Biz New Orleans Magazine September 2019

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The Healthcare Hurdle: 3 ways businesses are battling rising costs P. 48

Cotton Candy Reimagined: a sweet chat with 2019’s JEDCO Challenge winner P. 66

Shady Business: Handling unethical behavior at work P. 38

Dr. Ali Sadeghi, M.D., F.A.C.S. Founder and CEO, Sadeghi Center for Plastic Surgery

Melvin Rodrigue President, Galatoire’s

real men wear

pink 34 businessmen unite to end breast cancer

september 2019

John Overly Manager of Emergency Preparedness at Entergy

2 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

6 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019 / 7

8 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019 / 9

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 Suzanne P. Tafur Multimedia Blogger Leslie T. Snadowsky Contributors Julia Carcamo, Keith Loria, Pamela Marquis, Ashley McLellan, Chris Price, Ryan Rodrigue, Jessica Rosgaard, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Melanie Warner Spencer, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell Advertising Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 Sales Manager Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Senior Account Executive Brennan Manale (504) 830-7298 Senior Account Executive Jessica Jaycox (504) 830-7255 Account Executive Sydney Steib (504) 830-7225

Marketing Director of Marketing & Events Jeanel Luquette Event Coordinator Abbie Dugruise Digital Media Associate Mallary Matherne For event information, call (504) 830-7264 Production Traffic Coordinator Lane Brocato Production Manager Emily Andras Production Designers 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 Audience Development Claire Sargent For subscriptions, call (504) 830-7231

2016 Bronze: Best Feature Layout 2017 Bronze: Best Daily Email 2017 Silver: Best Recurring Feature 2018 Gold: Most Improved Publication 2018 Silver: Best Recurring Feature 2019 Gold: Best Recurring Feature 2019 Gold: Best Explanatory Journalism

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 2019 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 selfaddressed 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.

10 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019 / 11

September 2019 / Volume 5 / Issue 12

contents EVERY ISSUE 16 / 17 / 18 / 20 / 22 / 23 /


from the lens

publisher’s note Editor’s note Calendar industry news recent openings Events

62 / great workspaces

in the biz 28 / dining

Crescent City Farmers Market continues to expand, breaking into new locations 30 / tourism

Louisiana Children’s Museum opens new facility

44 / banking & finance

Local financial professionals talk tax diversification and retirement strategies

Entrescan’s Scale Workspace provides coworking space, plus access to workshops and equipment for product developers, engineers, designers and artists

48 / insurAnce

A local insurance professional shares three ways he’s seen employers battle rising healthcare costs

32 / sports

Saints enter 2019 season with Super Bowl expectations 34 / entertainment



Proud to be Pink New Orleans business professionals are among the top nationally in the American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign against breast cancer, and they’re just getting started. By Kim SIngletary photos by jeffery johnston

The fourth return of the National Fried Chicken Festival will be even bigger and packed with new additions

2019 JEDCO Challenge Winner Poof is the first company to reimagine cotton candy

36 / entrepreneurship

68 / making a match:

Audiologist turned entrepreneur Dr. Lana Joseph-Ford is filling a demand that just keeps growing 38 / etiquette

What to do when you observe unethical behavior at work — even if it comes from your boss 40 / marketing

Building customer personas can give your company an edge

66 / why didn’t i think of that?

businesses and nonprofits

50 / real estate & construction

A look at five Southeast Louisiana communities that have been reborn

For local families with a child battling a life-threatening disease, Angels’ Place is there to provide help in any way possible 72 / on the job

Melt New Orleans elevates ice to art

on the cover Left to Right: Melvin Rodrigue, president of Galatoire’s; Dr. Ali Sadeghi, M.D., F.A.C.S., founder and CEO of Sadeghi Center for Plastic Surgery; and John Overly, manager of emergency preparedness at Entergy Photograph by Jeffery Johnston / 13

Meet the Sales Team

Caitlin Sistrunk Sales Manager (504) 830-7252

Brennan Manale Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7298

Jessica Jaycox

Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7255

Sydney Steib Account Executive

(504) 830-7225

Colleen Monaghan Vice President of Sales (504) 830-7215 14 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019 / 15

Publisher’s Note

Back to the Dome It’s finally here. Since Jan. 20, I — along

with all of the Who Dat Nation — have been waiting for September and another chance to battle for a Super Bowl. Do you know it has been 10 years since XLIV? This season Super Bowl LIV is Feb. 2, 2020 in Miami — the same place we won it last time. Can you say, “Return to Miami?” That should be the Saints slogan this year. We have been so close for the last two years; It’s time for us to remove the “X” off our backs and get back to a Super Bowl that has no “X” in the roman numerals, only the same letters as our last appearance. It’s the first sign of karma that this is our season. I love football — especially the Saints. I game up for Sundays. I just love being in the Dome for home games — sitting on your couch is just not the same. Every season ticket holder has a Dome family, those surrounding Saints Fans that celebrate with you, and I miss mine. New Orleans is just a better place in the fall, and I don’t mean just the weather. Saints fever is upon us — around town, company black and gold days are back and the city just has a different swagger about it. Welcome back fall and football. Todd Matherne

16 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Editor’s Note

Real Men Indeed I sat down last week to write this, and I struggled. Given our cover story, I wanted to

write something about breast cancer, but I was stuck. Extremely fortunately, I didn’t have a story. I’ve never had a friend or family member (knock on all the wood in the world) who has lost a battle to this horrible disease. I’ve had a bit of a personal experience I guess — last year I went for my first mammogram and that was definitely scary. Like so many women, I was told the tissue was dense, so I had to go back for a follow-up. Sitting in my robe in that waiting room, looking around, thinking that all these women I’d never met were thinking the same awful thoughts as me — it was a strange kinship. People talk about the physical discomfort of a mammogram, but that’s nothing compared to the emotional aspect. Last December, I could have told you exactly how many ceiling tiles are in the waiting area of Ochsner’s Tansey Breast Center. That all felt so far away, though, until last night. I was relaxing at home, playing around on Pinterest, when a text came in from one of my best friends. A friend of hers had been battling breast cancer so another friend had been caring for her 9-year-old son a lot. She was telling me how the woman and her husband had broken the news to their son today that mom was really, really sick. My friend and I both have 9-year-old daughters. We were talking about how unimaginable it would be to have to even think about saying goodbye to them — to know we wouldn’t be around for them when they needed us. Then, just as I was thinking about what I wanted to say next, my friend texted. “She just died. Right now.” As we were sitting there in our pajamas, with our kids tucked in for the night, a family had just been destroyed. The mom was only 38 years old. That little boy was not able to hug his mama good morning today, nor will he ever again. So today, our cover story has a whole new power to it for me. So often breast cancer is a disease that causes women to come together — we hear about someone at our kid’s school and we make a meal for them. We go with a friend to help them feel less alone at a treatment. But with Real Men Wear Pink, it’s the men in our community that are stepping in. When I interviewed John Overly about why he joined the campaign right after losing his wife, his words hit hard. “I felt her fight wasn’t finished yet,” he said. “Now is the time to pick up the baton on her behalf and carry it since she can’t do it anymore.” On behalf of all of us women, and men, at Renaissance Publishing, I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to all the men this year taking up the baton so that someday this horrible disease will finally be defeated. You are indeed real men and we are honored to spread the word. / 17


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

19 St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office 65278 LA-434, Lacombe

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

20 Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana 2019 Excelencia Gala 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. InterContinental New Orleans 444 St. Charles Ave.

7 Junior League of New Orleans Get On Board — Nonprofit Board Training 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Junior League Headquarters 4319 Carondelet St.

25 2nd Annual NOLA Connections Event “We Get You Brand Ambassadors” 3 to 5 p.m. New Orleans Board of Trade 316 Magazine St.

11 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Chamber 101 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jefferson Chamber 3421 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 203 11 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Smarter Business Series — Defend Against Cyber-Security Threats 8 to 9 a.m. St. Tammany West Chamber 610 Hollycrest Blvd., Covington 17-19 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Washington D.C. Fly In 19 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Business & Breakfast for Dinner 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Ruby Slipper Café 2700 Metairie Road 19 ABWA Monthly Meeting 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Cannery 3803 Toulouse St.

25 New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Chamber After 5 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome 330 Loyola Ave. 25 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Prosper Jefferson: Leadership 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. JEDCO Conference Center 701A Churchill Pkwy., Avondale 26 Get Online NOLA Social Media Basics Workshop 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Fidelity Bank 1811 Metairie Ave., Metairie


Biz New Orleans 5 Year Anniversary Celebration

October 10 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Ernst Cafe

For a more complete list of events, visit We’d love to include your business-related event in next month’s calendar. Please email details to 18 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Industry News


37 Louisiana Companies Make Inc. 5000 List In its September issue, Inc. Magazine announced its annual list of the 5,000 most successful privately-held companies in America. This year’s list includes 37 Louisiana companies. The highest-ranking Louisiana company was Metairie-based Flexicrew Technical Services, which ranked 287 in the nation, with 1,541% growth in the past year. For the full list, visit


Delgado and Café Reconcile Announce Free College-Level Course Café Reconcile participants and alumni will now have the opportunity to take a free College and Career Readiness class starting this fall at Café Reconcile (1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in New Orleans). Made possible by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the non-credit class includes academic advising and is eligible for prior learning credit upon future enrollment at Delgado. Delgado will provide the textbook and course materials free of charge. Classes are Aug. 19 through Nov. 7 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. at Café Reconcile. For more information about the program, contact Croix McClendon,, or call (504) 934-1641.


Nunez Adds Coastal Studies and GIS Technology Program Nunez Community College, in partnership with St. Bernard Parish Government’s Coastal Division, announced the addition of Coastal Studies and GIS Technology to its program offerings on Aug. 1. AWARDS

Jack Rose Ranked Best Hotel Restaurant in USA Today Jack Rose has been recognized as the No. 1 Best Hotel Restaurant in the country according to USA TODAY 10BEST Readers’ Choice 2019. A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Co-owned by Emery Whalen and Chef Brian Landry of QED Hospitality, Jack Rose is located inside the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans’ Garden District. The complete list of winners is available at

20 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

The Coastal Studies and GIS Technology program prepares students for coastal careers with a focus on GIS technology skills and instruction in coastal and environmental science. With options of a certificate of technical studies, a technical diploma or associate of applied science degree, the program blends instruction in technical skills, regulatory information and science. It is grant funded by St. Bernard Parish Government’s Coastal Division through the Restore Act. GNO, Inc. also provided support in the creation of the program through its GNOu initiative.

