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Editor’s Note

Stung! A

s a writer first and editor second, sometimes it can be very hard to give away stories to other writers that I’d love to be able to write myself. That happens a lot with Biz — actually every month. I know it’s a good thing, that if I’m interested and excited enough about a topic, chances are others will be too. But somehow that doesn’t make it easier. A few months ago, when we were looking at doing a feature on the status of bees in Louisiana, I started doing a little research into the subject and immediately found myself hooked. Just like hundreds of other Louisianans — 446 to be exact that are beekeepers in the state, as of the latest LSU Ag Summary — the more I learned about bees, the more I saw what fascinating creatures they are. At that point I knew: this was one story I couldn’t give away. I’m so glad I didn’t. I got to speak with so many interesting and passionate people: from Glenn Gueho, owner of Busy Bee removal, who talked about how he’s used window washers to remove hives 31 stories up in the air, to Elizabeth Holloway of Bocage Bee and Honey Co., a 78-year-old Baton Rouge resident whose passion for the insects has her happily working with her hives six days a week, to David Young, who patiently explained to my 5-year-old daughter and I what it takes to be a beekeeper — and gave her a piece of honeycomb that now holds a sacred spot in her treasure drawer. Of course the more I learned, the more I realized what a multifaceted story this is — one that could easily have filled every page of this magazine. If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to contact any of the people mentioned in the article or any of the more than a dozen beekeepers associations throughout Louisiana. And for you gardeners out there who’d love to get some insect help, just a tip: Bees prefer blue, purple, white and yellow flowers. Apparently they can’t distinguish the color red from green, so red flowers don’t appeal to them. Happy Reading,

Kimberley@BizNewOrleans.com 4

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MARCH 2016 | volume 2 | issue 6

Publisher Todd Matherne Editorial Editor-in-chief Errol Laborde Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Director Antoine Passelac Photographer Cheryl Gerber Web Editor Kelly Massicot Assoc. Multimedia News Editor Leslie T. Snadowsky Contributors Robert Edgecombe, Steven Ellis, Suzanne Ferrara, Rebecca Friedman, Pamela Marquis, Chris Price, Peter Reichard, Kim Roberts, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Erin Shaw, Keith Twitchell, Melanie Warner Spencer advertising Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan Sales Manager Maegan O’Brien Maegan@BizNewOrleans.com (504) 830-7219 Account Executive Caitlin Sistrunk Caitlin@BizNewOrleans.com (504) 830-7252 Account Executive Courtney Andrée Courtney@bizneworleans.com (504) 830-7225 PRODUCTION Production/Web Manager Staci McCarty Senior Production Designers Ali Sullivan Production Designers Monique DiPietro, Traffic Coordinator Jessica DeBold administration Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive Vice President Errol Laborde Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan Director of Marketing & Events Cheryl Lemoine Event Coordinator Margaret Strahan Administrative Assistant Denise Dean Distribution Manager John Holzer Subscription Manager Sara Kelemencky Subscription Assistant Mallary Matherne

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 2016 Biz New Orleans. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Biz New Orleans is registered. Biz New Orleans is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Biz New Orleans are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner. 6

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Contents

88

48

40

Features

From the Lens

40 The Buzz on Louisiana Bees

74 Great Offices

You’ve heard the panic over bee numbers dwindling, but is it happening here?

48 Young and In Charge

Some of the biggest names in local healthcare are now run by surprisingly young professionals.

88 Why Didn’t I Think of That? Kudoboard offers a modern alternative to greeting cards.

96 Behind the Scenes

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Arlene Meraux River Observation Center

Pump Alley at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

On the Cover From crop polination to honey production, to bee removal specialists, bees have a strong economic impact on Southeast Louisiana.


Contents

34 56 26 Columns

20 NOLA By the Numbers

Urban growth has its challenges.

22 Dining Biz

Looking for a little adventure? Check out these destination dining options.

24 Tourism Biz

The NOCVB’s new marketing plan

26 Sports Biz

Pelicans voted NBA’s least valuable.

28 Film Biz

A peek at Panavision’s new digs

30 Entrepreneur Biz

PowerMoves NOLA wants to see more color in the marketplace.

32 Biz Etiquette

How to, and how not, to promote your business through social media.

34 Tech Biz

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The good and bad of the Internet of Things

March 2016 BizNewOrleans.com

Perspectives

News

56 Real Estate & Construction

18 Calendar

60 Assisted Living

36 Biz Bits

66 Banking & Finance

Upcoming Northshore projects

The old and young are coming together to everyone’s benefit.

Get the most from your giving.

70 Guest Viewpoint

Want to save money on worker’s comp insurance?

Upcoming events not to miss

Industry news

80 Q&A

Hogs for the Cause Founders, Becker Hall and Rene Louapre

94 Around Town – Events

Industry gatherings


BizNewOrleans.com March 2016

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Publisher’s Note

NOLA 100 Continues

N

ew Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) celebrates its 8th anniversary this month, and during this year’s event NOLA 100 will unveil its next class of members. Created by co-founder of Turbo Squid, Matt Wisdom, along with other individuals and organizations, NOLA 100 is designed to highlight a total of 100 leading New Orleans entrepreneurs which have gained significant traction and have made a lasting impact on the local entrepreneurship movement. In September 2015, the first 29 entrepreneurs were inducted as the inaugural class, and this month during NOEW, the NOLA 100 committee will introduce their 2016 class, with the goal to building up to 100 entrepreneurs by the city’s tricentennial in 2018. This year, Biz New Orleans is proud to partner with NOLA 100, as well as Loyola University, EO Louisiana, LookFar and Idea Village, to continue showcasing New Orleans as a place where businesses cannot only be created, but grow to sustainability. If you would like to nominate someone for future NOLA 100 classes, please contact Mary Hill at EO Louisiana via email Mary@EOLouisiana.org and I hope to see you at some NOEW events March 11 – 18. To learn more about NOEW, visit NOEW.org. Todd Matherne

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Meet the Sales Staff

Colleen Monaghan Vice President of Sales (504) 830-7215 Colleen@BizNewOrleans.com

Maegan O’Brien Sales Manager (504) 830-7219 Maegan@BizNewOrleans.com

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

Courtney Andrée Account Executive (504) 830-7225 Courtney@BizNewOrleans.com

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Calendar Thursday, March 3

Friday, March 11

New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Alliance 5 – 7 p.m. Chateau LeMoyne – French Quarter 301 Dauphine Street NewOrleansChamber.org

EO Learning Day: Accelerate Your People 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For more information and to RSVP, contact Mary@EOLouisiana.org

March 11-18

Thursday, March 3

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week Various Locations NOEW.org

Downtown Business Association of Baton Rouge Quarterly Social 5 – 7 p.m. Hotel Indigo 200 Convention Street DowntownBR.org

March 17-19 Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 900 Convention Center Boulevard, New Orleans HPBA.org

Tuesday, March 8 New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Power Breakfast: American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana 8 – 9:30 a.m. American Red Cross Southeast Chapter 2640 Canal Street NewOrleansChamber.org

Wednesday, March 9

Thursday, March 17 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce State of the Parish Breakfast 7: 30 – 9 a.m. Location T.B.A. StTammanyChamber.org

Thursday, March 17

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Small Business Certification Seminar 6 – 8: 30 p.m. Location T.B.A. HCCL.biz

AMA New Orleans Southshore Luncheon “How to Become an Influencer” 11:30 a.m. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse 3625 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie AMANewOrleans.com

Thursday, March 10 ABWA Crescent City Connections Awards Luncheon and Membership Appreciation Day 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ralph Brennan’s Heritage Grill 111 Veterans Boulevard, New Orleans ABWANewOrleans.org

Friday, March 11 Jefferson Chamber Annual Gala 7:30 - 11 p.m. New Orleans Saints Indoor Training Facility 5800 Airline Drive, Metairie JeffersonChamber.org

Friday, March 18 Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana Small Business Certification Seminar 6 p.m. Location T.B.A. HCCL.biz

Friday, March 18 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Business & Breakfast – Sheraton Metairie 7:45 to 9:30 a.m. Sheraton Metairie 4 Galleria Boulevard JeffersonChamber.org

We’d love to include your business-related event in next month’s calendar. Please email details to Editorial@BizNewOrleans.com.

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Columns | NOLA By The Numbers Percentage of Renters Paying 35% or More of Income for Rent

County/Parish (City)

Ranking Among 817 Nationwide Counties Surveyed

Orleans Parish, LA (New Orleans)

55.3%

30

East Baton Rouge Parish, LA (Baton Rouge)

46.5%

154

Shelby County, TN (Memphis)

49.2%

90

Jefferson County, AL (Birmingham)

45.8%

176

Dallas County, TX (Dallas)

39.8%

496

Harris County, TX (Houston)

39.6%

509

Mobile County, AL (Mobile)

47.1%

135

47.5%

127

Hinds County, MS (Jackson)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey

Back to the City — The Struggle The popularity of urban life comes with regional challenges

L Robert Edgecombe is

an urban planner and consultant at GCR Inc. He advises a wide range of clients on market conditions, recovery strategies, and demographic and economic trends.

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ast month, I provided an overview of some conspicuous and important demographic changes in New Orleans and other cities in the United States. The “back to the city” movement, in which younger, well-educated, and generally more affluent residents are choosing to live in urban neighborhoods in far greater proportions than in the past, represents a significant shift in local and regional dynamics. The statistics confirm what many of us in the metropolitan area have observed anecdotally over the course of the last several years: Our downtown population has grown by 80 percent in the past five years, and some transitional neighborhoods have seen a surge of reinvestment. This trend presents both opportunities and challenges to the New Orleans metropolitan area. On the one hand, the city’s popularity brings with it some obvious benefits. Many aging or blighted homes are being restored,

and several historic commercial corridors are experiencing rejuvenation. Rising property values and new businesses are adding more revenue to a cashstrapped city. The perspectives and talents of new residents are also bringing diverse, creative, and important perspectives to our region’s economic and civic life. However, like many areas throughout the country, the New Orleans metropolitan region must confront some uncomfortable realities to ensure that it remains competitive, equitable, and wellpositioned in the coming years. First, as the city continues to attract residents with relative affluence, it must ensure that it remains a broadly affordable place to live. According to the most recent census data, Orleans Parish is among the top 4 percent of all counties nationwide whose renters spend more than 35 percent of their income on rent alone (not including utilities, insurance, and other housing costs). As a point of reference, over

53 percent of the city’s renters fall into this category, the highest among a list of Southern cities including Baton Rouge, Memphis, Birmingham, Dallas, Houston, Mobile and Jackson. Considering that Orleans Parish is also in the top 3 percent of counties whose housing units are occupied by renters, this constitutes a widespread and important public policy concern. Secondly, we have to acknowledge that while the increased enthusiasm for urban life, especially among more established families with children, is exciting, it also has tradeoffs. Some real estate experts forecast that a significant portion of housing supply over the next several years — namely, relatively large suburban homes whose owners want to downsize — will not have an adequate level of demand to absorb it. According to one study, roughly 25 percent of homebuyer demand has shifted from single-family homes to alternatives like condos and townhouses, even as the overwhelming number of new homes built over the past 25 years have been single-family. Dubbed the “Baby Boomer Selloff Crisis” in some circles, this potential mismatch of supply and demand could have serious consequences for individuals whose financial stability is heavily tied to the equity in their homes and for the communities where they live. Third, we also must ensure that the urban communities experiencing more popularity now than in previous generations remain viable and healthy for all residents. This includes ensuring adequate public safety, a range of highquality educational opportunities for families of all income levels, and sustained economic opportunity for workers in a variety of industries throughout the course of their careers. The city has made progress in these areas over the course of the last decade, but still has a long way to go to capitalize longterm on this recent momentum. There is much to celebrate in this “back to the city” period. Long-neglected historic neighborhoods throughout the country have been reinvigorated, and more efficient and compelling visions for our cities have emerged and gained traction. But we cannot be blind to — and must be proactive about — the corresponding challenges. n


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Columns | Dining Biz Restaurant des Familles sits adjacent to Jean Lafitte National Park.

Destination Dining A culinary adventure is just a short drive away.

D Peter Reichard is a native New Orleanian who has written about the life and times of the city for more than 20 years, including as a former newspaper editor and business journalist.

