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    Our Glass wins Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge

    Four Southern University Baton Rouge students collected a $10,000 grand prize after placing first in the Bayou Classic Biztech Challenge.

    Their business pitch, Our Glass, caters to herbal tea consumers and is a 3-D printable, portable bottle that is insulated and allows consumers to brew tea on the go.

    Adorned in a white t-shirt with baby blue writing that spelled Our Glass, senior mechanical engineering and supply chain major from Mer Rouge Nathan Morrison, presented the problem of not being able to brew tea quickly without a heating element nearby.

    After coming up with the idea, Morrison sought out those who he knew could help bring his vision to life. SUBR students, Polite Stewar. Jr., Rashad Pierre and Ashley Lewis were the three additional powerhouses behind Our Glass.

    “We have to get patented, trademarked and figure out who gets what,” Morrison stated in regards to the volume of investment offers that the quartet have recently begun to receive after their victory.

    The students received a $10,000 check in which they will split four ways. They were also gifted $10,000 in legal fees during the Nov. 25, 2017, event.

    Read complete story at The Southern Digest.

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    Network Coalition honors New Orleans, Baton Rouge leaders during Bayou Classic 2017

    VCI International Inc. hosted the 24th Annual Network Coalition Reception at  the Hyatt House hotel in New Orleans honoring business and political leaders during the Bayou Classic weekend festivities. Honored were:

    • Lisa Mims-Devazin, PhD, Chancellor, Southern University New Orleans
    • State Senator Wesley Bishop
    • New Orleans City Councilman James Austin Gray ll
    • Eugene Green of The Green Business Report
    • Tyrone Legette of  Legette Construction
    • Hall Davis V of  Hall Davis and Sons Funeral Home in Baton Rouge
    • Tony Brown of the Eyes Open Foundation in Alexandria Louisiana
    • Sailor Jackson Jr., Louisiana Secretary of State office (retired)

      Tony Brown

      Tony Brown

    Michael McClanahan incoming president Louisiana NAACP State Conference was introduced. Erika McConduit, president of the Urban League Louisiana, Network Coalition chairman WT Whitfield, VCI International president Allen Semien Sr, Bobby Phills, Ph.D, chancellor-dean of the Southern University Land Grant Campus, Martin Burrell, president of the Dallas-based Burrell Group, and State Representative Sam Jenkins of Shreveport welcomed guests to the

    Untitled4pm event.

    Sponsors for the event included Acadian Companies, Baton Rouge Community College Foundation, Maximized Communications, CAWAN Resource Network, JAVA Copy Center, The Burrell Group, Yusef Davis Photography, Dr. Everett D. Gibson, and Ted Ellis Art Gallery.

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    Broome issues executive order to expand small business participation in city contracts

    East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome today issued an executive order to expand efforts to increase the enterprise participation of small businesses in City-Parish contracts. The order also ensures that such businesses — including those owned by minorities, women and veterans — are afforded fair opportunities and do not face unfair barriers when seeking and performing City-Parish contracts.

    “This executive order is much needed in our city and parish,” Mayor-President Broome said. “I have been consistently vocal and demonstrative about the need for equity in all areas of life in our community, and this includes business. Everyone should have equal opportunities to build and grow successful businesses in the place they call home. These businesses add to our economic development, and a diverse array of business owners creates a more welcoming, progressive city for both current and future residents.”

    The order, which takes effect immediately, outlines accountability, inclusion and outreach efforts, and policy administration and operation in City-Parish departments. Stakeholder engagement is also prescribed, instructing the chief administrative officer in the Office of the Mayor-President to create more opportunities for members of the contracting community and for City-Parish departments, the Metropolitan Council, and others to work collaboratively on recommendations for how the City-Parish can better develop, deliver, monitor and measure a more successful small business enterprise program.

    Read the order here: http://www.brgov.com/press/SWB%2017-02.pdf

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    Thomas uses code to connect readers with authors of color

    Kaya Thomas, was frustrated with the difficulty of finding books about and by people of color so she designed and wrote the code for the app.
    At age 18, she launched We Read Too, a mobile directory of multicultural books for young readers.

    “I want titles written by people of color to be easier to discover and all in one place, not blocked by a pay wall,” Thomas told Poets & Writers magazine. “I want (users) to see that there are authors who share their background and are creating work that reflects their culture in some way.”

    Now available through Google Play and Apple, the free directory has nearly 1,000 children and young adult titles. Each title has a detail page including the book cover, author, title, genre, and description with an option to share the books via email or social media. The books can be viewed with an option to purchase online.
    There are more than 15,000 users who have used the app to locate self-published and traditionally published authors of color. User can also recommend authors while discovering new titles. “I want all author of color to have their work highlighted in We Read Too regardless of how they got their work out there,” she said.

    Thomas plans to eventually include adult fiction titles in the directory. “We want to expand the directory to include as many titles as possible in those categories before expanding to adult literature.” Suggested books have to be written by an author of color and the main character in the book should be Black, Latinx, Asian, or Native. Every few weeks the suggestions are read through and added if they fit the criteria.

    Thomas graduated from Darmouth College with a degree in computer science. She started learning iOS development in 2014 while working as a mobile development intern for Time Inc. She later interned at Intuit and Apple working on iOS/OS technologies. She is an associate engineer at Slack Technologies, Inc. in California.

    ONLINE: WeReadToo.com

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    ‘Buy the Block’ sets out to fund property development

    Real estate crowd investing platform hopes to raise millions for property development in Black communities

    Entrepreneur Lynn P. Smith is the founder and CEO at Buy The Block – one of the only Black-owned platforms in the country that is dedicated to making investments in real estate as a group more accessible. The movement is presently on its way to recording massive success in funding for diverse development projects across Black communities in the US.

    This enviable initiative offers every Black American an opportunity to invest as little as $100, and connect with other investors – with an added advantage of helping every member buy a piece of their first block. Having a growing database of BlockVestors and Block Developers, all it takes to be a member is by signing up on their website.
    With the platform, acquiring property or block of choice in one’s local area is achievable. Getting the funds to make such a big difference can also be without hassles. All that is required of a member is to; find a property, make an offer, bring the property to Buy The Block, get the needed funding from other investors if they so desire, and then purchase the block.

    The ability to share wealth depending on each person’s investment makes it a win-win situation for all block investors. Buy The Block can manage any project from concept to end, and they aim to develop a large number of construction projects, in areas such as; residential, manufacturing, retail, multi-family, medical, religious, and pre-engineered building construction.

    With the focus on the Black communities in America, Buy The Block is on track to raise millions of dollars in funding for development projects in these communities. Having the capacity to take on more significant projects and contracts, they project that they will soon change the face of crowdfunding real estate investing in the country.

    They intend to do this by committing their time to getting great projects and making it a win-win for all sponsored projects. Their mission as stated on their website is to “change investing from confusing and frustrating, to an accessible and enjoyable social experience.”

    Speaking excitedly, Lynn said; “Indeed, we have loads of challenges, but I am determined to educate our community and make this work… thanks to the everyone out there, that united as one to embrace and support this unique concept.”

    Check out all of Buy the Block’s community sponsors: www.buytheblock.com/community-businesses

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  • New contractors licensing law enforcement begins Oct. 1

    Notice to all Builders, Remodelers,and Subcontractors
    According to the Louisiana Association of Home Builders, an addendum to the Contractors Licensing Law and Rules and Regulations were promulgated on January 20, 2016 to require a specialty license for six sub classifications.
    They include:
     1. Residential Pile Driving
     2. Residential foundations
     3. Residential Framing
     4. Residential Roofing
     5. Residential masonry/stucco
     6. Residential swimming pools
    A grace period was given by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors before enforcement began. That grace period has now expired.   As approved by the LHBA BOD on May 11th, enforcement will begin on October 1, 2017. Any corporation, partnership, or individual who, for a price, commission, fee, wage or other compensation undertakes or offers to undertake or superintend the following work as it relates to the construction of any building or structure that is not more than 3 floors in height, to be used by another as a residence, where the value of the work exceeds $7,500, including labor and materials, is required to obtain a specialty classification for that work..
    Labor Only:
    In lieu of obtaining a specialty classification, a subcontractor who provides labor only and does not supply materials may obtain a subcontract-labor-only specialty classification for work performed under the direct supervision of a licensed residential building contractor.
    Please share this information within your Local Associations and inform your subs in these fields to apply for their specialty license immediately.

    Contact the Louisiana State Licensing Board of Contractors for more info call (225) 765-2301 or visit www.lslbc.louisiana.gov. For instructions on how to apply, click here www.lslbc.louisiana.gov/contractors/forms/

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    Ascension parish pushes to reject school tax exemptions

    Ascension Parish teachers, community leaders call press conference to urge school board to reject “blank check” on corporate school tax exemptions

    PRAIRIEVILLE–On Monday, September 18th, at 6:30pm, teachers, faith and community leaders are holding a press conference to urge the Ascension Parish School board to reject a proposal being put before it to offer a blank check to industry on exemptions from school taxes.

    The resolution will be considered by the Ascension Parish School Board’s finance committee on Tuesday, September 19th, 5pm.

    The resolution is being brought to the school board by Ascension Economic Development Corporation. It would have the school board grant a 100% property tax exemption to subsidize a non-disclosed project by a corporation already operating in the parish, the identity of which AEDC officials are refusing to disclose.

    “It is shocking that a school board would consider something so carte blanche and irresponsible,” said a statement by local educators, congregations and community leaders in Ascension Parish. “We’re calling on the school board to reject the proposal out of hand and start subjecting these corporate exemptions to serious scrutiny.”

    Standard practice for local tax exemptions across the country is that local taxing bodies create a set of policy criteria before approving exemptions, so that there are clear standards by which exemptions can be judged. The Ascension Economic Development Corporation originally intended to pursue that path several, but back-tracked to their current demand for 100% exemptions on non-disclosed projects.

    Industrial tax exemptions will be decided by local school boards for the first time this year, instead of by the state Board of Commerce and Industry, due to an Executive Order signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2016.

    In 2017, industrial tax exemptions are costing Ascension Parish schools $79.1 million in lost revenue.

     

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    SU Ag Center provides recommendation to the board for medical marijuana vendor

    Southern University’s medical marijuana evaluation committee provided the Board of Supervisors with information on the top three vendors who have submitted applications to become the University’s medical marijuana cultivator.

    The committee recommended Med Louisiana, Advanced Bio Medical, and Southern Roots Therapeutics to the board for approval to enter into contract negotiations during a special board meeting on Sept. 8.

    Upon hearing the recommendations of the committee, the board decided to postpone their selection of a sole vendor to contract with to give them additional time to review the applications.

    The board is set to vote on the selection of a cultivator during their regularly scheduled board meeting on Sept. 22.

    Seven vendors submitted applications to become the medical marijuana cultivator of Southern. The vendors are Advanced Bio Medical, Aqua Pharm, Citiva Louisiana, Columbia Care, Med Louisiana, Southern Roots Therapeutics and United States Hamp Corporation (USHC).

    Senate Bill 271 (Act 96) by Senator Fred Mills gave the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center and the LSU Agricultural Center the right of first refusal to be licensed, either separately or jointly, as the production facility for medical marijuana in the state of Louisiana.

    Additional information about Southern University’s Medical Marijuana Program is available at, http://www.suagcenter.com/PageDisplay.asp?p1=12549

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    Farmer and Agriculture Stakeholder Forum planned for Sept. 13

    The Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Institute will host the Farmers and Agriculture Stakeholders Forum, Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 1:30pm in SARDI’s office, 1209 Diesi St, in Opelousas.

    Farmers, agricultural stakeholders, elected officials and community stakeholders are invited to participate in the forum. Participants will be provided with information on programs and services offered by the federal government; as well as helpful resources for farmers and agricultural workers who have been impacted by the 2016 floods and Hurricane Harvey.

    A representative from the USDA and the offices of the three Congressmen elected to represent St. Landry Parish – Congressman Ralph Abraham, Congressman Clay Higgins and Congressman Mike Johnson – will be in attendance to present information and address questions.

    St. Landry Parish’s Congressmen serve on the following agriculture-related committees:

    Congressman Abraham
    House Committee on Agriculture
    Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
    Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry
    Research and Technology

    Congressman Higgins
    Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
    Subcommittee on Environment

    Congressman Johnson
    House Committee on Natural Resources
    Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
    Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans.

    Interested participants are asked to pre-register by Monday, September 11th to SARDI@suagcenter.com or by calling Krystle J. Washington at 337- 943-2410.

    Research has shown that every major crop grown in the state, is grown in St. Landry Parish; and, for decades the parish has been a leading agricultural parish in the state. A pillar of the mission at SARDI is to provide local farmers/ agriculture stakeholders with the information, tools, and resources they may need to go to the next level.

    SARDI is a satellite campus of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center located in Opelousas, La. in St. Landry Parish.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus.

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    Former Louisiana hotel owner, billionaire to headline International Black Business Week in Chicago

    CHICAGO—While African Americans continue to be the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in the United States, they are also failing at greater rates, according to a report released by the Kaufman Foundation. But organizers of the International Black Business Week Expo & Conference said those rates can change with innovation, global relationships, and a focus on legacy.
    Held October 4-6 at Malcolm X College Conference Center, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.- Chicago, IL, the International Black Business Week Expo & Conference will convene entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and change agents from across the globe to explore critical topics that will propel businesses forward and position small and mid-sized brands for success in state, national, and international markets.

    Covering everything from digital marketing to innovative business funding solutions, asset protection, generational wealth creation strategies, and more, International Black Business Week Expo & Conference will kick-off with a keynote by African-American Billionaire Businessman Michael V. Roberts who once owned a hotel in Shreveport, Louisiana.

    Known as the “Actionaire,” Roberts acquired his $1 billion wealth through real estate investments in hotel properties, shopping centers, telecommunications, and television.

    21366740_10100101843358713_6574805945588486178_o“As entrepreneurs we far too often struggle with finding and accessing tools, valid strategies, and resources that will help grow our businesses. Some of us just don’t know where to look. For those people, IBBW is a solution. We’re putting the people in the room that you need to connect with to take your business to the next level. We’re also intentionally putting the resources in the room. Any question you have, any gaps that exist in your business, any humps you need to get over, IBBW is a center of solutions. If you have a product or service that can be marketed beyond the local marketplace, into the national or international marketplace, we have experts to help you do that as well,” said IBBW founder Traneisha Jones. “There are countless opportunities in other countries that we can leverage to our benefit right here in Chicago. Let’s go global! Get here, so we can get you there!”

    The conference will also feature an exhibition with B2B resources, a signature Personal Branding Lounge and Hustle Lab for those needing innovative solutions for raising capital to start or grow their business, and presentations by a host of business leaders and experts including Professor Devin Robinson of the Beauty Supply Institute, Jamal Miller of Married & Young and Attorney Ernest Fenton of Law Offices of Ernest B. Fenton.

    Register at www.intlblackbusinessweek.com.

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    A Different Kind of Saint

    Former cornerback puts 300 families into homes, opens the only Black-owned grocery store in Baton Rouge

    Spend five minutes with Tyrone Legette and you’ll instantly hear his passion to rejuvenate broken communities in Louisiana. The former NFL Player played many games in the Mercedes Benz Superdome but the touchdowns he is scoring today are worth much more than points on a scoreboard.

    Legette, a native of Colombia, South Carolina, embraced Louisiana as home as a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints in 1995. After his NFL career ended he decided to remain in the area. “I saw a need here and I wanted to help provide solutions,” said Leggett.