“For the past 31 years, and including the next 5 years, the Sports Foundation’s work will have generated more than $3.4 billion in economic impact for our city and state, in large part due to the combined efforts of our honorees and staff. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished and what we have yet to accomplish in 2020 with the College Football Championship Game, the NCAA Women’s Final Four and the 2022 NCAA Final Four, not to mention the Super Bowl in 2024.” Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation President and CEO Jay Cicero, speaking about the organization’s inaugural Honors Luncheon, which will be held on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 11:30 a.m. on the turf of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. At the event, the GNOSF will honor former New Orleans Saints player and Team Gleason founder Steve Gleason, among others, and will induct its first-ever Sports Foundation Hall of Fame class at the luncheon, tol include Senate President John A. Alario.


First Annual Development Conference Oct. 5 On Sat., Oct. 5, GDG New Orleans and Women Techmakers New Orleans will host the city’s first community-run developer conference, DevFest New Orleans. The single-day, single-track conference is designed to be inclusive for all developers. Held at Loyola University’s Miller Hall (on the corner of Calhoun and Loyola), the conference will feature speakers from companies including Google, Typeform and InfluxData. For the full schedule, visit / 21

Recent Openings

The Daily Beet Healthy fast-casual dining offering The Daily Beet has opened its third location on the corner of Toledano and Magazine streets in New Orleans’ Garden District. The restaurant also has locations in St. Roch and the Central Business District. This newest addition features a laid-back schoolhouse interior, thanks to local architecture firm Concordia and design and fabrication firm GoodWood NOLA.

Shake Shack On Friday, July 19, Shake Shack opened its first Louisiana shack in the Greater New Orleans Area at 3501 Veterans Memorial Blvd. , just off North Causeway Boulevard on the corner of Severn Avenue. The opening is the first step in a larger expansion in Louisiana, with two additional locations opening this year in Canal Place and the Louis Armstrong Airport. The Metairie location includes a unique selection of frozen custard concretes created in partnership with Haydel’s Bakery pralines, chocolate brownies and seasonal pies, as well as local beer and wine options.


Hubig’s Pies


Legacy Park On August 7, the City of New Orleans, New Orleans Public Schools, International High School of New Orleans (IHSNO), Groundwork New Orleans, ASLA and other partners broke ground at Legacy Park, a new greenspace project in the Lafayette Square neighborhood in Downtown New Orleans. The project will transform a portion of the IHSNO parking lot into a shared greenspace serving both the students and the surrounding community. The Downtown Development District (DDD) and Groundwork New Orleans are overseeing construction, which has a total budget of $300,000. DDD plans to match private and corporate philanthropy to complete the project.

22 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Hubig’s Pies has announced plans to relaunch production of its famous fruit pies with a $1.37 million capital investment in a Jefferson Parish manufacturing facility. The project initially will create 14 full-time direct jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $40,600, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 16 new indirect jobs, for a total of 30 new jobs in the Southeast Region of Louisiana.Hubig’s targets a production launch in 2020. In addition to traditional recipes, the company will offer e-commerce options for remote ordering and delivery of Hubig’s hand pies.

Ochsner Health Center — Lake Terrace Ochsner Health Center — Lake Terrace is now open and serving patients at 1532 Robert E. Lee Boulevard in New Orleans. Featuring the first drive-thru pharmacy in the Ochsner Health System, the 58,137-square-foot facility also includes self-check-in kiosks and more than 60 offices and exam rooms. Services include primary care, general pediatrics and women’s services. Lab and imaging services — including x-ray and mammography — are also available onsite.

Food Court at Place St. Charles Popular Central Business District lunch spot Place St. Charles — at 201 St. Charles Ave. — reopened its second-floor food court on July 18. The food court now features nine local vendors which include Korean, Nicaraguan, Middle Eastern, Tex-Mex, Vietnamese, Italian and New Orleansstyle dining options. It is open weekdays for breakfast and lunch until 2:30 p.m.


Junior’s on Harrison In fall 2019, restaurateurs Nick Hufft and Lon Marchand will open Junior’s on Harrison (Junior’s) at 789 Harrison Avenue in New Orleans’ Lakeview neighborhood in a space formerly occupied by Cava. The New Orleans locals currently operate Curbside Burgers and The Overpass Merchant in Baton Rouge, along with mobile creamery Gail’s Fine Ice Cream. The two-story, 110-seat eatery will include an upstairs bar and expansive terrace, along with an interior dining room serving modern American cuisine. A brick and mortar locale of Gail’s Fine Ice Cream is also planned for Lakeview later this year.

daily beet photo by madeline rose











Thursday, June 27 | Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Friday, July 26 | Ace Hotel

Wednesday, July | Manning’s Sports Bar & Grill

New Orleans Business Alliance Annual meeting to celebrate new business model and “Economic Development Reimagined”

Emerge Summit and Millennials Awards

Real Men Wear Pink Reveal Party

Highlighting NOBA’s inclusive and equitable economic business development model, the organization’s annual meeting included keynote speaker, and New Orleans native, Arnold W. Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation.

Expanded to two days this year, the Emerge Summit and Millenials Awards included industry-specific workshops and educational tracks along with honoring young professionals contributing to their communities in meaningful ways.

Kicking off this year’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign by the American Cancer Socity, this year’s 34 participants donned their pink and enjoyed drinks, appetizers and a silent auction designed to kickstart their fundraising to fight breast cancer.

1. Cate Swinburn, Stacy Martin and Sidney Monroe 2. George Fowler, Arnold Donald and Kelly Duncan 3. Sonja Christophe, Quentin Messer Jr. and Mandi Mitchell

1. Charisse Gibson, Buddy Boe and Malana Joseph Mitchell 2. Terri J. Vaughn and Cleveland Spears III 3. Kristin Patterson and Chelsea Cusimano

1. Benjamin Conway, Kathy Singleton and DavidWoolverton 2. Dr. John Gordon, Holly Gordon and Dr. Ali Sadeghi 3. Greg Kayser, Courtney Ohlmes and Sean Owens

photographs by cheryl gerber and jeff strout / 23

24 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019 / 25

26 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Biz columnists spe ak out


Now in its fourth year, the National Fried Chicken Festival continues to expand.

In The Biz dining

To Market, To Market... Crescent City Farmers Market continues to expand, breaking into new locations by Poppy Tooker

28 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Collaborating with Ochsner Hospital, a Wednesday afternoon market opened on Jefferson Highway. Looking to serve both the surrounding community and Ochsner’s 6,000 employees, the company’s shopper incentives include weekly social media postings redeemable at the market’s information booth for $5 in tokens. The market’s token system has long been a study of social justice in action. Shoppers use credit cards to purchase wooden tokens, taken as cash by market vendors. Those receiving government assistance are eligible for Market Match, a program that doubles their tokens up to $20 in value. Despite best efforts, Wednesday’s French Market site simply was not a success. Engaging with regular customers there, the market team discovered most were coming from Bywater, an area of the city lacking in fresh grocery access. By moving to the Rusty Rainbow at Crescent Park, a true neighborhood market developed. Vendors increased from eight to 18. Most shoppers come on foot, many accompanied by children and dogs. Bucktown Success

The Ochsner Experiment

January 2019 also saw the debut of a new Friday-afternoon market at Bucktown Marina. Located just over the levee at the Jefferson-Orleans Parish line, its close proximity to the docks lured in a new vendor, A & B Seafood. Fisherman Brad Berktoniere’s says his secret weapon is his 12-year-old son, Cameron, who, he says, is as knowledgeable about their seafood selection as an ancient mariner. Never saw a soft shell shrimp before? Cameron will explain all about this little-known delicacy as he picks through boiled crabs, selecting the biggest and heaviest for his customers. Friday-afternoon crowds linger, enjoying late afternoon breezes blowing in from the lake as the scent of grilled sausages and other dinner-ready possibilities tempt them to stay for an impromptu picnic. By 7 p.m., vendors are packing up, ready to greet another crowd of hungry market shoppers on Saturday morning, as Market Umbrella continues to fulfill its mission of public markets for public good. n

In January 2019, Market Umbrella experienced unprecedented expansion, growing to a total of seven weekly markets.

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 llustrat i on by Tony H ealey

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.