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uring a Christmas visit to South America, my family stopped at a roadside restaurant. It was set back a good distance from a country road, in a spacious scenic area designed to look like a Swiss chalet, and had a playground and old-time couch for the kids to play on. It reminded me of similar places I had encountered in driving through Europe. Such places are designed to be destinations – places off the beaten path that are worth a road trip. This sort of “destination dining” is not as common in the United States. We tend to find the better restaurants only within the city limits; beyond that, we’re left mainly with chain restaurants at cloverleaf interchanges. But this being Louisiana, there are a number of restaurants a road trip away from New Orleans that

fall within the category of destination dining. And judging by the many years some of them have been in business, there’s promise on the frontier. Middendorf’s sits on a thin strip of civilization off Interstate 55 surrounded by wetlands to the north and bordered by Lake Maurepas to the south. The restaurant dates to 1934. After Hurricane Katrina, celebrated New Orleans chef Horst Pfeifer bought the restaurant and expanded the menu well beyond its renowned thin-fried catfish. A steady stream of seasonal offerings — including Oktoberfest, kid-friendly Christmas displays and Middendorf’s Manchac Run — keep creating excuses for customers to return. Thanks to the location, hungry mariners are free to arrive by boat. La Provence is much

younger than Middendorf’s — it’s only 44 years old this year — but it also has a European connection. It was opened by Frenchman Chris Kerageorgiou in the early 1970s and has been the centerpiece of the St. Tammany dining scene ever since. After Kerageorgiou’s death, the restaurant fell into the hands of a former La Provence sous chef, a fellow by the name of John Besh. Set in a woodsy area off the Tammany Trace, with a large vegetable garden in the back, the restaurant has the décor and cuisine to live up to its name. Restaurant des Familles is down in Crown Point, adjacent to the Jean Lafitte National Park. Its dining room exudes sophisticated country charm, and a wall of windows overlooks the bayou. It’s strategically located close to swamp tour launch points, which means it’s both easy for visitors to discover, and the occasional alligator is known to show up. A brand new entry is the Truck Farm Tavern on River Road in St. Charles Parish. Its otherwise polished dining room evokes, well, trucks. Outside, a patio is decked out like a German beer garden. The antique trucks on the premises deserve a look-see. After eating, you can walk off the barbecue or shrimp and grits by crossing the street and making your way along the levee. Finally, across the river in Waggaman is a destination restaurant in its own category. Like the other stops, it’s in the middle of nowhere. But unlike the others, the setting is a barren stretch of Highway 90. Parking is on a gravel patch, and the bleached-white building could not possibly look more unassuming. But that’s part of the allure. Since 1946, Mosca’s has served a clientele that has included Jefferson Parish political bosses — and, once upon a time, New Orleans mafia boss Carlos Marcello, who loved the place. Come for the James Beard-award-winning Creole-Italian food; stay for the intrigue. n Photo Courtesy of Restaurant des Familles


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Columns | Tourism Biz

Riding a Wave of Growth The NOCVB’s new marketing plan will focus on convention sales and international visitors.

I Jennifer Gibson Schecter was

once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City.

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n a city like New Orleans, where 9.5 million visitors spent $6.8 billion in 2014, tourism is a key economic generator. And the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) is working to make 2016 another year of positive growth. NOCVB has released its 2016 Marketing Plan, and it outlines specific strategies concerning sales, marketing, public relations, advocacy, customer service and research. These are broken down by department with specific deliverables in convention sales, leisure tourism, communications and public relations, external affairs, and public affairs. The convention sales team reports health and medical market segments continue to dominate convention bookings with 279,600 rooms in 2015, and trade, business and commercial coming in second at 142,572 rooms. The remaining eight segments are educational;

scientific, engineering, tech; athletics and sports; corporate (general); trade shows and expositions; legal, government, public administration; cultural; and corporate (high-tech). Convention sales is increasing its efforts to make New Orleans a top contender for all major convention selection bids. It outlined objectives to drive market share of large-event business with longer-term booking cycles, an increase in exposure to corporate markets and plans to grow short-term and near-term business. Leisure tourism has identified its key to market growth, which is to increase the number of international visitors. Those tourists tend to stay longer, spend more and are more flexible to midweek travel than domestic visitors. A major boost to its 2016 efforts will occur with hosting the most prestigious international trade show in America, the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW. The trade

show has the potential to capture an additional 500,000 visitors over the next three years to reach 1 million international visitors by 2018. The communications and public relations team will work to increase the number of positive stories about New Orleans in publications and broadcast. It will proactively target influential members of the travel media and work to develop customized itineraries based on a journalist’s assignment. It will also seek to strengthen the New Orleans brand through social media channels. External affairs works with NOCVB members to connect them to customers. It also communicates the impact of the visitor economy to members, local leaders and community organizations. Public affairs focuses on relationships and has developed a six-step advocacy plan for community engagement and civic leadership. The team will be addressing questions such as, “How can we provide meaningful jobs in the growing hospitality industry for the chronically underemployed?”; “How do we identify the targets of economic opportunity in New Orleans?”; and “”How can the hospitality and tourism industry continue to work with other industries and anchor institutions to design a blueprint for the future of New Orleans?” A major change in the NOCVB website is on deck for 2016. The bureau is working to merge its website— NewOrleansCVB. com — with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. (NOTMC) website — NewOrleansOnline.com. The new site, NewOrleans.com, is scheduled for completion by the middle of this year. NOCVB and NOTMC work closely together on marketing campaigns, including the current “Follow your NOLA” campaign. NOTMC is also in the planning stages for a spring launch of a new tourism campaign. n Photo Thinkstock


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Columns | Sports Biz

NBA’s Least Valuable The Pelicans’ worth increased, but not enough.

T 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.

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March 2016 BizNewOrleans.com

he New Orleans Pelicans saw their estimated value rise nearly $230 million last year, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from being named the least valuable franchise in the National Basketball Association. While the average NBA team is now worth $1.25 billion — 13 percent more than a year ago — in their 19th annual valuations of the NBA’s 30 teams, Forbes estimated the Pelicans to be worth $650 million dollars, a 35 percent increase compared to their $420 million valuation a year before. The team saw revenue totaling $142 million, and $19.7 million in operating income last year. Both were increases from the $116 million in revenue and $11.2 million in operating income a year prior. Forbes cited team owner Tom Benson’s ongoing legal proceedings over succession of the Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints in their explanation for the team’s last place ranking. . According to the publication, the NBA’s teams combined to generate a record-high $5.2 bil-

lion in revenue last season, a 20 percent value increase from the previous year. As a result, team values are rising rapidly. Team values jumped 74 percent compared to last year. According to the latest rankings, the New York Knicks, worth $3 billion, are the NBA’s most valuable franchise, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers ($2.7 billion), Chicago Bulls ($2.3 billion), Boston Celtics ($2.1 billion) and

Los Angeles Clippers ($2 billion). While the Pelicans aren’t quite flying that high, it’s amazing to think of the deal Benson struck to obtain the Pelicans. In 2012, he bought the franchise from the NBA for $340 million. Four years later, it has increased nearly 91 percent in value. And it doesn’t look like the money machine will slow down anytime soon. NBA teams are now routinely seeing media and sponsorship deals that are double their previous amounts, topped by a nine-year, $24 billion broadcast deal with TNT and ESPN/ABC. Basketball is an international game with long-established domestic leagues and talent springing up from all reaches of the globe. According to the NBA, games and related programming are available in 215 countries. On opening day, there were 100 players from 37 countries, with an international player appearing on each team’s roster. While the success the Pelicans thought they’d see in the 2015-16 season has been fleeting, the team still has one of the sport’s hottest commodities. In Anthony Davis, a 7-footer selected first overall in the 2012 NBA draft, the team has a great player to build around and a great ambassador to the public. Already an NBA All Star, Davis is the Pels’ franchise player. Assuming the ownership situation works out favorably, Davis will be the center of the team’s game plan and marketing campaigns for years to come. Faithful fans and team brass are hoping the team’s finances will be able to rebound as well as their best player. n

Top 10 Most Valuable Teams According to Forbes, the average NBA franchise is now worth $1.25 billion — a 13 percent increase compared to last year, when team values jumped 74 percent. NBA teams combined to generate a record-high $5.2 billion in revenue last season — a 20 percent increase from the previous year. Team Value % Change Revenue Operating Income (billions) (annual) (millions) (millions) New York Knicks $3.0 20 $307 $108.9 Los Angeles Lakers $2.7 4 $304 $133.4 Chicago Bulls $2.3 15 $228 $67.6 Boston Celtics $2.1 24 $181 $57.4 Los Angeles Clippers $2.0 25 $176 $20.6 Golden State Warriors $1.9 46 $201 $57.6 Brooklyn Nets $1.7 13 $220 ($5.7) Houston Rockets $1.5 20 $237 $74.6 Dallas Mavericks $1.4 22 $177 $24.3 Miami Heat $1.3 11 $180 $20.8 NBA Team Average $1.2 13 $173 $30.0 Source: Forbes Photo Thinkstock


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Columns | Film Biz

Louisiana’s Lens Leader Panavision’s new location is now the largest camera facility in the state.

W

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 and is thrilled to be covering its emersion in her newly adopted home.

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hen Hurricane Katrina hit, Louisiana’s f ledgling film scene was far from the Hollywood South we know today, so it would have been easy, and even understandable, for Panavision — an industry leader in manufacturing, designing and renting high precision optics and camera systems — to pull out of the state in the wake of the devastation. Instead, the company stayed, operating out of their 12,000 square-foot building on Distributors Row in Elmwood. The global powerhouse was rewarded for their fortitude as Louisiana’s industry grew at an exponential rate for years until, of course, the next hit came last year in the form of the tax credit changes. “We had just acquired Light Iron (a leader in digital workflow

solutions) early last year before the changes were made,” said Steven Krul, marketing executive with Panavision New Orleans, who explained that the company was again faced with the question do they stay or do they go. “Even with the uncertainty, we decided to double down and expand,” he said. “We’re a part of this place now and we’re not going anywhere.” Proving their dedication, the company just opened its new, expanded location just a few buildings down from their old digs this past December. More than doubling their footprint, the new 30,500-square-foot building is now the largest camera facility in Louisiana. Recently, Krul was kind enough to give me a personal tour around the new location so I could see for myself what a one-stop-shop it is.

Except it’s not really a shop, as Panavision doesn’t sell any cameras or equipment, they rent them. They also repair and store equipment. “Our entire storage area used to be the size of this room,” he said, pointing to a large room dedicated completely to camera repairs. “Now it’s this,” he said, as we stepped into a gigantic warehouse stocked f loor to ceiling. “We used to have to keep f lying gear in all the time. Now it’s stocked and at the ready.” Continuing through the ground f loor, I also got a look at a lens projection room, where filmmakers can calibrate their equipment before they go out, and took a peak at a small car rigged with nine different cameras that’s being used for a film currently titled “Bad Moms,” starring Mila Kunis, Christina Applegate and Jada Pinkett Smith. The project started filming in New Orleans in January and is due out this summer. Far more than just a camera rental and repair facility, the new Panavision building is the only location in Louisiana that puts camera services and post-production under one roof. Five thousand square feet is devoted to Light Iron’s first brick-andmortar facility in the state. The second f loor includes a dailies lab and eight edit rooms, including three editing suites that looked more like nice hotel rooms — complete with goody baskets. The second f loor also boasts a full kitchen and a theater designed to receive live feed from the test rooms down below. Krul said the company works with a majority of the larger projects that film in the state. In fact, Paramount Pictures’ upcoming film, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” was the first to use the new space. Signage for the project still hung on a few of the walls. Walking out of the facility, I have to say I felt proud. Here’s a company synonymous with the “camera” of “lights, camera, action” in Hollywood for decades, and of their 68 locations worldwide, they chose us to serve as the home of this first exciting collaborative endeavor. “Eventually we’ll do the same thing in Atlanta,” he added. Yes, but we were first, I thought. That’s gotta say something. n Photo courtesy of Panavision


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Columns | Entrepreneur Biz Founded in New Orleans, PowerMoves offers fellowship programs and an annual boot camp to help support entrepreneurs of color.

A Monochromatic Marketplace PowerMoves NOLA aims to diversify the local entrepreneurism scene.

I 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 macrobusiness levels.

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n recent years our region has gained national recognition as a hotbed of entrepreneurism, and rightly so. Thousands of new business ventures have been launched, and many have been remarkably successful. But is this burst of economic activity truly inclusive and equitable? According to the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, the answer is no. As Urban League president Erika McConduit presented at the league’s “State of Black New Orleans” summit in August, less than 10 percent of the businesses in Orleans Parish are owned by AfricanAmericans. Despite efforts by groups such as LiftFund and Puentes New Orleans, Latino business ownership – while increasing – is an even smaller percentage of the

whole. Other minorities account for even fewer enterprises. Rashida Govan, a consultant with the Urban League, cited a number of factors that contribute to this discrepancy, including education levels, family obligations, lack of access and capital, and other resources. “The fees alone can be a deterrent to trying to get a business started,” she pointed out, adding that there are many more economic and cultural factors that inhibit opportunity; indeed, this topic is larger than can be fully explored in this column. However, there is at least one substantial initiative looking to address the situation. PowerMoves NOLA was founded in 2014 to, in their words, “position New Orleans as a hub for entrepreneurs of color.” While this nonprofit organization has since expanded its mission to

improve opportunities for entrepreneurs of color throughout the United States, it remains located in New Orleans and still makes the city its first priority. One of PowerMoves NOLA’s key programs is its annual entrepreneurs’ fellowship. The 2016 fellows were announced in January. According to the PowerMoves press release, the program provides supports for early-stage startups, including access to advisors, mentors, experts and investors. Fellows also receive investment capital and free office space during their fellowship year at the PowerMoves NOLA headquarters in New Orleans. Further supporting the growth of inclusive local entrepreneurism, applicants for the fellowship must commit to having both their executive leadership and at least 25 percent of their employees live in New Orleans for at least one year. The hope is that in that time, the nascent firms will build ties strong enough to keep them here for the long term. Five entrepreneurs were selected as fellows for 2016. These imaginative startups included the developers of a financial management app; designers of a law firm case management program; a business solutions software company; developers of a web-based language-learning platform; and an online wedding management firm. The technology focus is a key part of the PowerMoves strategy, which seeks out startups with high-growth potential and a techbased operation. With Chevron as its major financial supporter, PowerMoves has already helped 100 companies from across the country secure more than $27 million in capital commitments. In addition to the entrepreneurial fellowship, PowerMoves hosts an annual national conference, a PowerUp Boot Camp, and other pitch and showcase events. Other activities include linking new businesses to investment capital, mentorship, and resources to help refine their business models and market strategies. For New Orleans to really lay claim to being a leader in entrepreneurism, the opportunity to develop and launch a new business must be legitimately available to all residents. Initiatives like PowerMoves are critical to overcoming the barriers to multicultural entrepreneurism. n Photo Courtesy of PowerMoves NOLA


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Columns | Biz Etiquette

How to Lose Friends and Annoy People Entrepreneurs need to strike a balance when promoting a business.