    “Sixty-four percent of the residents were renters and most of the jobs were service jobs. Without a realistic path, many of these hardworking people would never be able to own homes. They deserved to own their homes,” he said.

    “The opportunity to own your own home is the best part of the American Dream. It should be available to all people.”
    He began Legette Construction with a plan to build affordable homes for low income families but also help them qualify for the homes. “We have helped people who have never owned a home get the opportunity to buy homes for the first time,” he explained. Through the Community Reinvestment Act, he was able to share his ideas. Those ideas eventually attracted a partnership with Whitney Bank. With funds available through the Federal Government and the support of Whitney Bank, he became the liaison to bridge all entities together.

    Legette Construction’s homes are now occupied in Harvey (Westbank), the Lower 9th Ward, the Bywater District, Uptown New Orleans, and in Baton Rouge. The company has been a link to bringing other minority construction companies into the fold by contracting them to share the work opportunities. Legette is responsible for building hundreds of new homes and helping more than 300 families qualify to buy them.Tyrone-Legette

    “Mr. Legette is not just building homes. His commitment is much deeper than that. Working for him, I have learned his greater passion is rebuilding Black families,” said Joyce Burges, Legette Construction administrative assistant. “He gets it. The consequences of poverty and the stronghold of financial debt. He is on a mission to help people turn their lives around,” she said.

    Burges, a former city councilwoman in Baker, La., said Legette ’s ideas were so illustrated that she could see his vision to restore the community plain and clear. Rather than seek another council term, she vowed to work with Legette to rebuild her town. “He not only had the resources but he had a plan. A clear plan that would hire people, rejuvenate areas which were deteriorating, but he also had the tenacity to fight the kind of opposition that would surely come his way,” she said.

    Maybe that’s the reason he stepped out on faith and opened the only Black-owned grocery store in Baton Rouge, in an area that’s predominately Black and always overlooked in comparison to other thriving areas of the city. North Baton Rouge, which consists of Baker, Scotlandville, and Glen Oaks communities saw its landmark Winn-Dixie close two years ago. A tragedy that would require residents to drive an even further distance to buy groceries. “It wasn’t fair that these residents should continue feeling ostracized from the economic growth that other parts of the city have become used to,” said Legette . “So, I made up in my mind that I would do something about it.”

    He entertained the idea of several grocery chains but the Sav-A-Lot Corporation seemed to make the most sense. “It was the best fit for this community. Not only have we created jobs in the store but we continue to motivate our workers to think bigger than Save-A-Lot. This store should be a stepping stone. It should not be the final step.”

    Tyrone Leggett. Photo by BlackBoot News.

    Tyrone Leggett. Photo by BlackBoot News.


    The store is a way for residents to get affordable groceries while providing jobs to help produce stable work opportunities in an area that had become used to seeing businesses come and go. “We are here for the long haul. Our vision doesn’t stop with just this one location,” he said. “We plan to open two more stores.”

    When residents heard their new grocery store was Black-owned, it made them even more proud to shop there. One customer cried when the store opened, telling Legette , “I’ve never seen someone who looks like you doing the things you do.” Like other customers, she drives from other parts of the city just to shop in a Black-owned supermarket.

    Football helped shape Legette as a businessman. “There would be 80,000 people in the Superdome but you don’t really see any of them. You hear them, but you don’t really see them,” he explained. “You have to have tunnel vision to get the job done. You have to ignore everything around you and focus on what’s right in front of you. As a visionary, I have learned that same concept has to be applied to business.”
    img_1496942273154-400x300@2x
    He insists his mission has nothing to do with building homes and opening stores. “Those are great business endeavors but it really is more than that for me,” he said. “I am committed to rebuilding families by helping them consolidate debt. If you’re saving $200 per month by paying a mortgage instead of rent and saving another $100 a month or more by buying more affordable foods for your family it frees up money which can either be invested into entrepreneurship or into quality family activity.”

    “Debt breaks up marriages, families, and self esteem. We can rebuild the family by taking the elephant out of the room.”

    Legette has plans to build a quality senior living facility in the near future. While most people would worry about a location to break ground for such a needed facility, Legette won’t have that problem. He not only owns the Sav-A-Lot grocery store, he also owns the entire shopping plaza.

    This Save-A-Lot is not just the only Black-owned franchise in the city.  Legette owns the only franchise of the Save-A-Lot company in the entire state. All the other locations are owned by the corporation. In the ‘90s, Legette played on a football team as a Saint. For the people in South Louisiana, he has actually become one.

    ONLINE:www.blackboot.us/legett-grocery-br

    By Ro Wright
    Courtesy of BlackBoot News

    Photos by BlackBoot News

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    AppsILike.net encourages, helps create mobile apps

    Savvier Health, LLC has been granted a license to offer the same easy to-use subscription-based app creation platform that has been used by tens of thousands of people around the world to successfully publish hundreds of thousands of apps. Their system uses a simple what-you-see-is-what-you-get format to allow subscribers to easily exchange standard text and pictures with their own in hundreds of ready-to-publish app templates. With this system, even the average high school student can churn out multiple apps each month and make money for college in his spare time.

    Now, anyone who can use a home computer has the potential to copy and paste and write his way into a piece of the explosive international app market that has made more than a few millionaires. Neither coding experience nor a large investment in time or resources is needed to become a part of the app revolution anymore. It’s no secret that people of color, specifically Blacks and Hispanics, are grossly underrepresented in apps on the market, as well as among the ranks of app creators, but that tide is about to turn.

    With AppsILike.net subscribers simply choose from hundreds of templates, change the text and pictures, and then click a button to submit their work to their technical support team, who then ‘builds’ the app and submits it to the AppStore under the subscriber’s AppStore developer account, or provides the code (APK) that subscribers can upload to their GooglePlay or Amazon/Kindle developer accounts. With literally millions of stock photos available online for purchase, the possibilities for creating new apps is endless.

    While not everyone is computer savvy, AppsILike.net provides numerous step-by-step tutorials to help even the most skeptical subscribers create stunning apps with little effort. Free technical support via email is also available.

    While there will be a slight learning curve for many, a person with no app creation experience whatsoever could create a basic app in a Saturday afternoon utilizing their easy methods and A-Z tutorials, and soon be able to create a basic app in less than an hour.

    There are different types of apps, as well as different complexities of apps. For instance, an app for a local beauty shop may only contain a page full of photos of beautiful hairstyles, a page for employees’ contact information, and pages for business hours, specials, and prices. This is a quick and easy app to create. On the other hand, a more complicated app to customize, such as a music app or some game apps, will take more time.

    With more than 200 templates, over 100 features available thru www.AppsILike.net, as well as millions of online stock photos available for purchase, the potential to create, earn and uplift is unlimited.

    By BlackNews.com

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    Edwards appoint several to councils, commissions

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions. Appointed are:

    Bruce Parker, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Homelessness, while Nicole E. Sweazy, of Baton Rouge, was appointed chair of council. Parker is the Director of the Office of Community Programs within the Office of the Governor and will serve as an at-large member on the council. Sweazy is the Housing Authority Executive Director for the Louisiana Housing Corporation and serves as the designee of the Executive Director of the Louisiana Housing Corporation on the council. The Governor’s Council on Homelessness serves to advise the Governor on issues of concern to Louisiana citizens concerning homelessness; review and update Louisiana’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness; monitor implementation of Louisiana’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness; serve as a resource for information about access to available services for the homeless population, including housing and transportation options for the homeless; consult and coordinate all activities with the Federal Interagency Council for the Homeless, HUD, and all other federal agencies that provide assistance to the homeless; ensure the services for all homeless persons of the State of Louisiana are appropriately planned and coordinated, thereby reducing duplication among programs and activities by state agencies and other providers; recommend improvements to the service delivery system for the homeless; and conduct other activities as may be appropriate and necessary.

    Robert E. “Bob” Barsley, D.D.S., of Ponchatoula, was appointed to the Task Force on Coordination of Medicaid Fraud Detection and Prevention Initiatives. Barsley is a dentist and professor with Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Dentistry. He will serve as an advisory member who represents the dental field on the board. The Task Force on Coordination of Medicaid Fraud Detection and Prevention Initiatives is an interagency task force established to coordinate existing Medicaid fraud detection and prevention efforts and to recommend means for enhancing the efficacy of those efforts.

    Calvin Mackie, Ph.D., of Gretna, was appointed to the LaSTEM Council. Mackie holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and is the President and CEO of the Channel Zero Group. He formerly served on the faculty at Tulane University where he researched heat transfer, fluid dynamics, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Mackie is also the founder of STEM NOLA, an organization which serves to expose, inspire, and engage members in New Orleans and the surrounding communities about opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics Advisory Council (LaSTEM) was established to coordinate and oversee the creation, delivery, and promotion of STEM education program; to increase student interest and achievement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; to ensure the alignment of education, economic development, industry, and workforce needs; and to increase the number of women who graduate from a postsecondary institution with a STEM degree or credential.

    Gerard D. Rinchuso, of Shreveport, was appointed to the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council. Rinchuso is a master plumber and the President of Rinchuso’s Plumbing. The primary function of the council is to review and adopt the state uniform construction code, provide training and education of code officials, and accept all requests for amendments of the code, except the Louisiana State Plumbing Code. Specifically, the council establishes the requirements and process for the certification and continuing education of code enforcement officers, code enforcement inspectors, third party providers and building officials and determines whether amendments to the state uniform construction code are justified.

    Mark S. Leeper, Ph.D., of Shreveport, was appointed to the State Board of Election Supervisors. Leeper is an assistant professor of political science at Centenary College of Louisiana. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As required by statute, Leeper was nominated by the President of Centenary College. The State Board of Election Supervisors conducts hearings for complaints under the administrative complaint procedure for federal elections and for the removal of registrars of voters, reviews election laws and procedures, and reports annually to the legislature.

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    Broome provides status report on BRAVE grant

    As promised last week, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome provided a status report on the BRAVE grant and recent contracts issued. She said:

    The report released today by my office details developments pertaining to the BRAVE program since its inception. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the program and documents the problems incurred in 2016 that led to the program being sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In addition, this report presents the efforts of this administration to correct those problems. The objectives of BRAVE were and will remain important. My administration will continue to address those issues that have a significant impact on the Baton Rouge community. We will also continue to be committed to transparency, and continue to move forward and work towards creating a better future for the citizens of Baton Rouge.

    The four-page report :o llows

    STATUS REPORT ON THE
    BATON ROUGE AREA VIOLENCE ELIMINATION (BRAVE) PROJECT
    FEDERAL AWARD NO. 2012-PB-FX-K001

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    The Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Program, or B.R.A.V.E., is a partnership between the City of Baton Rouge and the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office to address violent crime in the 70802 and 70805 zip codes in Baton Rouge. B.R.A.V.E. is funded through a U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program (USDOJ-OJJDP) grant, Federal grant number 2012-PB-FX-K001, that began on October 1, 2012. In addition to the Mayor’s Office and District Attorney, the B.R.A.V.E. program also coordinated with the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, Louisiana State University’s Office of Social Service Research and Development, local service providers, faith-based representatives and community leaders.

    BRAVE was originally funded by USDOJ-OJJDP in the amount $1,499,993. Subsequent supplemental awards in the amounts of $1,458,231 and $70,000 increased the total funding of the BRAVE project to $3,028,224 by 2015.

    Early in the administration of Mayor-President Broome the Mayor’s Office (OM) was informed that the BRAVE grant was being suspended due to reporting and compliance deficiencies occurring in 2016 during the administration of Mayor-President Holden. The OM attempted to address the deficiencies with the USDOJ-OJJDP and requested a reauthorization and extension of the grant. This request was denied. The OM subsequently sought to spend the remaining grant funds in fulfillment of original grant aims that were never pursued or fulfilled. On July 26 the OM suspended the program pending further review after concerns were expressed by members of the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Metropolitan Council regarding BRAVE grant recipients and the status of Louisiana State University’s (LSU) request for additional funding. Mayor-President Broome requested the completion of this report to review past performance and present status.

    PROGRAM OVERVIEW and GRANT HISTORY
    The B.R.A.V.E. project description in the original grant application is as follows:
    The Baton Rogue Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program will address the displacement of violent juvenile crime occurring in the 70805 and 70802 zip codes, to a successful implementation of a Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) locally called the BRAVE program. The program will reduce and eliminate violent crime being committed by a small number of juvenile offenders. The program will be implemented under the guidance of the Mayor and the District Attorney to target violent youth offenders, ages 12-17, and their associates. BRAVE seeks to (1) change the community norms toward gang and group violence; (2) provide alternatives to criminal offending by the targeted group; and (3) alter the perception of youth regarding risks and sanctions associated with violent offending. These will be accomplished through engagement and educational opportunities to increase the social cohesion of the community and development of an authentic police-community relationship; through the coordination of local service and educational providers who will offer help to youth and implementation of a focused deterrence strategy to community based policing.
    From October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2016, the Holden Administration engaged the following local entities for services under the B.R.A.V.E. grant:

    • Capital Area Human Services was contracted to provide abuse and health treatment to its program participants, provide police mentoring, and collect performance measures. ($187,500/380,916)
    • Healing Place Services was contracted to provide case management, educational career, and job assistance to participants in the program. ($201,870/222,721.74)
    • LSU was contracted to evaluate activities based on the grant goals and objectives, and analyze data related to BRAVE. ($558,692/645,145.37)
    • The Louisiana Sports Network was contracted to provide sports mentoring to referred program participants, provide program evaluation and collect performance measures. ($42,000)
    • Hope Ministries was contracted to provide job assessment to participants in the program and provide career and family mentoring to program participants. ($75,000)
    • Fealy and Sumner Policing Solutions were contracted to be technical advisors to aid BRAVE in advice, training, and performance evaluation of their strategies. ($5,000)
    • Family Youth Service Center was contracted ($330,342)
    • Tonja Myles was contracted to formulate, coordinate, and execute plans to safely arrest juvenile offenders that violated their conditions of supervision as appointed by the Juvenile Court Judge. In addition, she collaborates with law enforcement and the judicial system to monitor juvenile offenders and advocate for BRAVE in the public sphere. ($195,000)
    • Garrison & Associates were contracted to uphold the goals of BRAVE through engagement and educational activities intended to increase informal social control and police effectiveness. ($1,050.00)
    • EBR Truancy was contracted to provide case management and other social services to BRAVE participants. ($330,342)
    • Printing tech was contracted to provide push cards for the City of BR Mayor’s Office. ($110.50)
    • TJM Promotions were contracted to provide wristbands for high school students. ($310.00)

    Conservative Total: $ 1927216.5
    Since the summer of 2017, there have been a number of smaller vendors issued contracts under $10,000, for skills training in the field of cosmetology, mentorship, arts, and sports networks, amongst other community services. Some of these companies were vendors previously for the city, many years prior to Mayor Broome taking office.

    STATUS REPORT AT TRANSITION OF MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION
    On February 14 2017 the Department of Justice notified the Office of the Mayor-President that the BRAVE grant funds were frozen due to an overdue progress report, which was due January 30, 2017. That delayed report followed earlier reports that were submitted in June 2016 and December 2016 that requested data on performance measures that were not being collected by the LSU Office of Social Research and, therefore, were not reported. Those measures related to youth served and the statistics involving youth and crime in the area. The June 30, 2017 report contained the data requested.