When the opening bell of the Crescent

City Farmers Market first rang on Saturday, Sept. 30, 1995, it signaled the start of a fresh food revolution that continues today. Market founders Richard McCarthy, Sharon Litwin and John Abajian knew the city’s chefs longed for fresh, local ingredients as much as they did when they banded together to bring the farmers back to the city by creating the nonprofit Market Umbrella. The original Crescent City Farmers Market, located on the corner of Magazine and Girod streets, operated Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. until noon. Over time, markets expanded, contracted, added days and changed locations. Today, Market Umbrella operates seven different farmers markets weekly, in locations ranging from Bywater to Rivertown’s historic district in Kenner. Over the years, the market has stayed true to its vision, scrupulously avoiding the sale of nonfood or secondary market items. Every market vendor must produce what they sell and their practices are carefully screened. Market staff regularly visits farms and production facilities to ensure quality and authenticity. No longer just a Saturday affair, markets are now on Tuesday mornings Uptown, Thursday afternoons in Mid-City and at the original French Market site on Wednesdays. In the spring of 2018, the city of Kenner invited Market Umbrella to assume operations of their Saturday Rivertown market. The breezy, Mississippi levee location at LaSalle’s Landing provided a perfect shady spot for a market, but the city had difficulties retaining farmers. With an approved vendor list of over 85 seasonal and full-time food producers, the Crescent City Farmers Market was able to change the size and scope of Rivertown’s market quickly. When selecting vendors at any location, the goal is to offer a mix of 60% produce, 20% proteins and 20% value added products, such as baked goods, pastas, jams, jellies and other prepared foods. Each market varies slightly, but fresh produce always remains the paramount offering. / 29

In The Biz to u r is m

Let There Be Light Louisiana Children’s Museum opens new facility By Jennifer Gibson Schecter

30 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Louisiana Children’s Museum (LCM) on Julia Street closed for good in July, marking the end of more than three decades in the Warehouse District. Now, after more than two years of construction and just over one month of closure, the museum has opened its cutting-edge $47.5 million facility at its new home in City Park. Located on a verdant 8.5 acres of parkland and overlooking a lagoon, the building is flooded with natural light and was designed for LEED Silver certification. “The new LCM will not only be a place to play, but also a place to learn and grow in a new way,” said Julia Bland, CEO of the Louisiana Children’s Museum. “In addition to serving as a resource to support parents and caregivers, the museum and grounds will celebrate the incredible capacity of young children in a wide variety of approaches. The children’s museum has been a significant community resource for 33 years. Our move to City Park has allowed us to reimagine a broader holistic approach to ensuring that every child reaches his potential.” Inside the museum, visitors will find five interactive exhibits with the themes of literacy, health and wellness, environmental education, and arts and culture. Classic installations from the previous location, like the grocery store and bubbles, have been reimagined for the new space. There is also a life-size checker board that incorporates the sounds of New Orleans neighborhoods and a 100-foot-long water exhibit that represents the Mississippi River from its beginnings in Minnesota to its merging with the Gulf of Mexico. The outdoor campus has been beautifully landscaped and designed to support the natural ecosystem in City Park. It features decks, bridges, sensory and edible gardens, a floating classroom, bio islands, wetlands, and a restored lagoon shoreline. LCM planted indigenous trees and shrubs to repopulate the grounds and attract wildlife to the area. “We are thrilled that the learning experiences between children and their parents and caregivers will happen in such a beautiful location,” said Bland. “The magnificent setting of City Park, combined with a uniquely childcentered building and grounds, will provide an unprecedented opportunity for reaching children and families as we seek to realize each child’s potential and positively change the projection for our community.”

According to LCM, the organization’s previous location welcomed approximately 135,000 visitors annually. It’s anticipated that number will increase to 250,000 visitors each year at the new facility. Additionally, 20 to 25% of past visitors have been from outside of the New Orleans region, and that percentage is expected to increase as well based on easier accessibility from I-10. To help attract tourists, the museum has partnered with New Orleans & Company. Through that collaboration, LCM has connected to travel publications, in-flight magazines and travel writers to help showcase another reason for families to visit New Orleans, as well as to tell the story of its new campus and expanded mission and vision. The museum also plans to reach out to school and family travel groups across the Gulf South and in the surrounding drive market. LCM doesn’t have any concerns about relocating further away from tourist-heavy downtown. “We are confident that the Louisiana Children’s Museum makes City Park even more appealing and exciting to families visiting New Orleans,” said Bland. “Families can find their way with a magical streetcar ride to City Park and spend the entire day taking advantage of the many amenities that City Park now offers for visitors of all ages — from the Louisiana Children’s Museum to Storyland, City Putt to the Botanical Garden, and of course the New Orleans Museum of Art and its magnificent expanded sculpture garden.” LCM’s previous logo incorporated the red brick warehouse and blue doors of its former location. In July, it released a new logo designed to reflect the nature that surrounds the City Park campus. It uses bright shades of blue and green, as well as a whimsical child’s illustration that I have decided is a crab. The new branding can be seen throughout the museum, and a new website will be revealed soon. Museum admission is $14, but several areas are free and open to the public, including the parent-teacher resource center, the literacy center and Acorn, A Dickie Brennan & Company Café. In addition to free museum entry and free programming, there are also three new family membership packages. For more information, visit n

i llustrat i on by Tony H ealey

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

The iconic arched blue doors of the / 31

In The Biz s p o r ts

Let’s Geaux! Saints enter 2019 season with Super Bowl expectations by chris price

32 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

uneasy offseason caused by the smarting of the notorious no-call on an obvious pass interference play in the waning seconds of the NFC Championship Game, the Black and Gold kickoff the 2019 season with a February trip to Miami, home of Super Bowl LIV, and site of their Super Bowl XLIV win, as their ultimate goal. A decade after winning Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, sportsbooks like the Saints’ odds to return to south Florida. SportsLine. com top pro football analyst R.J. White, who has been correct on more than 60 percent of his NFL picks the past two seasons, has the Saints as 8-1 favorites to lift the Lombardi Trophy, behind only the AFC’s New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, both with 6-1 odds, and tied with the Los Angeles Rams. Since head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees arrived in 2006, the Saints have been noted for their prolific offense. Their attack averaged 31.5 points and 379.2 yards per game. Brees finished the regular season as the league leader in completion percentage (74.4) and quarterback rating (115.7). Along the way, he became the NFL’s career passing yards leader, and has positioned himself to claim the league’s career touchdown passing crown this season. The team torched opposing defenses for the first three-quarters of the season before injuries on the offensive line and at wide receiver whittled the team’s fire power to, seemingly receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara. Look for receivers Ted Ginn and Tre’Quan Smith, and free agent running back Latavius Murray and tight end Jared Cook to diversify the Saints’ offensive options. A strong offensive line has been the bedrock of Sean Payton’s offense. Tackles Terron Armstead (left) and Ryan Ramczyk (right) are arguably the best pair in the NFL, and the guards — Larry Warford on the right and Andrus Peat on the left, are solid, too. However, the O-Line is looking to rebound from injuries and the retirement of center Max Unger. The Saints signed free agent Nick Easton and drafted Erik McCoy 48th overall in the draft. The youngster looks good and may start as a rookie. The team has made a priority

of selecting guys who can play multiple positions on the line. That’s given the team a lot of depth and little to no drop-off in play when replacements enter the game. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the 2018 season was watching the defense get better weekly over the course of the season. The unit finished the season ranked 14th in the NFL in total defense, giving up 22.1 points and 349.1 yards per game. Ends Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport will attack opponents’ flanks, while tackles Sheldon Rankins — who will miss at least the first six games of the season still recovering from an Achilles injury — and free-agent Malcom Brown will block up the middle. The Saints have depth on the D-Line and could be the bedrock of an exciting unit. The linebacking corps will be led by Demario Davis, A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone. The better the line plays, the better the linebackers play. The run defense is stout. Watch for the pass defense to improve. The Saints’ secondary has been a revolving door since it won the Super Bowl a decade ago. Marshon Lattimore, Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams are slated to start. The unit had trouble with the deep ball early last season, but got better as the season progressed. With experience, it’s hoped that the DBs will improve and create more opportunities for turnovers. The Saints formula for success remains unleashing a potent attack, dominating time of possession, and providing enough defense to outlast the opposition. While fans already know most of the names and faces on this team, the Saints have a handful of newcomers who must step in immediately and play at a championshipcaliber level for the Saints to make it to the Super Bowl. It’s well within the realm of possibility for the Saints to return to Miami for their second appearance in the NFL’s championship game. Hopefully the team can get over its notorious slow September start, rack up wins early and follow its traditional game plan — one contest at a time, win the division, earn a first-round playoff bye, secure home-field advantage, win the NFC, go to Super Bowl LIV and lift the Lombardi. n

i llustrat i on by Tony H ealey

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

Saints football is finally here! After an / 33

In The Biz en t er ta i n m en t

Chicken Not-So-Little The fourth return of the National Fried Chicken Festival will be even bigger and packed with new additions. by Kim Singletary

34 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

“We’re planning on hosting the largest karaoke experience ever,” said Spears. “Then, on Sunday, we’ll have the Lester Love and Light City of Love choir in the morning, the St. Augustine marching band in the afternoon, and then wrap it all up starting at 6:30 p.m. with a Who Dat playlist of local musicians playing all the favorite Saints songs hosted by Superdome Game Day DJ Raj Smoove.” And then, of course, there’s the food. “We’re definitely anchored by Louisiana restaurants, but we have more guests this year,” said Spears of the festival’s lineup, which will include restaurants from Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee and California serving up all manner of fried chicken, along with other offerings. When asked about his ultimate goals for the festival, Spears said he aspires to be like one of the greats. “I don’t believe we’ll ever be as big as the French Quarter Festival, but we will try and keep growing every year,” he said. “August and September are such a terrible time for our local hospitality industry so I’m really proud of the fact that last year we were able to draw about 50,000 visitors from outside the area to stay for a day or a weekend. That can really make a difference.” n

i llustrat i on by Tony H ealey

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.