A

Melanie Warner Spencer is editor of

New Orleans Bride Magazine. Her writing has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. Spencer’s ever-expanding library of etiquette books is rivaled only by her everready stash of blank thank-you notes. Submit business etiquette questions to Melanie@ MyNewOrleans.com.

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record high number of Americans — 14 percent, or 27 million — are currently either running a new business or starting one, according to Babson College’s 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. This explains the growing number of people on Facebook and Twitter touting everything from consulting services and Rodan + Fields skin-care products, to real estate and restaurant ventures. While it’s easy to get carried away with countless inspirational memes and behind-the-scenes Instagram and Facebook posts — especially during the developmental and launch stages of a company — fledgling entrepreneurs need to take care to rein it in. The following tips will help you strike the right balance of promotional, informational, neutral and “personal” posts that will enable you to promote your business without annoying friends, loved

ones, colleagues and that one guy you met at your sister’s high school graduation party. n Adopt a strict 80/20 rule regarding all promotional or business-related posts on all of your personal social media networks. For example, if you regularly post around 10 times a day about your dog, interesting news articles, funny videos and something hilarious your child said during bath time, maybe cut the personal posts to eight and make two business related. That being said, unless you are in the news business, two posts a day might be overkill, depending on the platform and the type of work you do. Which brings us to frequency. n Flooding the feed is a social media no-no. It’s of course different for each platform, but no more than once per hour on Twitter and about two times per day on Facebook is the safest bet for businesses. Individual

users, however, can and do get away with more, but at what cost? Cute kitten videos are one thing, but 10 posts a day with before-and-after pictures, sale info, team member solicitations and new product announcements is way too much and will come off as spam, even if you are posting to a business page. n Consider maintaining a separate company page, even if you are your business. Those who run a one-man or one-woman show and companies operating under a separate moniker with multiple employees can benefit from the use of networks dedicated solely to the business. For example, I have a personal page and a “journalist” page on Facebook, which allows me to connect with readers and other people I don’t know directly and to share items that are better suited to the general public than my friends, family and business acquaintances. It serves the opposite purpose too, by keeping the more personal posts off of my professional feed. Readers might enjoy a family recipe for example, but they probably don’t care about a group picture of my cousins and me. My actual cousins are barely interested in it, and they are in the photo. Blurring the personal and professional is, however, worth consideration. A weekly Snapchat video or Periscope session of your dog and cat romping around the living room or your baby digging into birthday cake is a great break in the monotony of business insider tips, articles from the Wall Street Journal and motivational quotes on your professional or company pages, but a little goes a long way. Offering customers, clients and followers a glimpse into your family and social life can make you more relatable, but a front row seat will grow old fast and could damage credibility. On your businessonly sites, opt for the 80/20 rule in reverse, with the personal stuff staying in the lower percentage. Social media is revolutionary for businesses and entrepreneurs, but much like networking at an event or cocktail party, don’t monopolize the conversation, save sales pitches for followup conversations and emails, and always strive to be professional. You wouldn’t walk into a dinner party and shove a sales flier into the hand of the person seated next to you at the table. And if you would, well we have bigger etiquette fish to fry. n Photo Thinkstock


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Columns | Tech Biz

The Internet of Things A look at a few bright spots on the road to a truly smart world.

F Steven Ellis

has spent the last 16 years working at the intersection of business and technology for Bellwether Technology in New Orleans, where he serves as the company’s vice president.

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ew things are trendier in tech than the Internet of Things (IoT). In my own words, the IoT is the idea of bringing the Internet to typically disconnected “dumb” objects to control them or to get more information from them, thereby making them “smart” objects. The control can be manual or automated and can originate from a person using an app, from another smart device, or from something in the cloud. Popular examples today include household objects like the Nest thermostat, Philips Hue lightbulbs, and Samsung refrigerators; but the IoT also has many real and projected industrial and commercial applications. I can relate as much as anyone to the appeal of using gadgets to make daily life better or easier, and I have ventured down that path more than a few times in

recent years. Sometimes the results were better than I had hoped; often they fell well short. Probably my most successful attempt was one of my first: a Sonos whole home audio system. It consists of Internet-connected, reliable, wirelessly networked devices that play music in each room with easy control from any phone, tablet or computer. It just works — and from the day I first installed it, it has made my life just a little better by bringing more music to it than there would otherwise be. The combination of convenience, access to a wide variety of music sources and automation — all of which spring from its connectivity — are what make it great and are a good example of the benefits of the IoT when done well. I also love and would quickly recommend my Nest camera, which stores video in the cloud and lets me view it from

anywhere, and my BrewPi fermentation controller, which lets me control, monitor, record, and automate the temperature of fermenting beer. In both cases, the devices’ connectivity makes them far superior to their predecessors. On the flip side, I have found some connected products to be more trouble than they’re worth and others to be too unreliable to recommend. I had smart light switches that up and died, so I replaced them with disconnected (but neat) timers. I’ve tried other brands of cloud-based security cameras (Nest does not have an outdoor model), and have found their connectivity to be spotty and their functionality a little lacking. And I have several $40 light bulbs that can turn any color of the rainbow, which the entire family now uses just like a $2 light bulb 99 percent of the time. Despite the inconsistency, the grand vision of IoT is compelling. It’s a world where all electronic and mechanical items automatically do exactly what people want them to do and tell people everything they want to know in an easily digestible way. As a first step, we obviously need to be able to communicate with and control those items, and the fact that doing so has become technically possible is the reason that the IoT is now a hot topic. But simply being able to connect everything to the Internet is not enough. Despite the existence of various home automation hubs and the cloud service IFTTT, which start to tie things together, the reality is that today we have an assortment of mostly independent devices, each of which serves one specific function with its own app, its own login account, etc. For IoT to really take off, we need real standards to emerge so that we can start the truly exciting work of making things work together in non-trivial ways to accomplish interesting tasks. It’s a nice thought that I could get to the grocery store and use my refrigerator app to find out how many eggs I have at home, but what I really want is for my refrigerator to buy eggs for me when I’m low and have them delivered to itself – without sending me 10 emails along the way. n Photo Thinkstock


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Biz Bits - Industry News Around town

Every dollar of the STEDF budget generated $105 for St. Tammany. Our organization’s economic impact amounted to $88 million and 634 new jobs for the year. - Brenda Bertus, CEO of the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation (STEDF), which just released its 2015 annual report. To view the complete report, visit stedf.org.

LSU Part of $90 Million Deal A technology invented by faculty at LSU Health New Orleans recently became part of an acquisition deal by global pharmaceutical company Allergan. In early January, Allergan acquired Anterios, a clinical stage pharmaceutical company, which licensed an LSU Health-patented technology in 2008 for the use of topical botulinum toxin to treat or prevent acne created by Drs. Ann Tilton, Dana Suskind and Mary Caire. In consideration for the license, LSU Health New Orleans received a mix of equity and royalties, and may potentially receive milestone payments.

LHBA Announces 2015 Winners

LOCAL Home Depots Hiring Hundreds In preparation for spring, its busiest selling season, The Home Depot plans to hire 525 associates in New Orleans and more than 80,000 nationwide. Available positions vary by store, and college students, retirees and veterans are encouraged to apply.

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Winners of the 2015 Louisiana Home Builders Association awards were announced on January 7. Included among them were Builder of the Year, Greg Manuel, Associate of the Year, Penni Aulds and Hall of Fame recipient, Dennis Smith. Michael LeCorgne received the Mike Penn Distinguished Service Award and Steve Wobbema was named Remodeler of the Year. Winners from Shreveport and New Orleans were also announced for the 2nd Annual Remodeling Excellence Awards. For a full list of winners, visit LHBA.org.


Recent Openings Tabasco Visitors Center McIlhenny Company, makers of TABASCO sauce, opened the TABASCO Pepper Sauce Visitors Center on Avery Island on February 2. The new center showcases the story behind the world famous sauce and provides an up-close look at the production process.

Gambel Communications — Mandeville New Orleans-based public relations firm Gambel Communications opened its second location at 111 N. Causeway Boulevard, Suite 205 in Mandeville on January 28. The event was co-hosted by the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce and attended by more than 75 guests.

The Barre Code

Walmart Neighborhood Market

New Orleans’ newest fitness boutique, The Barre Code, opened at 787 Harrison Avenue in Lakeview on February 13. The boutique is part of a Chicago-based fitness franchise and features an ever-evolving class curriculum of fitness classes for women.

St. Bernard Parish welcomed a Walmart Neightborhood Market at 2500 Archbishop Hannan Boulevard in Meraux on January 27. The 42,000 square-foot store will expand grocery options for local residents.

COMING SOON HRI Properties began construction on Homewood Suites New Orleans French Quarter this past December with a targeted opening date of the second quarter of 2017. The $40 million, 207-room extended stay hotel will be located at 317 N. Rampart Street to take advantage of the future streetcar line.

Cavan Restaurant and Bar The fourth project from New Orleans-based hospitality group LeBlanc + Smith — others include Sylvain, Meauxbar and Barrel Proof — Cavan Restaurant and Bar opened February 15 at 3607 Magazine Street. Set in a Victorian home built in 1881, the restaurant will feature classic coastal American cuisine.

The second At Home residential décor superstore in Lousiana will open at 150 North Shore Boulevard in Slidell at the end of May. The 90,000 square-foot retail space will bring approximately 25 new full- and part-time jobs to the area and follows the opening of a location in Kenner last year. Dunkin Donuts, together with franchise group, Panama City Donuts, is set to develop five new locations in New Orleans, with the first scheduled to open in 2017. The group currently operates three Louisiana Dunkin Donuts storefronts.

We’d love to include your business-related news in next month’s Biz Bits. Please email details to Editorial@BizNewOrleans.com. BizNewOrleans.com March 2016

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

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Broussard’s Restaurant & Courtyard has been serving classic New Orleans dishes with a twist for 96 years. Conveniently located in the heart of the French Quarter, Broussard’s now offers lunch on Fridays from 11 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.! Try the $19.20 Pre Fixe menu and enjoy historical punches for just 96 cents each. Whether it’s for brunch, lunch or dinner, choose to dine in the majestic main dining room or in the palatial courtyard. Broussard’s — a local dining tradition since 1920.

Windsor Court

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777 Bienville St. | (504) 553-2277 RevolutionNOLA.com

Lunch in New Orleans just got a huge promotion. At The Grill Room at Windsor Court, lunch isn’t climbing the corporate ladder, it’s at the top of the food chain. Join us for a meat and three gourmet plate lunch for just $19.84. Why the $19.84 price point? That’s a nod to the hotel’s opening. Enhance your lunch with $2 martinis made with Tito’s Vodka or Plymouth Gin. So call a recess, adjourn the meeting because it’s time for lunch. Served six days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Lunch is back Wednesday through Friday at Chefs Folse & Tramonto’s Restaurant R’evolution. Lunch guests can enjoy imaginative reinterpretations of classic Creole and Cajun cuisine on their lunch hour and complimentary valet parking. Dinner, Bar R’evolution and Sunday Jazz Brunch are also available at this awardwinning fine dining establishment.