    On March 1 2017 the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer and the Federal and State Grants Coordinator, conducted a telephone conference call with DOJ to discuss the requirements for lifting the freeze on the remaining funds which totaled $1.6 million. A request for an extension was also discussed.

    The OM was informed that the grant would likely not be extended because of poor programmatic performance, lack of enough youth and adults being served, two extension requests having already been approved and funding still had not been spent, and other findings from a previous audit. (Attachment “B”) The SPM also specifically mentioned the need for transportation services as she was aware that transportation services for clients was a huge challenge to program success.

    Additionally, the OM and the SPM discussed using the remaining grant funds for various interventions that did not appear to have been met in the BRAVE Project Narrative goals/outcomes or could improve performance outcomes. For example, call-ins, more programs that engage youth across the parish and within the targeted zip codes, as well as reporting requirements and the lack of reports submitted in the past. The OM suggested spending these funds in community programming related to the arts, sports, and other activities. The OM was informed that expenditures would be acceptable as long as they aligned with the grant. When the OM asked the SPM how the remaining $1.6 million could be spent when there were currently only eight (8) BRAVE clients, the SPM explained that the funds could be used to serve BRAVE clients, their families and affiliates of BRAVE clients, and any resident in the t zip codes. The OM inquired about turning away youth or adults who attend BRAVE programs and request assistance but do not live in the targeted zip codes. The SPM explained that as long as 50% of the participants were from the targeted zip code, the OM could host activities parish-wide.

    The new FSGC hired under Mayor-President Broome worked diligently between the months of March, April, and May 2017 to collect data and access OJJDP systems. The OM undertook the completion of the extension request, attended BRAVE Core meetings, processed invoices for independent contractors, and held individual conferences with BRAVE clients and their families.

    On May 5, 2017, the current OM submitted the revised overdue semi-annual report successfully into the GMS. The OM also submitted a draft contract of the Courier Transportation Service.

    On May 5, 2017 the OM received a response from the SPM thanking us for submitting the overdue report and asked specifically what was being done about the need for transportation services for BRAVE. (Attachment “C”) The SPM indicated that she recalled the OM working on a proposal for transportation services and wanted a status update. She was referring to the OM’s previous commitment on the March 1, 2017 conference call that transportation services will be provided to grant participants.

    On May 8, 2017, the OM was notified that the progress report had been approved, the request for Release Funds GAN for 2012-PB-FX-K001 (BRAVE Funding) was approved, and the hold on $1.7 million in BRAVE funding had been lifted. (Attachment “D”)

    In response to the SPM’s reference to unmet BRAVE goals, it was observed that one of the enumerated goals identified by the BRAVE Project Narrative stated:
    Goal 2: Provide Alternatives To Violent Criminal Offending To Targeted Youth.
    Output Measure 2a(1) – Approximately Twenty (20) community service providers will be organized to plan services for youth opting out.
    Output Measure 2a(2) – Twenty-seven (27) clergy, churches, and faith- based institutions will be organized to communicate the message to youth that there is help for those who want to leave their violent lifestyle.
    Output Measure 2b(1) – Approximately 25 youth annually will receive street outreach, case management and relevant transportation for services. Services will also include assessment, counseling, access to intensive additive and mental health intervention, mentoring, educational, job/career prep assessment and planning, parental support groups and referral to area youth recreation and development programs.
    Output Measure 2b(3) – Twenty-five (25) youth participants will receive membership to the Louisiana Youth Sports Network to go along with additional scholarships that are donated for 70805 targeted youth. This agency uses sports to attract youth into character development situations, education on good citizenship values and practice in using conflict resolution strategies. [This budget line item was never utilized.]
    Objective 2a: To coordinate BRAVE community providers to address the needs of 20- 40 targeted youth annually (25 average) who opt out of violent behavior and accept offers for help from community and law enforcement. Strategies included:

    • Coordinating existing agencies and providers to address needs of youth who choose a non- violent lifestyle.
    • Establishing an array of evidence- based services and activities to attract youth and provide the intervention they need.
    • Market ‘process” for opting out to clergy, providers, residents so they can provide information to violent youth.
    • To develop and offer multiple services aimed at the crimogenic needs of 20-40 youth.
    • Strategies included:
      • Provide entry level case management and assessment of needs.
      • Access to intensive addiction and mental health intervention, mentoring, counseling, parental support and any services as needed.
      • Create a focused approach on job/ career assessment and planning, educational assistance, placement in one of vo-tech training programs.
      • Promote nonviolent behavior/ character development through use of sports and recreation.

    The OM began to strategize about ways to reach the targeted goals enumerated in the grant narrative and identify the means to meet those goals.

    REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING BY LSU
    In February 15, 2017 email, the former FSGC sent an email to the City-Parish Grants Review Committee (GRC) requesting the need to delete the amendment to the LSU agreement for BRAVE from the GRC agenda. This amendment requested $125,000 in new money out of the grant for LSU to conduct research and evaluation of BRAVE project activities. The former FSGC also alerted the Mayor Pro-tem.

    The OM requested from LSU a more detailed explanation for the use of the requested $125,000, as well as, a synopsis of any BRAVE expenditures and outstanding invoices. LSU acknowledged that the additional funds would be used for continued evaluation, crime data tracking services, and performance reporting. The OM responded to LSU that there was only $36,000 remaining in the budget earmarked for LSU to provide those services, and $645,000 of a total of $681,000 had been expended.

    The City and LSU came to an agreement that the request for an additional $125,000 would be contingent upon approval of the grant extension request. In a March 6, 2017 email the new FSGC (hired under Mayor-President Broome) made a request to LSU for copies of all BRAVE annual reports, and any updates on the successes and challenges of the BRAVE Program. The OM sent an email to the BRAVE Core team requesting all outstanding invoices be sent to the OM for processing, and to ensure an accurate picture of the budget, with any recommendations to improve the program.

    At the request of the OM, a meeting was held with the BRAVE Core team to discuss successes and challenges of the Brave program, and outstanding invoices and budget matters.

    REQUEST FOR NO-COST EXTENSION
    The OM alerted LSU and the District Attorney that the City would be submitting another extension request, despite the chances of the extension not being approved. The OM hosted a meeting with representatives from the BRAVE Core team to exchange ideas in developing the extension request. Suggestions were made related to transportation, increased programming around the implementation of programs that had not been addressed including alternatives to criminal activity such as the arts and sports, the need to increase the number of case managers, street workers and surveillance, and the requirements for program evaluation and research.

    In April 2017 the Office of the Mayor President officially requested an extension of the grant through August 31 2018. That request was denied on June 8 2017 and the following reasons were cited by the DOJ for the denial:

    1. $257,370 was listed as allocated to personnel, however, the Program Coordinator was funded by the City.
    2. A grantee reported $5460 for Project BRAVE Director and City financial management training in Washington, DC. However, it appeared that only one training had been completed online.
    3. $380,916 was listed for a contract with Capital Area Human Services District for mental health and substance abuse treatment for 150 youth and 600 case conference meetings, yet only 64 youth were served and it is unclear how many, if any, case conference meetings were held.
    4. $408,000 is listed for a contract with Family Youth Service Center for case management, transportation and community outreach, yet that grantee had not provided documentation of how many youths received those serves and what kind of services were being funded by the grant.

    MOVING FORWARD
    The OM sent the SPM an email accepting the denial and indicating that the BRAVE program would continue its efforts and provision of services until the end of the grant period. The email confirmed that the OM would implement community programs, services and interventions throughout the summer, including transportation services until September 17th. The OM also reaffirmed the conversation via telephone with the SPM that since we could not spend $1.6 million in three to four months, the OM would award contracts under the $17,500 threshold in a good faith effort to serve the community until the end of the grant.

    Realizing the abbreviated time frame in which to work, the OM undertook to review the outstanding goals and output measures which had not been accomplished, and began to hold meetings with community stakeholders and potential service providers.

    The FSGC requested OJJDP clarify in writing federal procurement requirements for contracts $5000 and above because the OM anticipated spending dollars on smaller contracts for services because of the limited time before the grant would end, and to allow for a more expedited process for getting services to the community. The OM specifically mentioned the transportation service as an example, within the email. The OM was informed that all contracts below $150,000 should follow city procurement procedures. Contracts over $150,000 would be required to follow federal procurement procedures. Those procedures were provided for review.
    At the request of the OM, the Parish Attorney provided a template for a Professional Services Agreement. The Parish Attorney explained that the OM would be responsible for drafting the professional service agreements, which would be reviewed by the Parish Attorney.

    The OM asked the Chair of the Grants Review Committee (GRC) to explain the grants review process because the OM anticipated utilizing mini contracts to meet the outstanding goals of BRAVE during the last ninety days of the grant period.

    The OM alerted the GRC that the OM would be submitting professional service agreements below $17,500 to the GRC for review in its commitment to the SPM. This maximum amount of the contracts were set so that the contracts could be expedited. Council approval would create a significant time delay and jeopardize the opportunity to provide the services in the time remaining on the grant.

    The services and compensation, excluding the canceled contract for Arthur Reed, were as follows:

    • Todd Sterling of Alpha Media and Public Relations was contracted to provide audio/visual seminars for trauma training. In addition, public relations tools were to be developed. ($9,950)
    • Joseph Hines was contracted to provide a four-week summer program to improves youth’s capacity for leadership, business, and entrepreneurship through self-discovery in the arts. Health, wellness, and art exposure were also to be provided. ($9,600)
    • Walter McLaughlin was contracted to provide a four week creative arts program that targeted mentorship, event production, talent development, and community outreach. ($9,800)
    • Donney Rose was contracted to provide a four week creative arts program for teenagers that targeted mentorship, poetry workshops, performance coaching, and improvisation techniques. ($7,600)
    • Desiree Bewley was contracted to provide a four week creative arts program for teenagers that targeted mentorship, poetry workshops, performance coaching, and improvisation techniques. ($7,600)
    • Chancelier Skidmore was contracted to provide a four week creative arts program for teenagers that targeted mentorship, poetry workshops, performance coaching, and improvisation techniques. ($7,600)
    • Christopher Patrick Turner was contracted to provide a four-week summer program to improves youth’s capacity for leadership, business, and entrepreneurship through self-discovery in the arts. Health, wellness, and art exposure were also to be provided. ($9,600)
    • New Hope Outreach Ministries was contracted to assess, evaluate and counsel those suffering [addiction], abuse, and related mental health issues. Job readiness, retention, parenting skills, and case management were also in their realm of duties. ($17,000)
    • Pink Blossom Alliance was contracted to perform community outreach events in an effort to expose young women to professional women in their community, exposing them to careers in STEM , social services, criminal justice, etc. ($9,900)
    • Isaiah Marshall was contracted to serve as a facilitator/ host of community sporting events to cultivate community and establish skills that sports enhance such as teamwork, responsibility leadership, and pride. ($9,500)
    • Zuri Sanchez was contracted to serve as a facilitator/ host of community sporting events to cultivate community and establish skills that sports enhance such as teamwork, responsibility leadership, and pride. ($9,500)
    • Runner’s Courier Services was contracted to provide transportation services to BRAVE program participants to court appearances, medical, and social service appointments. ($17,500)
    • Willie Payne was contracted to provide employment and skills training in the field of cosmetology, barbering, and hair styling to BRAVE participants. ($9,900)
    • Elm Grove Church was contracted to provide a summer youth academy focused on youth violence reduction and prevention. They agreed to utilize the curriculum designed and provided by the City-Parish. ($16,000)
    • Joseph Bean was contracted to serve as a facilitator/ host of community sporting events to cultivate community and establish skills that sports enhance such as teamwork, responsibility leadership, and pride. ($9,500)

    Total: $160,550

    The GRC was informed that the OM would bring a minimal number of contracts through the review process for approval, and that specifically the OM no longer needed the larger funding for the courier service since the request for a no-cost extension had been denied. It was decided to execute an agreement reflecting the need for transportation services for a shorter period of time.
    The OM requested a proposal from Runner’s Courier Service. This firm has done business with the City of Baton Rouge, and would be an immediate solution to the transportation problem acknowledged both by the BRAVE Core team and the SPM.

    From mid-June until the present, it has been the sole intent of the OM to fulfil the goals of the BRAVE project narrative, and salvage the use of remaining funds to the greatest extent possible in the limited time remaining in the grant period. All of the Professional Service Agreements entered into by the OM align with the goals and strategies identified in the approved BRAVE program narrative.
    All contracts were encumbered by the Finance Department of the City, and signed by the Purchasing Department.

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  • ,,,

    Licensing law changes for Louisiana contractors

    According to the Louisiana Home Builders Association, HB 675, now Act 231 of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session makes several changes to the Contractors’ Licensing Law. Act 231 will go into effect Tuesday, August 1st 2017.

    Licensed residential contractors shall provide in writing:
    1. Name
    2. Contracting license number
    3. Classification
    4. Current insurance certificates evidencing the amount of liability
    insurance maintained and proof of workers’ compensation coverage

    Registered home improvement contractors shall provide in writing:
    1. Name
    2. Registration number
    3. Current insurance certificates evidencing the amount of liability
    insurance maintained and proof of workers’ compensation coverage

    This information shall be provided to the party with whom the contractor has
    contracted to perform contracting services, regardless of whether such information is requested by the contracting party for whom the work is to be performed.

    Also, licensed residential contractors and registered home improvement contractors shall produce to the permitting authority evidence of a license or registration in good standing prior to the issuance of any permit required by law. Click here to read the act in its entirety

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  • ,

    Celebrity Chef Ryan Rondeno launched new line of Spice Rubs

    Celebrity Chef Ryan Rondeno specializes in French Creole Cuisine and has leaned on his Louisiana upbringing as the foundation for his signature Spice Rub. The ‘Ryan Rondeno Spice Collection’ is a mixture of spices that’s perfect for various cooking techniques. As the spring and summer approaches, grilling is a popular cooking technique that’s well used. It can be used to enhance the flavor of chicken, fish, meats and even veggies. The delicious spices not only add the perfect kick to all your favorite dishes, but are also gluten and preservative free.

    The Metairie, Louisiana born chef’s inspiration was to create a collection of rubs that will turn every day recipes into a fine-dining experience. Chef Ryan Rondeno plans to empower people with great spices and recipes to help them prepare meals that the entire family will enjoy. On his website, RondenoCulinaryDesigns.com, he shares some easy recipes to create with the ‘Spice It Up Rub It Down’ ebook. His ‘Ryan Rondeno Spice Collection’ is also now available for purchase via the web site.

    ONLINE: www.RondenoCulinaryDesigns.com

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  • Washington become Guaranty Bank’s branch manager

    Julian Washington has been appointed branch manager of the Guaranty Bank & Trust Company Port Allen Branch. He currently resides in Baton Rouge and is looking forward to working with the people and businesses of the community. His goal is to provide quality service as a branch manager. Washington has nine years of banking experience. He has five years in branch management and consumer lending. A native of Thibodaux, Washington earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Southern University in Baton Rouge. He is an active member of Bethany Church, South Campus in Baton Rouge. He has served as a West Baton Rouge Chamber ambassador, mentor with the Big Buddy Program and volunteer with Junior Achievement of Baton Rouge.

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  • ,,,

    Connect2Black launches in New Orleans

    Launching next month from New Orleans is another tool to help consumers buy from local, Black-owned businesses.

    Connect2Black is a mobile app that includes a Black business directory, city travel aide, and resource guide for and about Black-owned businesses.