Fried chicken may have been invented

by the Scottish (strange but true), but I think it’s safe to say we’ve perfected it here in Southeast Louisiana. And, just like so many of our tastiest dishes — beignets, crab, gumbo, etc. — we don’t just eat it, we celebrate it in the streets. This will be the fourth year for the National Fried Chicken Festival and its creators — public relations and engagement firm Spears Group — continue their efforts to make the festival bigger and better every year. This year that means adding a third day to the fest, which will run Sept. 20-22 at New Orleans’ Woldenberg Riverfront Park. “Even after moving from one day to two, the crowds were really thick,” said the festival’s founder, Cleveland Spears, III, who added that last year’s festival attracted approximately 175,000 attendees. “By adding another day, we can accommodate the people who will be working downtown on Friday and provide the opportunity for more restaurants and musicians to join us.” This year the festival will also include two new V.I.P. experiences. The first is the Royalty Lounge. “We did something with Crown Royal last year, but it was kind of last minute and really was just guests of Crown Royal,” said Spears. “This year, our Royalty Lounge will be open to all who would like to buy a pass and include Crown Royal cocktails, food by Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken and V.I.P. restroom access. The tent will be right by the DJ stage on Canal Street.” Tickets are $35 plus processing fees. The other experience new to this year is the Bottomless Bubbles V.I.P. Lounge. “We’ve done a chicken and champagne lounge every year, but this year — taking a cue from the popularity of bottomless mimosas at brunches all over the city — we’ve partnered with Chandon to offer bottomless champagne, along with food and bathroom access,” said Spears. “This tent will have great access to the main stage.” Tickets are $75 plus processing fees. The festival is also adding some new entertainment ideas. Friday will be Ladies Day at the DJ Stage, which will feature all female DJs, and Saturday attendees can enjoy Crowd Karaoke. / 35

In The Biz en t r epr en eu r s h i p

Hearing a Need Audiologist turned entrepreneur Dr. Lana Joseph-Ford is filling a demand that just keeps growing by keith twitchell

36 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

become entrepreneurs; for others, entrepreneurial opportunities come to them. Dr. Lana Joseph-Ford falls into the latter category, and has made the most of those opportunities, helping to address a major healthcare problem in the process. Although she attended business school at University of New Orleans, JosephFord completed her medical training in audiology and had, in her words, “a nice, easygoing practice.” Most of her patients were adults. In relatively short order, however, she established connections with several local pediatricians and began seeing a lot of children with hearing issues. At this point, she was still focused exclusively on audiology, but a lot of the parents were also inquiring about speech therapy. Many people are not aware of the close connection between hearing problems and speech impediments. Fewer still — even in the medical community — understand the link between treating the two issues in a coordinated manner. As she looked into the situation more closely, Joseph-Ford was shocked to find that for children seeking speech therapy, the average wait for treatment was a full year. “The early years are so critical for learning, especially for things like speech and language,” Joseph-Ford explained. “The situation was just not acceptable.” Her concern was far more than simply professional, it was personal. She struggled with a speech impediment herself in her youth and said “it influences who you will become. I still have issues with confidence when speaking in front of groups of people.” Ample research has shown speech and hearing problems negatively impact school performance, social development and career opportunities, and can even cause significant behavioral issues. Even worse, doctors sometimes take the “they’ll grow out it” approach and tell parents there is nothing they can do for their children’s speech challenges. Determined to provide a better alternative, Joseph-Ford hired a speech therapist at her practice and began welcoming

three patients a week; She now engages 12 speech therapists who see approximately 900 patients a week at her location on Jefferson Highway in Harahan, which she opened in 2016. High Level Speech & Hearing Center added another location in New Orleans on Magnolia Street in January 2018. The company also provides hearing and speech testing, consultation and treatment through a variety of schools, community centers and camps. Her rapid growth forced Joseph-Ford to reach out for assistance. Through a training program by Propeller, she was assisted in developing a business model that she described as lean and flexible. “The demand has not stopped, and we have to respond to it,” she said. Her outreach to schools and other facilities has included supplying quantitative data about speech and hearing disorders and what can be done about them and she has expanded her practice to include dizziness and balance testing, afflictions that are often related to speech and hearing. In addition, she is now working with senior centers, as more research begins to show links between the disorders and elder diseases such as dementia. Assisting her in managing this growth is her husband, Jamal Ford, who noted one of the obstacles they face is cultural. “There is not much of an entrepreneurial mindset in the field of speech pathology,” he said. “When we bring on new staff, they have to be trained into that culture.” Part of the culture means being willing to take on a higher caseload, reach out to more people and work longer hours. The couple also hopes to see more providers moving into their own private practices, especially women, who dominate the field medically but are underrepresented entrepreneurially. Despite the growth, the success, the ongoing expansion (“We want to be in 15 parishes by 2025,” Joseph-Ford vowed), the motivation remains personal. Sometimes she still experiences the shyness she developed from her own childhood speech issues. “I’ve seen so many people do so much better,” she said, “and there are so many more out there. I know we can help.” n

i llustrat i on by Tony H ealey

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.

Some people actively seek out ways to / 37

In The Biz etiquet te

Shady Business What to do when you observe unethical behavior at work — even if it comes from your boss. by Melanie Warner Spencer

it’s easy to find news stories about political

leaders and industry titans implicated, arrested or indicted. But what happens if you’re faced with unethical behavior at work? What would you do? We all like to think we have a sturdy ethical compass, but when put in the uncomfortable position of observing someone else’s corrupt business dealings or, worse yet, being asked or directed to participate, we might not be prepared to handle it. Who would you turn to with potentially damning information? What about retaliation? With a bit of preparation, deciding whether or not to raise a red flag about someone else’s conduct can be somewhat easier to navigate.


Turn to the book. If you observe someone doing something you believe may be unethical, it’s important to first consult your company’s handbook. While the behavior or action is against your personal or religious code, it may not be against company policy. If it is a violation, speak to the person directly, refer them to the handbook and let them know that if the tables were turned, you’d want someone to do the same for you. Perhaps they aren’t aware it’s a violation. Tread lightly and don’t make the transgressions public until you know and, ideally, have proof there is a problem. It’s good to distance yourself from employees who behave unethically, but don’t allow this to keep you from performing your duties. It’s time to alert management when the behavior crosses into illegal activity or damages the company.


38 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

to deal with unethical behavior from an equal or underling, but what if the other party is your boss? According to a 2017 New York Times article on the subject, it’s important to first “rule out a misunderstanding. Explain why the request made you uneasy. If you can, cite specific company policies that it seems to defy.” It goes on to offer specific phrasing from Paul Fiorelli, the director of Cintas Institute for Business Ethics at Xavier University. Fiorelli suggests saying the following: “You’ve asked me to do this, but if I did this it would violate this policy we have. You’re not asking me to do that, are you?” The piece says it’s possible that “the boss hadn’t considered his or her request


Consider the culture. After confirming

your boss is directing you to operate unethically, decide whether or not to lodge a complaint. Consider your company culture (will they take action or turn a blind eye?) and retaliation. According to the 2018 Global Business Ethics Survey by the Ethics & Compliance Initiative, “Overall, 40 percent of employees indicated that they experienced retaliation after reporting misconduct (based on the 23 types of misconduct assessed).”


If all else fails, consider moving on.

If experience has taught you nothing will change or management, your direct boss or colleagues will retaliate, it might be time to look for a job with a company whose values and integrity align with your own. What should you look for when seeking those types of companies? Seek companies that clearly communicate their values. The Ethics & Compliance Initiative’s “Building Companies Where Values and Ethical Conduct Matter” report states that “to develop proactive communication, leaders at all levels of a company must communicate that they expect adherence to the company’s standards of ethical conduct. They do so by talking about the importance of ethical conduct. At a minimum, leaders need to talk consistently about ethical conduct and the ways in which the company expects their employees to behave. But just talking about ethics is not enough. Leaders must also encourage employees to speak up when standards are not being observed. Instead of relying on one-way exchanges, the goal should be a climate where employees feel empowered to raise concerns.” The old adage that the right thing to do is not always the easiest thing to do most certainly rings true when we find ourselves in the position of unethical behavior at work, but it’s certainly worth it in the long run to have the peace of mind that comes from acting with grace, tact and integrity. n

i llustrat i on by Tony H ealey

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

Clarify the situation. It’s one thing

unethical. Citing specific reasons for your objection could help them see why the request is unreasonable — or could solidify that yes, they really do want you to do something you’re not willing to do.” Finally, it suggests offering “a more ethical alternative that would produce similar results.” / 39

In The Biz marketing

How Well Do You Know Your Customers? Building customer personas can give your company an edge. by Julia carcamo

40 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

spending habits, relationship status, job titles and more. If you’re working on the B2B side, LinkedIn is continuously adding more power to your lists. Start with some basics, and then add more detail, such as: • Demographics: Male or female? Age? Children at home or empty-nesters? Where do they live? • Employment: Employed, retired or independently wealthy? Income range? • Personality Traits: Life of the party? Always asking for coupons, freebie or discounts? Complainer or fan? • Daily life: What does a day look like from the time they wake until they close their eyes? What is challenging them every day? Who makes the purchase decisions in the household? What influences those decisions? • Values and/or fears: What’s important to them? What keeps them up at night? • What your company adds to their lives: Why are they visiting us? How can we make their visit better or more memorable? • When do they visit? Can we alter the pattern in any way, like add a day or upsell them in some way? For more color, you can add common complaints, real quotes and ideal marketing messages (even if the words are not an exact match to the advertising) along with the channels that would reach them most efficiently and effectively. Finally, I always recommend giving your personas names and faces to make them real to everyone. Print them, and add them to your conference room walls so that your customers are always front and center when decisions and plans are made. Building customer personas is not a “one-time thing,” it is an activity that should regularly be revisited. Each time I attend a meeting or a conference, I reevaluate my personas to ensure they are still valid or adjust as needed. As competitors enter our markets or economies start to shift, your personas will need reevaluation since demographics and spending habits change over time, as do life stages.n

i llustrat i on by Tony H ealey

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

My firm has recently finished a couple of

projects where we had the chance to work through buyer personas — a process that proved to be both enlightening and somewhat fun. Understanding your customer as more than just a sales amount can help you fine-tune both your marketing and operation. The development of these buyer personas can help you know your customer as the multi-layered humans they are. In general, personas are fictional, generalized representations of your customers that help you understand them — and prospective customers — better and make it easier for you to tailor marketing efforts to their specific needs, behaviors, and concerns. Until you undergo a persona-building process, you will never truly understand the nuances of your customer base. Wellcrafted personas can have the effect of aiding in the internalization of the customer — almost like knowing a friend, associate or family member. When you know a person well enough, you understand how to communicate with them more effectively and efficiently. Consider how your business decisions, messages and perhaps your marketing channels might be influenced if you knew: • What challenges your customers have to overcome; • When, where and how they spend their time; • When they are most prone to visit you; and • The best messages and communications channels to reach them. The strongest buyer personas are based on insights you gather from an existing database or through research. If you lack this sort of information, start talking to your customers. Whether on your sales floor or through a simple Survey Monkey or Google Forms survey, begin asking the questions that will help you get to know your customers a little better than what you see in your weekly sales reports. There is also much to be gathered from tools you already have — such as Facebook Insights and customer comments. You can upload a list to Facebook and, thanks to the information the platform already has, your customer profiles can be expanded to include income ranges, / 41

hot topics in southe ast Louisiana industries

perspectives banking & finance  /  insurance  /  REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION

As healthcare costs continue to rise, employers are fighting back with a variety of methods. Could one of them work for you?