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In the midst of a worldwide panic over disappearing bees, Biz New Orleans takes a look at their status locally and what these insects mean for the state’s economy. By Kim Singletary

What’s the Buzz? Photo Jeff Johnston

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or years now, we’ve been hearing the grim news: The bees are disappearing and we’re all in trouble. Worldwide, the alarm has been sounded, but what does it mean for Louisiana? Are we seeing a decline here in the state whose official state insect is the honeybee? Other than taking care to avoid the backside of this buzzing creature, why should we care so much about a threat to their survival? First, let’s look at why there’s been such a global concern. More than just an insect that happens to make a tasty treat, the approximately 20,000 different bee species around the world are an integral part of the world’s food chain, responsible for pollinating about one-third of all the food we eat — including fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, chocolate and various herbs and spices. Without them, we would lose a significant amount of our food supply. But what does that mean specifically for 42

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1- Bee removal specialist and beekeeper, Jeff Armstrong, a.k.a. JP the Bee Man. Photo by Cheryl Gerber 2- Researchers at the Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge. 3- The Baton Rouge lab is one of three USDA labs in the country focused on honey bees.

acknowledge that the work involved in being a successful beekeeper, both worldwide and in Louisiana, has gotten more and more difficult in recent years.

the problems Varroa Mites

economics in Louisiana? While some of our main agricultural staples, including sugarcane, rice and cotton, are pollinated by the wind, not insects, according to the 2014 agricultural summary report from Louisiana State University’s Ag department, fruit production in the state totaled $36.5 million, and vegetable production totaled $377.5 million. That over $400 million does not account for many micro farmers in the state, whose crops are not reported. Add to that the 1.7 million pounds of honey produced in Louisiana in the same year at an average price per pound of $1.80 to $2.20, which totals an additional up to $3.74 million. So are we seeing a change in the bees that should worry us? The answer is not clear. “It really depends on who you talk to,” says Bob Danka, research leader at the Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge. In operation since 1928, it is one of three USDA labs around the country that work with honey bees. “What you’ve heard about a decrease in the global population of bees is wrong,” he says. “The only place where there was a decrease was in North America and Europe, where, over the years we’ve gone from about 6 million colonies down to about 2.5. But as a society our needs have changed too. We don’t need that many bees.” While he may not believe there’s reason to panic, Danka does

“The world has gotten smaller, and as such we’re seeing more and more problems with exotic pests,” he says. When Danka joined the research unit 30 years ago, the main threat gathering attention was that of the Africanized honey bee. Since then, he says, the bees have been facing “one biological problem after another,” with one of the biggest being Varroa mites. Discovered in the U.S. in 1987, these mites hail from southeast Asia and are large enough to be viewed with the naked eye and are described as looking similar to a tick. Like a mosquito, or a tick, the mites transmit viruses and other pathogens to the bees. Colonies infested with these mites typically die in 1 to 2 years. “Varroa mites have been found all over the world, except Australia,” Danka says. The answer to the mites became to use pesticides, a practice still in use today, but it is one he says definitely comes with risks. “When you use pesticides you are risking contaminating both the honey and the hive,” he says. “And then there’s the fact that mites are the classic poster child for developing resistance.” Determined to find another way to deal with the mites, the Honey Bee Unit began importing Russian Honey Bees, a species that has been found to be resistant to Varroa mites, in 1997. The bees were bred to create several lines and then turned over to the Russian Bee Breeders Association to be made available to beekeepers. The lab has also developed bees with a certain genetic trait called Varroa-sensitive hygiene (VSH). Bees with this trait are able to take care of the problem themselves — finding them on their own and tossing them out of the hive. With the Varroa mite issue addressed, the lab has switched focus to other pathogens causing problems for honey bees, including Deformed Wing Virus, Nosema Ceranae and tracheal mites.

Chemicals While mites and pathogens are certainly a viable threat to bees, human actions are definitely taking their toll. “The last six or seven years we’ve been hearing a lot about Colony Collapse Disorder (a phenomenon where the majority of worker bees leave, causing it to collapse), and my take on things is that it has a lot to do with all the chemicals we’re using on our agriculture,” says New Orleans bee removal specialist and beekeeper Jeff Armstrong, a.k.a. “JP the Bee Man.” “I have a beekeeper friend down in Mississippi who was seeing some of the classic symptoms and in the four days BizNewOrleans.com March 2016

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I was visiting him I saw two planes and a helicopter drop chemicals around him.” On this problem, however, Danka says Louisiana is fortunate. “We are generally less affected by the pesticide problem locally because we don’t have a really heavy corn and soybean matrix,” he says. “We also still have a fair amount of wild land here in comparison with many other states.” Beekeepers Elizabeth Holloway and Milou Barry, proprietors of Bocage Bee and Honey Co. in Baton Rouge, however, say chemicals are among their top concerns. “In my book, public enemy No. 1 is Round Up,” says Barry. “Whenever we go and speak to a garden club I tell them that if they want to do one thing for the bees they need to get rid of that stuff safely and never use it again. You can use it in your yard and it’s strong enough to kill the garden of the yard next to you. It’s responsible for killing tons of bees each year.” Speculation also exists that Colony Collapse Disorder could be caused in part by a group of chemicals called neonicotinoids, neuroactive insecticides. “Dell, Monsanto, Bayer — they all use them and they do real damage,” Holloway says. “Basically bees have a kind of built in GPS system that enables them to triangulate to the sun and find their way home. This chemical interrupts that system and the bees get lost. The EU banned it and Mexico sued against its use and won, but we still use it. Right now stores like Lowes and Home Depot are not selling it, but nobody knows how long that will last.” Holloway says that with the recent spread of the Zika Virus, she worries that there will be more aggressive spraying for mosquitos this year and is concerned about how it will affect the bees. “We had tremendous losses with the West Nile Virus,” she says.

4: Glenn Gueho, owner of Busy Bee removal services and a beekeeper, says demand for his services has doubled in the past five years thanks to higher temperatures. 5: Bocage Honey Co. in Baton Rouge specializes in varietal honeys, producing as many as 35 varieties in a year.

Weather Like with everything in agriculture, weather is everything, and again, in this factor Louisiana is very bee friendly. “Winters are mild here so we have a high instance of survivability,” says Armstrong. “The honey bees here are thriving.” For Holloway and Barry, who specialize in varietal honeys, weather rules their business. “The color and flavor of honey is completely dependent on what the bees eat, so in order to offer different varieties we currently have hives in about eight locations scattered around Baton Rouge,” Barry says. “It’s like with wine, the difference in soil and in season greatly affects each crop. We’ve had as many as 35 varieties in a year.” Last spring Bocage Bee and Honey Co. was unable to offer their wild orange honey. “That’s when we got all those heavy rains and all the pollen and nectar were just washed away,” Holloway explains. Bees love heat, in fact when temperatures drop into the 50s, opening up a hive can kill all the bees inside. But just like with humans, when temperatures really start to climb, they seek relief. For Glenn Gueho, owner of Busy Bee bee removal services and a beekeeper, rising temperatures are good for business. “With global warming we’ve seen higher temperatures over the years and that means 44

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Photos Jeff Johnston and Courtesy of Bocage Bee and Honey Co.


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bees look more and more to get out of the heat — searching out homes and businesses with air conditioning and shade,” he says. “This means I’m doing more and more removals. In the last five years my numbers have actually doubled, from 500 or 600 a year to over 1,000.”

And Now for the Good News The doomsday scenario regarding bee declines hasn’t been witnessed here in Louisiana, in fact, all the worldwide focus has had a surprisingly positive affect. The 2014 LSU Ag Summary found a sharp increase in the number of beekeepers — from 325 in 2013 to 446 in 2014. This number doesn’t take into account backyard hobbyists, whose numbers are definitely on the rise. “When I joined the Baton Rouge Beekeepers Association back in 2008 or 2009 we had about 50 members,” Holloway says. “Now we’ve got about 250.” “There’s a lot of people who’ve read about the problems and they’re looking for a way to help,” Danka says. “The more you learn about bees, the more you can’t help but become enamored,” Armstrong says. “Working with bees is almost spiritual. When you’re in their world you have to be in it 100 percent. It’s such a great escape.” “It gives you a whole different perspective on life — on communal living,” Holloway says. “I get emotional when I talk about bees. They’re just so incredible.” For beekeeper David Young, New Orleans’ post-Katrina landscape provided a great opportunity to make a difference. “I came here after the storm to help with rebuilding, but pretty soon I saw that the Lower Ninth Ward needed more than just housing,” he says. Young began buying up blighted lots in the area and using them for bees and gardens. His organization, Capstone, now has 30 lots and gave away over 2,600 pounds of honey last year. All of the produce grown was also distributed to local residents. “All of the increased interest we’ve seen in recent years is just wonderful,” says Holloway. “The housewife with two hives in her yard, the little old man with one hive — it’s making a difference.” n

Did you know? n

n n

Honey bees are not native to the U.S.; Approximately 70 percent of the honey bees in Louisiana are Italian. Honey bees can travel up to 5 miles to find food. 95 percent of a honey bee colony is female. Males, or drones, are solely used for breeding. All nectar gathering is done by females.

n

Bees are deaf — they communicate through dance.

n

A queen typically lives for 3-5 years, while workers live for about 30 days.

n

Other pollinators include wasps, butterflies, flys, bats, birds, beetles and moths.

n

n

Beekeepers deal in weight, not volume, due to the density of the product. Honey that measures 12 ounces will typically weigh 16 ounces. Almonds are solely pollinated by honey bees.

Operating out of 30 blighted properties in the Lower Ninth Ward, Capstone, a nonprofit run by beekeeper David Young, gave away over 2,600 pounds of honey last year to local residents. 46

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Photo Jeff Johnston


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Leading the Way They’re young, they’re passionate, and they’re determined to guide New Orleans into the future of healthcare. By Pamela Marquis - Photos by Cheryl Gerber

T

he stress of managing a major healthcare organization is unrelenting. CEOs and COOs must deal with continued cuts to reimbursement, staffing shortages, a strict regulatory environment, competitive markets, consolidation, and the ability to adapt quickly as the environment changes around them. According to Hospitals and Health Networks, a website that follows the healthcare industry, an estimated 300,000 people worked as medical and health service managers in health care in 2013, and about 114,000 of those worked for hospitals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But trends show that more than 2.5 million baby boomers working in health care today are beginning an exodus from the system, and shortages are hitting all segments of the healthcare workforce. This has prompted companies to seek out Gen Xers and millennials to fill these positions as boomers leave. Hospitals are hiring young up-and-comers for executive positions to round out their leadership teams. Here in New Orleans we have some distinguished examples of young executive administrators making a huge contribution to the area’s healthcare landscape.

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Ochsner Health System Alton Ochsner and four colleagues opened New Orleans’ first multispecialty group practice in 1942. Today, Ochsner Health System is one of the largest independent academic health systems in the United States and Louisiana’s largest nonprofit health system. Ochsner manages 28 hospitals and owns, manages and affiliates with more than 60 health centers. The system has 17,000 employees, including over 2,500 affiliated physicians in more than 90 medical specialties and subspecialties. 

Beth Walker Chief Operating Officer, Ochsner Health System Age 38

When Beth Walker arrived from Ohio at New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System in 2001 to begin an administrative fellowship, the organization consisted of only one hospital. Now, 15 years later, it’s the largest private not-for-profit healthcare system in the region and treats patients from 94 locations, including 28 hospitals and more than 60 health centers. “I’ve grown up in the Ochsner system,” she says. “I thought I was going to do a yearlong internship but I was at the right place at the right time. I truly love my job and Ochsner.” When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Walker was about three months into her job as manager of general internal medicine at Ochsner. For three weeks, she remained at the facility around the clock to coordinate inpatient, outpatient and long-term care for patients. Over the past 11 years, she has served in various roles, from manager of internal medicine to vice president of operations for women’s and children’s services. In February 2013 she accepted her current position as chief operating officer.

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Walker has a degree from Harvard Business School Executive Education in managing healthcare delivery and a master of health administration. She says her ability to build strong teams and relationships has served her well. “You can’t be a leader if you don’t have followers,” she says. “I believe it’s important to stay focused and ensure my leaders are focused as well. There are so many things going on at every moment that it’s easy to get overwhelmed or lose sight of the most critical issues.” Walker also believes it’s important to be clear on your goals and objectives, and that everyone on her team is aligned for success. She thinks that one mistake younger CEOs can make is getting caught up in titles and self-imposed time frames.  “They can be too set on a straight line to a goal, not recognizing the many paths that can get you there and may, in the end, even get you there faster,” she says. Walker notes that many people have had an influence on her and that her leadership style is a melting pot of many great leaders with whom she’s had a chance to work, not just throughout her career but also growing up through sports, community involvement and a strong, supportive family. “Warner Thomas (CEO of Ochsner Health System) has been involved in my career since I started as an administrative fellow in 2002,” she says. “He’s been so supportive of me and believes that young administrators can have talent, skills and aptitude to get the job done. I have learned so much from him and continue to be grateful for the opportunities he’s provided me and the strong mentor he continues to be.” She knows that the healthcare landscape is changing quickly and that to be successful she needs to be proactive. Her goals for her clinic include to continue to provide quality care for the community and make sure that that care is accessible to all local residents.


New Orleans East Hospital For nine years, officials talked about the importance of restoring emergency room services and surgical care in a section of New Orleans hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. In July 2014, the $130-million, 80-bed New Orleans East Hospital opened its doors. Situated on the site of the former Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital at 5620 Read Boulevard, the new hospital includes a renovation of Pendleton’s six-story, 133,640-square-foot East Tower.

Dr. Takeisha Davis Chief Executive Officer, New Orleans East Hospital Age 41

A New Orleans native who has spent the past decade working for the state health department, Dr. Takeisha Davis took over as CEO of the 80-bed New Orleans East Hospital on January 11, 2016. In her new role, she works for New Orleans-based LCMC Health, the company that operates New Orleans East Hospital. Davis oversees nine regional offices and 68 parish health units. She has extensive experience in clinical care, community engagement and healthcare systems management. “As a leader, I want to provide and create opportunities for my staff and our providers so we can continue their education and gain experience with an emphasis on experience,” she says. “I think it’s also important to be visible and approachable.” Before this new assignment, Davis served as director of Louisiana’s Center for Community and Preventable Health and medical director and assistant state health officer for the Office of Public Health. She earned a doctor of medicine degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University.

The $130-million New Orleans East Hospital opened in July 2014 and provides healthcare services to the residents of eastern New Orleans, Gentilly and the Lower Ninth Ward. Davis is very involved in engaging the community — everyone from business leaders, to schools, to public libraries — in making the hospital a success. “We want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our residents and finding how our community resources can be used effectively to help the community,” she says. “It is so important to be strategic about partnerships with everyone from primary care physicians to pharmacies.” She also notes there have been recent changes in the way health care is provided. “We’ve seen a robust increase in our work with patients in acute care using telecommunication,” she says. One of the challenges Davis sees in the industry is the shift to a value-based business model. Hospitals are moving more and more into prevention. “We are seeing less people in confinement in our hospitals,” she says. “Today’s CEOs in the healthcare industry need to be strong and stay strong. They must step outside the hospital’s walls. We need to rescript our involvement in the community and be more engaged in helping to educate the public to prevent illness. We must not only help when our clients are sick. We have a responsibility to keep them well.”

