-American Life Student Success Center. Located on the second floor of the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library, the entirely donorfunded, 9,000-square-foot center offers study, mentoring, coaching and selfdevelopment resources to students.

COMING SOON

Shintech Louisiana On July 24, Shintech Louisiana, LLC announced that it will invest $1.49 billion to develop a new chlor alkali and vinyl chloride monomer production facility, as well as expand its existing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) manufacturing facilities in Plaquemine. Construction is expected to generate 2,000-3,000 jobs and create 120 new direct jobs once completed and operational in early 2021.

BMW Motorcycles of New Orleans

Little Fig Pythian Market — the new urban food collective inside the Pythian Temple at 234 Loyola Ave. — received a new retail offering on July 10 from the owners of Mid-City restaurant 1,000 Figs. Like 1,000 Figs, Little Fig will offer fresh Mediterranean food, including house-made dips, salads, freshly squeezed juices and meats and cheeses.

20 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

The first new BMW motorcycle dealership in the city in over 25 years, BMW Motorcycles of New Orleans opened on July 14. Located in the Central Business District at 901 Julia Street, the 6,000-square-foot showroom is a family-owned business, owned by Gayle and Stephen Materne and their sons, Zachary and Maxwell. photograph by Cory James


bizneworleans.com / 21


Events 1

1

2

2

3

3

ABWA New Orleans July Luncheon

Emerge Summit: Young Professional Development

Thursday, July 19 | The Cannery

Thursday, July 26 - Friday, July 27 | Ace Hotel New Orleans

July’s luncheon featured guest speaker Theresa Barnard, ADPA, a financial advisor with Waterfront Wealth Management, who spoke about financial strategies for women in a presentation entitled, “Knowledge is Power.”

Hundreds of young professionals gathered for this year’s Emerge Summit, which included information on leadership, business strategy and personal branding with over two dozen leading speakers. The event also featured an awards program called The Millenials.

1. Donna Accardo, Melissa Burbank and Ashley Zabalaoui 2. Liz Broekman, Annie Juttner, Anna Finch and Jennifer Garrard 3. Shannon Edmondson, Impact Scholarship recipient Brenna D’Aunoy and Amy Landry

1. Adrienne May, Eddie Maupin and Kristi Maupin 2. Amelie Karam 3. John Cannon, Todd James, Alanah Odums, Hebert Powell and Wesley Palmisano

22 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

photographs by cheryl gerber


bizneworleans.com / 23


Biz columnists speak out

in the biz DINING  /  TOURISM  /  SPORTS  /  ENTERTAINMENT  /  ENTREPRENEURSHIP  /  ETIQUETTE  /  MARKETING

The National Fried Chicken Festival returns Sept. 22 and 23, drawing hundreds of thousands of chicken lovers.


In The Biz dining

Hold The Alcohol, Please This year’s alcohol-free party at Tales of the Cocktail is indicative of a growing trend. by Poppy Tooker

26 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

are driving the “mindful drinking” movement, seeking social drinking without the hangover. Where does New Orleans fit into this picture? Alan Walters, creative director of Loa at the International House Hotel, sees a trend towards sensitivity regarding the power of alcohol. He regards Loa as more of a new-world apothecary with a strong nod to the culinary aspect of drinks. With over 60 different house-made syrups and extracts to choose from, it’s easy for Walters to create a memorable, alcohol-free cocktail. Tyler Chauvin, bar manager at Treo on Tulane Avenue, believes the bar industry is at a turning point where drinking to excess is just not perceived as “cool” anymore. Instead, the craft cocktail movement has shifted the focus from high proof to high flavor. “There should be no stigma attached to your choice of drinking alcohol or not,” he said. “When a customer asks for an alcohol-free drink, it’s a pleasure to craft something extra-special just for them.” But what about that all-important bottom line? Alcohol plays a major role in most restaurants’ profitability, making up on average about 30 percent of revenue, often more. In many New Orleans establishments, it’s reasonable to see a restaurant tab that includes $20 in food charges and an equal amount in alcohol. When a diner isn’t drinking alcohol, anything will be better for the restaurant’s bottom line than a glass of water. Increasingly, interesting liquid libations like kombucha, shrub, coffees, teas and premium mixers like Fevertree are being added to drink menus across town. Twelve Mile Limit owner T. Cole Newton said he has always made sure to include a big selection of non-alcoholic drinks like ginger beer to accompany the food served at his Mid-City craft cocktail bar, but a majority of his patrons still prefer something a bit stronger. “While the local drinking scene is beginning to examine their loosey-goosey attitude about alcohol,” he said, “our visitors are likely to continue to flock here for some of the legendary alcohol-laced behavior New Orleans has always been known for.” 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 strat i on by Ton y H eale 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.

Heads turned in the bar world last

summer when global liquor brand William Grant & Sons announced its annual opening night Tales of the Cocktail party would be “sans alcohol.” In the past, the brand giant behind names like Glenfiddich, Hendricks and Drambuie hosted extraordinary extravaganzas. The company’s 2011 party was legendary — held at the National World War II Museum, all 15 brands in their portfolio were featured and the event attracted 1,500 attendees… and a cow. No comment was available from the bovine guest, but the “World’s Freshest Ramos Gin Fizz” that she contributed to was a highlight of the evening. So why would a major player in the alcohol industry attempt a major event without alcohol? This year has seen a major focus shift at Tales, the industry’s biggest annual event. Neil Bodenheimer and Gary Solomon acquired the 16-yearold cocktail festival from founder Ann Tuennerman in late 2017, transforming it into the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation under the leadership of Caroline Rosen. “In the hospitality community, we spend all our time taking care of others and not ourselves,” Bodenheimer pointed out. “We intend to offer education in wellness along with the cutting-edge trends we’ve always promoted at Tales.” Needless to say, Bodenheimer was thrilled when William Grant’s director of brand advocacy, Charlotte Voisey, reached out to him about the new direction of the event. The independent, family-owned company had long been a Tales supporter, a relationship that had proved quite successful for brand promotion. In order to endorse the nonprofit’s new goals while providing thoughtful commentary on the state of the industry, the decision was made to make William Grant & Sons’ annual party alcohol-free. “It’s important for us to give bartenders – the backbone of the industry – a night before their seminars and social gatherings where the pressure to imbibe is lifted and meaningful conversations and relationships are forged,” said Voisey. The William Grant company hails from Great Britain, where a new type of cocktail revolution is in full swing. Latest studies reveal that one in five Brits are now teetotalers – the highest number in decades. Worldwide, health-conscious millennials


bizneworleans.com / 27


In The Biz to u r i s m

Finger Lickin’ Growing Pains National Fried Chicken Festival set to draw crowd in the hundreds of thousands by Jennifer Gibson Schecter

28 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

“When we come up with ideas at the company [Spears Group] and we think they’re good ideas, we take them on and make them happen,” he explained. “But we didn’t know what a good idea this was. There is incredible enthusiasm for this festival. People are excited to come out for it. Event merchandise is shipped nationally and people will buy merchandise a month out and wear it to the festival.” Those visitors from afar help sustain the New Orleans tourism industry. This year, Spears Group partnered with Sonder, a short-term rental company that creates “deconstructed hotels” for nightly and extended stays in New Orleans and other major international destinations. “We think this creates a great opportunity for families to travel to New Orleans and have additional space and additional square footage to have a family vacation,” said Spears. “We want to make sure our festival stays as innovative as possible.” Work is already underway for FCF 2019, and Spears shared that if things go according to plan, the event will add Friday — becoming a three-day annual festival held every third weekend of September. While a free festival, VIP tickets are available online for the Moët Chicken & Champagne VIP Lounge for $75 each day. Other free amenities include the AT&T Football Fan Zone, the Go NOLA Mist and Chill Lounge and a kid’s pavilion. Music over the course of two days will be a combination of live bands and DJs on three stages. There will also be the Rouses Sizzle Shack Cooking Demo stage where cooking demonstrations are planned with chefs Nino (Neil Thibodaux), Marc Ardoin and Ron Dupart. Collaborations are also planned with chefs Byron Bradley and Chris Okorie, Patty Morton and Cassidy Lewis, and Syrena Johnson and Alex Anderson. To see the full festival lineup, vendors and to purchase VIP tickets, visit friedchickenfestival.com. n

i llu strat i on by Ton y H eale 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 BizNewOrleans.com.

Fried chicken is one of those

perfect foods that can reflect the seasoning of any culture that cooks it, portioned as wings, legs, white meat or dark. The bits of breading that fly into your mouth upon your first bite, the steam that is released from perfectly cooked skin, the juxtaposition of textures as you chew… they all culminate into one perfect reason to join your brethren and attend the third annual National Fried Chicken Festival, Sept. 22 and 23. Building on the success of its sophomoreyear expansion to Woldenberg Park, the National Fried Chicken Festival (FCF) returns to the Mississippi riverfront this year, and Spears Group, the festival’s organizer, expects more than 200,000 attendees. “We are very grateful for the support we have gotten and we are proud to be such a fast-growing festival,” said Cleveland Spears III, FCF organizer and president/ CEO of the Spears Group, “but it comes with its own unique challenges. What we have been realizing is that our growth means our expenses are that of a major festival, but the sponsor community hasn’t yet attached the value on our festival that they have on older festivals.” Other free, local festivals, like French Quarter Festival and Bayou Boogaloo, have dealt with similar challenges. The lack of revenue from admission can burden the operating budget and creates a highly competitive field to secure sponsors, making it especially important for free festival attendees to abide by rules that prohibit outside food and drink. The money generated by vendors is critical to the ongoing success of an event. For a popular food event like FCF, there’s a vendor waiting list with over 100 restaurants on it. As of press time, more than 30 food vendors were secured, representing local fried chicken experts as well as vendors from Alabama, California, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Truly a national event, presenting sponsor Raising Cane’s is promoting FCF in its locations across the country and in national advertising. It even held a contest to give away seven trips for two to travel to New Orleans for the event. Spears said that both the growth and the response from attendees has been a huge surprise.


bizneworleans.com / 29


In The Biz sports

Yardage King It’s only a matter of exactly when Drew Brees will break the NFL’s career passing yardage record this season. by chris price

30 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

Now, about the touchdown record: Brees will likely need two seasons to toss the 51 touchdowns needed to catch Manning’s record of 539 TDs. He has averaged 32.8 touchdowns per year over the past five seasons, but last year he threw for 23 touchdowns, his lowest total as a Saint. Manning threw for a single season record of 55 TDs in 2013. Brees’ best was the 46 he threw in 2011. The greatest Saint will have competition for the career TD mark from the greatest Patriot. Brees and New England QB Tom Brady are tied with 488 career TDs. Father Time may play a role in which player can outlast the other. In March, Brees, 39, signed a two-year deal worth $50 million, and says he can play well into his 40s. Brady, 40, has two years left on his current contract, and also feels like he can play for a few more years, too. While individual records are great accomplishments, Brees’ focus is on the team winning. The Saints were one play away from the NFC championship last year. They have seemingly improved in the offseason, and will be expected to again be one of the best teams in the league. If the Saints continue to win, Brees’ numbers will take care of themselves. Only then may he change his focus from one to two — as in his second Super Bowl championship. n

by the numbers

Chasing Records

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is expected to become the NFL’s career leader in passing yards early this season and, possibly, the career touchdowns leader next year. NFL Passing Yards Career Leaders Rank Player Yards 1 Peyton Manning 2 Brett Favre 3 Drew Brees* 4 Tom Brady*

71,940 71,838 70,445 66,159

NFL Passing Touchdowns Career Leaders Rank Player TDs 1 Peyton Manning 2 Brett Favre 3 Tom Brady* Drew Brees* *Active player

539 508 488 488

i llu strat i on by Ton y H eale 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 BizNewOrleans.com.