Perspectives banking & finance

Pennies Today Can Mean Dollars Tomorrow Local financial professionals talk tax diversification and retirement strategies. By Keith Loria

What if you could use money that has been

taxed today to create tax-free income in the future? What if there was a strategy to get tax-deferred accumulation no matter what your level of income? This is where a sound diversification strategy comes in. “The list of customizable ways to diversify your approach to tax planning is vast and complex,” says Jason Bezou, founder and president of New Orleans-based Bezou Financial Planning Group. “That is why it’s important to make tax diversification part of the plan that you implement and monitor over your life and through the ever-changing tax laws.” Antoine Pedeaux, a financial services professional at New York Life in New Orleans, says today’s highly intricate income tax system is very efficient at taxing almost every type of income stream, but at very different rates. “Some types of income are taxed very heavily every year while others are taxed at lower rates,” he says. “Without careful planning, sources of tax-free future income might never be created. “Your strategy could eventually return more than you put in, without tax, while leaving your family a legacy,” he says. “You can create the dollars needed in the future for pennies on the dollar today.” Kimberly Tara, a certified public accountant and tax coach with the Tara CPA Firm in New Orleans, says many clients don’t realize what they are leaving on the table,

44 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Tax-Free is the Way to Be

If you’re interested in future tax-free income, you need to ask yourself the following questions: Do you have multiple income streams? Do you know which taxes apply to them? Do you have any income that is growing without taxation, any tax-free income? When was the last time your CPA discussed creating sources of tax-free income in future years, or have they only focused on reducing this year’s income tax burden? Do you have time to find the tax laws that allow for taxfree future income? Do you know how to apply them? Do you know if you qualify for these strategies? If you’ve answered a lot in the negative, it may be time to call a CPA.

which is why it’s so important to work with a professional. “Tax planning is always about more than one strategy or idea, which is why it’s imperative to work with a qualified professional who specializes in tax planning and strategy, not just compliance (preparation),” she says. “We want to take a holistic approach that encompasses business and personal goals as well, not just tax savings

goals. We dig deep to really get to know our clients and make sure that all of our strategies fit their situation.” Most financial experts agree that working with a team of financial professionals who complement each other’s strength and specializations is always a savvy idea. Bezou notes that while everyone loves the idea of tax deferral or tax-free, there are pros and cons for each tax benefit. / 45

For example, tax deferral can build up and cause a huge taxable event at an inconvenient time. “That’s why it’s important to have enough pre-taxed money invested or set aside in a way that is accessible without penalty or loss potential and then consider investing more aggressively in the tax-deferred funds that you will likely hold for longer and take out slowly over time to supplement other income sources during retirement,” he says. “That safe money sitting in a bank account might not make much money, but it affords you the guts to withstand the ups and downs of other retirement funds that you don’t plan on needing or using for a long time.” Tips for Individuals

Pedeaux says the perfect retirement plan for individuals would consist of three features: contributions that are tax deductible, tax-deferred accumulation and distributions that are tax free. “Unfortunately, this perfect plan does not exist,” he says. “Like most things in life, you can have two out of the three. A traditional IRA allows for tax deductible (pre-tax) contributions and tax-deferred accumulation, but distributions at retirement are taxed at the individual’s ordinary income tax rate. A ROTH IRA is the opposite; funding contributions are not tax deductible (post-tax); however, the accumulation is still tax deferred and distributions at retirement are not taxed as income.” The IRS sets a maximum limit of $6,000 in contributions annually that can be placed inside an IRA or a ROTH IRA, and individuals with an annual earned income of $137,000 are ineligible to make any ROTH contributions in that year. “Keep in mind, opening a retirement account is making a deal with the IRS,” Pedeaux says. “In exchange for the favorable tax status of these accounts, the IRS will not allow the investor access to the retirement funds until he or she reaches the age of 59 and a half. Any funds withdrawn prior to this age will incur a 10% penalty, and ordinary income tax will need to be paid on the amount withdrawn at that time.” For those considering retiring before 65 who need healthcare prior to becoming Medicare eligible, Bezou offers some advice.

46 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

“If your taxable income remains low enough, you could benefit from thousands of dollars in subsidies and tax benefits that are only available to lower-income families,” he says. “So, keep income low during that time. Perhaps that’s one reason to spend down money from a savings account rather than starting Social Security early or beginning to pull from IRAs or deferred annuities.” A lesser-known vehicle for taxfavorable retirement planning is a Cash Value Whole Life Insurance policy. The premiums paid into these policies are “post-tax” and not deductible. The growth of the cash value inside the policy is similarly tax-deferred, and the cash value can be accessed for retirement income-tax free through policy loans. “Furthermore, there are no annual contribution limits, and there are no age limits for accessing the cash value,” Pedeaux says. “Additionally, as a life insurance policy, the death benefit passes to the owner’s beneficiaries income-tax free.” Tara cautions clients to make sure withholding rates are adequate for any year-end tax liability. “We’ve seen many clients caught off guard since the beginning of 2018,” she says. “Re-evaluating entity selection would be our top planning tip given the tax reform we’re currently experiencing—what may have worked before may no longer be the best option.” Tip for Business Owners

Owning a business presents individuals with both opportunities and challenges not faced by employees. Among those is that while many employees have access to a retirement plan at their work, business owners are generally responsible for managing their own retirement. “Business owners need strategies to reposition some of that post-tax money out of the tax cycle and put it in a 0% tax bracket where it won’t ever be taxed again,” Pedeaux says. “A ROTH IRA could be a suitable vehicle, but many business owners exceed the $137,000 income limit, eliminating that option. For high-income business owners, Cash Value Life Insurance is often an ideal instrument to permanently remove funds from the tax cycle and create a tax-free stream of income during retirement.” n

Perspectives i nsu r a n c e

Fighting the Fight A local insurance professional shares three ways he’s seen employers battle rising health care costs By Ryan Rodrigue

Mitigating health care costs has been

a top-of-mind concern for employers nationwide for a few years. Many want to continue to offer valuable health benefits to their current employees and want those benefits to help them attract and retain quality employees. However, they must also weigh the cost-effectiveness of those benefits at a time when hefty rate hikes are the norm. After trying to absorb most of the costs in order to avoid hiring and retention issues, many firms are attacking the root causes of rising costs with sustained, systemic changes. With the growing epidemic of poor health and the uncertain overall impact of health care reform, employers are looking at both short- and long-term

48 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Ryan Rodrigue is managing partner at Hollis Companies, a group insurance consulting firm with over 30 years of employee benefits experience based out of Metairie. He may be reached at rrodrigue@

strategies to manage costs, which include making plan design changes, focusing on employee well-being and education, and implementing additional benefits offerings. Plan Design Changes

Plan design changes can include: increasing deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums; increasing employee cost-sharing for outof-network providers; and increasing employee cost-sharing for brand-name prescription drugs to incentivize use of generics. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and HRET’s Employer Health Benefits 2018 Annual Survey, most workers must pay a share of their health care costs — 85% had a general annual deductible and 58% had a deductible of at least $1,000 for single coverage in 2018. Even without a deductible, the vast majority of workers cover some portion of the costs from their in-network physician visits. For instance, 66% have a copayment for primary doctor visits and 24% have coinsurance. Nearly all workers are covered by a plan with an out-of-pocket maximum (OOPM), but the costs vary considerably. Of workers with single coverage, 14% have an OOPM of less than $2,000, and 20% have an OOPM of $6,000 or more. Standard plans and HDHPs (high deductible health plans) are set up much in the same way. Under both plans, the member pays a premium for coverage. Both plans must cover preventive services free of charge. If a member receives non-preventive medical care, he or she pays a deductible—a specified amount of money that the insured must pay before an insurance company will pay a claim. The chief difference between the plans is that under an HDHP, premium payments are considerably lower, and the deductible is considerably higher. The second major factor setting HDHPs apart from standard plans is the addition

of an HSA (health savings account). With an HSA, the account holder or his or her employer (usually both) make contributions into a savings account. No taxes are deducted from money placed into the account, as the HSA contribution is withdrawn from a paycheck before taxes are assessed. While in the savings account, the money can earn interest. The employee is free to spend that money on qualified medical expenses. One important thing to note about HDHPs, though, is that part of their success relies on how employees use the plan. If employees aren’t wise health care consumers, health care costs will still be high, even with the cost-sharing benefits of the plan. If you opt to implement this type of plan, you’ll need to be prepared to provide educational resources that help employees become smart healthcare consumers. Employee Wellbeing and Education

On that note, I’ve seen employers making efforts to educate their employees on lower cost alternative points of care. For instance, consumers may pay less by using an urgent care vs. an emergency room or turning to a standalone clinic for advanced imaging instead of a hospital. There has also been greater recognition and efforts in employee wellness in an effort to get in front of high costs down the road. An example may be in promoting healthy eating in an effort to avoid issues with diabetes or heart problems. Additional Benefit Offerings

For younger, relatively healthy employees whose primary concern may be coverage in case of accidents, for example, instead of regular care, an HDHP may make the most sense. In these cases, I’ve seen some employers offer to fully fund an accident policy or hospital indemnity plan as an additional incentive. Even covering that cost in full still saves the company money while providing the employee with the coverage they want. n / 49

Perspectives r e a l e s tat e & co ns t ru c t i o n

The Fab Five A look at five Southeast Louisiana communities that have been reborn. By Jessica Rosgaard

A combination of commercial and

residential real estate growth is transforming communities across Southeast Louisiana. Whether it’s a new option for affordable family living or the growth of a commercial corridor, these five neighborhoods are experiencing a rebirth. LAKEVIEW

Fourteen years following the devastation of Lakeview from Hurricane Katrina, the neighborhood has experienced a renaissance. GiGi Burk, owner of Burk Brokerage, says residential properties in Lakeview lost 75% of their value after the storm — but now, thanks to local builders who took a chance on an investment, that value is back. “We courted a bunch of builders from the Westbank and LaPlace,” Burk says. “We told them how lucrative it would be for them if they were willing to take the risk and they did very well; a lot of builders that got in in the beginning did very, very well.” Lakeview has developed as a highvalue, affordable alternative to Uptown and Old Metairie. In the past 10 years, the area has attracted a younger generation of residents — buyers in their mid-to-upper 30s and early 40s — which has pushed development of schools and commercial options. “There’s a sports bar and restaurant, Azul, that’s getting ready to open on the corner of Pontchartrain and Harrison; a brand-new, state-of-the-art

50 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

toy store; and a new Cookie Dough Bliss, which is the only one in the area,” says Burk. Adding to the viability of Lakeview is the fact that the Harrison Avenue corridor and parts of Robert E. Lee Boulevard, have been rezoned from residential to commercial. “There was always a shortage of commercial properties out at the Lakefront,” Burk says. “For years, people would try to open businesses out there and they didn’t have enough commercial space to facilitate growth,” Burk says. “So, after the storm, [the city] rezoned Harrison Avenue.” Burk says that rezoning was key. In the case of Lakeview, the commercial development drove residential. “We learned after the storm very quickly that a community comes back because of commercial space,” she says.