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Tulane Medical Center Tulane University was founded in 1834 by seven physicians who sought to create a medical school in New Orleans that would teach others how to care for patients in the midst of cholera and yellow fever epidemics. Today, the Tulane University Health Sciences Center includes the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and the National Primate Research Center. The medical center has more than 500 credentialed physicians who provide leadingedge care, ranging from primary to tertiary to quaternary care.

Jyric Sims Chief Operating Officer, Tulane Medical Center Age 33 Jyric Sims joined Tulane Medical Center (TMC) as the chief operating officer on December 15, 2014, after serving nearly two years as vice president and chief operating officer of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) affiliate St. Lucie Medical Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida. While there, Sims was instrumental in leading operations, hospital staffing, and more than $20 million in construction projects of the 229-bed medical center. Sims also served as Associate COO of Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster, Texas, and as director and administrative fellow at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Tulane Medical Center covers nearly all major specialties and is the primary teaching hospital for the Tulane University School of Medicine. It includes two tertiary acute-care hospitals, 33 hospitalbased clinics, medical staff totaling over 400 and has approximately 2,000 employees. “Being the leader of operations over the system is both exciting and challenging,” he says. “The only typical part of my day is that it’s atypical,” he says, “meaning each day is always different, depending

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on the operating priorities of the health system, dynamic(s) with faculty/physicians and corporate priorities being part of the Hospital Corporation of America. It’s fast-paced and necessitates the need to make decisions, sometimes without all the information, which you have to be comfortable with.” The routine portion of his day, which he loves, is one that the hospital embarked on a year ago: a system-wide effort to improve patients’ hospital experience. “We instituted a no-meeting zone from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., daily,” he says. “The time from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. is spent with all of our clinical and nonclinical leaders rounding on every patient. From 9:30 to 10 a.m. I lead the entire group in our boardroom to review each patient’s experience from the rounders and we implement real-time service recovery. This process has been modeled at many other hospitals across the country and has paid dividends and enhanced our patient’s experience score tremendously to being one of the best in our region.” Sims believes the health system’s year-over-year results speak volumes about the caliber of talent in leadership roles at TMC. “We are in the service business, and the only way to affect change is through people,” he says, adding, “we have had record-setting growth in our inpatient and outpatient services, along with January 2016 being our busiest in a decade.” Also an adjunct professor at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine graduate program in health administration, Sims taught a course on leadership and professionalism. He has also served as preceptor to several administrative residents and fellows at the health system. “The second skill I think is critical is the ability to be a mentor and take pride in giving back and mentoring the next generation,” he says. The final skill he thinks all administrators should have, whether they are young and up-and-coming or highly experienced, is to understand their place in the big picture of caring for patients. “Humility is the key, and having the ability to forge great working relationships in particular with your boss is also important,” he says. “I am blessed with a great CEO. He really allows me latitude to do my job.”

Photos Cheryl Gerber


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Perspectives A closer look at hot topics in three southeast Louisiana industries

56 Real Estate

& Construction

60 Assisted Living

66 Banking & Finance BizNewOrleans.com March 2016

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Perspectives | Real Estate & Construction

New Growth to the North A look at the future developments, and challenges, facing the future of the Northshore. By Kim Roberts

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oday’s Northshore millennials are spreading their wings to find new housing and livelihoods in newly developed parts of St. Tammany Parish. And it’s not just homeowners, either: Regional companies are finding the Northshore to their liking as well. These two demographic factors —millennials and new companies — have helped sustain the economic engine of the latest and largest mixed-use developments of retail, residential and office hubs across the parish. To St. Tammany’s economic leaders, the crystal ball is even more promising: This trend of positive growth is expected to continue for quite some time. In fact, according to studies compiled by the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation, overall growth is a sure factor as written in both the quarterly “Parish Growth” report and in the “Ten Year Economic Summary.” The parish’s economic growth index has risen 4.9 percent since the third quarter of 2013; residential building permits have risen every year since 2009; and 56

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total sales have risen over 30 percent since 2009. Those numbers, one might say, sing of consumer and business confidence. Most of the new development spans the width of the parish, occurring along the Interstate 12 and Interstate 10 corridors. The Northshore’s I-12 is the primary east and west transportation vein and the economic driver for the course of most major developments.

Mastering Mixed-Use Three major projects carrying economic promise for the parish right now are similar in that they are all mixed-use developments: Tamanend, Fremaux Town Center and the Versailles Business Center projects. The Versailles Business Center is one of Gulf States Real Estate Services’ (GSRES) largest mixed-use projects. Michael Saucier, president of GSRES, says the 92-acre Covington site off I-12 and U.S. 190 Rendering courtesy of Gulf States Real Estate Services


Located in Covington off 1-12 and U.S. 190, the Versailles Business Center is a $200 million mixed-use project will include 16 lots of residential, medical offices and hospitals. It is scheduled to be completed early this year.

will eventually serve as the central business district of the Northshore. “That’s what it’s designed to be,” he says. Although still five to 10 years from completion, the 848-acre Tamanend mixed-use project, located off I-12 and La. 434, north of Lacombe, will one day be home to the new Northshore Technical Community College STEM campus, the St. Tammany Parish Emergency Preparedness Center and more new businesses. “It was developed primarily because of its central location,” says Saucier. To the east of I-10 is Slidell’s booming 400-acre Fremaux Town Center and Fremaux Park, which are expected to spur more retail, residential and business development. “We finished the first two phases of retail at Fremaux,” says Townsend Underhill, Stirling Properties’ senior vice president of development. “We have about a dozen retail tenants in phase two still to open, and a number of those will open over the next couple of months [including] Capital One, Pier 1, Five Below and Aveda.” And there’s more to come at Fremaux. Underhill says Stirling Properties has a couple of hotel projects under contract there, projects that will fly Hilton and Marriott flags. While they’ve already developed 100 acres, Stirling Properties has 200 additional acres to develop at the site, and Underhill says the near future “…involves high-end residential and even more retail.” BizNewOrleans.com March 2016

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The Fremaux Avenue corridor, says Saucier, has spawned a lot of development nearby, what he calls “tag-along projects.” He believes Fremaux is another example of the parish’s evolving retail infrastructure. “The Fremaux Town Center has changed the dynamics of retail in the east St. Tammany area,” he says. Underhill agrees. “I think retail development is consolidating in a project like this, as opposed to the proliferation of small strip centers and small shopping centers, which was the norm 10 to 15 years ago. I think you are going to continue to see activity in Slidell in the eastern half of the parish. I think there is resurgence over there. They’ve had tremendous success in a fairly short period of time with the Town Center.”

The Combs Connection Madisonville-based C.M. Combs Construction is one of the commercial build/design general contractors benefiting from east St. Tammany Parish development. “One of the higher-profile projects our company is currently working on is Nunmaker Yachts’ new boat sales and boat and RV storage facility off of Interstate 12 and Highway 11,” says owner Chris Combs. Developers are building on nearly every available lot in St. Tammany Parish and are even redeveloping older properties — a less expensive venture than building on raw land. While redeveloping existing properties is not common on the Northshore, most experts believe it will increase over the next five to 10 years. Saucier describes GSRES’ redevelopment projects as similar to the revitalization of Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie, which began a decade ago. He also has a prediction: “I do not see any large, groundup shopping center complexes being developed in west St. Tammany.” However, contractors continue to fill in pockets of land available in Mandeville. For example, Combs is overseeing a new facility for dentist Martha Anne Carr (rendered below), and Stirling has Whole Foods at

the Premier Centre (rendered above), located at U.S. 190 and North Causeway Boulevard. The latter is expected to open this spring.

Happy Neighbors Expanded development is also spilling over into Tangipahoa Parish to the west. “Our businesses and work force impact areas are spanning across the parish lines, so what happens to our neighbors, happens to us,” says Brenda Bertus, president of the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation. That’s good news for landscape companies like Mullin Landscape Associates. “We’re expecting to continue to increase our presence in both parishes, especially in and around Mandeville, Covington and Hammond,” says company president Chase Mullin, who’s also working on a highly visible new office complex on U.S. 190. Kasey Dorr, the vice president of business development for Rotolo Consultants Inc., a commercial landscape design, construction and maintenance company, agrees that growth is heading westward. “We see it going towards west St. Tammany Parish towards the Tangipahoa Parish line and Hammond near the I-12 corridor with industrial complexes. I also see continuing growth in the multifamily market there.” Another project on the horizon is a major development north near I-12 on La. 434 north of Lacombe, a 700-acre business park in east St. Tammany. Bertus says, “Considering the number of advanced manufacturing companies looking to relocate into our region, we need to be prepared to welcome them.” Meanwhile, Saucier says the Pinnacle at Nord du Lac Shopping Center off I-12 will be finished by 2017. “There’s a lot of land there left to be developed; it’s basically about half completed, and we’re making great progress on getting it finished.” Land to the east of the Pinnacle will be the site of the parish’s new cultural district, including a multimillion-dollar performing arts center. Underhill says Stirling Properties is currently working on a multifamily project area called the Springs at River Chase in Covington and has also started construction on a project for Rooms to Go that will open in January of next year. “We developed about 150 acres of this project and have another hundred to go.”

Housing Wanted For the sake of future expansion projects, developers are quick to point out the critical need for another round of residential development. Saucier predicts that additional residential growth will likely occur in both central and west St. Tammany Parish. 58

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Rendering courtesy of Stirling Properties and CM Combs Construction


“The only reason I say this is that east St. Tammany is still very hurricane prone, and there’s not a lot of land. East St. Tammany either has wetlands or there’s not an elevation.” That, he suggests, means potential home buyers are still plentiful, primarily in the lower to midpriced housing market. “I believe that we have to be more aggressive with trying to attract quality corporations,” says Saucier. “We are going to the East and West coasts trying to get people to move here. If we can bring a 100,000-square-foot office client out of California or New York you can imagine what that would do to spur residential and retail development because our demographics would change substantially overnight.” Northshore economists and developers know that new housing construction will attract more retail, office and corporate-sector growth.

More Changes Ahead? Meanwhile, the recent hit of the oil crisis has commercial development leaders keeping a close eye on oil prices, and Saucier feels those dominoes are about to fall. “I think we will start feeling the effects in the spring and summer of this year. Housing prices will soften, and business investment decisions will become more strategic and heavily analyzed. On the Northshore, it is generally white-collar jobs that are being affected.” Underhill concurs. “If anybody tells you they have no concern at all, they’re fooling themselves or lying to you.” Underhill is banking on the diversified economy and time to carry the Northshore through. “I don’t think [oil] is a large enough percentage of our economy to have some catastrophic effect. I don’t think it can stay at $30 a barrel forever; it can stay awhile, but not forever. We are not panicking on our end.” An immediate challenge, one high on developers’ lists, is the need for improved transportation infrastructure. “There’s some real, real, real tough decisions that I don’t think the public is prepared to really address, but they are going to need to pretty soon,” says Underhill. “There needs to be a new connection over the Tchefuncte River. The primary connector east and west is the interstate, and it’s not built to handle local traffic.” Despite all the obstacles, those in the industry have a positive outlook for the Northshore. “The economic snowball effect will continue to gain momentum on the Northshore as the metro New Orleans area continues to expand,” says Mullin. Bertus feels the same. “I’m confident that the increasing growth will continue into 2016 and 2017.” n

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Perspectives | Assisted Living

Intergenerational Innovations Local elderly care facilities are finding great success pairing up the young and old. By Suzanne FERRARA

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tudies suggest that elderly residents living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities often feel isolated and excluded from the rest of society. As such, helping nursing-home residents develop connections with their surrounding community can have remarkable benefits. Individuals with impaired memory or cognitive limitations can still enjoy a visit in the moment, even 60

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if they don’t remember it the next day. While a single visit to a nursing home can be a rewarding experience for both the visitor and the resident, an ongoing visitation program develops trust and understanding among all parties. This is essential for a meaningful connection.


RIGHT PAGE: Students from New Orleans’ Louise S. McGehee school make monthly visits to Poydras Home residents, which have included introducing them to new technology like touch-screen tablets. ABOVE: Community partnerships and artistic outlets are enhancing the lives of those in elderly care facilities throughout Southeast Louisiana.