Drew Brees is inching toward several

NFL records — including one he should capture in the early part of the 2018 season — but the Saints quarterback says he is only focused on one number: one — as in taking one week, one game and one play at a time. Brees is 1,496 passing yards shy of the NFL’s career passing record of 71,940 yards and 51 touchdowns short of the most in NFL history. Peyton Manning currently holds both records. An 11-time Pro Bowler, Brees has thrown for 4,000 or more yards every year that he has been with the Saints and averaged 4,905 passing yards per year over the past five seasons. So, assuming all goes as planned, the only question is how far into the season will it be before he breaks the yardage record? The NFL is betting on the first week in October. The league has scheduled the Saints’ Week 5 game at home against the Washington Redskins for a primetime, nationally televised, Monday-night game. That means he’ll need to average 299.2 yards in each of the first five games to break the record. Last year, with arguably the most balance between the passing and rushing game in his Saints career, Brees threw for 4,334 passing yards (270.9 per game), his lowest total since arriving in New Orleans in 2006. If those numbers hold, he’d need six games before he takes the record. There is a chance, although minimal, that he could do it before September ends. With running back Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, the offense’s balance may shift toward a heavier passing attack through the first quarter of the season. Still, Brees would need to average a hefty 374 yards per game to do so. It looks like the NFL has contingency plans should Brees reach the mark early or need a little more time than they planned for. The Saints’ fourth game at the New York Giants will be televised by CBS and start at 3:25 p.m., while game six will be at Baltimore, with a 3:05 start on Fox. The league usually has only a few teams scheduled for the late afternoon time slot, so if the record is on the line, the Saints games will likely be broadcast nationally.


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

NOFF Returns Clint Bowie, artistic director of the New Orleans Film Festival, shares the two films you cannot miss this October. by Kim Singletary

32 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

which means we want to see people in it that are representative of the community at large.” Those are the words of Clint Bowie, artistic director of the New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF), which celebrates its 29th year Oct. 17-25. Bowie says the diversity in the festival continues to grow every year. Of the over 220 films that will be showcased in locations around the city, 59 percent were directed by women or gender non-conforming individuals and 54 percent were directed by people of color. “Those are both stats that the festival is proud to embrace,” he says, noting that including more diversity behind the camera tends to lead to “richer, more representative and more diverse films.” Bowie has served as artistic director of NOFF since 2010 and says the New Orleans Film Society — producers of NOFF — has also worked hard to serve as a valuable resource for local filmmakers year-round. “Five years ago, we started our Emerging Voices program, which is designed for filmmakers of color based in Louisiana,” he says. “The program takes six to eight filmmakers at a time and provides them with one-on-one meetings with industry heavy-hitters.” In April of this year, the society debuted its Southern Producers Lab — a threeday intensive experience that offered 13 emerging producers from around the South with workshops, panels, one-onone mentoring sessions and communitybuilding opportunities that addressed issues including funding, sales and distribution, licensing and festival strategy. It’s free to apply for the lab, and applications will be accepted in November for the 2019 Southern Producers Lab. So, what are the must-sees at this year’s festival? From director Steve McQueen (not THAT Steve McQueen, the one that directed the 2013 Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave”) has a new film called “Widows.” “It’s about these widows of noted heist men that end up pulling off their own big heist,” says Bowie. “It’s obviously an action movie but with McQueen’s artistic eye. It’s on a lot of awards prognosticators’ radars.” Another of the festival’s highlights this year will be a documentary film called “Buckjumping.”

“It’s from director Lily Keber, whose film “Bayou Maharaja” closed out our 2013 festival [and went on to win the Oxford American Award for Best Southern Film and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ Documentary of the Year]. “The film focuses on second lines, so it’s New Orleans from start to finish,” he says. “Buckjumping” will be the first film NOFF has ever run at the Smoothie King Center. “It’s going to be huge,” Bowie says. “We’re expecting a really good turnout, and of course there’s going to be second lining.” Bowie says there’s a clear theme to this year’s festival. “We’re playing up the ties between New Orleans and the Caribbean a lot this year,” he says, “in part because of the city’s 300th anniversary. Our closing night film will actually be “A Tuba to Cuba,” which was directed by a local filmmaker named T.G. Herrington. The film follows the Preservation Hall Band as they retrace their roots.” Attendance for NOFF pulls from cities throughout the South, including Houston, Shreveport and Atlanta, drawing around 20,000 people last year. This year, Bowie says that number may climb a bit to 25,000. “Our hub is the Contemporary Arts Center, where we’ll have a VR showcase, music video lounge and interactive exhibits,” Bowie says. “We also have two venues there that seat 200 and 180 people.” NOFF will also be showcasing films at locations including the Prytania Theatre, The Broad Theater, The Orpheum Theater and for the second year at a 180-seat theater inside the new headquarters of The New Orleans Advocate on St. Charles Avenue. NOFF was recognized as one of the coolest festivals in the world in 2017 by MovieMaker Magazine, in part due to the festival’s nightly parties. “The only way to get into the parties is to buy a festival pass, so of course I recommend that,” Bowie says, “but we also sell individual tickets to films which will go on sale about two weeks out from the show.” For NOFF’s lineup and to purchase tickets, visit NewOrleansFilmSociety.org/Festival n

i llu strat i on by Ton y H eale 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.

“We see film as a tool with power,


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In The Biz entrepreneur ship

Are You Protected? 7 things entrepreneurs need to know about insurance. by keith twitchell

Entrepreneurism is exciting. Insurance,

not so much. But if you’re going to launch any kind of enterprise, it’s crucial to understand your insurance obligations and needs. So prop your eyelids open and stick with me as I cover the basics of entrepreneurial insurance.

1

Start before you start. “If you have

started a business and are now looking at insurance, you’re doing it backwards,” explains Tommy McMahon, president of Eustis Insurance. “You have insurance requirements as soon as you sign your first leasea or contract.” Virtually any business lease requires the lessee to have general liability insurance, including property, and possibly flood insurance. If you have leased an entire building, you may have to insure the building. McMahon advises going over any lease carefully with an attorney, a CPA and an insurance agent to make sure you have not left yourself at any kind of risk. Similarly, many contracts may include insurance clauses. These could range from performance bonds to environmental protection requirements to cyber-coverage.

2

Understand the bias. “Most contracts

are written by the party putting out the contract, and are written to that party’s favor,” noted McMahon. “Review all contracts carefully, and see if you can strike out anything that doesn’t apply.

3

There’s something for everyone

and everything . “Every little finger of the economy has specialized coverages,” McMahon points out, so regardless of what type of business you are in, there are likely insurance products related to it.

4

34 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

insurance trigger is hiring your first employee. The law requires any type of operation with employees to carry worker’s compensation insurance. As a business owner, you also may be liable for the actions of your employees while they are working for you. This could include an auto accident caused by someone on your staff while on the job. While you obviously need to maintain insurance for all vehicles your business may own – as well as boats, planes, helicopters, etc. – McMahon also

5

Don’t be interrupted. Another important type to consider is business interruption insurance. This assures a business can maintain a revenue stream in the event of a major event, like a fire or flood, that prevents business from being conducted for an extended period of time. Given the susceptibility of our region to hurricanes, this can truly save a business.

6

Rainy days call for an umbrella.

For each type of insurance you obtain, it’s essential that the amount of coverage protects you adequately. Especially for larger enterprises, McMahon suggests entrepreneurs obtain an umbrella policy on top of any basic policies to provide a wider coverage and go over and above the limits of other policies.

7

Get personal. Finally, entrepreneurs

should consider getting additional life insurance on themselves as part of protecting their enterprises. “When people start investing in you, life insurance is you protecting their investment,” adds Meredith Scott, an insurance producer for New York Life. “This can be especially important when the investors are family members.” In fact, some investors may require entrepreneurs to have life insurance. Even if your investors do not, having a policy establishes you as being a savvy, prepared business person. There are several different types of life insurance, and you can often tailor the product to your needs as a business owner. Business partners may also want to have life insurance coverage on each other; and you may want to consider insuring key members of your staff whose contributions would be extremely difficult to replace. Insurance may be boring, but in a way, that’s the point: if you encounter some kind of major problem in your business life, you’ll have enough excitement without having to worry about financial losses too. n

i llu strat i on by Ton y H eale 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.

Employees = Liability. Another key

advises getting insurance to cover accidents caused by vehicles you don’t own but that are used in the course of doing business.


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In The Biz etiquet te

Conference Confidence Four tips for tackling your next industry gathering with professionalism, grace and style. by Melanie Warner Spencer

Perhaps you are attending your

first business conference this fall or winter, or maybe it’s one of many in your career. Either way, there are certain things to keep in mind that will ensure that your time away from the office, and maybe away from the state, is well spent. Start by notifying clients and coworkers that you’ll be out of town, providing instructions in the case of urgent issues and emergencies and, of course, setting your away message.

1

Don’t Rely on Freebies It’s likely that

the organizers of your conference will offer a tote bag, which may include useful items like pens and maybe a (too small) notepad, but in conferences, as in life, there are no guarantees. “Don’t assume there will be a decent notebook in your swag bag,” writes leadership coach and communications strategist Anna Kornick, on her blog “The Leadership Note.” “You’ll lose random pieces of paper in a flash, and the margins of conference agendas never have enough room to get down all the good stuff.” Kornick recommends bringing a notebook to dedicate solely to the conference in order to avoid being that attendee — the poor soul constantly scrambling to borrow materials at the beginning of every session. Being prepared ensures that you can focus from start to finish and that you won’t distract your fellow attendees or the presenters.

2

36 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

its own norms and expectations when it comes to attire, so if in doubt, do your research — don’t be afraid to ask colleagues who may have attended the conference before, or even conference organizers about appropriate attire for specific activities. When in doubt, dress up (formal business attire) rather than down (business casual or casual).

4

Bring Your Manners and Good

Sense At all meals — from a casual breakfast buffet to a formal, seated dinner — make sure your best table manners are on display. If you don’t know the basics, review them prior to the conference (Emilypost.com has everything you need to know). At meals and cocktail receptions, avoid drinking too much. If you aren’t confident of your willpower, but don’t want to draw attention to the fact that you are abstaining, stick with club soda and a lime or some other mocktail. This also applies to when you are unsure of how “New Orleans acceptable” levels of drinking relate to what the rest of the country finds appropriate at a work function. Pro tip: It’s much lower elsewhere! (Think one or two.)

More than anything, remember that from the moment you step on the plane, throughout the entire conference — even in your free time — to the moment you disembark from the aircraft back at home, you are a representative of your company and are expected to get as much out of the experience as possible. As such, while bowing out of a couple of irrelevant sessions is probably OK, skipping too many is frowned upon. This doesn’t mean you can’t schedule downtime to rest and recharge, but be mindful of the reason you are there in the first place and plan accordingly. n

i llu strat i on by Ton y H eale 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 Melanie@MyNewOrleans.com.