The story is different across Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish, where Chris Combs, owner of CM Combs Construction, says steady residential growth is attracting commercial development. “The Northshore is kind of removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, and as more people come over here, the need for more infrastructure is growing which is turning us into a little city,” he says. “But it’s sprawling and spread out; there’s more elbow room.” St. Tammany Parish has shown steady population growth — between 1-2%, for the past eight years — and is projected to increase by 5.7% in the next five years. The St. Tammany Parish Hospital is currently undergoing a $54 million expansion to keep up with that growth.

Combs says in addition to the hospital expansion, the population growth is driving other development in the area. “There is constant change due to the growth — new homes, new restaurants, new businesses,” Combs says. “There’s a lot of investment, a lot of employment. People have faith in the economy.” A significant investment is coming from multi-national financial services firm Raymond James, which Combs says is consolidating its satellite offices into a new headquarters in Mandeville. “My company did a design/build with them for a large two-story building on West Causeway,” he says. Add in a mix of small businesses and big box stores, Combs says, and the transformation is clear. “I grew up in Madisonville. What used to be country roads are now / 51

highways, and the growth shows no sign of stopping.” RIVERFRONT

Along the riverfront in New Orleans, the site of the former L.A. Frey & Sons meat packing plant in Bywater is now a 75-unit condominium called The Saxony. “The building that was there before was large and had been abandoned for many years,” says Shelley Lawrence, a realtor with Latter & Blum. “It wasn’t good to have in your neighborhood.” The Saxony fits in with the increased development of Bywater condominiums in recent years, specifically taking the place of older, abandoned commercial buildings. “It was all brought up to date with hurricane standards — a steel-frame building with hurricane-standard windows,” says Lawrence. “Every unit will have at least one parking place inside, so we’re not putting a big building there with a bunch of cars that need parking on the streets.” Six units on the ground floor are zoned for residential or commercial use, in accordance with the Historic District Landmarks Commission, and designed to be used as either a small residential studio or retail space. “It always was a mixed-use area,” says Lawrence. And that mixed-use area is attracting a mix of residents as well. “We have quite a few people who may be empty nesters, coming from other local neighborhoods or other cities, [who] want to scale down,” says Lawrence. “And we have second homes, and young professionals as well, so it’s actually a really good cross-section — like a true New Orleans neighborhood.” ST BERNARD PARISH/ARABI

Downriver in St. Bernard Parish, Jacques Alfonso of St. Bernard Realty says property values have gone up 20% in Arabi over the last two years. “It’s unheard of to grow that fast in such a short amount of time,” he says. Alfonso says Arabi is attracting transplants from areas like the Marigny and Bywater looking to cash out on their investments. “They bought seven or eight years ago when the property value was low, and now it’s doubled in those locations, so they’re coming here and buying a brand-new house with 52 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

a yard with very similar New Orleansesque architectural styles, and they’re buying cash,” Alfonso says. Alfonso was born and raised in St. Bernard Parish, and says he feels like the community is finally starting to hit its stride. “We have great schools, great infrastructure, an excellent police department and an excellent fire department,” Alfonso says. “Our recreational facilities are extremely beautiful, and it’s an excellent community to raise a family in.” Additionally, Alfonso says, land is inexpensive in Arabi. Combined with the city’s “buy and build” program — in which you buy an inexpensive lot from the parish and have a home built within a year — Alfonso says, “no matter what street you turn down you’ll more than likely see a house being built.” The Achilles’ heel in St Bernard Parish, says Alfonso, is the lack of commercial real estate — something he attributes to the low population. But he hopes the 2020 census will show steady population growth, and, he says, the commercial growth will follow residential. NEW ORLEANS EAST

A few miles away in New Orleans East, Latter & Blum agent Hilda VensonMarkey says houses are selling fast and that residential growth has driven commercial investment. “Most businesses have done well out here since they have opened,” Venson-Markey says. “Home ownership has been back in New Orleans East, so you have the people with the income” to support those businesses. Dixie Brewing and Cajun Fire Brewing Company will be opening in New Orleans East, and there are grocery stores, restaurants and successful small businesses — but Venson-Markey says some more business investment would really be a catalyst for growth in the area. Meanwhile, residents are drawn to New Orleans East for its affordable living — priced right for first-time home buyers to get into the market, with potential for investment growth. “You can buy in New Orleans East and get in a nice neighborhood, get a nice living space with a yard, and a home at a reasonable price,” VensonMarkey says. “People are looking for that.” n / 53

Proud to be

by kim singletary portraits by jeffery johnston

New Orleans business professionals are among the top nationally in the American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign against breast cancer — and they’re just getting started.


ow in its third year nationally, the American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign encourages men to spend the month of October wearing pink in an effort to raise both money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. Last year, the New Orleans campaign raised $190,000, finishing sixth in the nation out of 250 campaigns. This year, 25 rookies and nine All Stars (men who have participated before) are attempting to raise $250,000 for the cause. Hailing from all different industries — including healthcare, real estate and construction, hospitality, finance, law and even auctioneering — these 34 men are determined to use their connections and standing in the community to help eradicate the second leading cause of cancer death in women (next to lung cancer). Money raised during RMWP is restricted to ACS’s breast cancer initiatives, the largest of which is research. ACS currently funds $64 million in research against the disease on a national level. Locally, ACS funds many programs, including Reach to Recover — which matches breast cancer survivors to newly diagnosed women in order to form a sort of mentorship — and Road to Recovery, which provides volunteer drivers to assist those who need it with free transportation to treatment. Funds also go to support the Patrick F. Taylor Hope Lodge which, since opening on River Road in 2006, has saved patients about $30 million in lodging costs alone. On the following pages, Biz New Orleans is proud to highlight the efforts of three of this year’s Real Men Wear Pink. Please join us in recognizing and supporting their efforts this year to continue leading the nation in the fight against this horrible disease. To donate to any of the candidates, visit

56 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019


RMWP All Star

John Overly Manager of Emergency Preparedness at Entergy

The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 38 (about 2.6%). Apart from skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer type in women.

fter two years of participating in Real Men Wear Pink in Charlotte, North Carolina, John Overly switched over to the New Orleans campaign following a move this past spring. “I arrived in New Orleans on May 7, and on May 8, I called Lori and said I wanted to join Real Men here,” said Overly. His passion for ACS and particularly for the fight against breast cancer is intense, the result of losing the love of his life to the disease, his wife of 17 years, Donnetta, who lost her battle on Oct. 26, 2016. “She was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2008 and underwent two rounds of chemo plus a radical bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery,” he said. “They thought they got it all.” In the fall of 2015, however, the couple was shocked to learn Donnetta’s cancer had returned, this time as stage 4. She died one year later. “That first day of her chemo 11 years ago, I wore a pink shirt to show my support for her,” said Overly. “I’ve worn a pink shirt every Thursday since. When I found out about this program I completely jumped on board. I felt her fight wasn’t finished yet. Now is the time to pick up the baton on her behalf and carry it since she can’t do it anymore.” On top of raising funds for his own campaign this year, Overly is serving as a mentor to other participants. “I’m making every effort to help us all remember why we’re here, why we’re doing all of this work, and that is to spread awareness and support the warriors, the survivors. There’s friendly competition, yes, but in the end, we’re a team.” / 57

At this time, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.


Other Louisiana campaigns include Baton Rouge, Lafayette (new this year), Shreveport, Monroe and Lake Charles.

First year with RMWP

Melvin Rodrigue President, Galatoire’s Restaurant

58 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

t was through a good customer of his restaurant that Melvin Rodrigue, president of Galatoire’s learned about Real Men Wear Pink. “I thought about it and how we’re so fortunate to have such a passionate and loyal customer base and that this is such an important cause for which to leverage it,” said Rodrigue, who, on a personal level, has had an aunt, a grandmother, a sister-in-law and many friends who have battled breast cancer. “It was a real no-brainer.” During the month of October, the Real Men Wear Pink campaign logo will appear on menu inserts and table tents throughout Galatoire’s for an effort Rodrigue is calling “Real Men Drink.” “We’ll be serving Sazeracs, oldfashioneds and martinis,” he said. “For every cocktail purchased, $1 will go toward the campaign. Thanks to a $10,000 sponsorship from Sazerac, we’re confident we can make well over $20,000.” On August 29, the final month of this year’s Galatoire’s Summer Wine Dinner Series was “An Evening of Rose.” It also benefited the campaign. Rodrigue said he still has other ideas formulating. “This is such a prominent and important event in our city,” he said. “I’m just so proud to be involved.”