Poydras Home and Louise S. McGehee School Last August, Poydras Home’s nursing care facility on Magazine Street in New Orleans embarked on a program with seventh-grade students from the Louise S. McGehee School. The students made monthly visits to Poydras Home throughout the academic year. Initially, 44 students toured the facility and were trained on how to successfully communicate with residents, as well as how to work with people with hearing loss and cognitive impairments. According to Brammell, the students also had the chance to use the accessories of aging, like wheelchairs, for themselves in order to gain a better understanding of the physical challenges seniors face. “We approached the McGehee school about developing a relationship with our residents, because we thought that since some of our residents are separated from their family by distance and location, it is important for them to interact with younger people,” says Jennifer Brammell, Poydras Home marketing coordinator. “This has proven to be beneficial for both the girls and the residents. The girls have been respectful and patient, and the residents have so much fun with them and are so happy to see them. Bonding has definitely bloomed.” Smaller groups of students have since conducted subsequent visits to the facility, enacting a curriculum that includes a maththeme day and global game day, which they planned and carried out themselves. The McGehee students also introduced the residents to new technology like touch-screen tablet usage. “When the girls are introducing technology to the residents, the apps are appropriate for our community’s abilities and have been preselected for our residents to explore with the help of the students,” Brammell adds. “Curriculum planned for the future will include art projects, gardening and outdoor, nature-based programs. According to Erin Toomey, McGehee’s marketing director, service is an integral part of a girl’s education at the school. Students, beginning

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when they enter as pre-kindergartners, learn the importance of giving back and helping those in the community. “For 16 years, girls in the seventh grade have participated in an intergenerational service program that partners them with residents at nearby retirement communities,” she says. “Our recent partnership with Poydras Home has students visiting their buddies monthly, armed with original games and activities that will mentally stimulate and share what the girls are learning in their classes. The benefits of this partnership to our students are immeasurable, as the project emphasizes many of the skills we know our girls need to be successful adults contributing to society in a meaningful way.” “The girls learn how to interact with people and become more open to those who are different than themselves. Also, they learn how to adapt to their buddies’ (residents’) needs and required accommodations, as their buddies are often six times their own age,” Toomey adds. “In 62

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working with the Poydras Home residents, as well as alongside their peers, the students have learned to be empathetic, resilient, and collaborative team players.”

Lambeth House and Ben Franklin High School Lambeth House, located on Broadway Street in New Orleans, is developing a program with Ben Franklin High School to create and execute an oral history project. “In this program, audio interviews are conducted by students in an attempt to capture and record highlights of the resident’s life and their family history. It’s an audio biography that the resident can then share with their family and friends,” says Jere’ Hales, chief operating officer for Lambeth House. “We are extremely excited to provide this opportunity for our residents to tell their own story while bridging the generational gap at the same time. So far, about 20 percent of our assisted-living residents have volunteered

“The girls learn how to interact with people and become more open to those who are different than themselves,” says Erin Toomey, marketing director for the Louise S. McGehee school, regarding the school’s partnership with Poydras Home.

for this project and are ecstatic about the opportunity. “We also work with other high schools to satisfy service hour requirements,” Hales adds. “These intergenerational efforts are paying off enormously for both our residents and the students. Not only do the residents find it fun, but is allows an opportunity for each to share talent and wisdom.” Lambeth House is also committed to offering educational opportunities to its residents. As such, the facility has recently partnered with Apple to provide tutorials and in-service activities to residents with Apple products. Four instructors will provide assistance to residents who want to learn more about how to use their iPhones, iPads and other technology.

Photo courtesy of Poydras Home


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Peristyle Residences has a local artist visit weekly to help residents with different projects.

Trace Senior Community and Local Covington Schools At the Trace Senior Community in Covington, residents participate in many activities with various community groups. During Carnival, the band, dance team and cheerleaders from Franklinton High School march to the facility and perform in the parking lot for the residents. “The residents absolutely love any activities that involve kids,” says Richard Totorico, executive director of Trace Senior Community. “These activities bridge the age gap and bring the community to them so they can be active participants. To further bridge the generational gap, we also have the students from The Little Red School House, the 8-to-10 -year-olds, come out to our facility to trick-or-treat with the residents.” Trace has also built a meaningful relationship with first responders on the Northshore, who often come over to have milk and cookies with the residents and talk about safety. The emergency personnel have 64

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also come to the facility to watch movies. “We have a strong relationship with the local firefighters and law enforcement and are so grateful for their service,” Totorico says. “After a particularly bad storm, the firefighters came by to see if we needed help and cleared tree branches off the property for us.” Additionally, the Trace hosts four large events — an annual crawfish boil, fall festival, Mardi Gras ball and luau — throughout the year for residents and the community to enjoy.

Peristyle Residences and Community Programs With six locations throughout the New Orleans area, Peristyle Residences offers several community programs in partnership with the Archdiocese of New Orleans, LSU School of Nursing and the Akula Foundation. “It is so important to for our residents to interact with the various facets of the

community around them,” says Jason Hemel, principal at Peristyle Residences. “Since we have so many Catholic residents who can’t get out to Mass and opt to watch on TV, we decided that it was important to have a deacon come on-site and bring communion weekly. Also, the residents look forward to the weekly visits from the nursing students, whom they have formed strong, personal relationships with.” The Akula Foundation sends a counselor to assist residents with memory issues through Reminiscence Therapy. The counselor talks about a different topic each month to engage residents in remembering different parts of their lives. For example, the residents could be asked if they remember Canal Street, and they might start discussing shopping and restaurants they have visited in the past. “To further immerse our residents in activities outside of their daily routine, we have a musician come to the facilities twice a month to perform,” Hemel says. “He plays the guitar, sings his own songs and takes requests. On the weeks he doesn’t visit, we have a musical therapist on-site that works one-on-one with residents. She even goes to the rooms of the residents that aren’t mobile. “We also have a graduate from Loyola who was an art major come weekly to work on different projects with the residents,” he adds. “They have planted herbs, read stories and painted. Most properties cater to people with memory deficiencies by offering a wide array of activities from groups and people from outside the home. It makes the activities more interesting to the residents. We really count on those outside people to come to us.” With the rapidly aging population today, intergenerational activities can benefit people of all ages. These types of programs may especially help younger people see that the elderly are still viable and a valuable part of the community. “There is a misconception that the elderly in nursing homes and assistedliving facilities do nothing but just sit around,” Brammell said. “There is a lot of hope in this age group and a lot of things for them to learn and participate in, and partnering with community groups helps to dispel the negative ideas and brings the two ages closer together.” n Photo courtesy of Peristyle Residences


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Perspectives | Banking & Finance

Get the Most From Your Gift Tax professionals weigh in on the smartest ways to be charitable. By Suzanne Ferrara

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ne could say that finding the right financial strategy for your gift giving is similar to the way a football coach puts together a winning game plan, or perhaps the way a chess master orchestrates his way around the board. In terms of tax advantages, the key to success in this game is finding the most beneficial ways to get the biggest bang for your donated dollar, and that means knowing the intricate, detailed rules. It’s a never-ending process, as CPAs and other financial advisors are constantly going to battle to ensure their clients are getting maximum benefits from their charitable gift giving. Whatever the gifted amount, it’s critical to know how the IRS will 66

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handle the details on specific donations well before the charitable gift is given to the recipient. There are several tax-wise ways to donate, some with more tax savings than others. Among those high on the list are “Required Minimum Distribution” (RMD), and property and computer equipment donations, the latter of which will give back a 50 cent tax savings on every dollar donated. To begin with, to receive any tax benefits from charitable contributions, individuals must itemize their deductions, instead of taking the standard deduction. The standard deduction for married filing joint for 2015 is $12,600 and $6,300 for single. One of the most Photo Thinkstock


tax-effective methods is to make larger charitable deductions by transferring appreciated stock to a charity. “If a taxpayer owns stock in a corporation that he paid $1,000 for but it is now worth $10,000, he can actually give the stock to charity and get a $10,000 deduction,” explains Bill Potter, a CPA with Postlethwaite & Netterville. Another planning technique, adds Potter, is to bundle charitable deductions into one year. “If you see that it looks like it might be better to take the standard deduction in 2016, you might delay your contributions and other itemized deductions until 2017,” he says. “If you don’t, your 2016 amounts, when combined with your regular 2017 deductions, could get you over the standard deduction amount.”

“Monetary donations are always appreciated and easier to do for people who don’t own stocks or other securities.” -Andree Schneider, financial advisor with Raymond James Safety in Securities One of the best and easiest ways for donors to give more is by gifting long-term appreciated securities. “Gifting appreciated securities that you have held for longer than 12 months allows you to avoid capital gains tax and can reduce or eliminate net investment income,” says Andree Schneider, a financial advisor with Raymond James.

Matthew Person, of the Person Huff CPA Group, agrees. “Monetary donations are always appreciated and easier to do for people who don’t own stocks or other securities. Donors can also gift appreciated stock and receive a full writeoff, like those available through a local community foundation. Individuals who gift highly-appreciated securities to a charity can avoid paying capital gains tax on the sale of those assets,” explains Schneider. Person adds, “Any long-term appreciated securities with unrealized gains — meaning they were purchased over a year ago, and that have a current value greater than their original cost — may be donated to a public charity. Following the donation, a tax deduction can be taken for the full fair market value of the securities, up to 30 percent of the donor’s adjusted gross income. Some rebate programs are especially generous on returns, like Louisiana’s ACE Scholarship Donation Program. The ACE program is a mentor program for high school students and provides work experience in architecture, construction and engineering. With donations, “up to 5 percent of the funds can be used for administrative costs and the remainder goes toward tuition scholarships. Subsequently, the donor can be rebated 95 percent. In the year the donation is made, the taxpayer gets a charitable contribution for the full amount. In the year it is rebated, the taxpayer picks up the 95 percent amount as income. The net effect is that the donor gets a net tax deduction of 5 percent.”

Estate Planning that Pays “Charitable gifting can be an important part of estate planning,” says Schneider. “It is important to evaluate gifting strategies from a tax and estate planning perspective to realize the most benefit,” Schneider says.

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It is also possible to use gifts to generate tax write-offs and/ or provide retirement income — a guaranteed cash f low for the remainder of a person’s life. You can make direct monetary contributions to a charity, which offers no additional benefit to the charity, or you can donate an annuity to a charity. The individual seeking a tax deduction can purchase an annuity for a charity, where the charity is the owner, and the charity can take income from the annuity either immediately or deferred.  With some annuities, the guaranteed income base can increase up to 7 percent a year. The individual can remain as owner of the annuity and make the charity the beneficiary of the annuity upon the death of the owner. Thanks to Congress’ newly-approved permanent provision, an easy way to support charitable causes and get a tax break while meeting the tax requirements for IR As is through “Qualified Charitable Distributions” (QCD’s). Anyone 70-and-a-half years takes a “Required Minimum Distribution” (RMD) and can have the IR A administrator transfer up to $100,000 annually to a qualified charity. “You may have your RMD made payable directly to the charity, and then designate it as a qualified charitable distribution on your tax return,” says Person. “By doing so, you’ll have satisfied your distribution requirement and you won’t have to pay income taxes on that money. He advises, however, that donors be aware of the 68

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restrictions attached to such a move. “You can’t also claim the qualified distribution as a charitable tax deduction. That amount is simply excluded from your taxable income.” Potter offers this example: “Suppose Granny has taxable income of $50,000 before taking her RMD from her IRA, which is $7,500,” he says. “Suppose further that she tithes to her church so her annual pledge would be $5,000.  If she has $5,000 of the RMD paid directly to the church, she will avoid $1,250 of tax on that amount and still get her full standard deduction.”

Technology Makes a Great Gift One of the biggest returns available to Louisiana corporations and individuals is from donations of technology equipment to qualified educational organizations. In these cases, the taxpayer receives both a federal and state income tax deduction, plus a credit against their Louisiana tax liability. “We have many clients avail themselves of this planning technique; I have done it personally,” says Potter, who goes on to explain. “Suppose Taxpayer A donates $10,000 worth of computer equipment to her child’s school. Assume A is in the top federal and LA income tax brackets (39.6 percent and 6 percent). A’s total tax savings for this gift would be about $7,200. The Louisiana Department of Revenue has even ruled that a school can accept cash donations earmarked for technical equipment purchases and Photo Thinkstock


these can qualify for the credit as well. The school must give the donor an executed Form R-3400, which is filed with the donor’s state income tax return.” Giving computer technology, Person adds, is a relatively simple way to help both yourself and your favorite cause. “Business owners can deduct the un-depreciated value of the computer, and individuals can deduct its current market value,” he says.

Take Care to Play by the Rules Meanwhile, tax advisors are growing more concerned about increased scrutiny by the IRS when it comes to charitable deductions. Over the past several years, the IRS has routinely disallowed charitable deductions by taxpayers who do not follow the detailed rules.

“Before donating to any charity, learn more about that charity, their purpose, and the percentage of money donated which goes towards their mission.” -Matthew Person, managing member, the Person Huff CPA Group “There was a recent case where a couple had donated $21,000 in checks to their church,” says Potter. “The IRS disallowed those donations because the church did not give them a contemporaneous receipt/acknowledgment that stated that no goods or services were received by the taxpayer from the church. During the course of the examination, the church gave the receipt, but the IRS and the court said “contemporaneous” means it must be received prior to the time for filing the tax return. It was a harsh result.” To stay on top of the rules, check with your tax advisor, or go to www.irs.gov and get a copy of the IRS Publication 526 - Charitable Contributions. “It is important to work with your financial planner and tax adviser when reviewing charitable gifting strategies,” stresses Schneider. You should also make sure you know exactly where your donated dollars are going. “Not all charities are created equal, and not all use your money for their stated purpose,” warns Person. “Before donating to any charity, learn more about that charity, their purpose, and the percentage of money donated which goes towards their mission.” *The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only. It is provided with the understanding that it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or other competent advisors. n

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Guest Viewpoint

Take Care with Your Carrier Want to lower your workers’ comp premiums? It’s all about relationships.