    The app has a multiplex user-friendly platform for all mobile devices. It connects “conscientious Black people with other like-minded people doing positive progressive things within Black commerce, culture, and community. Yet, it is available for all ethnic and cultural groups to use for their pleasure and resource,” developers said.

    “Our principle focus is on the bold act of recognizing and understanding the responsibility that we must encourage our family and community to buy Black. Thus, the frequent use of this app as a way of life can help strengthen the sustainability of Black wealth.”

    The app is designed to help users connect to Black-owned enterprises, entertainment venues, barbers or beauty salons, shopping strip malls, church revivals, festivals, or Pleasure Club parades using Geo-Mapping features.

    Connect2Black also serves as a personal concierge and tour guide to help establish a well-planned itinerary.  Special features include:

    • Licensed tour guides, natives ambassador of Black culture, sharing untold stories;
    • C2B Ride Sharing–Black owned taxi, limo, tour buses;
    • Pop-Up notifications of side street parades and major citywide events occurring in real time;
    • Black Press News Stand
    • Handy person work force and job posting; and
    • Black History trivia.

    ONLINE:connect2black.com

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  • ,,

    Dr. Vindell Washington named Blue Cross chief medical officer

    Dr. Vindell Washington has joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana as chief medical officer. He brings to the state’s largest health insurer extensive experience in leading clinical teams and in health IT, most recently as the national coordinator for healthcare information technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Prior to that, Washington was at the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System in Baton Rouge for more than seven years, leaving as president of the medical group, which includes more than 500 medical providers and 1,400 employees. While at the health system, he also served as vice president of performance excellence and technology and chief medical information officer.

    Washington is a board-certified emergency medicine physician. Before coming to Baton Rouge, he served as chief executive officer of Piedmont Emergency Medicine Associates, a large private group in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    He received his undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University and his medical degree from the University of Virginia. He also received a Master of Science degree in healthcare management from the Harvard School of Public Health.

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  • ,,,,

    Southern’s college government to offer additional international studies in policy, finance and business

    Southern University’s newly formed Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences will introduce a new curriculum, programs and international opportunities this summer. Previously known as the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, the school was upgraded at the beginning of 2017, and it is the only college of government in the state.

    “Our goal is to become more expansive and create additional opportunities for our student body and faculty,” said Damien Ejigiri, PhD, dean of the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences. “The curriculum now extends beyond foreign government relationships and presents recruitment and academic connections with African countries.”

    In addition to international opportunities, the new curriculum will have a stronger emphasis on government issues and relationships within the state and southern region. The college has also formed a partnership with the Southern University College of Business to introduce a new Ph.D. program with a concentration in finance and business. Students from the College of Business will be able to earn dual degrees from the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences.

    Mninwa J. Mahlangu

    Mninwa J. Mahlangu

    Ejigiri has established a relationship with the South African Ambassador to the United States, Mninwa J. Mahlangu, who has openly declared the forging of a connection between the College and South African government. The South African diplomat rededicated the college on behalf of the late Nelson Mandela on the campus of Southern University in May. After the ceremony, Mahlangu and Ejigiri discussed leading efforts to establish exchange programs and training opportunities within multiple South African universities. The relationship will also connect the college to South African companies to establish recruitment efforts for graduates. Furthermore, faculty will be encouraged to visit the country to discuss best practices and further develop valuable connections.

    “The mission of the College is to attract and educate men and women from across the globe who will matriculate with the spirit of service, superb competence and employability skills needed in the market, and who further will acquire the uncompromising spirit to fight for justice and equality,” said Jocelyn Freeman, Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences professor.

    ONLINE: www.subr.edu.

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  • ,,

    Small business, champions honored

    LED and SBA Honor 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award Winners

    Louisiana Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration announced the 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award winners at an event honoring small business leaders who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit of Louisiana. The winners were honored in a private reception at the Governor’s Mansion, May 3.

    “We are pleased to recognize these enterprising and innovative business leaders, especially at this time in the middle of National Small Business Week,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Small businesses account for more than 97 percent of all employers in Louisiana. They provide jobs to more than 900,000 of our state’s residents – more than half of our private-sector workforce – and they keep our communities vibrant. Small business success is vital to our state’s economy, and the business people we honor today are some of Louisiana’s best.”

    LED and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network served more than 13,475 small businesses and individuals last year, directly resulting in 1,022 new jobs, 1,587 retained jobs and the launch of 165 new businesses. The Small Business Award program recognizes top performers in a broad range of categories.

    The 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award winners are:

    2017 SBA Champion Award winners

    8(a) Graduate of the Year:
    Tiya Scroggins
    Scroggins Consulting
    Shreveport

    Family-Owned Business of the Year:
    Tom Sawyer
    Automotive Alignment and Brake Service
    Lake Charles

    Green and Sustainable Business Award:
    Elizabeth Shephard
    LifeCity LLC
    New Orleans

    Veteran Small Business Champion:
    Carla Antoine
    Life Towne Center
    New Orleans

    Women in Business Champion:
    Klassi Duncan
    Urban League of Louisiana – Women’s Business Resource Center Contractor’s Resource Lab
    New Orleans

    Region VI Women’s Business Center of Excellence:

    Joyce James

    Joyce James

    Joyce D. James
    Southeast Louisiana Women’s Business Center
    Baton Rouge

    Region Small Business Development Center of Excellence and Innovation Center Award:
    William (Bill) Joubert and Sandy A. Summers
    Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University
    Hammond

    2017 LED Entrepreneur Awards

    LED Small and Emerging Business of the Year:
    Trudy R. Poret
    Tarpan Construction LLC
    Cottonport

    LED Small Business Innovation Award:
    Chris Meaux
    Waitr
    Lake Charles

    LED Most Outstanding Business Growth Award:
    Alex W. Reed
    Fluence Analytics
    New Orleans

     

    LED Resource Partner of the Year:
    Louisiana Small Business Development Centers Network

    Louisiana PTAC Contractor of the Year:
    Suzette Freeman
    Janet Berry
    Carrie Harper
    Advantage Personnel
    Baton Rouge

    MEPOL Small Manufacturing Award:
    Walerij Holack
    Gulf South Machine
    Ponchatoula

    NFIB Small Business Champion:
    Mike Coullard
    Panola Pepper Corp.
    Lake Providence

    USDA Rural Development Lender of the Year:
    Jeremy Gilpin
    Greater Nevada Credit Union

    USDA Rural Development Borrower of the Year:
    Rock Bordelon
    Central Louisiana Hospital Group, LLC
    Benton

    Small Business Person of the Year:
    Alejandro (Alex) Hernandez
    Hernandez Consulting
    New Orleans

    Read more »
  • ,,

    State completes contract with IEM, invites interested subcontractors

    Louisiana has finalized a contract with global consulting firm IEM to manage the $1.3 billion Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program to help residents rebuild and repair their homes after historic flooding in March and August 2016.

    Founded in Baton Rouge in 1985 and headquartered in North Carolina, IEM focuses on emergency management. The company has worked on major recovery efforts, including Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. It also has a full-service office in Baton Rouge.

    Interested subcontractors can contact IEM directly by calling (225) 952-8256 or emailing Rela_subcontracting@iem.com.

    The homeowner assistance program is funded by $1.6 billion in flood recovery allocations through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition, the state is negotiating a contract with CohnReznick LLP, a quality control accounting, tax and advisory firm, to monitor the program.

    The Restore Louisiana Task Force comprises 21 individuals from throughout the state who were appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to oversee the rebuilding process after historic flooding in March and August 2016 impacted 51 parishes. The Task Force’s mission is divided into six categories: community planning, economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources. All task force documents are available at http://restore.la.gov/resources/. For more information, visit restore.la.gov.

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  • ,

    Globalstar Career Fair scheduled for April 7

    Globalstar, a leading provider of mobile satellite voice and data services, will conduct a career fair on Friday, April 7, 8am at the new Northshore Technical Community College campus in Lacombe, Louisiana. The company is hiring customer-care team positions for the Globalstar office in Covington. LED FastStart® – the nation’s No. 1 state workforce development program – is providing support for the career fair.

    The career fair will take place at the new NTCC Lacombe Campus, located at 65556 Centerpoint Blvd. off Louisiana Highway 434, two miles north of Exit 74 on Interstate 12.

    Globalstar is targeting applicants to fill certain skilled positions, including: customer retention representative; customer care representative; bilingual customer care representative, fluent in Portuguese; bi-lingual customer care representative, fluent in French; and technical support representative. Candidates for these positions must be eligible to work in the United States and must be able to accommodate a flexible schedule, as shifts may vary in length and the Globalstar service center operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

    Interested applicants may apply online for roles with the company, before or after the career fair, at the Globalstar website, www.globalstar.com/careers. Hiring will begin following a job-screening process for applicants, which includes a pre-employment drug screening, background check and pre-employment assessment.

    In July 2010, Globalstar announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters from Milpitas, California, to Covington. The move also included the relocation of several other Globalstar business functions to Covington, including product development, engineering, network operation & control center, finance, accounting, sales, marketing, corporate communications and customer care.

    About Globalstar
    Globalstar is a leading provider of mobile satellite voice and data services. Customers around the world in industries such as government, emergency management, marine, logging, oil and gas, and outdoor recreation rely on Globalstar to conduct business smarter and faster, maintain peace of mind, and access emergency personnel. Globalstar data solutions are ideal for various asset and personal tracking, data monitoring, SCADA and IoT applications. The company’s products include mobile and fixed satellite telephones, the innovative Sat-Fi satellite hotspot, Simplex and Duplex satellite data modems, tracking devices and flexible service packages. For more information, visit globalstar.com.

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  • ,,

    Divas, Daiquiris, Deals Networking Mixer opens to local female entrepreneurs

    This event is created to have an effective business networking mixer where female entrepreneurs can link together as individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another. While building these relationships, participants also get to enjoy dancing, daiquiris and entertainment. Admission is free. Vendor Spotlight tables are available at bit.ly/dddnetwork2017.

    Please invite your girlfriends out!

    This news item was submitted online.

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    AT&T holds hiring event, Jan 21

     

    AT&T* is holding an open house hiring event in Baton Rouge on Saturday, January 21 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  The call center positions are a result of AT&T’s continued investment in Louisiana to support customers across the state.  The open house will take place at 4455 American Way.
    “AT AT&T, we want to make sure we are providing our customers with a high-level of service they have come to expect,” said Berry Balfour, AT&T Louisiana External Affairs.   “We’re investing in our networks and people as part of that commitment. We’re glad to welcome more than 40 Louisiana residents to the AT&T family.”

    AT&T people are leading the way for everything the company does. That’s why it’s committed to giving team members the benefits, tools and resources they need to reach their fullest potential – both professionally and personally. Call center team members earn an average of $13.35 and $15.57 per hour.

    More than 4,500 in Louisiana work for AT&T and the company is constantly hiring new talent. AT&T is committed to diversity and veteran recruiting.   AT&T offers a full benefits package including medical, dental, vision, 401 (k), tuition reimbursement, paid vacation, and work/life resources.

    To be considered right away for the Baton Rouge call center positions, applicants can complete the application and assessment process at https://connect.att.jobs/job/baton-rouge/call-center-advanced-technical-support-representative/117/3538877

    Visit www.att.com/jobs for more information on other job openings.
    Read more »
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    Tax tips often-overlooked by Blacks

    3 TIPS FOR 2017 TAX SEASON

    Sadly, many African Americans don’t think about taxes until the days and weeks leading up to April 15. However, there are many things you can do now to help our results then be more appealing.

    1. Make Wise Business Purchases
    If you are business owner, think about purchases that you can make between now and year end. If possible, try making purchases that you were planning to make in January in December. Consider pre-paying your cell phone or internet bill. But careful, though, about large purchases such as heavy equipment, as these may need to be depreciated rather than capitalized, greatly minimizing the tax impact you might be expecting from such a large purchase.

    2. Maximize Your Heath Savings Accounts (HSA)
    With the political climate and uncertainly on the continuation of Obamacare, Health Savings Accounts (HSA), along with High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP), may see increased popularity. If you already have a HSA and have not yet maximized your contribution for the year, now would be a great time to do so. Contributions and interest earned are tax free and the maximum contribution amount for 2016 is $3,350 for individuals and $6,750 for families. If you are over 55 years of age, you get an additional $1,000 in catch up contributions which will be tax free as well.

    3. Manage Tax Withholdings/Exemptions
    Employees that changed jobs or started a new job this year should review their tax withholdings/exemptions claimed on their new hire paperwork (Form W-4). Claiming too many exemptions could result in an unexpected or large tax liability at tax time. Claiming too few exemptions could result in giving the government more money than necessary, which could result in a cash flow problem for you during the year. Ask you HR or payroll department to review your withholdings and ask your accountant or tax adviser to review them for you so that if adjustments are needed, you can catch them at the beginning of the new year to avoid potential problems during next year’s tax season.

    In addition to tax adjustments, some basic financial planning can go a long way in setting the stage for you (and your money) as you enter the new year.

    By Randy Hughes
    Counting Pennies, LLC

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    Youth to Watch: Alexandria ‘Chef Alex’ Bellanger

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”

    Meet Alexandria “Chef Alex” Bellanger, 9
    School: Central Intermediate
    Parents: Al and Dorsey Bellanger

    College and career choice: I want to be top in my class like my grandmother. My ultimate dream is to become a doctor who also cooks. So I want to own my own hospitals, yes hospitals and I would like to own a bakery.

    Biggest accomplishments: Oh goodness! Where do I start? I have several. Some of my biggest accomplishments are cooking for and serving the homeless for Thanksgiving, donating my hair to the “Locks of Love” foundation, being live on air with Graham Ulkins on WAFB, cooking live in my home on NBC 33, and achieving A B Honor Roll.

    Why was this “big” for you? I would have to say that cooking and serving the homeless for Thanksgiving made me really happy. It felt good to show others that people do care. I love putting a smile on others’  faces and I loved to hear them talk about my cooking and how good it was. Donating my hair to the Locks of Love foundation was BIG for me, because I knew it would make someone smile again and that brings me joy knowing that little me could do that for someone. Being on WAFB & NBC 33 was really big… I mean what average 8 year old at the time can say that they had camera crews setup in their home while they cook. It was an awesome experience. Achieving A B Honor Roll was a big deal to me because it means that all of my hard work is paying off.

    Chef Alex

    Chef Alex

    Life aspirations: I want to be known as the little girl with a big heart. I want to become a doctor and help people all over the world, as well as being known as a famous chef.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote? Everyone that knows me knows my motto is “The magic always starts in the kitchen”. For my helping this is where it all begins, family time and good eating.

    Mentors: My parents are my biggest mentors. They both tell me that I can be whatever I want to be and if possible help me to achieve it. My dad has helped me build my grilling skills, along with whipping up a scrumptious bowl of grits. My mom mentors me by not only sharing her love for cooking by teaching me cooking skills but teaching me to love the unique young lady God has created me to be.

    Goals for 2017: My number one goal of 2017 is to release my debut cookbook Spring 2017 and have a Spring and Summer book tour.

    What are you reading? “No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic,” “Beforever,” and “American Girl”. I am really enjoying this book. It covers the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

    What music are you listening to? Since Christmas is my favorite holiday. I listen to Christmas music year round. There’s something about it that just makes me happy. Right now Mariah Carey’s holiday channel on Pandora is on repeat.