In many cases, not everyone in your office who could benefit from the conference is able to attend. For this reason, Kornick advises scheduling a post-conference meeting or lunch-and-learn with colleagues. “This meeting or presentation should take place within two weeks of your return,” she writes. “Having something on the calendar before you leave — and then sticking to it when you return — ensures that you are accountable to sharing your experience.” She says to include an overview and purpose of conference, key takeaways, personal action items and deadlines, team action items and deadlines. Share the Wealth

3

Dress to Impress Every industry has


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In The Biz marketing

Don’t be an IHOP To rebrand or not to rebrand. by Julia carcamo

38 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

It feels like I’m hearing this more and more. That, and the recent publicity stunt by International House of Pancakes (IHOP), has emphasized a need for a little Brand 101. Let’s start with the basics. Why rebrand? Years ago, I was leading the brand development of a 20-year-old regional company. We had started working through some rebranding and refreshment of the company’s existing products, and we were introducing new products that customers were receiving well. Emboldened by this success, I felt the next step would be to rebrand the whole company. I bravely broached the topic with the chairman. He was thoughtful for a moment before replying, “When this company is a different company,” he said, “you can rebrand it.” Lesson learned ... again. I had been drunk on rebranding and had forgotten what a brand really was. Like most effective marketing efforts, success will depend on whether your desire to rebrand is grounded in your overall strategy. Some good reasons to rebrand include: • The company or product has simply changed and no longer matches the same brand promise as it once did. • The customer profile has changed, and the existing brand no longer resonates with the same strong bond as before. Dated brands (or operations) that may be past their prime can find renewed life, which can drive additional dollars from existing customers and hopefully draw new customers. • A new addition to the existing portfolio may “fit” better if it is part of a newer, fresher brand. • A business is blending in with everyone else and needs to differentiate itself in a way that its current brand is not accomplishing. Of course, there are times when the draw of something new and the hope that it will make a difference rule the day and strategy is tossed aside. A few not-great reasons to rebrand include: • New ownership or a new management team has come in and they want to make a change. • A company is looking to spice things up a little — create some news. • The idea that, “We’ve got money; let’s do something different.”

• Someone has come up with an idea for a publicity stunt. I’m looking at you, IHOP. Earlier this year, the well-loved IHOP announced it would soon have big news, teasing it with a graphic that turned the “P” in their logo to a “B”. The company continued the tease by replacing the letters in many of their tweets. After many guesses, the company announced it would be changing its name to IHOB. However, the joke was on us. It turns out that the company just wanted to tell everyone about their presumably brand-worthy burgers. They claimed it was just a publicity stunt, but although the original set of tweets received a very high engagement rate, the subsequent announcement received barely over 300 likes compared to the 45,000 likes the announcement received. In fact, the @IHOB account never really caught on. The lesson here is that any step away from your core brand for the sake of causing a stir can often backfire. Existing loyal customers think you’re taking something away from them. Potential new targets will evaluate you against what they already know. Frankly, you can grab a burger on practically every other block, but you know what’s harder to get? Pancakes any time of the day that you want them. That is the IHOP brand. Before you can put a new name on something, you need to be ready to deliver something new, not just the same thing with a new name. Sometimes that delivery requires significant investment beyond the development of a logo, such as new signage, updating marketing materials, new uniforms, training, etc. If you do have a good reason to rebrand, however, these would be my five steps to success: • Set measurable goals aligned with the business strategies and determine a baseline measurement. • Review your brand presence and develop your rollout project list. • Research customers, the market and the competition. • Develop creative elements, test and retest in an iterative fashion using focus groups and/or online surveys. • Launch your new brand and review your efforts.n

i llu strat i on by Ton y H eale 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 jcarcamoassociates.com and espnola.com.

“We’re thinking of rebranding.”


hot topics in southeast Louisiana industries

perspectives insurance  / banking & finance  /  Real Estate & Construction  /  GUEST VIEWPOINT

Is your business prepared for the changes in marijuana legality?


Perspectives insur ance

The Changing Benefits Landscape A look at what employees value most and some options you may not have thought about. by Kim Roberts

The goal for almost every employer

is to offer benefits that increase employee satisfaction, productivity and loyalty, as well as to attract candidates to their company. How to do this, however, is consistently changing. Aside from the commonly expected health plans, more “outside the box” options are creeping into the marketplace. According to U.S. News and World Report, health care is just one aspect of the everevolving employee benefit offerings in 2018. The publication cites that student loans are a major topic of interest for workers, especially millennials, and as a result, a small but growing number of employers are offering or considering student loan assistance. According to a 2017 survey by Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 4 percent of SHRM members offer this perk, and that percentage is expected to grow by the end of the year. But how do these benefits rank in importance to employees? Ryan Rodrigue, vice president of sales and administration at Hollis Companies, said that in his experience, local employees tend to rank benefits in the following order of importance: 1) healthcare benefits, (i.e. medical, dental, vision, life, short-term

42 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

Did You Know? The Student Loan Repayment Assistance Act, a bill introduced to the U.S. House and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on Jan. 3, would entitle employers to a 10 percent tax credit on any payments made to an employee’s student loan (not to exceed $500 per month, per employee).

disability and long-term disability); 2) paid time off; 3) paid leave and paid vacation; 4) 401K plan, retirement plan or pension; flexible hours/work-from-home potential; and 5) loan and tuition assistance. Rodrigue added that local employers are getting more creative with their benefits to attract and retain their employees. “We are seeing an increase in non-traditional benefits such as loan and tuition assistance, flexible work hours, working remotely, on-site gyms, a pet-friendly work area, etc.,” he said. “A lot of employers in New Orleans are following the broader trend of allowing for greater flexibility for their employees as it relates to working remotely or telecommuting.” When it comes to employer-assisted student loan programs, there are a few different ways that employers can participate. Employers can pay money directly

toward the employees’ student loans, or provide access to third parties that can offer a lower interest rate on a refinanced student loan. The Student Loan Repayment Assistance Act, a bill introduced to the U.S. House and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on Jan. 3, would entitle employers to a 10 percent tax credit on any payments made to an employee’s student loan (not to exceed $500 per month, per employee), similar to how medical care is tax-deductible for the employer. Kelly Daul, insurance producer with Daul Insurance, says it takes a while for benefits trends to reach New Orleans companies. “That’s not a bad thing,” says Daul. “We can see how the trendy things play out in other parts of the country before we implement them here. For example, employers


bizneworleans.com / 43


in larger cities like San Francisco or New York have been allowing their employees to dress casually and work remotely for a while, and we are seeing that more and more now in our city. While working remotely might be trendy, it is really only practical for certain types of businesses, like maybe a sales position, or larger companies. Municipalities would not really lend themselves to this sort of trend.” Gates Skene, personal risk adviser at Ross and Yerger Insurance in Metairie, says he sees more and more companies offering the ability to work remotely. “It gives the employee the opportunity to take care of things that would otherwise cause them to miss work,” he says. “Some examples would be to be at home with sick children, wait on a repairman, travel, etc.” One thing that is becoming broadly practiced, says Daul, are flexible work hours, such as establishing 10-hour workdays with every Friday off. “I’ve even heard of employers that had flextime where employees can set their own hours,” he said. “For example, if the office is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., employees could work from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. depending upon their personal needs and job demands.” Daul adds that a big change he’s seen over the last several years is companies providing employees with online access to their benefits and access to health education that ties in with wellness programs. Wellness programs are popular and have been around for several years. Programs can include group exercise, gym membership, biometric screenings, nutrition seminars and incentive programs. “Wellness programs can be relatively inexpensive for the employer,” says Skene. “Employees can be challenged to eat better, workout, drink water and sleep.” Programs don’t have to be costly and can provide the employer with an opportunity to get creative. “Every employee at Ross and Yerger has the ability to take 30 minutes twice a week to invest in their physical health,” says Skene. “This is good for mental health as well as physical health. Healthy employees are more likely to be engaged at work, and an employee that feels valued and invested in will be more loyal.” “It’s common for an employer-sponsored medical insurance to have a wellness benefit or wellness program that can be available through the insurance carrier at little to no cost to the employer and their employees,” adds Rodrigue. n

top 5

Benefit Trends to Watch in 2018 1. Ensuring Loyalty in an Era of Automation

72%

of Americans are worried about a future where robots and computers are capable of performing many human jobs — more than double the 33 percent of people who are enthusiastic about it.

75%

of employees say that the ability to choose their benefits keeps them loyal to their employers. 2. Financial Planning

over 50%

of employees say that financial-planning programs are important for increasing loyalty to their employers. Medical + voluntary + financial wellness benefits = the new formula for engaged employees. 3. Greater Personalization

33%

of employees feel their employers’ benefits adequately address their lives and personal situations 4. Partnerships Seamless integration among carriers, brokers, third-parties and employers will be a necessary focus as the benefits ecosystem continues to expand. 5. Data Security

4 out of 5

brokers are concerned about employee data security. Cyber threats have small business owners concerned, with the most recent Small Business Index from MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showing nearly 2/3 are concerned about a cyber attack. Source: BenefitNews.com; MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study

44 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


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Perspectives banking & finance

Should You Be a B Corp? If you believe in doing good, not just doing well, this distinction may be for you. by Ari Goldfarb

New Orleans is hosting the international

B Corp Champions Retreat with events around the city from September 25 to 27. During this three-day event, hundreds of B Corp leaders from around the world gather as members of the “B Economy,” described on the event’s website as “part of a broader global movement of people using business as a force for good.” But what is a B Corp? People, Profit, Planet: These are the three Ps that define what it means to be a B Corp. If you’re a B Corp, it means that your organization believes that making a living is important, but it shouldn’t be the only important thing. It’s the idea that business owners should hold themselves accountable to not just create a successful service or product, but also make a conscious effort to improve the world. B Corp offers a community for those same do-gooders who are interested in joining a movement where doing the right thing and earning an autonomous revenue stream aren’t mutually exclusive; in fact, it may be more beneficial for your cause, which does not have to be grand. Maybe you just want to create a unique work environment where employees have the opportunity to purchase equity in the company, or offer educational opportunities to your community. Being a B Corp is about “using business as a force for good (tm).” If you have a passion, outside of grossing the largest bottom line possible, chances are you can make B Corp. work for you. An example of a B Corp leading its industry is the retailer Patagonia, which is also a registered public benefit corporation. Patagonia has a passion for environmental preservation and sells adventures in the local and global environment. Consumers go to their stores or shop online because

46 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

they want to enjoy the natural wonders of the world. By making it their mission to protect the environment, such as donating all Black Friday sales to charity, Patagonia not only created a loyal consumer base, it established itself as a global leader in its industry. Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s became a B Corp in 2012 and has kept social and environmental responsibility at the forefront of its mission. The company’s values are based on being a good citizen of the world, offering a product that not only tastes great, but also serves a greater purpose.

If you visit the company’s website, you see the company’s values page right at the top, where it breaks down all the causes the owners have contributed to, both financially and physically. Not only has Ben & Jerry’s been used as a force for good in the fights for racial justice, climate change, refugee rights and fair trade, the company is also thriving. Revenues tripled from 2000 to 2015 and have yet to show signs of slowing down. Nonprofits are important, but many people who consider operating their own nonprofit haven’t considered pursuing their venture as a


for-profit, and have possibly underestimated the ease of receiving funding. On top of that, many nonprofits that exist today overlap their mission with another already existing organization. Rather than working together to achieve their goal, they siphon funds from the same pool. B Lab is a nonprofit organization responsible for assessing candidates seeking B Corp certification, which requires meeting rigorous standards. B Lab will test a business’s social responsibility, environmental consciousness, transparency and accountability. Are these businesses good neighbors? Do they make the world a better place by existing? Becoming a B Corp comes with unique benefits not seen in other philanthropic ventures. For example, you have to be a for-profit entity, meaning you are entering a world of competition and carving out your own niche. The good news is that you control your own destiny. This business distinction provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to network with a vast web of global movers and shakers. It offers a unique marketing opportunity for people who share similar values, but it cannot be used solely for marketing. You have to truly believe in the mission of using private market power for good. When filling out the pre-assessment to see if a B Corp certification is for your company, you have to ask yourself as a business owner questions about your company’s culture, and if you should implement certain strategies to not only improve your core mission, but also your brand and product. You shouldn’t just become a B Corp to capitalize on a trend. There have always been entrepreneurs who put their mission and values at the same level as profits. The best place to start is with the simple questions asked in Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great.” In it, he encourages business leaders to ask themselves questions like, “What am I passionate about? What can I be the best in the world at? What drives my economic engine?’”” Becoming a B Corp will take work; it will require meetings with your team, friends and partners to figure out what your mission is and what you want your company’s impact to be. It may even make you consider your legacy, which can be a terrifying thought, but if you commit to the idea, you join a community of entrepreneurs who went through the same journey you did, who want to leave the world a better place, and who want to help others who share their same values. For more information on B Corps, visit bcorporation.net n

Ari Goldfarb is the vice president and COO of Follow the Hummingbird Consulting. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland and is completing his master’s degree in economics at the University at Buffalo. Follow him on LinkedIn for daily advice on growing a small business linkedin.com/in/ rkgold.