RMWP All Star


Dr. Ali Sadeghi, M.D., F.A.C.S. Founder and CEO, Sadeghi Center for Plastic Surgery

In 2018 alone, approximately 268,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. Good News! Death rates from female breast cancer dropped 40% from 1989 to 2016. Since 2007, breast cancer death rates have been steady in women younger than 50, but have continued to decrease in older women.

ast year was Dr. Ali Sadeghi’s first year with Real Men Wear Pink and he came on strong, leading his fellow members to become the highest fundraiser in New Orleans, the second-highest in Louisiana and the 14th highest in the nation by raising $40,309. In his practice, Sadeghi said he does a lot of surgery and reconstructive surgery on breast cancer patients. “These patients come in so much that we have time to get to know them,” he said. “They become like family. They are the most thankful patients, too, that I’ve ever had.” Last year’s team total reached just shy of $200,000 and this year, as chair of the campaign, he said he’s committed to taking the team to its goal of $250,000. He hopes to be able to contribute a good chunk of that total on his own through an array of efforts. In his offices, Sadeghi is selling T-shirts that read “Tell Cancer Bye Felicia,” along with custom ice packs. He’s also hosting a fundraising gala on Sept. 27 at the Arbor Room in City Park that will include a fashion show featuring some of his breast cancer patients, as well as husbands and doctors. Helping to promote an active lifestyle, Sadeghi will host a volleyball tournament on Oct. 2 at White Sands Volleyball Courts that welcomes team and individual participants. Individuals are $10. / 59

Southe ast louisiana businesses in full color


Sweet Success — this year’s JEDCO Challenge winner talks about what sets Poof apart.

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

By Design Entrescan’s Scale Workspace provides coworking space, plus access to workshops and equipment for product developers, engineers, designers and artists. by Melanie Warner Spencer photos by sara essex bradley

New Orleans is home to several coworking

spaces, but until recent months, there wasn’t one geared specifically toward the maker community. That all changed in November of 2018, when a partnership between Phyllis M. Taylor, chairman and president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, and 3-D design-services company Entrescan created that and more inside the former home of the Ives Printing Company at 612 Andrew

62 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Higgins Dr. The four-story brick building was transformed by Woodward Design + Build into what is now the Taylor Education Center — home to Taylor’s “The New Curiosity Shop” maker space, Entrescan’s headquarters and Scale Workspace, a coworking space for product developers, engineers, designers and artists. “We’ve consistently been a bridge between education and industry,” says Trey Richoux, president of Entrescan. “Our market is a

relatively new one, and as a result, we have worked more closely with our education partners than most businesses. They were our earliest clients and trusted partners. We’ve helped numerous schools equip and build out their maker space. It was in the same vein that Mrs. Taylor asked us to consult with them on building a maker space in the Taylor Education Center.” Richoux says Scale Workspace and The New Curiosity Shop are the result of those

Entrescan and Scale Workspace are housed in the former Ives Printing Company building at 612 Andrew Higgins Dr. in what is now known as the Taylor Education Center.

The second floor of the Taylor Education Center houses Scale Workspace, which includes open workspaces and private offices, three conference rooms, a kitchen and break room, plus indoor and outdoor lounge areas.

conversations and meetings. In addition to either a seat, desk or office membership — along with the usual co-working space amenities, such as fast internet, coffee, shared lounges, conference rooms, and networking and collaboration opportunities — members of Scale Workspace enjoy access to workshops and fabrication equipment at The New Curiosity Shop. Equipment training and certification is also made available to members. Richoux says Entrescan worked with KV Workspace on the interior design and furnishing of Scale Workspace. Modernstyle chairs, sofas, wall units and other

furnishings by Haworth are interspersed with worktables designed and fabricated at The New Curiosity Shop. A wealth of windows allows considerable natural light into all of the spaces and the interior is made even brighter by white walls. Richoux describes the core audience for both Entrescan and Scale Workspace as being similar in that they are both businesses that build products. “That audience is pretty wide and encompasses everything from mechanical engineering firms, to product development companies, to artists, jewelers and everything in-between,” Richoux says. / 63

“The distinction between an Entrescan client and a Scale Workspace tenant is really determined by the value of the office space and direct access to the fabrication equipment.” Richoux cites tenant HapTech, which designs using haptic technology — technology that creates an experience of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user — to create training weapons designed for the military. “HapTech brought the M4 [carbine] rifle to market 40 percent quicker at Scale Workspace than they would have been able to prior to moving in,” says Richoux, who notes this as an example of howdirect access to equipment has improved both the company’s product development cycles and speed to market. Entrescan’s offices and 3-D print shop are located on the ground floor with The New Curiosity Shop, which includes a room with industrial sewing machines, CAD workspaces and a large pattern table for textile designers, an assembly area with compressed air power drops and worktables, and a woodshop. On the second floor, Scale Workspace, houses open workspaces and private offices, three conference rooms, a kitchen and breakroom, along with indoor and outdoor lounge areas. “Scale Workspace is more or less a pilot to see if enough of an audience exists here — or a test to see if we can cultivate that audience — to support our development and offerings in a sustainable way,” Richoux says of the company’s greatest challenge. “We are working hard on awareness so that we can reach our audience. This kind of community exists in other cities and we are working to establish it here. We want to answer the question, ‘Why not in New Orleans?’” In the coming year, Richoux says the company’s goal is “to support and encourage the physical production of innovative products, designs and art here in New Orleans,” and to become a hub for people and businesses in those realms. “Scale Workspace shines a light on this type of fabrication work and pushes our community to take their ideas beyond just concepts and bring them into production right here in New Orleans,” Richoux says. “We’ve built Scale to take part in shaping the future of our city and brighten the economic outlook for the people who live here.” n

64 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

The kitchen at Scale Workspace leads to a sunny patio. Most furnishings in the space are by Haworth, but worktables and the kitchen table were designed and fabricated at The New Curiosity Shop.

At A Glance

Entrescan and Scale Workspace Location

612 Andrew Higgins Dr. Date of opening

November 2018 Size

Approximately 6,000 to 7,000 square feet of fabrication space and 1,100 square feet of office and coworking space Number of Employees

Entrescan has five full-time employees, one part-time employee and three interns. Person in Charge

Trey Richoux, president, and Lyle LeBlanc, CEO / 65

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

Home Spun Styled Sweets 2019 JEDCO Challenge Winner Poof is the first company to reimagine cotton candy by Ashley McLellan photos by sara essex bradley

Jeanne O’Leary has always had two things:

a massive sweet tooth and a head for business. The businesswoman and former bartender decided to combine her two passions and launch Poof Cotton Candy in 2016. “My culinary background is extensive, from attending culinary school in southern Texas to working the line in fine-dining concepts,” said O’Leary. “I’ve worked every inch of a restaurant, from washing dishes and tending bar to schedule building. I dreamed up Poof in 2016 out of the sheer desire to be an entrepreneur.” Headquartered and manufactured in Jefferson Parish, Poof offers a sweet line of cotton candy that features creative flavors dreamed up by O’Leary and embellishments that set the final product apart from county fair varieties. Unique creations include king cake, unicorn, birthday cake, grapefruit soda and cookies n’ cream. “Poof is the first company in history to alter cotton candy beyond machinery improvements and mass production,” O’Leary said. “Our sophisticated flavors come ‘fully dressed’ with sprinkles, spices, and other delicious morsels.” Spun from pure Domino cane sugar, Poof is made from local ingredients whenever possible. Along with a team of three employees, O’Leary offers her spun-sugar creations through catering opportunities for parties, receptions and events, as well as business-tobusiness collaborations, party favors and more. Party favors come as 25 prepackaged “poofs” in one of six flavors for $69.95. For those that just can’t decide, a sampler pack includes five tubs in a variety of flavors. Traditional cotton-candy-on-a-stick packages run 25 for 66 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

Jeanne O’Leary, owner of JEDCO’s 2019 Start Up Challenge winner, Poof Cotton Candy, has made a career out of spinning fun flavors such as King Cake and Toasted Coconut. The treat is finding success with weddings, corporate events, custom gifts and catered experiences.

$79.95 and are promoted as, “Perfect for Poof Cotton Candy can still be purchased bridal showers and gender reveals.” directly through the company’s website. The creative take on an age-old treat “The heat and humidity are simply too high represents a new option for events looking in the summer to keep shelves stocked with our delicate spun sugar,” O’Leary said. “I’ve for some unique photo ops. learned (the hard way) that cotton candy is a “Half of the magic is watching the cotton seasonal product. When heat and humidity candy appear out of thin air,” she said. “The drop, stores will be restocked.” other half is a combination of the dynamite flavors you can’t get anywhere else While the intense heat of New and the ultra-cute and flirty photo Orleans creates a dilemma in opportunities. Guests can eat as the packaging and sales of the How is it much cotton candy as they want product in stores, sales are also at made? because our catering packages peak when the weather is cooler, Cotton candy include unlimited servings.” according to O’Leary. is a spun sugar O’Leary has also dreamed up a “From September through April, confection made variety of cocktail ideas. A chamsales are kicking,” she said. “That’s by heating sugar considered our season. Like most pagne and cotton candy pairing, and spinning it into called the “Champagne Campaign” fluffy strands using a seasonal businesses, we see a drop floss machine. Poof is available for purchase online. in sales over the summer.” Cotton Candy has “As a former bartender, I’m O’Leary’s success was recently created a unique constantly on the lookout on recognized by her fellow entrepremenu of flavors and embellishments, how to jazz up cocktails,” she neurs when Poof Cotton Candy such as edible glitter, said. “When I first started Poof, I won the 2019 JEDCO Challenge. cookie crumbles did tons of guest bartending with Sponsored by the Greater Lakeside and sprinkles. my cotton candy — from mint Corporation, the competition juleps to French 75s. My goal was garnered the company $20,000 to show people that cotton candy in prize money plus additional is not only cute, but also functional. It’s just services designed to help boost the company. sugar. No more and no less than a splash “Applying for the competition, practicing of simple syrup. Over time I learned that time and time again, and taking home that the cotton candy and champagne pairing grand prize set me on fire,” said O’Leary. “I was the most popular, thus driving the proved to myself, once again, that when I fully Champagne Campaign.” apply myself I am a juggernaut. Winning the Recent collaborations have included spinJEDCO Challenge gave Poof working capital ning adult liquor. — something Poof and I have never known.” “We spun up Chartreuse cotton candy for With Poof’s success, O’Leary is finally Victory for Tales of the Cocktail,” she said reaching her sweet spot, cashing in on her “When serving our signatures, or in the case love of all things sweet. of the commissioned Chartreuse, [adults are] “[Do I have a sweet tooth?] Most definitely,” first in disbelief that we can achieve such she said. “The truth — I’d take a funnel cake flavors with cotton candy. Once they’ve put over pink or blue cotton candy at the fair sugar to tongue, they instantly revert back to any day. However, if said fair offered Poof, childhood. They’re swept away by nostalgia.” I’d absolutely pick Poof. Biased, yes, but, While the treats are not available currently in my god if Poof isn’t outrageously palatable stores due to the fragile nature of the product, and delicious.” n

2019 JEDCO Finalists

In addition to JEDCO Challenge winner Poof Cotton Candy, a select group of startup finalists were named; a class of entrepreneurs to keep an eye out for: Don’t Get Mad Get Paid, from Simone Spence, with new technology to help parents collect unpaid child support.

nDorse, from Rohan Walvekar, that provides a feedback platform for employees to build company positivity and cohesion.