    Hobbies: What do you do for fun? I love cooking and working on new recipes, attending the theatre, traveling, swimming, dancing, reading, antique shopping and arts and crafts.

    Read more »
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    Punch TV Studios becomes the only Black-owned media company to sell stock

    Media company Punch TV Studios, known for providing a unique selection of original and creative television programming, recently announced its qualification of its stock offering from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under Regulation A, the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act which was signed into law by President Obama. Based on this law Punch TV Studios is now authorized to sell stock in the company.

    “By signing the JOBS Act into law President Obama made it easier for startup companies such as Punch TV Studios to go public and to raise capital privately. That was no minor feat. It was a major stand for a sitting President to take and a historical change in the way America does business. Although there is always more to be done, let us not forget that Punch TV Studios is the media legacy that President Obama leaves behind,” said Punch TV Studios CEO Joseph Collins.

    “We look forward to the day that President Obama is able to do more. In fact, we welcome President Obama to begin his post White House initiatives with Punch TV Studios. We know that whether he’s in the streets of Chicago, Ferguson, Charlotte, Flint, Baltimore, Milwaukee or any town USA; whether he’s exploring the issues of police brutality, economic disparity or gang violence Punch TV Studios is the only publicly traded media company that can provide the true, real, unaltered, unedited, unfiltered voice of the people!”

    As one of the few African American CEOs of a publicly traded company, Collins has an unmatched understanding of what the urban community is looking for and a keen eye on the pulse of the people. Punch TV Studios is currently developing new, original TV content for the urban community and is the first to develop a digital broadcast & Internet streaming network specifically designed to meet their unique entertainment needs.

    Punch TV Studios launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on June 19, 2016. According to its business model Punch TV Studios is projected to generate more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue by year three post IPO. With an opening price of only $1 per share, Punch TV Studios’ primary focus was to make their stock available and affordable to the average American. Early investors, Punch TV Studios supporters and television aficionados are able to get in on the ground floor and purchase stock directly from the company.

    ONLINE: PunchTVStudios.com

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  • FailureFest event embraces the power of failure

    What would you do if you could not fail?

    It’s a clichéd phrase repeated endlessly on coffee mugs and magnets, but Orhan McMillan, co-founder of FailureFest is seeking to direct that question to business owners and the community as a whole. As founder and managing partner of dezinsINTERACTIVE, McMillan understands the power of making mistakes. “I have failed many times, in fact, more than I am even comfortable talking about. But had I not had the opportunity of failure, would I have less opportunity to learn the best qualities of leadership and growth?”

    It was not until after a life-altering accident that Orhan recognized how changing his relationship to failure was the only pathway towards long-term success. “I realized that the paralyzing fear of failure was actually holding me back, causing me to repeat actions that blocked from knowing the truth and therefore achieving true success. Once I accepted that failure did not define me and I released it, the stigma dissipated and the possibility of success was achievable,” said McMillan.

    It’s time for all of us to change the stigma and embrace failure, that’s what FailureFest is all about. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, community and business leaders will discuss the power of failure. The event, which starts at 1pm, is part of the Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week in the Baton Rouge Community College Magnolia Theatre.

    “As business owners, we are familiar with the process of goal setting, short-term and long-term planning, and financial forecasting. But what could we achieve if we began to plan for our next big fail, what if we integrated that into our company culture? What super successes could future entrepreneurs achieve if the conversation of failing was an accepted part of their early educational process?”

    McMillan said he works with several non-profits whose common mission is to bring success and equality to the communities they serve, many of which are deemed failing. “Taking the shame out of a natural part of any journey is key, so I began to ask questions and redefine how I looked at failure, and if possible, figure out how others could benefit,” said McMillan. “I couldn’t help but question how we were defining what failure means, so that by simply changing the conversation from being about not succeeding to continuing down the path you believe in even when it’s hard, we can change the outcome.”

    He said this question is a core principle of FailureFest.

    According to organizers, FailureFest approaches failing as an unveiling of awareness of our underlying strength and adaptability, to learn to embrace adversities and harness their capacity to lead to greater well-being and resilience. “Failure hurts, it’s scary and painful, and no one can escape life’s curveballs,” he said.  “The key is to stay positive in the face of all challenges we may face in life, because there will always be challenges.”

    ONLINE:visitwww.failurefest.net.

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  • Airport hosts annual small, disadvantage business opportunities workshop

    The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport will host a free Business Opportunities Workshop to provide an overview of the Small and Disadvantaged Business (S/DBE) Programs, and explain how to navigate opportunities in Baton Rouge. Attendees will learn what it takes to become DBE certified, and get information on upcoming projects at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR).

    When:   October 12, 2016
    Where:  Crowne Plaza Baton Rouge, 4728 Constitution Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
    Time:     Registration is between 7:30 am – 8:30 am, and the workshop is from 8:30 am to 1pm. Lunch will be provided for attendees. Program highlights include:

    • Learn about opportunities for your firm.
    • Understand the requirements of the Airport’s DBE and SBE programs.
    • Prepare your firm to apply for opportunities at the Airport.
    • Network with other firms interested in working for the Airport.
    • Find out what services are available to support and grow your business.
    • Participate in a structured meet-and-greet to facilitate communication between S/DBE and prime firms and resource agencies.

    Please register for free at www.flybtr.com;or email Rachael Bauer with any questions at:rachaelbauer@tmgconsulting.net


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    Hardy named Southwest CEO

    The board of directors for the $95 million Southwest Louisiana Credit Union has appointed president/CEO Ronaldo Hardy of the Lake Charles-based cooperative that serves more than 17,000 members.

    Hardy began his career in the financial services industry in 2001 at a community bank. In 2004, he became a part of the La Capitol Federal Credit Union team. During his tenure there, he served as a phone center supervisor, member service supervisor, loan underwriter, electronic services dupervisor, branch manager, business development officer, and sales manager. In 2011, Hardy was named runner up in the Credit Union Executives Society’s (CUES) nationwide search for the Next Top Credit Union Executive. This allowed him to attend the CEO Institute I at the Wharton School of Business. In 2007, he married Cristian Carroll Hardy, and together they have three children, Raynah, Josiah, and Laylah. 

    Hardy will start his new job on Oct. 3. He succeeds Jim Giffin who resigned in March 2016 for a financial advisor position with Edward Jones.

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  • Developers saught to remake Government St. site

    Wanting to stir up a revival in Mid City, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority is seeking developers to reinvent the former Entergy buildings and surrounding six acres on Government Street. On Thursday, March 31, the RDA formally asked developers to offer innovative ideas for returning the buildings to commerce.

    To do so, the RDA issued a Request for Expressions of Interest for the site at 1509 Government Street. Written for the RDA by Fregonese Associates, which also created FutureBR, the parish’s comprehensive growth plan, the RFEI asks developers, business owners and others for conceptual plans.

    “The redevelopment of this property has the potential to serve as a gateway linking to downtown, which is experiencing a renaissance of new investment, and Mid City, which is emerging as an economically vital commercial district focused on Government Street,” said John Fregonese of Fregonese Associates.

    The RDA is a quasi-public agency created by government to spark developments in projects that are seen as too risky by private capital. The RDA primes the pump that draws private capital to areas that have seen disinvestment.

    Pockets of Mid City on Government Street farther away from downtown are already slowly returning to life. Buildings have been repaired, restaurants opened, offices rehabbed, and a developer is building a mixed-use project on an entire block of Government Street near South Foster Drive. The state is investing $12 million to transform all of Government Street from four to three lanes flanked by bike lanes and sidewalks.

    The RDA wants to spread development to other parts of Government Street, and it has set the Entergy property on a fast schedule. Developers must submit proposals by April 28; the agency’s board is set to choose a team or teams this June. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2017.

    According to the release, “The RDA is open to a broad range of ideas and uses – new mixed use development, residential, retail, and or commercial/office. The adaptive reuse of the two prominent historical buildings on the site is key to the proposal.”

    A predecessor to Entergy operated the city’s first power plant at the Government Street and South 15th Street site until 1940, then Entergy stored equipment there until 2011. The city’s trolley service operated from the buildings, and the train station was next door.

    Entergy donated the site to the RDA in 2014. The six acres on the north side of Government Street feature two prominent brick buildings, both of which are eligible for listing National Register of Historic Places. The site has been rezoned favorably this year for multi-story, mixed-use buildings.

    “Pioneering businesses have shown there is plenty of demand for housing, offices and restaurants just a few blocks away in downtown, and I’m certain that level of redevelopment will be repeated in Mid City,” said John B. Noland, RDA board chair. “One of the best outcomes the RDA foresees is life returning to inner-city neighborhoods, where the infrastructure is paid for and where the residents are ready to reclaim the neighborhoods as their own.”

    The RFEI can be downloaded at http://ebrra-entergy.weebly.com

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  • New mobile app is building Black wealth nationwide

    Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Have you ever wanted to shop with Black owned business in your city or when traveling across the United States? Not sure how to find local or national business that are owned by people that look like you and live in your community.

    There is an awesome new app to hit the market that is harnessing the $1.3 trillion buying power of the African-American community. Yes, you read that right. Black people spend $1.3 trillion dollars annually, yet our Black owned businesses doesn’t reflect this number in income.

    WHERE U Came From is the premiere and reliable Black business directory app for Apple and Android devices offering a local business search with real-time listing of Black-owned businesses across various categories, ranked by consumers who use the app.

    The app was created by Atlanta-based, social entrepreneur Dr. Dionne Mahaffey and her company the CPAI Group. The wealth disparity arises in the African-American community because the dollar doesn’t circulate the way it does in other minority communities around the world. A huge problem is that despite a collective buying power of in the trillions of dollars, very little of that money stays in Black communities or is spent on Black-owned businesses.

    The WhereU app was conceived for the need to help circulate the dollar longer in Black communities and because of this, it could generate one million jobs for African- Americans nationwide.

    Did you know that currently, a dollar circulates in Asian communities for 30 days, in Jewish communities approximately 20 days, white communities 17 days, but in contrast a dollar circulates in the Black community only six hours.

    According to researchers, just 2 cents of every dollar an African American spends in this country goes to Black owned businesses. If higher income Black consumers spent at least $1 out of every $10 with Black owned businesses it would generate one million jobs for African American.

    Money zooms over our heads and through our fingers faster than we can count it and it rarely stays in our pockets long enough to save or go to the Black-owned businesses in our neighborhoods. We spend our hard owned money with companies that could care less about our community and more about their bottom line. We are so used to creating jobs for other people and corporations, but we as a community are unable to create jobs for ourselves. This is a very serious issues that the WhereU app is addressing.

    The app merges technology with the need to handle poverty, crime and other social ills in the African-American community by focusing on economic development and job creation.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent survey of business owners there are 2.6 million black owned businesses in this country.

    “While the growth is encouraging there is still a lot of work to do to increase the profit of these black businesses. Gross receipts for all minority-owned firms are still well below the average gross receipts for non-minority-owned firms,” Mahaffey said.

    “It will take all of us across all socio-economic statuses to build black wealth. We’ve got to invest in our own community. For us, community can’t be limited to where we are domiciled since many of us live in non-black neighborhoods. When we start to embrace the diaspora-view that our community is wherever we find our people, then we will be more inclined to support one another, even if it means taking a long drive,” said Mahaffey.

    The WhereU app is here to help make it easier to literally buy Black, in your community and when you travel to other communities around the country. This app will help you locate every African-American owned business in your vicinity from everything like restaurants house cleaning, plumbing, catering, lawyers, doctors, graphic designers, beauty salons and more. The app’s referral and location-based system helps you start your search among the most trusted Black professionals and businesses.

    “Our development team has added several thousand businesses for the app launch. However, we’d love to include as many of the 2.6 million black businesses in the United States as possible,” she concluded.

    Business profiles can be submitted from the web-site or within the actual WhereU Came From app. The app can also help majority, non-black corporations meet their diversity objectives by finding minority businesses to support. .

    Some of the unique app features include:
    * Access the top 10 most referred pros and businesses under a category even without Internet connection
    * Ability to find the pro nearest you through geo-location technology
    * Reliable listings with verified contact numbers
    * Easily refer trusted pros to friends and family through the referral function

    The website, WhereYouCameFrom.biz will feature entrepreneurs’ stories, offer narratives on wealth building and other topics relevant to black owned business owners and consumers. The company also plans to hold conferences and pop-up shops across the country to promote black entrepreneurship.

    Get Connected:
    Download the “WhereU” app in the Apple Store or Google Play

    Facebook: www.Facebook.com/WhereYouCameFrom
    YouTube: https://goo.gl/sjwezW
    Twitter and Instagram: @WhereUCameFrom

     
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    New book “Black Author Secrets: How I Make $2,500+ in Book Sales Every Month!” availiable now

    Nationwide — Award-winning entrepreneur Dante Lee has just published the first ever African American guide to selling more books, and in this unique step-by-step guide, he reveals all of his secrets on how authors can be more profitable and more successful.

    The book is entitled, Black Author Secrets: How I Make $2,500+ in Book Sales Every Month! and it’s exclusively available for just $2.99 via his publishing company at www.UrbanEbooks.com

    In this 108-page book, Lee, who himself sells an average of 100 books or more per day, teaches existing and aspiring authors everything they need to know to generate constant streams of revenue with their books. He shares his own personal knowledge, insight and experience!

    “I wrote this book,” Lee comments, “because I know that a lot of authors, especially African American authors, are having difficulty making money from their books. They spend a year or more writing, editing, and proofreading, and then after the book comes out, nothing happens!”

    He adds, “This book is the first book of it’s kind that shows African American authors exactly what they need to do to make at least $2,500 a month in book sales.”

    For more details about either book, visit www.UrbanEbooks.com

     
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    Jones announces financial lecture and book tour

    What happens when you are taught to RAISE YOUR FINANCIAL I.Q., LEARN TO BUDGET YOUR MONEY, GET RID OF DEBT AND BUILD WEALTH from a self-made millionaire? Well, Above Average Group is excited to announce that best-selling author and motivational speaker, Paul D. Jones will be hosting a financial seminar and book tour starting April 2, 2016 from 10am – 1pm at the Sheraton Metairie where he will be answering these questions and more while motivating and inspiring you to “INVEST IN YOUR MIND”.

    A recognized “wealth builder” in the financial world, Jones has helped over 500 entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes optimize profits and experience exponential growth through increased customer loyalty. He’s the author of “Who Told You…You Were Broke?”, “Schedule for Success,” “What You and Your Kids Need to Know About Credit” and now announces his latest writing entitled, “I Quit” (Being Broke) in conjunction with his lecture tour, “Financial Literacy University”. This tour not only targets recent college graduates burdened by paralyzing student loan debt and wanting to start off their careers correctly after graduation, it also gives a plethora of useful investment information to those who would normally “splurge” or perhaps not know how to invest. In addition, the tour exhibits significant benefits for single parents and families who simply want to get out of debt and enjoy a peace of mind from excessive debt due to non-budgeting.

    Growing up just outside of Chicago and raised by a single mother who taught him the importance of giving back, Jones has taken that passion and applied it to his own career and uses it to empower others. Through this informative seminar and book tour, attendees will receive information on better managing their money, acquiring better spending habits, growing and budgeting their business and improving and building their credit. “I can’t stand a victim mentality”, Jones protest and because of his “take charge of your life” attitude, participants of the seminar will walk away with real world, pragmatic advise that they can implement immediately into their daily lives.