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Perspectives R e a l E s tat e & Co n s t r u c t i o n

What’s the Plan? A commercial general contractor shares his views on the pros and cons of “back-of-thenapkin” sketches. by Ryan D. Mayer

I’m the owner of a small commercial New

Orleans general contracting firm and now and again, I get asked what I like about my job. My response is something along the lines of how I like all the different personalities that comes along with doing construction business. I especially like the challenges inherent in communicating with them all. In other words, I must successfully get through to the grumbling ditch-digging plumber in the dog heat of August and then an hour later convince the manicured developer’s banker to see my point of view. The personalities run the gamut, and I like wearing the different hats. This sentiment is, no doubt, shared across countless industries. The important part of it for me, as a business owner, is the effective communication part. As a small commercial contractor, I am obliged to chase and secure business that sometimes begs for effective communication. What happens is that scope of work definition can sometimes be unclear. Much of our work — just as, I imagine, much of my competitors’ work — falls into this grey area of scope definition. Often, clients come to us with sketches in lieu of architectural plans, underdeveloped plans (plans ready for permit but not much else), written scope sheets or marked-up real estate marketing material. If we establish the premise that good architectural plans equal scope definition, then good architectural plans mean effective communication. Now, it would be all good and well to eschew the clients with back-of-the-napkin sketches and only seek work with fully-developed, coordinated stamped drawings, full specifications and a few

48 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

nice renderings, but then I would eschew more than half of my client base. On top of that, most of these clients are a delight to work for, and conventional scope definition must be attempted to established by other means. But forget the “can-do” attitude for a minute and think of the last project you had with your contractor (residential or otherwise). Was your project small enough that it didn’t necessarily warrant a full set of architectural plans? In a way, that’s a good, economical approach to starting a small project. Did you seek competitive bids? How so without plans? Did the cheaper contractor have you covered? Did the more expensive contractor provide good coverage but interpreted some scope too broadly (read: expensively to cover him or herself)? Did the permit process go well? Were there many dreadful change orders? Ok. Before this turns into a gripe-fest, let me say again, that often projects with “light” plans

can go really well — the client is happy, the contractor is paid, you get the idea. But are there other effective means of communication that can develop an airtight scope of work definition? In my experience, it is most helpful to share with a client an itemized list or budget and (hopefully they read it) during bidding and throughout the work. I think this is probably how work normally is accounted for in residential projects. An itemized budget in commercial work is helpful to be sure, but still can leave room for interpretation — it is written by the contractor after all. Meeting minutes help (again, typically written by the contractor). Inclusions and exclusions on a proposal are written by the contractor. Certain types of contracting (Cost Plus/Open Book) may not define scope exactly, but certainly can provide accounting information. I wonder if it’s impossible sometimes, but I certainly can’t and won’t stop trying to help the


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“napkin sketch” client. Even to call them that dismisses what two parties can accomplish if they agree on the contents of the napkin. My company has successfully completed more than a few Magazine Street boutiques, Metairie office renovations, French Quarter condominiums and common area improvements, medical and wellness centers re-dos, even HGTV television shows on light drawings or no drawings at all. Most are for repeat and/ or satisfied clients. We have also successfully completed competitive work for customers who have commissioned full, coordinated sets of plans, and even those projects were not without construction or communication issues. Every project (good plans or bad) has construction and communication issues. As a commercial contractor familiar with working a project both ways, I admit that it is preferable to have a decent set of plans. Here’s the Goldilocks moment though: Good plans can yield a higher bid from my office (to account for everything). Good plans mean a level playing field for bidding contractors but may sticker-shock a client. Bad plans can yield one of two things from my office: 1) a high bid (to assume to account for everything) or 2) a low bid that may leave the client without coverage of scope (by assuming too little). Recently, my company dealt with a scope definition issue at a project in Uptown. The project was mainly a finishes renovation for a commercial facility. The contract was based on a marked-up floorplan and a set of ownerprovided notes. We either misinterpreted an item on the notes or were unclear in our inclusions/exclusions regarding a minor finishes item that the owner expected. Now we have to talk about money. Money is lost in a situation like this. So…what to do? You can’t rely on a “what we talked about” recall of a conversation. You can build a case for your point of view; you can review the documents you do have; you can fuss and fight; you can acquiesce, take the hit and get the job done. Our course of action in this situation was to defer to the relationship we have or are establishing with that owner. It usually boils down to that anyway, doesn’t it? At my company, my staff and I will talk about lessons learned. We will always try not to avoid a trap we’ve fallen into before. I certainly will not be walking away from clients with light drawings. I think we excel at projects with light drawings oftentimes. If there is a lesson to be learned, then the lesson is a “get on the same page,” “everything in writing” kind of lesson. Those are platitudes and those are impossible. The next best thing is never to stop trying for effective communication. n 50 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

Ryan D. Mayer has been in the commercial construction industry for over 16 years. After 7 years in commercial construction in Manhattan, Mayer moved home and started Mayer Building Company in 2009. MBC is a New Orleans builder and general contractor offering commercial construction, historic renovations and specializing in office, retail, medical facility and restaurant build outs.


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Perspectives gu e s t v i e w p o i n t

Employment Drug Testing Policies: Up in Smoke? What business needs to know about the changing marijuana landscape. by E. Fredrick Preis, Jr. and Rachael Jeanfreau

As state laws on marijuana use continue

to change, employers are left wondering how such laws may affect their workplace drug-testing policies. While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, recent news from Washington indicates that President Trump may eventually abandon his administration’s previous anti-marijuana stance and instead let states decide whether to legalize the drug. Currently, more than 30 states have passed laws authorizing (to varying degrees) the use of marijuana for medical purposes; the District of Columbia and nine states have laws allowing the recreational use of marijuana, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. In addition, some states now prohibit discrimination against employees that have and use medical marijuana registration cards. In light of these contradictions between federal and state laws, it is easy to see why employers have questions. The Laws as They Stand Now Under federal law,

marijuana remains a prohibited schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, and this past January, the attorney general rescinded previous Obama-era guidance, which had established a policy of non-interference with pro-marijuana state laws. However, this past June, President Trump indicated that he may break with his administration’s previous policy and support a new bill allowing states to decide whether or not to legalize marijuana.

52 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

To add to the confusion, medical marijuana laws can vary significantly state-by-state. Some states allow the use of medical marijuana in very limited circumstances, while others permit much more diverse uses. Some allow the vaping or inhalation of the drug, while others permit only the use of cannabis-infused products, such as oils or pills. In Louisiana, the medical marijuana landscape is developing rapidly. Gov. John Bel Edwards recently signed two new bills expanding the list of qualifying conditions for which licensed doctors may recommend marijuana to include

autism, PTSD and intractable pain. This is in addition to previously qualifying conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease and epilepsy. Further, the state’s legislature has authorized the agriculture centers at Louisiana State University and Southern University to grow the marijuana plants from which medicines will be extracted. Nine marijuana dispensaries have so far been licensed, and the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners is licensing physicians interested in recommending therapeutic cannabis.


What Are AN Employer’s Obligations? If and when issues involving employee marijuana use arise, it is important for employers to check state and local laws, as some states prohibit employers from discriminating based on an individual’s status as a qualified medical marijuana user. Last year, the highest court in Massachusetts held that employers may be required to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana outside work, although the employer maintained a drug-free workplace policy. Therefore, before disciplining an employee based on a positive marijuana drug test, employers should confirm that they are in compliance with state laws, which may require a reasonable accommodation, particularly for the use of medical marijuana while the employee is off the clock. In addition, if an employer is dealing with an employee who is recovering from a drug addiction, the individual may be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the employer may have an obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee in recovery. Although state laws on medical and recreational marijuana may vary greatly, the following are a few guidelines for Louisiana employers: • Employers are not required to allow or accommodate marijuana use that happens at work, even if the employee has a “physician recommendation form” for medical marijuana. • Employers may discipline employees who use or who are under the influence of marijuana while on the job. • Employers should continue to comply with applicable federal drug-testing regulations that may require testing for certain safetysensitive positions, as well as any applicable drug-related requirements in government contracts. In light of these recent developments, employers should revisit their drug and alcohol policies. In addition, companies may want to consider whether a zero-tolerance policy best suits their business or whether, depending on the employer’s culture and hiring needs, it may be more advantageous to shift away from such policies and focus on employees’ work performance and impairment while on the job. To successfully adapt their business operations to these complex laws and minimize their risk of liability, employers should consult with experienced labor and employment counsel. n

E. Fredrick Preis, Jr. and Rachael Jeanfreau are attorneys in the Labor & Employment Section of the Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson law firm, which represents management. They can be reached at fred. preis@bswllp.com and rachael.jeanfreau@ bswllp.com.

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54 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


Leslie’s

Graduation The woman who reinvented New Orleans’ educational landscape, Leslie Jacobs is now focused on the city’s workforce problems. By Kim Singletary Portraits by Jeffery Johnston

Leslie Jacobs is a successful businesswoman.

Along with her brother, Steven Rosenthal, and her dad, Stan Rosenthal, she helped transform her family’s small, independent insurance agency, the Rosenthal Agency, into one of the largest insurance agencies in the state of Louisiana, and one of the top 100 in the nation. But what Jacobs is most known for is her work not in insuring clients, but in ensuring the future success of her home state as an award-winning

education reform advocate that in 2011 earned recognition from Forbes magazine as one of the seven most powerful educators on the planet. Jacobs served on the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) from 1996 to 2008, during which she was a key driver in instituting school accountability. Louisiana began giving scores to schools in 1999, five years before “No Child Left Behind” was introduced on the national level. She was also critical in the development of the Recovery School District. Created by a constitutional amendment passed in 2003, the RSD was charged with managing schools that had been failing for five or more years. At the time the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, RSD was managing five schools, all charter schools from Orleans Parish. Post-Katrina, the Recovery School District legislation was amended, and as it applied to New Orleans, it created the obligation for BESE to take over any school that was below the state average. In Orleans Parish, that included all but a handful of schools. Jacobs also worked to recruit quality charter school operators, like the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). New Orleans currently has the largest percentage of charter schools in the nation — all but two schools are charter as of this fall. The result of these efforts, according to a report published in July by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, was improvement in “the quantity, quality and equity of schooling in the city on almost every available measure,” including average test scores, high school graduation rates and both college attendance and graduation rates. With all she has accomplished in the educational arena, however, Jacobs stresses that she is a businesswoman first, and as such is concerned with the city’s workforce issues. After decades spent working in the K-12 realm, her attention is now turned to post-secondary problems. Three years ago, she formed her latest nonprofit venture (following 504Ward and Educate Now), a program called Youth Force NOLA that is dedicated to ensuring New Orleans’ youth know all the options available to them and how to get where they want to be.