Rent Check, from Lydia Winkler and Marco Nelson, is an app that standardizes and simplifies the rental process for renters and landlords.

RePurpose Food Co., from Shani Christopher, produces high-quality baby foods made from supermarket “ugly” produce that might be overlooked on the shelves. / 67

From The Lens m a k i n g a m atc h: b us i n e s s e s a n d n o n pr o f i ts

Angels Without Wings For local families with a child battling a lifethreatening disease, Angels’ Place is there to provide help in any way possible. by Pamela Marquis photos by cheryl gerber

The organization also helps with a family’s last-minute or miscellaneous needs, which can include things like WalMart cards, gas cards and even Visa cards to cover an insurance copayment. Seen on the right is Executive Director Mark Firmin.


angels’ place Mission

On four ordinary dry-erase boards hung

on the walls of a basic conference room at Angels’ Place are listed the names of 83 children. All have life-threating diseases: cancer, leukemia, brain tumors, heart defects or neurological conditions. But in this uninspiring Metairie office building, inspiring miracles seem to happen on an almost daily basis. Angels’ Place’s ongoing mission is children’s respite service. The fight to preserve a child’s life is a tough one, so the organization’s volunteers are there to lend a hand. Staff and trained respite volunteers watch over Angels’ Place children at the hospital and provide household aid to families — all free of charge. “When a child is diagnosed, it turns the lives of the entire family upside down and we try to help them deal with that situation,” says Mark Firmin, executive director of Angels’ Place. “We support children and their families with their journey and help cover some simple things so that they don’t have to worry about them. That way the family can focus on the care of their sick child.” The organization works with children admitted to Children’s Hospital New Orleans or Ochsner Health System and it offers services to any child in Louisiana or Southern Mississippi.

68 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019

The mission of Angels’ Place is to provide ongoing respite care and support services to a child with a life-threatening disease and their family in a loving caring manner. CONTACT

4323 Division St., Suite 206, Metairie (504) 455-2620 Current Needs

Gift cards, Walmart cards, and gas cards; school supplies; vouchers for movies; tickets to sporting events; people to adopt a family for Christmas and provide the items the children request; and volunteers Major Fundraising Event

Angels’ Place 3rd Annual Party with the Angels will be held on Friday, September 27 at Magnolia Plantation in Jefferson from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $60. The event will feature a patron party, several raffles and auctions.

“They come to New Orleans because they don’t have critical care in the Biloxi/ Gulfport area,” says Firmin. “We couldn’t turn them down. I mean, how could we?” Angels’ Place was founded in 1997 by Anita Gilford. While her own son was in treatment for cancer, Gilford found that there were few places her family could turn to for help. Having personal experience with this lack of support, she promised to dedicate her life to helping seriously ill children and their families. Her son won his fight against cancer and is now living a normal life. Gilford fulfilled her promise by creating Angels’Place. Upon

retiring in 2015, Gilford passed control of the organization to Mark Firmin. “At times, caregivers, rather than talking to a doctor or nurse, just want to talk to someone else,” says Firmin. “One of my first cases was a young girl from Mississippi, who had all kinds of things wrong with her. One evening I just sat down with this child’s mother and talked with her for four hours. Sometimes, just having a shoulder to lean on can make a difference.” The organization also helps with a family’s last-minute or miscellaneous needs, which can include things like WalMart cards, gas cards and even Visa cards to

cover an insurance copayment. Angels’ Place assesses each family’s needs and by the numbers resourcefully goes about fulfilling them. The Success of Services One such family is the Oko family from Nigeria. Philip Oko, the second of five 85 children, was diagnosed with leukemia clients are currently being served on September 9, 2015. He was given a 1 in 9 chance of surviving. 350 parents, caregivers “It was my darkest day,” says his mother, and siblings are Veronica Oko. “It was a big blow below the also receiving belt. He was always so healthy. We had services just sent him to boarding school, which 1,200 in Nigeria is a joyous time to celebrate a service hours per child’s independence. He returned home year are offered by volunteers after his first midterm break and began fainting.” Hundreds of tickets to the When they received the diagnosis, the Saints, Pelicans, family knew big changes to life had to local theater happen; Nigeria simply did not have the productions, medicine, medical facilities or doctors to and Jazz Fest are annually distributed handle Philip’s cancer. While some of the family had to stay home, Veronica, Philip Hundreds of gift cards are and his 1-year-old sister traveled to America also distributed for the care Philip needed. After spending $7,500 on airfare, Oko spent another $20,000 traveling to seven different treatments centers, and she says she was turned down by all, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Anderson Cancer Center. Finally, blind and given just hours to live, Philip was accepted into a program at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “I had spent so many sleepless nights and stressful days,” says Oko. “And on one of our first nights [at Children’s Hospital New Orleans], the people from Angels’ Place came and said, ‘We will watch over Philip, and we will watch over your daughter. Go take a walk. Have a fresh breath of air. Get some rest.’ They instantly alleviated a bit of my suffering and I was so thankful.” Angels’ Place also found a way to get Oko a used van. “At one time during her struggles, she was walking every day from her residence in New Orleans East to Children’s with her son on her back,” says Firmin. Philip is now cancer-free A Good Match but under close supervision. FOR COMPANIES WHO CAN… In another year, the doctors Donate gift cards or make in-kind will take out the ports in donations, host events that raise his brain and heart, which awareness of Angels’ Place’s mission can provide medication and special events, adopt a family when and if needed. for Christmas, adopt a family for a month, a year, or until the child is “If a family is accepted as cured and/or volunteer time a client family, they have access to our respite service

and other types of support at no charge,” says “There are angels walking without wings Mary Kantlehner, Angels’ Place children’s here,” she says. “It’s a heavenly experience, program director. “Respite service volunteers with so many people acting selflessly as generally visit children in the hospital to they synchronize care and love. Cancer help make sure they get the attention they was happening and I was ignoring my need. Families may also benefit from our other kids, they were forgotten. It’s not charity drives and receive help from our staff that I didn’t love them, it was just, ‘How in applying for other assistance programs.” do I juggle it all?’ I know they felt slighted. Additionally, Angels’ Place provides They were saying, ‘Maybe if I had cancer support to families throughout the year you would pay attention to me, too. It by hosting events such as the broke my heart. So, spreading Spring Fling, Art for Angels and the attention and gifts to Philip’s Halloween Booville. siblings helped each one of my DID YOU KNOW? The largest of these events is children to feel cared for and Angels’ Place’s annual Christmas According to The special.” National Cancer gift drive for all of the children “Mark Firmin and his team Institute, in 2018 an of client families. With the help work tirelessly to help sick estimated 10,590 of hundreds of volunteers and children and their families find children age 0 to donors, they give Santa a hand in 14 were diagnosed some semblance of normalcy with cancer, and making sure every Angels’ Place during an extraordinarily diffi1,180 died of the family gets a little Christmas cult time,” says Lisa Oretu, an disease, and about cheer, especially if one of the Angels’ Place board member. 5,000 adolescents kids will have to spend the age 15 to 19 “Whether hosting a trick-or-treat were diagnosed holidays in the hospital. party for immune-compromised with cancer, and Meredith Long-Dieth is the children or coordinating respite about 600 died. director of performing arts at St. care for an exhausted caregiver, Martin’s Episcopal School and Angels’ Place strives to create volunteers with Angels’ Place. memorable moments for families and “I volunteer my face-painting skills when their chronically ill children so that they they need it for special events,” she says. “It can keep up the fight to beat cancer, beat is so rewarding to get a smile on a child’s lupus, or whatever chronic illness they face. Sometimes I get my theater students are fighting.” Louisiana Department of to volunteer at the events too. My niece Education holds standardized testing and is in remission from a rare brain cancer. I classrooms with children who aren’t testing can’t tell you how much programs like these are required to be silent. The result is that helped her and her family. From meals to many seek field trip options. During this family events, Angels’ Place gives so much time, Gray says the organization conducts respite to families.” multiple tours and see as many as 100 Oko says the organization’s name says students a day. n it all. / 69

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.

70 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019 / 71

From The Lens ON THE JO B

Playing With Blocks Melt New Orleans elevates ice to art photo by cheryl gerber

“Cocktails are moving back to

the kind of quality and complexity last seen before Prohibition, and this was the kind of ice they were using,� says Chuck Avery, who launched Melt New Orleans in 2016. Using reverse osmosis filtered water, Avery makes clear, pure, 300-pound blocks of ice with no bubbles in sight. Operating out of a warehouse in Kenner, Avery creates solid ice punch bowls, presentation slabs, crushed ice, big chip blocks and any other request using special Japanese tools and a dedicated butcher saw set on a traveling wooden bench he also crafted himself. Clients include Tales of the Cocktail and top restaurants, bars and hotels like Shaya, Domenica and the Ace Hotel, as well as weddings looking for a unique addition. For more information, visit n

72 / Biz New Orleans / september 2019