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Mark C. Tullis has served as the LCI Workers’ Comp administrator since being appointed to this post in 1994 by the Board of Trustees. He is responsible for the day-to-day operation of LCI and reports directly to the Trustees. 70

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hen I meet with business owners and they learn that I’m in the workers’ compensation business, one of the first questions to come up is, “How do I lower my workers’ comp premium?” While many believe the answer to be simply “Don’t have any claims,” there are many other steps a business owner can take to better their position for lowering premiums, none of which is very complicated or burdensome for most businesses. Unlike other lines of insurance that we buy where there are few markets available willing to take on this risk (for example, the very tight property insurance market), the workers’ comp market is rich, diverse and in many cases, local. There are more than 100 carriers offering workers’ comp coverage in Louisiana, including more than a dozen carriers headquartered in Louisiana. The largest writer of workers’ comp in the state, LWCC, is located in Baton Rouge.

The wide availability of workers’ comp carriers is important to understand and appreciate because this is where the buyer of the insurance has a significant advantage. In other words, these comp carriers will fight over your premium dollars, which usually leads to attractive pricing. And because nearly all workers’ comp policies are written on a 12-month basis, every year a policy goes through a renewal process. It is during this renewal process that a business has its best chance to lower its premium. How? By making sure that the workers’ comp carrier wants you as a continuing customer and understands that, because of the robust and competitive market, you have plenty of options. Unlike other forms of insurance, where you rarely have an opportunity to engage employees of an insurance carrier, in workers’ compensation there are ample chances to let the carrier know who you are and what your Photo Thinstock


value is as a customer. But it takes effort and sometimes strategic planning to accomplish this. You just don’t want to be a policy number. Insurance is no different than any other type of business where relationships matter. After all, in most cases the amount of money a business pays in insurance may be, after payroll, that business’s single biggest expense. The key in getting the best pricing from your carrier is for the carrier to appreciate your business and value it, and fortunately in workers’ comp, you have plenty of opportunities to impress your carrier, although all may not always seem obvious. Below is a list of some of the opportunities a business has to leave a positive mark on its carrier: Reporting Claims Workers’ comp policies are priced with the anticipation that at some point you will have a workplace injury and will file a claim. So when you do have a claim, how you react is very important. First, the claim needs to be reported in a timely fashion — the same day. Second, you should be able to quickly provide the adjuster with all the important information regarding the accident and your employee. Once the claim is reported and is being handled, it is critical that you cooperate fully with the adjuster managing the claim. Auditing Since workers’ comp pricing is calculated using payroll figures, every workers’ comp policy is audited annually to confirm that the estimated payroll at the beginning of the policy is in fact the correct payroll at year’s end. This auditing process can be an anxious time for a business owner, but it doesn’t have to be. The workers’ comp carrier uses forms to ask about your employees and how much they were paid, as well as questions about any subcontractors you may have used. Answering these forms and questions quickly and with the proper backup documentation will go a long way in positioning your company as a valued customer in the eyes of the workers’ comp carrier.

which can limit the liability of a business when a claim occurs. It is important that the business be open to recommendations from the loss-control specialists and follow through with these recommendations. Doing so will show the workers’ comp carrier that the business is serious about implementing best practices that are in the best interest of both the business and the workers’ comp carrier. Paying Premiums Most policies are set up for monthly payments, and to keep the policy in force payments must be made on time. Unfortunately for some businesses, payments become irregular, and if they fall behind, the business risks either late fees or cancellation of the policy. The labor costs associated with administering policies with chronic irregular payments then becomes problematic for the workers’ comp carrier. Making payments monthly will impress your carrier and make your business a much more valuable account that your carrier will want to keep. Educational Workshops Many workers’ comp carriers, particularly local ones, offer workshops where insureds can learn about how the insurance coverage works. Some carriers also offer workshops on business topics like labor law, banking and the Affordable Care Act. At these workshops you can usually find staff members from your workers’ comp carrier, and this offers you a wonderful opportunity to introduce yourself to those who may very well have responsibilities in evaluating your account at renewal. Getting to know your carrier’s staff can only help your standing. While taking any of these steps is not a guarantee for lower premium, in the long run it will make you a better risk in the eyes of workers’ comp carriers. n

Loss Control Most all workers’ comp carriers use loss control services to gain a better understanding of the risk that they are writing. Loss-control specialists will sometimes meet with businesses to verify the type of work the business is doing and how many employees are engaged in this work. These loss-control visits will also usually involve explaining to the business how to implement important internal procedures such as having a written drug policy or using a second injury fund questionnaire, both of

Photo Thinkstock

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

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Great Offices

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Vieuxfinder The Arlene Meraux River Observation Center incorporates conservation, community and cool design. By melanie warner Spencer | Photography by JEFF JOHNSTON

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1- The 20,000-square-foot, red barnlike Arlene Meraux River Oberservation Center in Violet was designed by Myles Martin of Rozas Ward Architecture as a cultural and learning space for the nonprofit Meraux Foundation. 2- Exposed metal beams, visible ductwork and concrete floors are hallmarks of the interior. 3- Colorful throw rugs, a mixture of modern and traditional furniture and other decorative elements, as well as wall coverings made from reclaimed wood repurposed from a structure formerly located in the same spot, soften the hard, industrial interior surfaces.

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anoramic views of the Mississippi River and the expansive Docville Farm from 50 feet in the air leave an impression on even the most casual visitor to the Arlene Meraux River Observation Center in Violet, Louisiana in St. Bernard Parish. For project architect and designer, Myles Martin, of Rozas Ward Architecture, it’s an essential part of the experience. “On a clear day the silhouette of New Orleans can be seen on the western horizon,” says Martin. Martin’s clients at the Meraux Foundation — a nonprofit dedicated to “building a better St. Bernard” community — needed a space at its Docville Farm center for culture and learning,

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where people could become educated about the land the Meraux Foundation helps preserve. The property, which was once the Story Plantation indigo farm, is located about 30 minutes outside New Orleans. “The design of the observation center is inf luenced from the surrounding agricultural context on Docville Farm, including the local barn buildings located along the Mississippi River,” says Martin. “Expansive glass walls at every f loor preserve this openness and make the views of the river and the farm accessible. Capturing these views was a primary goal of the design.” The approximately 20,000-square-foot, red, barnlike structure features an open plan concept which showcases the structure of 4- The open plan concept showcases the structure of the building. 5- Each level contains various meeting spaces, each with a distinct look and feel. 6- Originally the first floor was envisioned as a parking area, but morphed into an indoor/outdoor flex space for community gatherings. 7- Martin says the biggest challenge was transforming what might have been a lackluster meeting space into a striking structure that is at home in and enhances its rural setting. 8- Energy-saving elements — such as solar panels, closed-cell insulation and low-E, double-insulated glass to reduce UV light exposure — are incorporated into the design.

the building. Pops of color, wall coverings made with reclaimed wood from a former structure in the same spot, built-in furniture and doors, colorful throw rugs, and a mixture of modern and traditional furniture and decorative elements soften the concrete f loors, visible ductwork and exposed metal beams. Improving St. Bernard Parish is at the heart of the Meraux Foundation’s mission, and conservation is a key part of that goal, so Martin incorporated many energy-saving design elements, including solar panels, closed-cell insulation and low-E, doubleinsulated glass that reduces UV light exposure. “Surrounding farm areas will be drip-irrigated from a large, rain-capturing cistern, and the design is characterized by highly efficient plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems,” Martin says. “This LEED-friendly building is built to stay in tune with the environment and allows the Meraux Foundation to operate efficiently.” In the beginning, Martin says the first f loor was envisioned as a parking area, but over time, that idea was put aside. “Through some initial concept design work [it was] quickly determined that this area was a great opportunity to create an indoor/outdoor f lex space where the community could gather,” says Martin. Along with the observation center, several outbuildings occupy the main area of the farm, including a turn-of-the-century white

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8: A double stacked Carrera marble countertop sits atop a French pedestal in the kitchen. 9

farmhouse and the circa 19th-century Dave Thompson Event Barn (which you may recognize as the Texas honky-tonk from season one of HBO’s “True Detective”). It was relocated in the 1940s from the French Market in New Orleans, then reconstructed at Docville. As is often the case with design, the biggest challenge of the project was also the catalyst for transforming the space — in this case what could have been a lackluster meeting space into a striking structure that beckons, intrigues and delights those who encounter it, while still managing to feel right at home in — and even enhance — its rural setting. But, if location, location, location is the No. 1 draw for most, for Martin it always comes back to the view. “The fifth-f loor observation deck is my favorite place on the property and is always my last stop before I leave,” he says. “At over 50 feet in the air, by far one of the highest points in the area, you have a clear vantage point of the gorgeous natural surroundings and the mighty Mississippi River running parallel to you. This visual connection of the overall city, while in the peace and quiet of mother nature, gives you an instant ref lection of how far you are away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and makes the moment that much sweeter.” n

AT A GLANCE Company Name: Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm Arlene Meraux River Observation Center Address: 5124 E. Saint Bernard Highway, Violet Office completed: 2014 Architect: Rozas Ward Architects, project architect, and designer Myles Martin Interior Designer: Client Furnishings: Client Square footage: Approximately 20,000 square feet Main goal: A multi-purpose community gathering space that fits in with the natural surroundings. Biggest Challenge: “Designing a dynamic multi-use structure that blends into the rural setting but at the same time takes advantage of it.” Standout Feature: The fifth floor observation deck, which offers panoramic views of the Mississippi River, Docville Farms and the

9- Expansive glass walls on each floor contribute to the open plan and take advantage of views of the river and the farm. 78

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surrounding areas.


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Q&A

“We’re the most frugal spenders for a festival we can possibly be, and that’s allowed us to be successful without that production backing.” - Becker Hall

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Photo Cheryl Gerber


A pork festival with a lean operation How Hogs for the Cause CEO Becker Hall and COO Rene Louapre keep their festival smokin.’ By Rebecca Friedman

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f you make it to Hogs for the Cause this year, you might spot two “dirty, disgusting individuals hauling trash cans through the yard.” If so, there’s a good chance they will be Becker Hall and Rene Louapre, the team behind the annual barbecue competition that takes over City Park’s festival grounds each spring. The event began back in 2008, with a whole hog cookout at the Fly in Audubon Park to benefit Ben Sarrat Jr., a 4-year-old who was battling brain cancer. Hall and Louapre were so moved by the cause and the enthusiasm of the attendees that they continued the tradition. Since then, Hogs for the Cause has evolved into a fullfledged festival, with a live-music lineup that rivals events of its size across the country, barbecue prepared lovingly by more than 90 teams of professional chefs and backyard pitmasters, and 30,000 attendees who soak it all in. Despite the rapid growth of the festival, however, the machine behind it remains small — just Hall and Louapre, along with CFO Zandy Rainold and a small group of volunteers. That means a tremendous amount of work all year long to put on an event that in 2015 raised more than half a million dollars for families of children with brain cancer. Hall and Louapre share what Hogs means for them, and how their lean operation manages to produce such outsized results.

From a cookout at The Fly in 2008, Becker Hall (left) and Rene Louapre (right) have grown Hogs for the Cause into a nonprofit that raised over half a million dollars last year for children with brain cancer. BizNewOrleans.com March 2016

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Biz: This event has evolved into an impressive fundraising engine. What is your goal for this year?

Louapre: We always have a bunch of different goals. From my point of view, the money is just one thing. What we really want to focus on year in and year out is operationalizing the event to a better capacity so we can be better for our teams and patrons. How can we attract more sponsors? How can we give everyone a great festival experience? Hall: On the fundraising side, I think last year we raised close to $505,000 dollars in hard money, and the largest team actually raised $135,000 of those dollars. My top line revenue number is what our operating revenue is. We’re always trying to make the event not only as efficient as possible for the customer and keep that price as low as possible, but to keep our operating budget as low as possible, too, because we don’t have the benefit of an AEG or a Live Nation backing us. Biz: How do you manage overhead to maximize your charitable impact?

Louapre: Lots of text fights about whether we really need this or can we cut back on that. Hall: I always say, ‘We don’t need it. Convince me why we do.’ And we’re not 82

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egregious in our spending at all. We’re the most frugal spenders for a festival we can possibly be, and that’s allowed us to be successful without that production backing. Louapre: I think one of the ways we have been able — and it’s almost by accident — to control a lot of our expenses is with our bands. The festival band market is so hyperinflated that we focus on more up-andcoming acts. Hall: We have a certain amount to spend on each time slot. We wouldn’t be able to donate as much money as we do if we wanted to compete with the big festivals. The problem with the festival economy right now is that there are so many festivals – and I personally think it’s a bit of a bubble – and that’s creating so much demand for bands. They’re getting top dollar to come out and play. So it’s very hard to compete as a smaller festival without the balance sheet backing of the bigger ones to get those bands, but we are very aggressive, and we show the bands an amazing crowd and not a very cookie-cutter experience when they get there. Biz: Given the crowded festival landscape in New Orleans and beyond, how does Hogs set itself apart?

Louapre: Barbecue is huge now everywhere, so that’s one thing. I think we’ve done a very good job of cultivating beverage sponsors Photos by JWKPEC Photography


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— whether it’s NOLA [Brewing Company] or Cathead Vodka out of Mississippi or Rougaroux rum — that are local and trying to get into the market and serving really great drinks. It probably would have been easier to just sell the cheapest beer we can get for the most amount of money. But we decided to find great beer and sell it and cultivate relationships with other local and regional companies that were starting out, like us. Hall: When we started this eight years ago, there were only a couple of barbecue restaurants in the city. You have Louisiana that’s so rich in cochon de lait and boucherie history, but New Orleans was kind of dead weight when it came to smoked meats. Once we got a couple 84

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of years in, we saw what it could be and incrementally built from there. Biz: What role does the local business community play in terms of sponsorship and support?