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56 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


Favorite Book? “Lord of the Rings” Favorite TV Show? “Downton Abbey” Biggest life lesson learned? Go narrow. Go deep. To have impact, pick one thing and do it well. Best advice ever received? Do your homework. There were many days early in my career when I was the youngest person or the only woman in the room. A mentor advised me that credibility and influence would come from knowledge and preparation. Hobbies? Biking, hiking and reading. Daily habits? Tab: I drink two a day. Pet peeve(s)? People who are chronically late. What are you most looking forward to in the next year? Helping to launch a new nonprofit, Belltower, that will focus on improving economic and life outcomes for New Orleans public school graduates.

I believe our K-12 education system in New Orleans is doing a significantly better job graduating students with the numeracy and literacy they need to succeed in the workplace.

Biz You are known for your work in education, but

your first big foray into trying to solve problems through public policy actually came in worker’s comp reform. Can you talk about that a little? Leslie Jacobs The worker’s comp crisis was crippling businesses in the late ’80s and early ’90s. At the time, my father had died and I was president of Rosenthal Agency. There were three bills filed in the legislature to try and fix things. One was filed by then-Senator Mike Foster, one was filed by then-Representative Charlie Melançon, who went on to become a U.S. congressman, and one was filed by then-Senator Larry Bankston, who went to prison. So, I was in my office — I was, I think, 31 or 32 — and I’m reading these bills and I’m thinking, ’What are these guys doing? They will shut down business in Louisiana!’ So, I ended up working through LABI [with Clark Cosse] during which I went to Baton Rouge and walked into one of those backroom meetings they had before they renovated the Senate, and they had, at the front table, the three authors of the bills, Bankston, Foster and Melançon, and some other people. There was also a woman lobbyist named Phyllis Perron — we were the only two women in a room that had probably about 100 people, and I was the youngest by many years, and I think I was the only person who actually knew the insurance industry. Everybody else were lobbyists and staff members for various legislators, and by the end of the meeting, people are asking a question and I would be answering it. At the end, they picked Mike Foster’s bill to proceed, and he called me over. He said, “Go fix my bill.” That’s how I met Mike Foster, and I like to say that Clark Cosse and I gave birth to the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Corporation on my dining room table. I basically worked on all the real mechanics of how this thing would work and left intact the politics of who’s on the board. Then when Foster went on to become governor, he made certain that I ended up on the board of the LWCC when it was formed, and the formation of the LWCC really solved Louisiana’s worker’s comp crisis. We had to pass a constitutional amendment because it was backed with the full faith and credit of the state when we did it. And that was my christening, so to say. Trial by fire. So how did you get involved in education? I know you’re a parent of two daughters. Is that why you got involved? LJ I was 23, 24 years old, had a young child and was working full-time and was pretty isolated and wanted to get involved in something. I went looking for something to do, and I ended up choosing to become a business partner in the Partners in Education Program, which was offered by the Orleans Parish School Board. So my brother and I became a busiBiz

ness partner of an elementary school, which at the time was Laurel Elementary School, on Jackson Avenue — it is now SciTech. We were very engaged business partners. I went on to chair the Partners in Education Committee city-wide, and I was recruited to run for the school board by some business executives. Knowing what I know today about politics, if I had known, I would have said I was unelectable. Biz Yes, you ran, and won for the school board as a

newcomer in a majority African American district. How did that happen? LJ It was a very defining experience for me. I knocked on doors. I walked the housing projects, and in walking, it was very soon clear to me that whether it was a single, poor, black mother or an affluent mother, people wanted the same things for their children — a good education. I was elected to the board feeling this amazing sense of responsibility that I needed to improve schools. My journey in education really started, or was framed by so much of that sense of responsibility, to the voters who elected me because I won in a district where I wasn’t supposed to win. People put their faith in me and I needed to deliver. Biz A recent report by Education Research Alliance

praised New Orleans’ educational changes postKatrina, which you were obviously integral in creating. Do you think our schools are good? How would you define a good school? LJ There are two ways to measure a school: one is how do kids perform academically on any given day? That’s measuring student performance. That is a very fair way to judge a school. Another way to judge a school is to measure how well the adults in the building are doing educating children. That’s called a growth model. So, if I have a student who comes in four grade levels behind, I may be an amazing teacher, but they’re not going to score well on those tests. So, I want to measure the improvement. How much academic gains did that student make in a school year? Louisiana is a very poor state. It has a very high minority population relative to the country, and so we have lower performing subgroups in our state, which means we will perform poorly nationally. I mean, we just do, and it’s the same thing if you take a school that’s serving all low-income, minority youth, and you take a school that’s serving all middle class or above youth with you know, two parent, college educated households, you can almost predict the wide variance in school that’s irrespective of how good the teaching is in either school. So, before Katrina, if you looked at how New Orleans students performed compared to the state, we performed the best closest to the state averages

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What would you say we need to do going forward? If Louisiana isn’t changing as far as poverty levels, do we have a chance to bridge the gap? LJ We have to do more than what we’re doing because in today’s world, the goal isn’t just education, the goal is that our students have good life outcomes, and part of that is earning a living wage and being able to support your family and breaking the generations of poverty. So, what I’m focused on, in this next chapter of my life, is really how do we improve the post-secondary outcome for our high school students? How do we connect? How do we better prepare them for the world of work and how to navigate that world of work? How do we have options, where if they choose this option after high school, their odds of success are greater than their odds of failure? In the state of Louisiana, the six-year graduation rate is below 50 percent for African American students at every college in Louisiana. So, if a student chooses to go to a Louisiana institution right now, and they take on all of this debt, their odds of success are less than their odds of failure. We have to improve those options. We have to make it so that they can go on to post-secondary and their likelihood of success is much higher. Ideally, they can do it with a lot less debt. Or, if they start college and it’s not for them or they don’t go to college, they know how to go find a job, other than a minimum wage service job. Because there are tons and tons of jobs in our regional market where people can earn a good wage and not need a four-year degree. I think there’s a report that shows that overwhelmingly, the jobs that will be created in the next decade are middle skill jobs that require some post-secondary education, but not a four-year degree. I believe our K-12 education system in New Orleans is doing a significantly better job graduating students with the numeracy and literacy they need to succeed in the workplace. But many of our graduates are coming from generational poverty, and they haven’t learned the other components that one needs to navigate the work force successfully.

Hurricane Katrina and the beginning of school reforms

Biz

Can you talk about your past experience in workforce development a bit? Biz

58 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

SOURCE: “The Effects of the New Orleans Post-Katrina Markey-Based Schol Reforms on Student Achievement, High School Graduation and College Outcomes” Education Alliance for New Orleans, July 15, 2018

in third grade and furthest from the state with our high school students. The longer we had them, the further behind from the state average they got because we were not achieving a full academic year of growth in an academic year. Today, if you look at the performance, we are closest to the state’s average at high school. It’s the inverse. We are catching kids up. And so we do better, compared to the state, in our end product than in the early years. Before Katrina, it was the reverse.

Hurricane Katrina and the beginning of school reforms

LJ When I began getting active in GNO, Inc., I chaired

their regional workforce efforts for a number of years. When I was on the State Board of Education, I chaired the high school redesign efforts. I have spent a lot of my life trying to bridge the silos between the employment sector and the education sector in order to get a trained work force. People talk a lot about the need for “soft skills” —teaching our youth things like how to show up on time and how to speak with customers, but you say it’s about more than that? LJ Soft skills is too simple. For example, If I have a friend whose son dropped out of college, for whatever reason, they’ll go to me and they’ll go to their peers and they’ll say, ’You know of any jobs?’ And that young person will get in a middle wage job. However, when a poor kid, who’s got the academics, drops out of college and goes to his friends and family for help getting a job, he lands in a minimum wage job. It’s the connectivity — the resiliency to understand that you have all these skills and knowing how to pivot. Biz

You’ve run a few nonprofits before, 504Ward and Educate Now, but your most recent endeavor is called YouthForce NOLA. Can you talk a little about that? Biz

Post-Katrina... Student achievement, measured by test scores, improved by 8-16 percentiles. High school graduation rates increased by 3-9 percentage points. College entry rates grew by 8-15 percentage points. College persistence, which refers to students who completed at least two years of college, increased by 4-7 percentage points. College graduation improved 3-5 percentage points.


Leslie Jacobs’ entire career has married business and educational efforts. Included in her resume is the following: Orleans Parish School Board (1992-1996), State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (1996-2008), Founder of nonprofit 504Ward (2008) – effort to retain young professionals in New Orleans, Founder of nonprofit Educate Now (2008) – effort to maintain and expand reforms in Orleans Parish schools, Past Chair of GNO, Inc., Vice Chair of New Orleans Business Alliance, Vice Chair of New Orleans Business Council, CEO of the New Orleans Startup Fund, Board leadership on Young Leadership Council, CBNO/ MAC and The Idea Village

Yes, I am now chairman of YouthForce NOLA, which is a nonprofit focused on working with high schools and high school students to better prepare them for the world of work. Part of what we’re doing is trying to broaden our students’ understanding of what career options are out there for them. In the New Orleans area, we have a tremendous number of opportunity youth — kids age 16 to 24, not working and not in school. A majority of our opportunity youth are high school graduates with some college. The fact is that they don’t know how to navigate the world when they’re done with their academics. As an example, one of our high school grads went to LSU on TOPS, but life interfered and he couldn’t stay. This young man has a 23 ACT in math and he’s bagging groceries at Walmart. I would say that young person has a lot more potential to earn a good wage and have a career, but while we may have prepared him academically, we did not prepare him outside of academics for how to navigate the world. We need our youth to know not just what jobs are available, but how do you get that door open to that job? What training do you need and how do you get it? LJ

Biz Part of YouthForce NOLA is a strong internship

program, right? LJ Yes, this summer we just had 200 rising seniors complete a 150-hour paid internship program with 88 different employers. Part of that is the education piece, part of that is the employer piece. Because I come from the private sector, quite honestly, I’m able to communicate to employers about this internship. I have the relationships to ask them to take interns, and the credibility to say, “This is why it will work and this is why it’s important.”

We now have a labor shortage, so people are going to care a great deal about work force. So, they’re going to be willing, I think, to step up and invest in areas they may not have invested in before, or take a gamble on a young person that they may have been unwilling to before.

Biz What are your goals with this nonprofit? LJ Our goal is that 10 percent of the graduating class

of 2020 will have one of these internships, so we’ve been scaling things up. Two hundred kids and 88 businesses for 150 hours is a lot. I mean, that is a big program lift from having started at nothing three summers ago. Recently there was a story on the news about a New Orleans native, a young man whose car broke down before his first day of work, so he walked 20 miles to get to work. His boss was so impressed he gave him a car. Obviously, work ethic was not a problem there. LJ Here’s my reaction: that’s a great story that got a lot of attention, but then I think someone didn’t teach that kid good problem-solving skills in the real world because there was some other way to solve that problem. Again, it wasn’t a motivation Biz

problem. It wasn’t a work ethic problem, but there’s more awareness that that young person needed in problem solving. As a city too, we need to recognize the barriers that young people face. This summer, Youth Force NOLA had to hire buses to take young people to Ochsner, Intralox and Gibbs Construction for internships. A lot of the employment market is in Jefferson Parish, where there’s no public transportation. So, you know, we may have a great kid, a great young person who is ready to be a really good employee, but they don’t have a car. How do they get to surrounding parishes for a job? Or if you live New Orleans East, it could be an hour bus ride to get to Ochsner on Napoleon Avenue. We need to start understanding: How do we knock down these barriers — some are blatant and some are hidden — to better connect the young talent to the opportunity? Workforce development seems to be an issue that is affecting every industry. LJ We now have a labor shortage, so people are going to care a great deal about work force. So, they’re going to be willing, I think, to step up and invest in areas they may not have invested in before, or take a gamble on a young person that they may have been unwilling to before. Biz

You and your brother Steven are also working right now on a new effort for this fall — can you tell us anything about that? LJ Yes, it’s a nonprofit called Belltower. We’re not ready to disclose everything we’re doing because the cake is still being baked, but I can tell you it’s going to be about new programs, new offerings that we believe will give students the opportunity of getting associates and bachelor’s degrees without incurring a lot of debt. It will be about creating better options if they want to go to a traditional four-year college in Louisiana that hopefully includes some programs that are designed around their needs and will help them have better success rates in college. Biz

Biz Are you hopeful for the future when it comes to our workforce? LJ For the first time in my life, I think the sun, the moon and the stars are aligned in New Orleans. I think we can create something exciting, and we will be the first city in the country to really think through how we get good options for all of our graduates and approach it as a city, because there is employer engagement. I think we are in this really wonderful place that if we can figure out how to solve for some of these barriers, we have the opportunity to do two things: provide industry with a good work force and help our young people break generational cycles of poverty. n

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60 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


To-Han Watsky, lead

acccountant and assistant controller, perform a routine check on Enwave’s chillers. The plant is equipped with enough space to add two more chillers to enable future growth.