    The “Financial Literacy University” and “I Quit” seminar and book tour schedule is as follows:

    * New Orleans – April 2nd
    * Houston, TX – April 9th
    * Phoenix, AZ
    * Savannah, GA
    * Orlando, FL
    * Memphis, TN

    Registration is currently open for New Orleans and Houston areas. Other locations will be opening soon. For more information and to stay up-to-date on new cities added to the schedule, visit www.pauldjones.com.


    Available for Interviews
    Double XXposure Media| 201-224-6570 | N.J. Office/ Email: Theellerbeegroup@aol.com
    Atlanta – (678)439-9641/ Email: Foxmediaprinc@gmail.com

     
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    National Black chamber group endorses Hillary Clinton for president

    The US Black Chambers, Inc. announced it’s support for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Friday, Jan. 15.

    Ron Busby, President of the US Black Chambers Inc., released the following statement on behalf of the of the chamber’s President’s Circle which is comprised of an elite group of successful Black business owners with annualized revenues of at least $10 million; along with representing more than 100 national Black Chambers of Commerce.

    “In order for there to be a strong America, there must be a strong Black America, and in order for there to be a strong Black America, there must be strong Black businesses. 

    With this in mind, we believe it’s of crucial importance to endorse a candidate who intends to expand access to capital, provide tax relief, and expand access to new markets for Black business owners.

    We unequivocally believe Hillary Clinton is the candidate that has the best understanding of the economic challenges facing Black business owners and has forward thinking priorities to alleviate the economic conditions facing Black Americans and Black Businesses. 

    On behalf of the US Black Chambers Inc. we endorse and stand by Hillary Clinton as an ally of Black business and as the next President of the United States.”

     

    The US Black Chambers Inc. is the national voice for Black business owners and is committed to the economic empowerment of Black Americans through entrepreneurship.

    In response to the endorsement, Clinton released this statement:

    “I am honored to have the support of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. which does important work supporting African-American entrepreneurs nationwide. They serve close to 250,000 small businesses, helping them with issues relating to professional development resources, business development, capital formation, government contracting and much more. That’s important, because black-owned businesses are a vital source of jobs and prosperity for Americans of all races and backgrounds.

    “As President, I’ll make sure America’s small businesses – including black-owned small businesses – get more support. I’ll fight to cut red tape, improve access to capital, provide tax relief and increase access to new markets around the world. America works best when all its citizens get the chance to develop their talents and chase their dreams. That’s what the U.S. Black Chambers strives every day to achieve. I’m thrilled to join them in their fight for fairness and opportunity for African-American entrepreneurs and families.”

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    BUSINESS EVENT: Become a licensed claims adjuster, Jan. 23

    The Louisiana Department of Insurance and Small Business Development Center at Southern University are jointly sponsoring a seminar on how to become a licensed claims adjuster. The seminar will be held on Saturday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 313 in T. T. Allain Hall (College of Business) on the Baton Rouge Campus of Southern University.

     

    -1

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    AT&T settles Byron Allen’s racial discrimination claim

    Media mogul Byron Allen filed a 10 billion dollar discrimination lawsuit against AT&T and DirecTV when the companies refused to provide distribution for his channels. That lawsuit, filed in 2014, has now been settled, with DirecTV and U-Verse picking up seven channels from Allen’s Entertainment Studios.

    As reported by Variety, DirecTV began carriage of Entertainment Studios’ Comedy.TV and Justice Central.TV early this week. U-verse has added Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV, ES.TV, MyDestination.TV, Cars TV and Pets TV; U-verse was already carrying Justice Central.TV.

    Spokespeople for all parties involved only commented that, “The matter has been resolved.”

    This stands as a major victory for Allen, a comedian turned businessman who is the sole owner of Entertainment Studios.

    Allen claimed in his lawsuit that Black-owned media was being shut out of distribution opportunities.

    Allen has filed a similar discrimination lawsuit against Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

    ONLINE: YourBlackWorld.com

     

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    150th anniversary of Freedman’s Bank commemorated

    Liberty Bank’s Alden McDonald will deliver remarks and reflect on the legacy of the Freedman’s Bank

    NEW ORLEANS –  On Thursday, January 7, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department will host a ceremony to mark the 150th anniversary of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Freedman’s Bank) and name the Treasury Annex building the Freedman’s Bank Building. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, Assistant Secretary for Management Brodi Fontenot, Howard University Department of Economics Chair Dr. William Spriggs, and Liberty Bank and Trust President and CEO Alden McDonald will deliver remarks and reflect on the legacy of the Freedman’s Bank.

    image

    Alden McDonald

    The Freedman’s Bank was established in 1865 to create an opportunity for wealth-building among the nation’s four million newly emancipated Black Americans. During its nearly 10-year existence, approximately 100,000 Blacks and Black institutions amassed $57 million in the bank’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and its branches in 37 cities across 17 states. Despite the closing of the Freedman’s Bank in 1874, it remains a significant part of American history and this event will highlight the historical significance of the bank and its original mission – to promote economic integration and financial inclusion.

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    Entrepreneurs make strategic deposits in Black-owned banks

    In a strategic effort to continue the movement of “Black-on-Black economics”—circulating dollars in the Black community to every extent possible—a group of Black male entrepreneurs led by the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. has opened accounts with the D.C.-based Black-owned Industrial Bank.

    “In order for there to be a strong Black America, you must have strong Black businesses. In order for there to be strong Black businesses, we must have strong Black banks. So, from my standpoint, this is just a reciprocation for what Industrial Bank has done for our communities for the last 80 years,” said USBC CEO Ron Busby Sr. “There’s a trillion dollars of spending power in our community and we want to make sure that dollar stays within our community. Twenty-eight days a dollar stays in the Asian community, 21 days a dollar stays in the Hispanic community. In our community, our dollar leaves within six hours. We have got to change that…Until we have total control of how we circulate our money, our power and respect will continue to be marginalized.”

    The 15 young men who gathered in the lobby of the historic Industrial Bank are members of the Black Male Entrepreneurship Institute, which is in partnership with the USBC.

    The meeting took on a celebratory mode as Industrial President and CEO Doyle Mitchell congratulated Busby for his influence.

    “I’m just humbled at the presence of mind that you have displayed since you first came to town and started taking a leadership role with the Chamber of Commerce and came to Industrial Bank and made a $5,000 deposit. You put your money where your mouth is,” said Mitchell. “Our only solution for us to get out of the situation that we are in as Black people is Black on Black economics. I love and appreciate the way you have taken that forward with this effort.”

    Busby recalled that when he made that $5,000 deposit five years ago, he was intentionally choosing Black businesses in every area of his life. Buying a house at the time, he said he made sure he had a Black mortgage company, title company, home inspector, pest control company, and moving company. “Everybody that touched the transaction was a Black firm. The service was superior and the price was right.”

    Since then, Busby has become a leading advocate for support of Black banks and Black-owned businesses.

    In that regard, USBC has now launched an ongoing fundraising effort for the BMEI, co-founded by Randall Keith Benjamin, Jr. and Howard R. Jean, who accompanied the young entrepreneurs to the bank.

    “This is bigger than just a moment or taking pictures. It’s about how can we go out of our way to make sure that our communities are as strong as possible,” said Benjamin.

    According to Jean, a BMEI reception and launch will take place Jan. 15, 2016. “We know that our community banks are the strongest funder of small businesses, particularly Black businesses in the community,” Jean said. “So this is our campaign, starting here at the Industrial Bank in Washington, DC as we launch nationally with BME to encourage and inspire other entrepreneurs – male and female – of all ages to start banking Black.”

    By Hazel Edney Trice
    Edney Trice Wire

    PHOTO CAPTION:U.S. Black Chambers Inc. CEO Ron Busby Sr. (center, red tie) stands next to Industrial Bank CEO Doyle Mitchell along with members of the Black Male Entrepreneurship Institute. Photo by Ashlei Sutton.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Edwards names economic development committee, includes Black leaders, business owners

    Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards announced a third committee for his transition, this one dealing with Economic Development.  

    The Economic Development Committee will be tasked with generating ideas on ways to strengthen our economy, attract new businesses to the state and grow our existing businesses. The Committee will focus their efforts on investing in education to train the next generation of workers, expanding research and development activities at our Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards announced a third committee for his
    transition, this one dealing with Economic Development.  

    The Economic Development Committee will be tasked with generating ideas on ways to strengthen our economy, attract new businesses to the state and grow our existing businesses. The Committee will focus their efforts on investing in education to train the next generation of workers, expanding research and development activities at institutions of higher learning, and workforce development to accommodate the new industries.

    The committee will be co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, and Michael Hecht, CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

    Other members are:
    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO of Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, CEO of CENLA Advantage Partnership
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director of LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joseph Delpit, President of Joseph Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President of Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO of Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President of New Orleans AFL-CIO and LA State Building
    Trades
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber?
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO of Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner of CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director of Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director of New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO of Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President of Health Systems 2000
    Sevetri M. Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, LLC
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council
    institutions of higher learning,
    and workforce development to accommodate the new industries coming into our state.

    “Louisiana is open for business, but we cannot simply rely on costly tax
    incentives to spread this message,” Edwards said. “Louisiana has always
    had a strong workforce and we need to ensure this workforce is attractive to
    diverse industries, while also responsibly incentivizing business and industry
    to invest in our state. This committee is critical to our long-term economic
    stability, and I’m confident they’ll help me develop a plan that is mutually
    beneficial to the citizens of Louisiana and industry.” The committee will be
    co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, and Michael
    Hecht, CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

    Additional Economic Development Committee members are: 

    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO of Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, CEO of CENLA Advantage Partnership
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director of LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joseph Delpit, President of Joseph Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President of Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO of Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President of New Orleans AFL-CIO and LA State Building
    Trades
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber?
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO of Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner of CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director of Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director of New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO of Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President of Health Systems 2000
    Sevetri M. Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, LLC
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Black designer lights up General Motors

    If you’re driving down a highway, street or tunnel anywhere in North America and you see the shimmering new headlights on the latest Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC or Buick approaching you, there’s a good chance you’re seeing the work of Martin Davis, a talented, young African American designer who works for General Motors.

    Since 2012, Davis has led the exterior lighting and design studio for the automaker’s North American division, the team responsible for the exterior lighting for every brand under the General Motors’ umbrella.

    Davis traces his love for design and innovation back to elementary school. He didn’t like Hot Wheels and the Lego sets that he owned weren’t intricate enough to hold his attention even at 5 years old. He found that he didn’t like any of the toys sold in the stores, so he started making his own.

    The Detroit-area native started collecting empty cardboard boxes that were used for transporting fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, bring them home and just start cutting. He molded shapes with glue, tape and construction paper. There was a small closet in the entryway of his parents’ house, just big enough for a chair and his creations: interior designs for a car including a dashboard and center console. Then he invited all of his friends over to “test drive” the car. He rolled out a new model about once a month.

    His father, then an employee at Ford Motor Company’s stamping plant in Dearborn, Mich., shut down young Martin’s burgeoning auto operation fearing that letting the neighborhood kids play with cardboard in their closet presented a safety hazard.

    That didn’t stop him from sharing his talent for design with others, including his father’s employer.

    “One day I decided to send my sketches into Ford. I was still in middle school. I found an address to Ford in some magazine and put a few of my drawings in an envelope and put it in the mail,” Davis explained. “I didn’t tell my parents anything.”

    A few months went by, and the young designer began to lose hope and figured that nothing would come of his letter. Then one day after school when he got home, his brother was waving a piece of paper at him.

    “’This guy from Ford called you here’s his number and he wants to call you back,’” Davis recalled his older brother saying.

    So Davis anxiously dialed the number and the Ford employee who answered, thanked him for his interests and told him that he sent the drawings over to the design department, and that someone would get in contact with him.

    He received a follow-up letter from the design department with some career advice and a list of schools.

    The list of schools included his eventual choice. Following the advice that he received from Ford, while still in middle school he set his mind to attending the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in downtown Detroit.

    After he graduated from CCS, he applied to a number of companies. At one point he believed that he would follow in his father’s footsteps at Ford, but despite earlier interest in the middle schooler’s work, he never got an offer from the company.

    But he did get an offer from GM.

    “My time at GM has been amazing,” said Davis. “I couldn’t have imagined it being better.”
    Davis admitted his first day on the job was nerve-racking, and it took him awhile to find his way around the mammoth General Motors complex.

    “I remembered sitting at my desk that first day looking around at all designers thinking, ‘How am I going to compete with all of them?” said Davis.

    But the young designer did compete, gaining confidence with every completed sketch. Davis’ work began to catch eyes of the design managers and they started selecting his sketches among dozens plastered on the 20-foot wall in his studio at GM.

    “The early days were a lot of fun,” said Davis. “There was a freeness. I remember doing sketches for the 2004 Oldsmobile show car, the last show car they did.”

    One of his sketches was selected as the theme sketch for the car. That Oldsmobile show car would be built at the world-famous, now defunct Gruppo Bertone design house in Italy.
    Even though Davis wasn’t selected to join GM designers in Italy, he didn’t sit on the sidelines for long.

    A few months later, as the end of his first year with GM approached, the auto company gave him the opportunity to travel to Birmingham, England to work at an advanced design studio that primarily focused on Cadillacs. There he worked on the Cadillac Cien, a two-seater, mid-engine concept car.

    The assignment, originally scheduled for two months stretched into two years.
    “It was a really great experience to work on such a high-profile concept car,” said Davis.
    After the two-year stint in Birmingham, the Detroit area native worked on a number of production programs, including the GMC Acadia and the auto company’s Cadillac group in China.

    When Davis returned to the United States, company executives were having ongoing discussions about General Motors’ exterior lighting designs compared to some of their competitors.

    Davis said that as the conversations were happening about the direction of the new project wholly-focused on exterior lighting, he jumped at the opportunity and volunteered to do it.
    “It was almost like a huge experiment,” said Davis. “We never had a dedicated, exterior lighting design studio, but we wanted better lights, so we said, “Let’s see how this work.’”

    Davis and his team took on the exterior lighting responsibilities for three well-known “programs”: the GMC Acadia Chevy Traverse and the Buick Enclave. Management immediately recognized how valuable having dedicated focus on lighting could be.

    “Not long after that they made it an official studio and made me the first manager of that studio in 2012,” said Davis. “That was really cool.”

    Davis said that he still loves to draw, but in his current position he’s more like the conductor of an orchestra than an individual musician.

    “I don’t have an instrument. My team has all of the instruments they need and I have to remember that,” said Davis. “Now my job is to make sure that my team knows where each brand is going and understands how to use technology to create a design that is appropriately styled to the character of each vehicle.”

    At first some designers of General Motors other brands were apprehensive about giving up that much control of a central element in the cars overall style, now Davis said all of them want his team’s designs.

    Ed Welburn, General Motors’ vice president of Global Design, praised Davis and his team for their creativity.

    “Martin is doing a phenomenal job,” said Welburn. “Lighting on that [Cadillac CTS] is so striking. It wasn’t too many years ago that every headlight was either round or rectangular. Now lighting is so much a character of the car. It really is the eyes of the vehicle. Our organization is really dependent on Martin.”

    Davis said educators, parents and support groups first have to raise awareness among students of color about opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and then help them to understand that they can also excel in those professions.

    The GM design manager mentors children in the Detroit metro area and recommended that all students get focused at a young age and seek educational and career development programs that can assist them with achieving their goals. Davis added that his presence in the automotive design field shows students, especially students who look like him, that they can also be successful in that field.

    “I think that goes a long way,” he said.