Hall: In the beginning it was everything because we were just so local, and we wanted to give that experience. So we would turn down more of a corporate sponsor that would come in and give you a commodity beverage or whatnot because that wasn’t the feel we wanted for the festival. Now, we’ve got national sponsors, regional sponsors, and then Children’s Hospital presents the festival cook-off. That’s a local entity that is a major partnership for us. So sure, we are chasing down national sponsors, but the local ones are

just as important to the success of the festival. Louapre: We look at the checks that come in from law firms, engineering firms, construction firms — it’s amazing how many businesses are represented because someone who works there is on a team, or they do business with someone on a team. We’ve built kind of a network of 97 fundraisers. Hall: They’re free marketing. They do the fundraising for us. They put the product out for us. It’s really nice to have these ambassadors to the event so that all we have to do to ensure success (outside of weather) is take care of our teams who take care of us. We’re also fortunate that New Orleans has all of the pieces that add up for this model to work. We have this massive plot of land in the Photos by JWKPEC Photography


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middle of the city and a culture that really identifies with this kind of experience. There are a lot of variables, and you can’t exactly pick up and move to any city in the United States and make it work. Biz: Are there any plans to expand to other cities?

Louapre: We did [a Hogs event] in Charleston two years ago, and it went pretty well. Then we had one slated there for this fall, but [Hurricane Joaquin] knocked us out. Hall: We look to expand into other cities, but getting all the variables to line up is very hard. Right now we’re crossing off more cities than we’re checking off. Biz: How do you manage this with a skeleton crew [and “day job” – Louapre is an attorney]?

Hall: It’s very hard, but with the donation strategy that we have, 501(c)(3)s can’t really grow organically. You can’t really raise any equity. I guess we could partner with one of the big outfits we talked about previously, 86

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but we don’t want to do that at this time. Louapre: We’ve been lucky to have a lot of really great volunteers who’ve said, ‘I’ll handle this, I’ll handle judging, I’ll handle the dinner,’ which makes it easier through delegation. We’re getting better, but still we like to be involved in every decision. Until last year we had no place of business. We stored things in my house, his basement, and Becker worked out of his bedroom. I don’t have many hobbies — this is what I do in my free time. Hall: And I just can’t sit still. I’m one of those maniacal people. If I’m not being productive, I feel guilty, so it works for me. Biz: What is the actual event like for you?

Hall: We don’t have the luxury of just gladhanding the whole time we’re there. You’ll look at us and think, ‘Who are those dirty disgusting individuals hauling trash cans through the yard?’ That’s us. And we still do all the calculations of the awards, so we’re back there with our spreadsheet — that’s just how ‘micro’ this thing is run.

Louapre: On Saturday evening, we go out onstage and start passing out awards and having fun. When Sunday comes, it’s sort of like Sunday morning at a bachelor party — no one really wants to make eye contact. So everyone’s filtering out and someone’s like ‘Yeah, someone dumped a bunch of lard in front of our plot. I don’t know who’s gonna clean it — see y’all next year!’ Hall: It’s like any business — there are a lot of challenges. People think, ‘It’s a music/food festival — it’s got to be the most fun and easy job!’ But it’s extremely difficult in today’s environment to do it successfully. There are thousands of moving parts that need to be addressed. One festival definitely takes 10 months of hyper-myopic planning. From every square foot of that yard, to every dollar that’s going into this event, to every single dollar getting accounted for since we’re also a 501(c)(3) not letting one penny slide to the left or to the right. If it looks easy, then we’ve done our job. n Photos by JWKPEC Photography


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Why Didn’t I Think of That? Creative Businesses Taking Hold in Southeast Louisiana


Ditch the Office

Group Cards Kudoboard is upgrading the way businesses say good job. By Erin Shaw In an era where business communication is predominantly done online, there is one notable exception: the office greeting card. No matter what the occasion — a birthday, a new baby, a promotion, a wedding, or a loss in the family — the same thing has been happening in offices around the world for decades: a card is passed around the office and everyone takes turn signing it and passing it around. For Michigan native turned New Orleanian, Aaron Rubens, it was obvious that this old school method left a lot of room for improvement. Thus was the impetus for Rubens’ creation — Kudoboard: an online greeting card replacement that allows users to upload messages, photos and videos as a group to deliver to an individual.

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“Users simply select a recipient, upload their content to his or her Kudoboard, invite others to contribute, and then deliver it online,” explains Rubens, who adds that the completed online board can then be printed to provide a physical copy to a recipient that might not be as tech savvy or who would just appreciate having a hard copy as a keepsake. In addition to saving businesses the cost of buying cards (the service is free), Kudoboard allows employees to express their well wishes in a wider variety of creative and meaningful ways, far beyond just signing their name.

group of folks from around the country, and we’ve truly appreciated JEDCO’s support leading up to the pitch,” says Rubens. Rubens is committed to keeping Kudoboard free for consumers, which means the challenge has been figuring out how to make the company profitable. “Kudoboard has two business lines, the consumer side and the B2B (business-to-business) side,” Rubens says. “On the consumer side, Kudoboard is free to use and includes a variety of premium options for users to upgrade, like printing the board. “On the B2B side, we offer custom, branded versions of the Kudoboard platform to various institutions,” he explains. “Hospitals can enable family members and friends to create and print Kudoboards for patients. Businesses can show appreciation to their workforce by automatically creating five-year, 10-year or 20-year work-anniversary Kudoboards with digital messages from an employee’s coworkers.  “We are even in conversation with a few funeral-service providers to integrate Kudoboard’s technology into their websites to allow family members of the recently deceased to create a Tribute Board for their loved one, not to be called Kudoboard, of course,” he adds.   Rubens’ team launched the business-to-business side of Kudoboard in January, and says they are currently working on several pilot projects that they look forward to announcing soon.

Inspiration Strikes

“Users simply select a recipient, upload their content to his or her Kudoboard, invite others to contribute, and then deliver it online.” -Aaron Rubens

Quick Success

Created in mid August 2015, Kudoboard has attracted over 1,000 registered consumer users, all who have created or modified boards so far. Rubens says response from consumers has been encouraging, and users have been enthusiastic about their experience. Business experts are also seeing the appeal. Kudoboard was recently chosen out of nearly 30 applicants to be one of five companies to compete in the fourth annual JEDCO challenge. The Jefferson Parish-based pitch competition is put on by the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission ( JEDCO) together with First NBC Bank, and will take place March 14 during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. “We’re thrilled at the opportunity to present Kudoboard to a large

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The idea for Kudoboard actually started during Rubens’ previous life as a teacher. “I taught an intensive math class where the students got to know each other well,” says Rubens. “At the end of each school year, I’d ask them to each take a piece of paper, write their name in the center, and pass it around to the other students in the class. Each student would write a compliment or “kudo” on the other students’ papers, and then the papers would be returned to their owners.” Though students were initially skeptical of the concept, several came up to Rubens afterwards and again during subsequent school years to tell him on how meaningful the compliments were to them, and how it boosted their confidence or morale.   “This convinced me of the power of group appreciation,” Rubens says. “But it wasn’t until a few years later that the idea of turning it into a technology company began to form.”  Rubens and his wife, Sonia, whom he met while they were students at Tulane University, had always loved New Orleans, but they left the Crescent City and headed to Cambridge, Massachusetts where Rubens earned his MBA from Harvard. With all his friends from college spread out across the country, they struggled to find ways to keep in touch as a group. When a friend’s 30th birthday began to approach, there was talk about putting together a series of video messages to celebrate. This exercise proved to be challenging and Rubens started to think about how one could simplify the gesture. “It ended up being an ordeal where we each had to upload the video to YouTube, create a basic website to embed the videos, and so on,” says Rubens. “I put this concept together with the previous ‘paper Kudoboard’ experience from the classroom, and it convinced me to create Kudoboard as online service, where folks could upload messages, photos, and videos as a group to deliver to an individual.” After eight years away, Sonia received an offer for a tenure-track faculty position at UNO and the couple jumped at the chance to move back, bringing Kudoboard with them.


What Sets Kudoboard Apart In this social media frenzied age, why would users gravitate toward Kudoboard, over say, a congratulatory or supportive Facebook post or email? “The messages that folks write on a Kudoboard are far more in-depth than what you’d typically see on a Facebook post, and as a result, our most common creators of boards are those who were initially introduced to the service when they received one themselves,” Rubens says. While Kudoboards tend to evoke strong emotional responses from recipients, it can be tough to communicate that value to someone who has not yet received a board. Rubens and his team are working to change this. “We are working on a video where a variety of different Kudoboard recipients talk about their experience receiving a board,” Rubens says. “It’s not as good as getting one yourself, but it definitely speaks to the emotional appeal.” On the consumer side, Rubens says there is a natural viral mechanism to Kudoboard that is helping get the word out. “When someone creates a Kudoboard for a friend’s birthday, they invite maybe 20 other people who are then exposed to the service for the first time,” he says. “Kudoboards on the consumer side are free to use, and again, allow for premium upgrades, so the adoption barrier is quite low.”

Experiencing is Believing When selling the custom-branded versions of the Kudoboard platform to businesses, Rubens’ team works to set up a product demo to show consumers how user-friendly Kudoboard really is, and give them a taste of what it would be like to be on the receiving end of one. “The nice thing is that we can direct them to the consumer side of Kudoboard,” says Rubens. “And have them create a board for a friend or family member to really understand how it works.” The most common reason people are making Kudoboards so far is for birthdays; about half of boards are used to celebrate them. The remaining half covers a variety of other uses such as, good-luck, getwell, or wedding or baby congratulations messages. “The great thing about Kudoboard is that it’s a very broadly applicable product,” Rubens says. “We’ve had many people find us through a Google search and create Kudoboards from countries around the world.” So far, Kudoboards have been created from Costa Rica, Germany, France, Australia, Jordan and Romania. With its universal appeal, Kudoboard is a product likely to be appreciated by people of all walks of life, but the biggest focus for the Kudoboard team at present is growing the B2B side of their

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business — specifically, selling the customized branded versions of the Kudoboard platform to businesses, hospitals and other places of interest. When all is said and done, Rubens is confident that the emotional appeal of Kudoboard is what will make it profitable and marketable. “The most powerful advocates we have are those who receive them,” Rubens says. “When we launched the printing feature on Kudoboard, we expected board creators to be the ones to use it most frequently. In fact, the majority of printed boards are sold to board recipients, which to us is a great sign that people really value receiving the product.” n

Photos courtesy of Kudoboard


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Events Crimestoppers GNO’s 31st Annual Awards Luncheon

Celebration of Partnership: Slidell Memorial Hospital & Ochsner North Shore

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hilton New Orleans Riverside

New Slidell Memorial Hospital

Members of the New Orleans community and local law enforcement came together at Crimestoppers Greater New Orleans’ annual awards luncheon to celebrate individuals that have made a difference in the safety of their community.

Slidell Memorial Hospital CEO, Bill Davis, and Ochsner Medical Center President and CEO, Warner Thomas, were among the speakers at a celebration of the partnership between the two medical providers in the Slidell area.

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1. Ed Marshall, Steve Gleason and Wilfred Kulman 2. Darlene Cusanza 3. Paul Varisco, Sabrina Richardson and Ara Mike Meguerditchian 94

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1. Dr. Amaraneni Kumar and David Mannella 2. Bill Davis 3. Warner L. Thomas Photos by Cheryl Gerber


Northshore Rising Professionals Leadership Summit

Jefferson Chamber Annual Luncheon

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport, Kenner

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fleur de Lis Event Center, Mandeville The Northshore Rising Professionals, a committee of the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce, presented its third annual Leadership Summit — a half-day workshop designed to motivate and empower young professionals in the region.

One of the Chamber’s largest networking and social events of the year, this luncheon honored those who have made significant contributions to the Jefferson Parish business community and featured keynote speaker, political consultant, author, and professor, James Carville.

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1. Renee Maloney and Cathy Deano 2. Kevin Wilkins 3. Kyle Beerbohm Photos by Cheryl Gerber and Jeff Strout

1. Father John Payne, Betsie Gambel, Todd Murphy and Michael Palamone 2. James Carville 3. Todd Matherne, Todd Murphy and Michael Palamone BizNewOrleans.com March 2016

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Behind the Scenes

Pump Alley The City of New Orleans has many streets, avenues, boulevards, and alleys steeped in history and culture, but none quite so unique as “pump alley” at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. This special space behind the scenes is the central water circulation system for the more than 1 million gallons of fresh and saltwater aquariums on display at the facility. The pumps, sandfilters, pipes, valves and controllers are the Aquarium’s life support, moving over 10,000 gallons per minute, and ensuring the homes of many of the more than 10,000 animals representing over 400 species on display are clean and healthy. Ranked as one of the top five aquariums in the country, Audubon Aquarium has welcomed more than 23 million people since it opened in 1990. It is part of the Audubon Nature Institute, whose annual economic input to the region is estimated at $583 million a year.

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Photo by Jeff Johnston


Profile for Renaissance Publishing

Biz New Orleans March 2016  

Biz New Orleans March 2016