An energy solution that’s disaster-proof, efficient and environmentally friendly, plus opens businesses up to new revenue sources? Introducing Enwave ….

The Coolest Secret in Town B y T o p h e r B a l f e r p h o t o g r a p h s b y C h e r y l Ge r be r


Anyo ne fin ding themselves at the c o rne r o f G r av ie r

E n wave Stats Location

1661 Gravier St. Built

1999 What

32,000-ton energy plant capable of heating and cooling the equivalent of 6 Superdomes.

E n wave St ea m p l an t

LOCATION

Gravier and S. Johnson streets OPERATIONAL

2014 WHAT

Three 70,000 pound- per-hour boilers located approximately 20 feet above sea level, of which one has dual fuel capabilities (natural gas/ diesel) serve New Orleans’ medical district. CLIENTS UMC Hospital, LSU Health Sciences, Louisiana Cancer Research Center and Tulane Medical School

and Claiborne might observe a number of things: several parking garages, the towering belfry of St. Joseph’s church, the rush of overhead traffic and the distant conversation of students heading to class nearby. They might not notice the entrance to EnwaveUSA Energy Corp., a massive industrial space set at the back of a winding walkway and hidden beneath a 600-car garage. Also easy to overlook is the 300-foot water well, which is completely concealed behind a small welcome sign. And passersby certainly might not know that just steps away is the only district-energy plant in New Orleans— but Enwave is here, and it’s changing the possibilities for cooling and heating in the city. “We are a $300 billion organization sitting in the city of New Orleans. That is not a small company, and nobody knows we’re here,” said Steve Martins, vice president and general manager of Enwave’s New Orleans plant. “You drive by, and you have no idea that you have industrial-grade equipment sitting back here or that we’re running a chilled water plant that is cooling the surrounding buildings.” A part of New Orleans’ Downtown since 1999, the 32,000-ton facility is large enough to provide cooling and heating to six Superdomes, Martins estimates, making it one of the city’s best-kept and most powerful secrets. If all goes according to the company’s plan, however, that will soon be changing.

B

ROKERS OF ENERGY When Enwave was first established in New Orleans by parent company Brookfield, the goal was to provide reliable, efficient air-conditioning service to area hospitals. The plan to achieve this, and Brookfield’s specialty, was to use district energy, a process in which heating and cooling are delivered to a network of customers from a central plant. By exchanging a constant flow of cold and warm water in a network of underground pipes, Enwave is able to achieve and maintain exact temperatures in their customers’ buildings. “We really are brokers of energy,” said Gordon Morrow, director of operations at Enwave, whose colleagues call him “The Professor.” “We don’t create energy; we just transform it. Our energy sources are electricity and natural gas.” In order to protect the COMPANY Morrow explained that Enwave’s and its customers against system failure, Enwave has enough backup process is not so different from power to run the plant for seven days. what a radiator does in a home airThese generators, and the milliongallon ice tank housed at the plant, are conditioning system, except in this part of a redundancy plan that allows case, the key player in transporting Enwave to maintain regular operations and transforming heat is water. in the event of an emergency.

62 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

“The chillers in our plant transform heat: we send cold water, it moves through the customer’s building, they send back warmer water, and we transform that heat in the cooling towers on our roof,” he said. “Then it goes out into the atmosphere.” The EnwaveUSA team is confident that their unique services put them on the forefront of the heating and cooling industry in the South. “The process that we use is the most efficient airconditioning process there is, outside of deep lake processors, which we don’t have here,” Morrow said. “For people in New Orleans, Houston and areas along the Gulf Coast, this is the most efficient way to cool your buildings.” New Orleans businesses seem to agree: Although Enwave is not currently connected to any residential areas, its clients include major hospitals like LSU Health and the Louisiana Cancer Research Center, and hotels such as The Troubadour, The Roosevelt and Joie de Vivre. Most recently,


C l i en t s us i n g E n wave h eat i n g/ c ool i n g i n c lud e:

The Roosevelt, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel The Troubadour Hotel / The Monkey Board rooftop bar The Orpheum The Pythian Apartments LSU Health Delgado University Tulane University St. Joseph Church Joie De Vivre Hotel Louisiana Cancer Research Center University Medical Center New Orleans

EnwaveUSA completed construction on a $50 million steam plant that was specifically designed to service the University Medical Center New Orleans.

E

ner g y Ef f i ci ent Cooling Another “big picture” goal for Enwave is to reduce the carbon footprint that its emissions leave on the environment. This is already partly achieved by using water to drive its operations, but the team takes it a step further by treating and processing this water with the company’s own reverse osmosis (RO) system. “We pump water from our own well through our RO system,” Morrow said. “We have two phases where we pull water through the semipermeable membrane to remove the minerals and salts out of the water. On the other side, you have pure water, which we move to our cooling tower.” Once that clean water is used to serve a customer and returns to the central plant at a warmer temperature,

the water is cleaned again and recycled through a “loop system,” further reducing the company’s waste output. Even the concentrate water, which is made up of all the minerals the RO system removes, is essentially “very clean groundwater” and makes no negative impact on the environment, Morrow said. “Enwave is bigger than just heating and cooling,” Martins said. “We really sell solutions that businesses are needing on energy issues.” Perhaps even more impressive is Enwave’s million-gallon ice tank that ensures the company has access to cold, clean water in the event of an emergency. “We make ice and we melt it as needed,” Martins said. “As hot as it is outside, we’re not having to run all our equipment, because we’re just melting ice that we already made outside of our peak times. We have a very energy-efficient plan here.”

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A

For a company that services so many medical professionals, failure — or even a brief lapse in efficiency — is not an option. At Enwave, one of the team’s top priorities is maintaining N+1 redundancy, which is simply a form of resilience that protects regular operations in the event of a system failure. The ice tank is just one example of several measures the company takes to protect itself and its customers. “We serve the only Level 1 trauma center in New Orleans, UMC,” Martins said. “This plant is designed in a way [so] that everybody works to make sure that when the doctors have a patient on the operating table, there are no problems. That’s the mindset. When they have someone on the operating table over there, they’ve got to have cooling and humidity control, and it’s all done by this facility.” Martins said that failsafe operations were a goal from the very beginning; when construction of the plant and garage began in 1999, the building was raised 5 feet above sea level, and both the structure itself and the cooling towers on the roof were hardened in case they should be subject to an extreme storm. In addition, all critical equipment inside the plant is raised at least 20 feet above sea level, all to minimize risk. “We said, ‘If a storm ever came, which probably won’t (TOP) Lead operator Gregory Dequair holds happen, we want to be up a scale model of the prepared,’” Martins explained. equipment installed at customers’ buildings. “Well, Katrina came. Our designs Because Enwave’s district and systems were put to the energy system requires test and without failure, we so little machinery, their customers have been able continued to successfully to transform industrial operate through the storm. spaces into sources of Obviously everybody was revenue. impacted during Katrina, except (BOTTOM) Vice President for us. We ran and operated and general manager Steve Martins stands outside the as a beacon in the city of New entrance to the Enwave Orleans, all lit up. We have 8.5 plant. The 32,000-ton megawatts of backup generafacility is housed beneath a parking garage, purposetion that can run the plant for fully built to blend in with seven days off the grid. And it the community. was designed that way because we’re serving hospitals.” Lead operator Gregory Dequair said that for every piece of equipment, there is backup equipment. Some backups even have backups of their own, just to be safe. “In an emergency, we don’t have time to worry about how we’re going to get our equipment back up,” Dequair said. “Our first priority should be making sure our customers have reliable service.” To ensure this, Dequair said that their generators are routinely tested, and the plant implements dry-runs using their emergency equipment so that every member on staff is prepared to work through a storm. “Next to electricity, water is essential for a business,” said project manager Eric Kelly. “This is all equipment to ensure our reliability.”

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BEACON IN THE STORM


Martins said that the New Orleans plant’s success during Hurricane Katrina has inspired EnwaveUSA to put this team at the forefront of emergency preparedness; with additional plants in Toronto, Houston, Chicago and Seattle. The company plans to provide nationwide emergency training so that all employees are able to match the excellence demonstrated here. “Enwave is very impressed with New Orleans, especially with the plant during Katrina,” said To-Han Watsky, lead accountant and assistant controller. “They want to make us the best in the nation. Plus, there’s a growth opportunity here with all the undeveloped buildings around us.” Enwave once again proved its mettle earlier this year, when a freeze interrupted water and energy services across the city. Martins said that the team dedicated a lot of time to examining potential points of failure in their system, and one of those points was water pressure. However, because the company now operates its own well and processes the water through its own RO system, water pressure is no longer a factor that threatens the company’s day-to-day activity, and the district-energy plant was unaffected by the extreme temperatures. “We were completely fine. We were not impacted at all because of the RO system,” Martins said. “Our customers didn’t even see a blip. Some didn’t even know there was an issue until they heard about it and part of the city was shut down. And that is imperative because we’re serving hospitals. We can’t go down.”