    And Davis has come a long way, too.

    “It almost feels like a dream that I have this responsibility,” said Davis. “You think of [General Motors'] history, this 100-year-old company that’s been making cars forever and now there’s this opportunity to shift focus to another part of the vehicle, a part of the vehicle’s face, the face of each brand. It’s a humbling experience. I really do appreciate the privilege and the opportunity to fulfill this role.”

    By Freddie Allen
    NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Quinton Jason turned love of the Web into a life-changing career

    Quinton Jason was first drawn to the instant gratification of coding in a high school computer literacy class. What started as an interest grew to a passion, which eventually led him to graduate with a computer science degree. However, in the years that followed, Quinton drifted away from the industry. Instead, he dabbled in retail work, the food industry, and telemarketing, but continually found himself uninspired and unfulfilled.

    When a position as a customer support technician led Quinton back to the keyboard, he made the decision to return to his original career path and chose the East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Treehouse to help him accomplish that. Before long, Quinton had gained a solid foundation of skills and was ready to embark on a career in the web industry.

    Today, Quinton is the interactive director at Xdesign in Baton Rouge. He has also taken his love for the web one step further by speaking at tech conferences, including Future Insights Live 2015. Quinton is proud of his new career path and is embracing the opportunity to share his knowledge and passion for the industry he’d always dreamed of being a part of.

    Read Faye Bridge’s interview with Quinton on TeamTreehouse.com

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site land use designs

    NORTH BATON ROUGE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway. The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision.

    Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.

    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey that identifies specific land use. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site, land use designs

    North Baton Rouge elected officials other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway.
    The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision. Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.
    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey to determine specific ways to use the vacant property. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Ancona’s delivers quality meat, service for 57 years

    There is a banner hanging on the wall of Ancona’s Stop & Save Inc. that reads, “50th Anniversary Reunion and Block Party. Music by D. J. Sammy the Entertainer. Celebrating 50 years of service to the community. Same Location – 2nd Generation Owners”.

    The banner is dated 2008 and even today, the Italian, family-owned and operated business is celebrating its success.

    Herald as one of the best meat markets in the city, Ancona’s opened its doors in 1958.

    The corner store has been at 2705 North Street where the Ancona family–Roy Sr., Frank, Luke, and Johnny–has developed a successful food business by accommodating thousands of customers who pour into the store monthly for staple groceries, meats, and hot lunches.

    The Italian descendents were raised on 29th Street and Easy Street in Easy Town and embedded with a very rich culture and legacy. The family siblings–a total of 11–played sports on the sole gravel road: North Street where the business now stands. The store grew under the vision of Roy Ancona Sr and is now under the management of the Ancona children, Mark and Roy Jr.

    FAMILY HISTORY
    Frank Ancona attended Louisiana State University majoring in chemical engineering and worked at Exxon for several years and as a math instructor at the St.Paul Adult Learning Cente.

    Roy Ancona Jr. attended Southeastern University and has owned the store since 1996. He started working in the store at the age of six years old bagging in the meat market and has been involved in the family store since that time. Roy Jr. said he is very proud of the family achievements and takes great pride in being one of the business managers.

    Mark Ancona was a part of the Submarine Corps Group and lived in Hawaii for many years. While in the military service, “many recognized and identified the Ancona name as relationship and being located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Mark said. In 1966, he bagged groceries and worked with his father and was paid fifty cents an hour. He attended St. Thomas Moore, Catholic High School, and Broadmoor High School. He was employed with Louis Mechanical Plumbing, Lanehart Paint Company, and stated a lawn company before joining the military.

    In 1995, Robbie Ancona provided support to Mark and Roy to buid the business before relocating to Lexington, Kentucky.

    Another legacy of the family is also Vince Ancona, oldest brother who owned and operated a grocery store in the Baton Rouge Community during the time of World War II.

    ANCONA’S OFFERING
    Ancona’s community store includes groceries, hot deli, a meat market, breakfast and lunch plates, ,oney orders, and check cashing services. It is an establishment that welcomes the Baton Rouge community residents and other outline areas. The doors are opened and it is in an excellent location. Major businesses including Benny’s Cafe, Cafe Express, and the Match Box, continuously purchase meat specials from Ancona’s.
    “Business is good,” the owners said,  “Thanks the Baton Rouge Community for continued support and efforts in allowing the doors to stay open and for many others to follow.”

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    McKnight receives LDA Distinguished Service Award

    Hugh V. McKnight, DDS, of Baton Rouge, has been named this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Service Award that was presented during the 135th House of Delegates of the Louisiana Dental Association (LDA) on April 11, 2015, at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

    The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor bestowed by the LDA and is given annually to individual members who exemplify the highest standards of professional conduct in dentistry and make extraordinary contributions in organized dentistry and their community.

    image

    Dr. McKnight has been a member of the LDA, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Greater Baton Rouge Dental Association (GBRDA) for 36 he was the 1992 president and has served on LDA committees.

    He was the 1979-81 president of the Pelican State Dental Association and has been the assistant treasurer of the National Dental Association since 1992. He is a life member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy and a fellow in the International College of Dentists and the Academy of General Dentistry. He has served in consultant roles for the EBR Parish School Board, the Head Start Program, Earl K. Long Medical Center and the EPSDT Dental Medicaid Program. He’s currently a member of MCNA’s Dental Medicaid Advisory Committee.

    Dr. McKnight is a firm believer in giving back to the community. He is active with Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church (at 9700 Scenic Hwy. pastored by Rev. Jesse B. Bilberry, Jr.) in various capacities including Sunday school teacher and chairman of the Deacon Board (ministry). He is also a member of the Boy Scouts of America Board (Istrouma Area Council).

    He is married to Audrey McKnight, and they have three children Sheletha Yvette, Hugh, Jr. and Yolanda.

    The LDA is the largest professional health organization for dentists in Louisiana. It is a statewide grassroots organization whose purpose is to promote, advocate, and protect the dental professional. The LDA has over 1,900 members. For more information, visit www.ladental.org.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Conference to focus on advancing leadership in economic development

    The Southern University College of Business is hosting its Second Annual Advancing Leadership in Economic Development conference on June 11 -13 at the Southern University College of Business’ T.T. Allain Hall.

    The two-day conference will feature local and nationally recognized business leaders who will share effective leadership strategies and successful economic development programs.

    Featured speakers include: James Joseph, former ambassador to South Africa and former public policy professor at Duke University;  Richard McCline, Ph.D., with the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia; and Will Campbell with Capital One.

    Topics include regional economic growth and development opportunities, revitalizing rural and inner-city neighborhoods, leadership models that get results,  and the role of political leaders in economic development.
    It is targeted to small business owners, community development professionals, nonprofit organizations, city and state leaders, and anyone else who is interested in learning more about leadership and business opportunities in our area.

    “This conference encourages attendees to play a greater role in growing their businesses and organizations and to take advantage of the many economic opportunities available in our city and state,” said Donald Andrew, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business and coordinator of the conference. ‘It also gives attendees the tools they need to succeed and it’s a great networking opportunity.”

    Registration is $50.  For more information on speakers and to register, go to subruniversitycenter.org or call (225) 771-5640 or (225) 771- 6248.

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Woman to Watch: Sevetri M. Wilson

    Throughout Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Sevetri Wilson is quickly becoming the business leader who needs no introduction. Not because of the uniqueness of her name–which means “of royalty”–but because of the aggressive growth of her company, Solid Ground Innovations LLC, and its vast list of successful projects.

    She has been named a top 40 under 40 by both the Baton Rouge Business Report and the Baton Rouge Black Professionals Association. Her work has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration and included in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Inc Magazine, and ESPN.

    image

    Sevetri Wilson

    Wilson and the SGI team manages strategic projects for the Tyrus Thomas Foundation, CC’s Coffeehouse, Aetna Better Health of Louisiana, Chicken Shack, Simple Joe’s Cafe, First Financial of Baton Rouge, and BR MetroMorphosis–to name a few.

    While, Wilson generally stays quiet on most projects until they are completed, she recently shared with her 8,500-plus social media followers that SGI is beginning a “new journey” and used hashtags #newproducts and #techstartups.

    She is an accomplished musician, a sought-after business branding consultant, and strategist who manages capital campaigns, sports philanthropy, and event planning, among a slew of other services.

    For this, she is a woman to watch. Meet Sevetri Wilson, 29

    Professional title: CEO, Solid Ground Innovations, LLC

    Hometown: Hammond, LA

    Resident: Dual Residency in Baton Rouge and New Orleans

    What music are you dancing to? When I want to dance around my home, maybe while cleaning or something, I always turn on Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody”

    What are you reading? I am currently reading “Leaning into Leadership”.(She set a goal to read one business book a month for 2015 and shared her reading list at http://www.sevetriwilson.com/sgireads2015/ )

    Mentors or Role Models: My mother, Shirley M. Wilson, is and will always be my #1 role model

    Moves made in 2014/Accomplishments: Started a spin off tech start-up from one of our company’s service lines was in my opinion my accomplishment. In addition, for the fifth consecutive year, I continued the upward growth of my company in revenues and staff. In 2014, our company, SGI, celebrated five years in business. I suppose I could talk about some of the awards and recognitions but truly without those accomplishments, I would not even be recognized.

    <em>Personal Resolution: Try to balance work and life to the best of my ability

    Business/Company Resolution: Continue to grow quality clientele and sales, continue to innovate our service lines, and ensure operations work for our team members to execute to the highest of our capability.

    Life/business motto: When all else fails, do what is right.

    Where to find you online? You can find me via all social media platforms at @sevetriwilson ; organizations can also book me for speaking engagements via my website at www.sevetriwilson.com

    Read more »
  • ,

    Phat Boyz Pizza fills Black-owned void in North Baton Rouge

    Being the only Black-owned pizza business in Baton Rouge is a handicap and a blessing, according to Armand Sonnier, owner of Phat Boyz Pizza, the city’s newest pizza joint.

    Since the closure of the local Pizza Hut chain owned by Lundy Enterprises, Sonnier is now the sole minority pizza vendor.

    He said many people are hesitant to try his pizza because they are not used to Black ownership.

    “They always think that the pizzeria belongs to Whites only,” he said. Bearing a name many know as the acronym for “pretty, hot and tempting,” one bite into the PhatBoyz’s extra large specialty would change their hesitancy into addiction.

    In fact, Sonnier’s customer base is steadily increasing with many repeat customers.

    For nearly 30 years, Sonnier has been in the pizza-making business, starting as a driver for Domino’s Pizza. He also waxed floors for extra income.customers who love his pizza.

    Over the years, his appreciation for the pizza business grew. One day while on the job, he picked up Pizza Today magazine and came across a pizza oven priced at $10,000. At the time, he was making enough money to afford the oven. He decided to start his own business and work for himself. Once he left Domino’s, he began laying out plans to become an owner in the pizza business

    His main objective for Phat Boyz, he said, is to provide affordable pizza, using quality ingredients, and to provide delivery to communities throughout North Baton Rouge.

    Sonnier and his staff make their own dough, buy products from local distributors, and make a special blend of sauces and topping combinations to appeal to customers. “We do everything ourselves,” he said.

    Armand Sonnier ,owner, phat boyz

    Armand Sonnier ,owner, Phat Boyz

    Competition with other pizza establishments is not the primary focus for Sonnier because his business is independent.

    He is focused on providing customers with quality pizza at an affordable price. He used his own money to fund the building they are using to operate the pizza business. His fiancé, Carolyn Haymond, children, and grandchildren help with the business.   According to him, customers are looking for a good place at a fairly decent price. He says that these are the reasons why the pizzeria has continued moving forward.

    Sonnier’s other objective for this pizzeria was to make his pizza available to communities including Glen Oaks, Southern Heights and Zion City. He felt it was not right that other establishments refuse to deliver to certain areas throughout Baton Rouge.

    wingsHe has dealt with many startup difficulties including equipment failure and lack of knowledge of state laws in the beginning stages of the business.  Throughout the tribulations, he has learned to stay up with certain things such as employee forms, taxes, and laws that were discovered. Sonnier put his all towards not only his pizza designs, but he also strives to makes sure that his customers are satisfied with what they order. He isn’t worried much about being the only Black- owned pizza place in Baton Rouge. He would rather have the people recognize him for his work rather than for being a Black business owner in a predominately White industry.

    Phat Boyz is located at  9186 Greenwell Springs Rd . It is  open Mon. – Fri., 10am – midnight and onWeekends 10am – 10pm and delivery orders can be placed by calling (225) 923-3433. ONLINE: http://www.phatboyzpizzabr.com/

     By James Teague
    Contributing Writer

    This article was originally published in The Drum newspaper June 13,2014

    Read more »
  • ,

    Black film fest issues challenge to rising filmmakers

    OAK BROOK, Ill.–McDonald’s USA and the American Black Film Festival are joining forces to launch the McDonald’s Lovin’ Video Competition. To complement the new “Lovin” campaign, up-and-coming filmmakers are challenged to create one 90-second film that brings to life McDonald’s philosophy that, “A little more lovin’ can change a lot.”

    Aspiring filmmakers nationwide are encouraged to enter their best, original submissions by 11:59 p.m. Eastern March 24, 2015, for their chance to win the grand prize and earn accolades from film industry leaders. Three finalists will be selected to attend the 19th annual American Black Film Festival in New York City, June 11 -14 and have an exclusive opportunity to be mentored by critically-acclaimed film director Malcolm D. Lee (Best Man; Best Man Holiday), who will provide the finalists with invaluable film industry tips and advice.

    The top three short films will premiere at the highly-anticipated festival and will be judged by a panel of industry experts. Each submission will be critiqued on creativity, implementation of concept and quality. In the end, only one finalist will take home the grand prize — a film equipment package valued at $2,500 and an opportunity to have their film featured on prominent websites, including McDonald’s 365Black.com and other media entities. More information about the competition can be found at www.abff.com.

    “We are excited to partner with McDonald’s USA on this most unique digital video contest,” said Jeff Friday, American Black Film Festival founder and chief executive officer. “The ABFF is committed to supporting emerging artists and providing trailblazing opportunities for them to gain exposure and visibility in the film and television industry.”

    “I’m honored to mentor our next generation of aspiring filmmakers through ‘Lovin’ Video Competition’,” said Malcolm D. Lee. “Many have mentored and guided me along my journey to make an impact in film, and it’s important for all of us to do our part to bring the next generation up.”

    McDonald’s newest campaign reignites the spirit of “i’m lovin’ it” and will inspire everything the brand does moving forward. By focusing on the lovin’ people show each other every day, the campaign provides an opportunity to celebrate and bring more lovin’ to customers.

    “McDonald’s is excited to embark on this initiative with ABFF and the filmmakers of the future from the communities we serve,” said Kristen Wells, External Communications Manager, McDonald’s USA. “We hope that the idea of sharing love throughout our communities will motivate and inspire the filmmakers as they work tirelessly to make their dreams a reality.”

    The Lovin’ Video Competition and ABFF’s vision to promote diversity in the film and television industry align with McDonald’s 365Black platform — an initiative that celebrates the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year round.

    To learn more about the American Black Film Festival and the Lovin’ Video Competition, visit www.abff.com. Follow @ABFF on Twitter and @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram.

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    MARCH INTO SUCCESS – Workshop presents matching funds for business’ growth

    Baton Rouge businesses located in and serving clients in the 70801, 70805, 70806, or 70807 zip code areas will receive information on obtaining matching funds from $2,000 to $10,000 to support business growth. The total reimbursable matching fund is $40,000. Representatives will answer questions on the use of the funds. The number of approved businesses depends on the size of individual awards. Applications will be available at the presentation.