R

The benefits of partnering with a company like Enwave go further than just heating and cooling — because of them, several New Orleans hotels have exhanged the whirs and hums of cooling machinery for the clinking of glasses. “After Katrina, we got a call about the Fairmont Hotel becoming The Roosevelt, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel,” Martins said. “We were told they wanted a five-star spa right where the cooling equipment was going to be. ‘What can you do?’ they asked. So we extended our distribution pipe down to The Roosevelt Hotel.” While traditional air-conditioning systems typically require a business’s rooftop to reserve space for cooling towers and machinery, Enwave’s unique equipment takes up a fraction of the customer’s space, with a majority of the equipment housed at Enwave’s plant, allowing customers to use their rooftop and basement spaces to generate more revenue. “If you have a rooftop that used to have all these units on the roof, you’re able to put up a pool, amenities, a tennis court...the whole nine with district cooling,” Martins said. “Once, it was just cooling towers on the roof. We transition a developer space into something that they can use as a profit center. So there’s a value proposition for that business. It’s transformational.” Another hotel capitalizing on this unique opportunity is The Troubadour, which opened in December 2016 in OOF TOP TRANSFORMATIONS

the space formerly occupied by the Rault Center. The Troubadour’s rooftop is now home to The Monkey Board, a scenic bar specializing in handcrafted cocktails. Lloyd Fruchtman, project manager for the construction of The Troubadour, said the partnership with Enwave was a “stroke of luck” for the direction of the hotel. “We were informed that there was a district cooling system in the street, which The chillers in our is very rare, and it’s also a very forwardplant transform thinking sort of operation,” Fruchtman said. heat — we send Fruchtman and the rest of the building cold water, it crew discovered that Enwave already had moves through the existing piping in the street directly in front customer’s building, of the hotel, and they were able to take they send back advantage of lines that had been laid to warmer water, and service other hotels farther down the street. we transform that “It enabled us to eliminate a lot of heat in the cooling equipment and pick up revenue-producing towers on our roof. space instead of mechanics, which was Then it goes out into really good for the hotel,” Fruchtman said. the atmosphere. “It’s much more efficient, and it doesn’t G o rdo n M o rro w, dire c t o r o f o pe r at io ns make any noise at all, whereas the machine at E nwav e that we would have there would make a lot of noise and would require a lot of maintenance. But the equipment that you need for district cooling is much less labor intensive, and rather than our hotel producing any emissions, the main plant handles everything.” Moving forward, Enwave hopes to eventually expand its client base further into the city. The plant is already outfitted with space to accommodate two more chillers, but infrastructure costs make expanding the company’s pipelines a challenge. Martins said the company is hoping to coordinate with the city’s new administration to develop a plan that would work both for them and for the residents of New Orleans. “Because we’re going to be 20 feet down in the street, we don’t want to go down there again,” Martins said. “We don’t want to rip the street out and put our pipes in, and then have the Sewerage and Water Board come and rip the street out again. We’ve got to do a better job with planning. We’ve got to work better together because we don’t want to keep ripping up the streets.” For now, Martins and the rest of the Enwave team are keeping their focus on their core mission, planning to let their current successes guide and shape the evolving relationship between Enwave and New Orleans. “Whether it be a hotel with an event going on, or an emergency that’s happening in one of the hospitals,” Martins said, “we focus on the big picture: making sure that we have a reliable, sustainable operation.” n

“ ”

fun fac t s 7 days

Amount of time Enwave can run “off the grid” in case of a disaster 32%

New steam plant’s average reduction in NO emissions 150 mph

Speed of winds the plant is built to withstand

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66 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


Southeast louisiana businesses in full color

from the lens GREAT WORKSPACES  /  WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?  /  MAKING A MATCH  /  ON THE JOB

The Starlight at 817 St. Louis in the French Quarter is housed in a circa-1779 Creole Cottage.


From The Lens g r e at w o r k s pac e s

Well-Crafted The Starlight bar and lounge in the French Quarter strives to be your local living room away from home by Melanie Warner Spencer photos by Sara Essex Bradley

It’s easy to imagine the building at 817 St. Louis

St. in the French Quarter in its earliest incarnation as a residence to the Bacas family when it was built in the late 1770s. The Bacases were a family of woodworkers known for their work on the choir loft at St. Louis Cathedral. Their craft is evidenced by the sturdy construction, pristine fireplace mantels, moulding, winding stair railing and — on the second floor — narrow oak-plank flooring with inlay detailing around the perimeter. The building remained a private home until the ‘50s and has since housed several bars, a jazz club and a restaurant. Most notably the location housed Petunias restaurant, popular from its opening in the 1970s until Hurricane Katrina, after which it never managed to get back up and running. Since January 2018, the space has been home to The Starlight, a cozy craft cocktail bar featuring early and late evening live music, Friday-night dance parties, second-floor event space and, as of the writing of this piece, a kitchen specializing in Venezuelan food. Owner Linda Novak likes to think of it as a French Quarter living room for both residents and visitors. “I wanted it to evoke an [earlier] era, with an authentic, older, French Quarter feel,” says Novak, one of the former owners of Pal’s in Mid-City. She says she tackled the approximately 2,500-square-foot interior the way many people approach decorating their home. “I’ve been living with the space and redecorating the rooms.” On the first floor, there are two main “living rooms” and a covered courtyard. The first room houses a dark wood bar, an exposed brick wall, a piano near the windows in the front and high-top tables with blue damask-upholstered bar stools. The blue damask is continued in the second room, which also has banquettes and low-slung

68 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

The front bar is the scene for live music performances, with shows to accommodate both early birds and night owls. The 1,200-square-foot upstairs has three rooms with 12-foot ceilings — the Dauphine, Bourbon and Toulouse rooms — which are available for private parties and include access to the balcony overlooking St. Louis Street.


Owner Linda Novak says she wants to keep the atmosphere and drink prices “local friendly� and is always looking for ways to evolve both the look and the use of the space.

At a Glance

The Starlight Address: 817 St. Louisiana St. Office completed: January 2018 Architect: Built in 1779 by the Bacas family, known for their woodwork on the St. Louis Cathedral Interior Designer: Bar owner Linda Novak Square footage: Approximately 2,500 Main goal: To create a cozy space with a residential atmosphere Standout Feature: Woodwork throughout the space, including the fireplace mantels, moulding, stair railing and oak flooring

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“I wanted it to evoke an [earlier] era, with an authentic, older, French Quarter feel.” Linda Novak, owner of Starlight Lounge

chairs, giving it a more loungelike atmosphere. The walls are painted dark blue with gold The room off the bar accents. There are images from has more Novak’s photographer friends of a lounge hung throughout the space, feel with banquettes which depict raucous scenes in addition to from New Orleans bars and local high-top tables. parties from the ‘90s. In the courtyard, where the dance parties break out on Fridays and continue until the wee hours, the jukebox is stocked with New Orleans-style rhythm-and-blues from the ‘50s and ‘60s, much of it from local musicians. Mini disco balls are strung throughout the room, as are garlands of greenery, which compliments plants in windowboxes hung from the balcony. It is furnished with black metal bistro sets, paired with modern-style webbed outdoor chairs. The upstairs event space, where Novak plans to start holding yoga happy hours, has three interconnected rooms: The Dauphin and Toulouse rooms face the balcony, which overlooks St. Louis Street. Ten-foot doors lead into sparsely furnished rooms with plaster walls extending up to 16-foot ceilings and simple blue armchairs. There are fireplaces in each room with white painted mantels and a mysterious portrait of a woman holding a green apple hangs in one of the rooms. Novak says she wants to keep drink prices “local friendly” and for the look to continue to evolve. She says she is pleased, however, with the way it has come together so far, adding, “It feel like going to a friend’s house for a cocktail and listening to music.” n

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Novak wants to keep drink prices “local friendly” and offers happy hour specials throughout the week.


The covered courtyard is accented with greenery and twinkle lights and has a jukebox stocked with New Orleans-style rhythm and blues from the ’50s and ’60s. Novak says late night dance parties frequently break out on Fridays in the covered courtyard. Could this perhaps be attributed to the mini disco balls hanging from the twinkle lights?


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

Fore-Ward Thinking Loft18’s indoor golf venue is drawing sportsmen off the course and into a growing Old Metairie marketplace. by Ashley McLellan photos by sara essex bradley

outside in

Other Indoor Sports Options in New Orleans New Orleans Boulder Lounge Indoor rockclimbing wall for kids and adults Climbnobl.com Sector6 Extreme Air Sports Trampoline-based sports and activities for kids and adults Sector6.us

Last fall, three local high school

development along that corridor. The goal was to create a select, dedicated group of (hopefully) repeat customers. “This Metairie Road market is very interesting,” Whitman said. “We chose to be here over downtown because we believed in the long-term results and revitalization of the area itself. We realized going into this the seasonality of the service industry, but we have held steady numbers throughout the first 10 months of operations. As our systems and service are evolving, our bookings and event leads are increasing. The potential for growth is in how much we put in each day. The results are shown by the quality that we strive to achieve.” Loft18’s Old Metairie location is on par with a growing business trend in that area, including the mixed-use development of Old Metairie Commons, new restaurants like Shipley Do-Nuts, upscale Brasa Churrasqueria and Zocalo, and the trendy Poke Loa (to name a few), as well as a new marketing push from the Metairie Road Business Association. All of these efforts have resulted in a renewed business-friendly corridor. Of course, price was also a factor for the trio as they considered where On the Green After mulling over ideas to build. Whitman noted that the land and locations, the partners price per-square-foot also and friends landed on Metairie to build in Jefferson Parish Road as the home for their new was “substantially lower” Loft18 idea. They began plans in 2016 than Orleans, and came with 3113 Metairie Road to develop a 12,500-square-foot the potential to build  31 Metairie site into a 7,400-square-foot (504) 450-4600 private parking spaces, in Loft18.com. building and a parking lot, addition to enjoying access to drawn by a growing business adjacent public parking.

friends (Rummel and Jesuit class of 2001) and golf enthusiasts decided to take a swing at a big idea, and their creation, Loft18, has so far resulted in the business equivalent of a hole in one. General manager/partner Chris Molina, vice president/partner Brett Gaudet and president/owner Greg Whitman are the men behind Loft 18 a kind of mix of a country club, lounge, full-service restaurant, bar and practice green for perfecting your swing or shot. The business plan incorporates the three tenets of “Eat, Drink, Golf!” as its main draw for both fans of golf as well as those new to the game. According to Whitman, the original inspiration for an indoor golf and entertainment center came after the partners discovered golf simulators four years ago. “The seed of inspiration started the first time that we all saw a golf simulator online and then in-store,” he said. “At that time, most of the sims that we saw were being used for golf retail outlets and made specifically for customers for golf club-fitting and swinging analytics. We then began to discuss their full potential.”

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Playmakers Indoor Sports Soccer, flag football, lacrosse, laser tag, sports camps, parties for kids and adults Playmakersindoor. com CitySurf NOLA Indoor surfinginspired classes on stationary boards for adults Citysurffitness.com

Five simulator stalls can each accommodate 10 guests. They include seating and tables, a golf swing greenspace and a life-sized screen display that provides an interactive golf course experience or a television for watching sports.

Taking a Swing For Whitman, location was only part of the formula for creating a broad appeal for customer-building loyalty. Entertainment and flexibility were also key to Loft18’s development. The company focuses on delivering options for players who already love golf, as well as those new to the game in order to create the greatest appeal for the largest group of potential customers. Loft18 includes five golf simulator stalls that feature 95 championship courses and large screens for play or game viewing. Each game is different, but averages around half an hour, with most patrons booking a simulator stall for two-hour blocks.


Simulator stalls feature generous seating and tables, a golf swing greenspace and a life-sized screen display that provides an interactive golf course experience. The screen can also broadcast televised sports, such as Saints games or college baseball tournaments. Each stall can accommodate up to 10 people, is available for reservation for both large and small groups, and is priced between $35 to $45 per hour. Guests may bring their own golf clubs, or rent a set on-site for $7. There’s also a full bar with local craft beer, wine and specialty cocktails, along with non-golf entertainment like shuffle

board, board games and lounges. There are also team leagues, and girls’ and guys’ nights out with drink specials on each night, making for a fun alternative to “ladies night.” “That’s the beauty of it all,” Whitman said. “Golf is just one part of the entertainment draw. We are a full restaurant and bar, as well as our projectors serve [multiple] purposes. Customers can watch a big game on the big screen, lounge out and have some great drinks and food, and/or check-out any of the up-and-coming bands and deejay shows that we will be featuring on our late Friday nights.”

Families are encouraged to visit Loft18, which offers children’s birthday party options. “We pride ourselves on having a clean, family-friendly environment,” said Whitman, who added that the business enjoys a customer base that is diverse in age, race and background. “We are an entertainment venue where you decide what your experience will be,” he said. Putting Green Corporate events have become a steady source of reservations for Loft18. “Our biggest draw is corporate,” said Whitman, “companies that are looking

Fun Facts

The Business of Golf: According to a May 2016 article on the state of golf in Forbes Magazine, golf continues to be a big player in the sports realm, with increases in the number of youth participants and impacts on businesses both big and small across the United States:

2.2 million

people began playing golf in 2016 (its highest level since its peak of 2.4 million in 2012)

24 million

Americans played more than 450 million rounds of golf in 2016

233%

increase in membership reported between 2013 and 2016 by PGA Junior League Golf, designed for players ages 13 and under PGA Tour representatives reported an increase in TV viewership for the 2013-2014 season with more than

105 million

viewers, and PGA Tour and its players gaining more than

40 million followers on social media.

The sport encompasses more than

15,000

small businesses nationwide, with a

$70 billion

annual economic draw.

bizneworleans.com / 73


Friends since high school, general manager/partner Chris Molina, vice president/partner Brett Gaudet and president/owner Greg Whitman had the idea for Loft18 after seeing a golf simulator online. It gave them the idea for creating a space for lovers of the sport, as well as others who may be new to the game.

Howard Avenue, and the Dallas-based chain TopGolf coming to Baton Rouge in late 2018 or early 2019. Whitman, however, said his team remains confident that Loft18 will maintain its customer base by continuing to develop unique experiences and establishing personal relationship that hopefully lead to return visits. “What is quite exciting about this venture is that the golf entertainment industry landscape is pretty wide open,” he said. “Excluding the big TopGolfs throughout the country, we are targeting a more accessible market in the urban setting and it is a first-mover strategy. We believe in our systems that we have created from scratch, and in the synchronicity of those systems that we deliver. Competition is part of any emerging business, and we plan to combat those competitors by always thinking outside of the box and always creating new experiences for our customers.” Up next on the horizon is expansion outside of the Greater New Orleans area. The company is currently scouting a second location in Houston, as well as external partnership opportunities in other markets, including Dallas, Nashville, Chicago and Atlanta. While expansion is high on the “to-do” list, continual fine-tuning of the current facility’s amenities and décor is No. 1, according to Whitman.  “We are always updating and upgrading to make the space fully optimized and [to make] every inch of the floor and flow make sense,” he said. “We recently changed wall colors and added lounge areas, chandeliers, lights and TVs. We are closing the gap on what we believe is a perfect blend of a nice, swanky, hotel lounge and comfy restaurant.” While weekend late nights are a prime time for guests, Whitman said he personally enjoys the weeknights at Loft18. “Personally, and I think we can all agree, a nice Monday-to-Wednesday evening is great,” he said. Those nights when the crowd is diverse, a big game is playing on the screens, the food is flying out, and the drinks are flowing as the sun sets ... it doesn’t get much better here in Metairie.” n A Hole in One

main courses

Golf Digest’s Top Louisiana Golf Courses for 2017 1 . The C.C. of Louisiana, Baton Rouge 2. Squire Creek C.C., Choudrant 3. Oakbourne C.C., Lafayette 4. The Bluffs On Thompson Creek, St. Francisville 5. Koasati Pines G.C., Kinder 6. TPC Louisiana, Avondale 7. Money Hill G. & C.C., Abita Springs 8. Gray Plantation G.C., Lake Charles 9. Contraband Bayou G.C., Lake Charles 10. The C.C. At The Golden Nugget, Lake Charles

to host events, including team-building opportunities, workshops or simply just to entertain clients in a new way.” “We really are focusing on reaching the millennial base,” he said “They are always looking for new and exciting things to do and we believe we have that, it’s just not Uptown or Downtown. We are trying to change people’s perspectives on the city itself, and help to make Metairie Road a destination just like many of the other known outlets in our great city.” No Chance for a RainOut Between often stifling summer temperatures and a subtropical climate where rain can be a common occurrence, it’s not surprising

74 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

that a surge of indoor sports and activity centers in the New Orleans area have become popular, safe, climate-controlled entertainment options for both adults and kids. (see sidebar) “Weather contingency was always something that we considered in the initial business plan, and for our true golfer customer base, it definitely has a tether effect,” Whitman said. “Whereas most restaurants struggle in those typically hot summer months, we have maintained a steady base.” Loft18’s biggest challenge may be to come, with a $29 million Drive Shack planned to open at the end of 2019 in the former Times-Picayune building on


Loft18 features a full service bar and restaurant with local draft and craft beers, wine, cocktails as well as an ever-expanding menu, with pub favorites such as burgers, sliders and wings. Weekly specials include “Girls Night Out” on Wednesdays from 4 to 11 p.m., with women playing for free and half off glasses and bottles of wine, and the “Lazy Saturday,” with $20 bottomless mimosas or Bloody Mary’s from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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 p r o f i t s

Jacob Folse knows the exact date and time of his

Art by Jacob Folse

Success Stories

YMCA of Greater New Orleans’ “Brushes, Buddies and Beyond” program for autism So much more than painting, the program provides a safe, secure environment that helps autistic children socialize and grow in confidence.

These Treats Are Extra Sweet October’s annual Beignet Fest serves far more than just locals with a sweet tooth. by Pamela Marquis photos by cheryl gerber

76 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018

“It’s a therapeutic painting party,” said Amy Segar, director of YMCA Children’s Unified Benefits and Services. “One 6-year-old boy, who is non-verbal and who never engaged with anyone until he started coming to this program, now gets so excited and often stays past the class’ one-hour time. He’s befriended a 12-year-old girl and they have such a special bond.”

weekly art class; he joyously counts down the days until his next session. This 12-year-old, who’s been diagnosed with autism, is proud of the artwork he creates and delights in the friendships he’s made there. His art program is “Brushes, Buddies, and Beyond for Autism” where participants learn how to paint as they create their own works of art. Along the way, in a fun and relaxed environment, they also gain much more than painting fundamentals. They build their social skills, noticeably increase their self-esteem and improve their capacity for learning. “This program has given Jacob so much confidence,” said Rachel Folse, Jacob’s mother. “He loves it so much. He gets to interact with his peers, which is something he doesn’t have the opportunity to do very often. A program like this is so important because our community lacks these kinds of opportunities for children with autism.” Programs like “Brushes, Buddies and Beyond for Autism” are exactly what Sherwood and Amy Collins envisioned when they founded the Tres Doux Foundation, known by most New Orleanians as the organization behind the wildly successful annual Beignet Festival, which will celebrate its third year on Saturday, October 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Festival Grounds at New Orleans City Park. A celebration of New Orleans’ most iconic treat, the Beignet Festival offers a wide array of beignets from some of New Orleans’ best restaurants, from traditional sweet options, to more savory delicacies that feature seafood, cheese and more. The free festival will also feature live, local music performances, a Kid’s Village, artists market and a VIP Experience. In 2016, the festival attracted more than 10,000 people, enabling the Tres Doux Foundation to give away $25,157 in grants to local nonprofits dedicated to providing programs and services to children with developmental delays, including autism. It’s a cause that hits home for the Collins’ family of four. “Through our journey with our son (who is autistic), we found a gap in programs for children on the autism spectrum, and we wanted to change that,” said Sherwood Collins, Tres Doux Foundation executive director. “We wanted to provide more opportunities, bring awareness and increase activities for kids and resources for parents. Oftentimes when a good program opens up there are eight spots but 30 people on the waiting list.” Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder and the fastest-growing developmental disability among children. The complex brain disorder inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges.


THE BASICS

tres doux foundation Mission The mission of the Tres Doux Foundation is to celebrate, embrace and enhance the lives of children with developmental delays and disabilities by presenting them as whole beings, and to support organizations that do the same. 4 Friedrichs Avenue, New Orleans beignetfest.com Annual Budget $225,000 Major Fundraising Event The Third Annual Beignet Fest is set for Saturday, October 6, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Festival Grounds at New Orleans City Park. Proceeds from Beignet Fest benefit the Tres Doux Foundation, which makes grants to nonprofits serving children with developmental delays. For more information, visit beignetfest.com and follow the event on social media at @ beignetfest. Ongoing Partnerships Since Beignet Fest’s inception, the event has partnered with Ochsner Hospital for Children to produce the Kid’s Village, where Ochsner’s speech and behavioral therapists provide sensoryfriendly activities for children and information for parents. Another sponsor of Beignet Fest since its launch is French Market Coffee, which is serving as the event’s title sponsor for the first time this year. The company will be hosting a Coffee Café on site where folks can grab French Market Coffee Cold Brew and enjoy beignets of their choice from 20 different food vendors nearby. Current Needs: Sponsorships for Beignet Fest range from $500 to $25,000. Individuals can also make donations of any amount on the event’s website. Volunteers are also essential to the success of Beignet Fest, especially group volunteers, considered as three or more friends, family members, or co-workers volunteering together during the same shift. A volunteer orientation will be held prior to Beignet Fest to help all volunteers understand their assigned roles and navigate the fest. For questions, please email volunteers@beignetfest.com.

(top) Amy, Liam, Wes and Sherwood Collins (bottom) Jacob Folse

“We wanted to provide more opportunities, bring awareness, and increase activities for kids and resources for parents.” Sherwood Collins, Tres Doux Foundation executive director

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in 68 children (and one in 42 boys) will be diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. Amy Collins credits New Orleans’ business community as a fundamental part of the success of Beignet Fest and the Tres Doux Foundation. “We built Tres Doux from the ground up with proceeds raised from Beignet Fest,” she said. “We’ve been humbled by the businesses who have stepped up to help us — from the large corporate sponsors to small businesses. It’s been at all levels, and every single dollar makes a difference. That is not just a cliché. It’s real.” Among the event’s partners is Ochsner Hospital for Children, which is among those organizations that receive funding from Tres Doux. “Caring for children and families is so important to us,” said Thomas Harris, vice president of pediatrics at Ochsner Health System. “We’re proud to partner with an event that not only provides an opportunity for all children to celebrate, but supports critically important causes throughout the city.” “Tres Doux is so very important to this community, not only for the money it raises, but because they also address a glaring need for providing awareness about autism,” said Amy Segar, director of YMCA Children’s Unified Benefits and Services — provider of the Brushes, Buddies and Beyond program. “Their reach is so far and they inspire others to do so much more.” “The support and enthusiasm that people have had for our efforts from the very start has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Amy Collins. “The best part of all of this is giving away these grants. It means we are fulfilling the mission of what we set out to do. The Tres Doux Foundation has provided $30,000 in grants to area nonprofits to expand programming for children with developmental delays. They include YMCA of Greater New Orleans’ Brushes, Buddies and Beyond Program; Ochsner Hospital for Children; Families Helping Families of Southeast Louisiana’s Prism Project; and Autism Society of New Orleans’ Social Skills Development Workshop Series. n Success of Services

A Good Match FOR COMPANIES WHO… ... are looking to spend a day volunteering outside. Beignet Fest provides opportunities to volunteer and give back to children with developmental delays. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 68 children (and 1 in 42 boys) will be diagnosed with autism, so chances are good that attendees and volunteers already know someone affected by this disorder.

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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.

78 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


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From The Lens ON THE J OB

Deposits for Our Future Theryn Henkel, Ph.D., is the assistant

director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation’s (LPBF) Coastal Sustainability Program. Along with operating water quality and educational programs, the organization’s Coastal Sustainability Program uses multiple methods to help ensure the future of Louisiana’s coast, including scientific studies, restoration projects and long-term analysis. This photo was taken this past April when Henkel was at the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion, located 15 miles downriver from New Orleans in Plaquemines Parish. Constructed in 1991 by the Army Corp of Engineers to manage flood stage and basin side salinity, the diversion has resulted in sediment deposits and wetland growth. The area’s Big Mar Pond has seen 776 acres of wetland growth from 1998 to 2016. Using a high-precision Trimble GPS, Henkel can measure the elevation of an area with an accuracy of within 3 inches. She can then relate the elevation to the vegetation that has colonized on the new land. Interested in joining in LPBF’s efforts? Multiple volunteer opportunities are available, including tree plantings in swamps and marshes. For more information, visit SaveOurLake.org. n

80 / Biz New Orleans / september 2018


Biz New Orleans September 2018  
Biz New Orleans September 2018