    The workshop is Saturday, Feb. 28, 10am  – 11:30am, at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, 616 Harding Boulevard.

    This program is sponsored by the Southern University Center for Social Research, Housing and Urban Development-HUD, and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center-SUBR.

    REGISTRATION INFORMATION
    This seminar is open to the general public; however, advanced registration is required due to limited class size. To register for this seminar, you may call the Louisiana SBDC at (225) 774-9213 or visit the LSBDC website at www.lsbdc.org. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University-Baton Rouge (LSBDC-SUBR) is a partnership program funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Louisiana Economic Development, and Southern University-Baton Rouge.

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    And the 52 nominees are….

    More than 50 professionals from across the Greater Baton Rouge area have been nominated for the first class of the Baton Rouge Black Professionals Forty Under 40 Entrepreneur Award.  The inaugural class will be honored at a noon ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Belle of Baton Rouge.The winners will be announced by emcee Tiffany “Mic Chick” Dickerson.  Miss Black Teen Louisiana USAM 2015, Cathy McLeod will present the awards on behalf of the organization.Organizers said the nominees exemplifiy an entrepreneurial spirit and have company statistics to support their claim.

    The nominees are:

    • Jaubert G. Ambeau IV of Total Body Anatomy
    • Angel Askew-Murchison of Mommie’s Minis Cupcakes
    • Tonia Askins of Tonia Askins International, LLC
    • Wilson Battley III of Battley Home Inspection Services and VIP Daiquiri
    • James Benton III of The Law Office of James Benton III, LLC
    • Oonarissa Bernard of Over and Beyond Apparel – Manufacturing/Make Me Over Artistry
    • Robert Broussard Jr of Greater Louisiana Insurance Group
    • Gabrielle Briley-Johnson of Aspire Consulting Solutions, LLC
    • Kimberlee Collins of Assurance Tax & Accounting Group
    • Tanesha Craig of XtremeLife Fitness
    • Maryam Diaab of OpenBarre Fitness Studio
    • Michael R. Dunbar of Amazin Advertizin’
    • Jackie Edwards of Happy Hair
    • Erika Elzy of Until Then, LLC and Erika Press
    • Karah Martin Fields Affordable Health Solutions LLC and Accurate Records LLC
    • Jamar Franklin of Franklin Enterprises of LA
    • Hilda Trenise Gautier of BayouHarpiste
    • John Gray of Continuum Music
    • Letrece Griffin of Power Move Management, LLC
    • Keshia Hardnett of JTK Prints
    • Lucianna Harris of Luciana Massage & Spa Therapies, LLC
    • Cosha Hayes of Bran Nue Productions, LLC
    • Jessica Haynes of Make-Up by Jess
    • Josh Howard of 2 Broke Guys
    • DJ Hunter of Prince Photography
    • Jeremy Jackson of State Farm
    • Natasha James of Pinkolicious Birthday Party Spa and Allstar Community Care Counseling Agency
    • Ted James of James Law Office, LLC
    • Brianne Joseph of Sly Fox Investigations
    • Shawn Lagarde of Baton Rouge Cheer Stars
    • Terrica Matthews-Mitchell of Premier Planning and Consulting Group, LLC
    • Yalandra McClain of DYPA Foundation
    • LaTonya McMillian of Happy Hair
    • Vincent Perry of Perry Productions
    • Malonna Peters of Mosiac Solutions, Inc.
    • Trina Pullum of PullCorp Media and Business Consulting Group
    • Latrina Raddler of Oasis Behavioral Health
    • Victoria A. Roberts of VAR Events
    • Terrell Robertson of DIG Deep Fitness, LLC
    • Joy Russell of S Corp
    • Brandon Simmons of Mr. Carter’s Exclusive Grooming Lounge & Spa
    • Katrina “Moe” Smith of KAS Productions
    • Danielle Tennent Stanton of National Star Pageants
    • Ariel Steib of Beyond Flawless
    • Ursula Stewart of Ursula’s Boutique
    • Britney Monet Temple of Fit Lab Fitness
    • Torrence Thomas of The Thomas Brothers Group, LLC
    • Thurman Thomas, III of The Thomas Brothers Group, LLC
    • Christopher Turner of Art By Christopher Turner, LLC
    • Don Williams, ESQ of Don Williams Law Firm
    • Sevetri Wilson of Solid Ground Innovations

    The Baton Rouge Black Professionals mission is to cultivate, empower, and sustain the African-American professional community through business and social networking activities within the Baton Rouge region. Tickets can be purchased at  https://brblackpros4040.eventbrite.com/

     

     

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    La. teachers have until Jan. 31 to apply for classroom funding

    AdoptAClassroom.com and ExxonMobil have extended the deadline for teachers to receive up to $100 each of free funding for their classrooms through Jan. 31.

    The opportunity has also expanded to include middle and high school teachers at qualifying Title 1 Schools in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. The non-profi t, AdoptAClassroom.org pairs up donors with
    teachers across the U.S. to provide the funds they need to purchase hands-on learning resources.

    When “adopted,” teachers receive 100% of the contributed funds to purchase items that meet their individual classroom needs.

    The $100,000 check presented to support local Baton Rouge classrooms
    through AdoptAClassroom.org was funded from the commitment of donating two cents per gallon of fuel sold at local ExxonMobil-branded service stations throughout the month of November 2014.

    Teachers may visit AdoptAClassroom.org and click on the “Register Your Classroom” link to register.

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    Business building opportunities increase in South Louisiana

    With the continuation of the monthly DrumLine Business Showcase, The Drum newspaper has expanded to online, social media, and additional Business Builder ad campaigns to help small businesses throughout South Louisiana reach more than 30,000 readers.

    The Business Builder ad includes a black and white, eighth of a page ad, a color DrumLine Business Showcase ad, and a month-long listing online in the showcase. Social media posts and links to your site will be shared randomly on The Drum’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Select advertisers will also be featured on The Ed Show at WSTY-TV in Hammond. Sign up quickly, because only 12 Business Builder ads are available each month.

    Entertainers, politicians, and large corporations can find the 2015 media kit has been updated to include online advertising and special campaigns. Reserve your ad place now through March 2015 or call an ad representative at (225) 927-3717.Business Builder 15

     

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  • Ellison becomes J.C.P Boss-in-Waiting

    J.C. Penney Company Inc. has named Marvin Ellison, an executive at Home Depot, chief executive officer- in-waiting.

    Ellison, 49, will become president of J.C. Penney and CEO-designee on Nov. 1, company officials announced on Monday. He then will succeed Myron E. “Mike” Ullman, III, as CEO on Aug. 1, 2015.

    “I am honored by this appointment and excited about the opportunity to help lead the continued resurgence of J.C. Penney,” Ellison said. “The company has been an important part of the American retail landscape for over one hundred years.”

    Ellison has been executive vice president of Home Depot’s U.S. Stores since August 2008. Home Depot, the Atlanta-based hardware chain operates approximately 1,950 stores nationwide and more than 2,200 worldwide.
    J.C. Penney, one of the nation’s largest retailers, operated 1,063 stores in 2014′s second quarter. The company is based in Plano, Texas.

    Ellison has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Memphis and a MBA from Emory University.

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  • Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition to award small businesses $60,000

    Capital One Bank, in partnership with the 41st Annual Bayou Classic, today announced the 2014 Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition, a small business growth plan competition that is being held in conjunction with the 2014 Bayou Classic series of events.
    The purpose of the Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition, which will award a total of $60,000 in cash prizes, is to help small businesses in Louisiana grow and create jobs. The competition will feature two categories: Category No. 1 will be for businesses with annual revenues of less than $250,000, and Category No. 2 will be for businesses with annual revenues of between $250,000 and $1 million.

    Finalists in the statewide competition for both categories will make an oral presentation at the Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Growth Plan Competition on Nov. 28, before the winners are announced on the field during the nationally televised Bayou Classic football game Nov. 29. Each category winner will receive a cash prize of $25,000. The businesses finishing in second place will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.

    “At Capital One Bank, we are committed to Investing for Good in Louisiana communities, connecting our company’s people and financial resources to education, financial literacy and small business and workforce development,” said Rob Stuart, Capital One Bank Louisiana State President. “The Bayou Classic is a Louisiana tradition, and the Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition is a great example of how Capital One brings Investing for Good to life for small businesses in Louisiana. We’re pleased to partner with Louisiana SBDC, ACCION Louisiana and Money Management International to offer this competition and support the Bayou Classic.”

    “We are excited to have Capital One Bank as part of the 41st Annual Bayou Classic this year,” said Dottie Belletto, President of New Orleans Convention Company, Inc., the management firm of the 41st Annual Bayou Classic. “The Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition continues to build the business opportunities available to entrepreneurs at Bayou Classic. The Bayou Classic events are more than just a football game, but an opportunity to support and grow the business community through multiple opportunities — with this new Capital One Bank program being the pinnacle at this year’s series of events.”

    To be eligible for the competition, businesses and their owners must meet the following criteria:

    Have annual revenues of less than $250,000, to compete in category No. 1, or between $250,000 and $1 million, to compete in category No. 2.
    Be based in Louisiana.
    Have owned the business since before Oct. 31, 2013.

    Applicants must attend one of two business development workshops offered on Oct. 24 or Oct. 25 in any of the following Louisiana cities: Baton Rouge, New Orleans or Shreveport. The training dates and locations for the three cities are:
    Greater New Orleans
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 24 and Oct. 25
    Louisiana Small Business Development Center
    UNO Jefferson Center
    3330 N. Causeway Blvd., Rm. 317
    Metairie, LA 70002 (parking is free)

    Shreveport
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 24 – CoHabitat Foundation
    500 Clyde Fant Parkway
    Shreveport, LA 71101
    OR
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 25 – Convention Center
    400 Caddo Street
    Shreveport, LA 71101

    Baton Rouge
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 24
    American Red Cross
    4655 Sherwood Common Blvd.
    Baton Rouge, LA 70816
     OR
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 25 – Louisiana Small Business Development Center
    616 Harding Boulevard
    Baton Rouge, LA 70807

    Email BayouClassicBusinessChallenge@capitalone.com for more information on training times and locations.  

    Submit a letter of intent by Oct. 31, 2014.

    Submit a business growth plan by November 7, 2014.

    Capital One bank officials and area university business faculty will judge business growth plans at the regional level and select 12 businesses to go on to the competition in both categories at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel on Nov. 28, the day before the annual Bayou Classic football game. During that competition, each contender will make an oral presentation in front of a panel of community and business leaders. The cash awards will go to the owners of the businesses whose plans and presentations are judged by the panel to be the most creative, innovative and likely to succeed in growing their business and creating jobs in Louisiana.

    To learn more about the competition, eligible business owners should contact Capital One Bank by email at BayouClassicBusinessChallenge@capitalone.com. No purchase is necessary to enter or win. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.

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    Genesis Entergy creates $100,000 SU fund

    The Southern University System Foundation and the Southern University and A&M College of Business and College of Engineering and Computer Science recently partnered with Genesis Energy to create a $100,000 scholarship fund for SU students. The scholarship seeks to encourage students to explore opportunities in their chosen fields of study and to develop a relationship with Genesis Energy. Five students from the Southern University College of Engineering and Computer Science are among this year’s recipients.

    “Academia and industry partnerships are mutually beneficial,” said Habib Mohamadian, dean of the SUBR College of Engineering and Computer Science.

    Tamara Montgomery, director of career services at Southern University believes that the University’s relationship with Genesis Energy will provide a strong foundation for SU students. “We are expanding and strengthening our partnership with Genesis Energy to provide scholarships, internships, and research opportunities for our most valuable asset… our students.”

    “We welcome the new Genesis facility to the area and appreciate the opportunity for our students and the Southern University community to be a part of this mutually beneficial partnership. We look forward to Genesis supporting scholarships, internships and laboratory enhancements to strengthen our students’ marketability in the energy and sustainability industries” said Monique Guillory-Winfield, Southern University System vice president for academic and student affairs.

    Genesis Energy is a diversified midstream energy master limited partnership headquartered in Houston, Texas. Genesis operations include pipeline transportation, refinery services, and supply and logistics. Genesis operations are primarily located in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico.

    “On behalf of everyone at Genesis Energy, we offer our congratulations to the 2014-2015 Genesis Energy Scholarship recipients,” said Genesis Energy public and government affairs specialist Drew Ratcliff.

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  • Grants available to small, minority businesses

    HUNDREDS OF BLACK AND MINORITY- owned businesses each year receive such grant funding from various government agencies and non-profit organizations. Such funds do not have to be repaid, but must be used to either start a new business or enhance an existing one. Others can be used for innovation research. Here are the top small and minority business grant programs available:

    #1 – The FedEx Small Business

    Grant Contest is a nationwide com- petition that will award $50,000 in total to six deserving U.S-based entrepreneurs and business owners. Learn more at www.business- grants.org/opportunities/fedex_ small_business_grant_contest. html.

    #2 – The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE)

    Growth Grants Program allowsbusiness owners to apply for a grant useful for financing a particular small business need. Past recipients used their grant for computers, farm equipment, to hire part-time help, marketing materials and more. Learn more at www. businessgrants.org/opportunities/ national_association_self_em- ployed_nase_business_grants. html.

    #3 – The Dare to Dream Grant

    This program encourages students to move through the business cre- ation process by offering business development seminars and up to $10,000 in funding. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/oppor- tunities/dare_to_dream_grant_ program.html.

    #4 – The Miller Lite Tap the Future Business Plan Competition (formally known as the MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneur Series)

    An annual competition for minority business owners sponsored by MillerCoors. Designed to economically empower minority businesses, the program continues to invest in entrepreneurial dreams to em- power urban communities. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/ opportunities/miller_lite_tap_ the_future_millercoors_urban_ entrepreneur_series.html.

    #5 – The Small Business Ad-ministration (SBA)

    The organization administers several competitive business grant programs, ensuring that the nation’s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government’s research and development efforts. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/ opportunities/sbir_small_business_research_innovation_ grants.html.

    #6 – The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

    MDBA organizes various angel investors with the primary objective of supporting minority businesses with mezzanine and second round fi nancing. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/minority_business_development_agency_mbda_business_grants. html.

    #7 – The Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG)

    The program provides grants to finance the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The funds can be used for land acquisition, construction, renovation, technical assistance, project planning, and more. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/rural_business_enterprise_grants_ rbeg_program.html.

    #8 – The Huggies MomInspired Grant Program

    The program awards grants and business resources to moms to further the development of original product ideas and startup businesses. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/huggies_mom_inspired_grant_ program.html.

    #9 – The DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

    The program is intended to ensure non- discrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the Department’s highway, transit, airport, and highway safety financial assistance programs. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/ dot_disadvantaged_business_en- terprise_program.html.

    #10 – The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

    The Program provides grant funding to small businesses to engage in biomedical or behavioral research/ development that leads to a potential for commercialization. Learn more at www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/sbir_small_business_re-search_innovation_grants.html.

    To find more information and grants click here 

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  • Secretary of State to launch Geaux Biz

    SMALL BUSINESSES SOON WILL be able to set up shop in Louisiana without scurrying among state agencies to file the necessary paperwork. GeauxBiz will allow entrepreneurs to create a business name, get a state tax identification number and build an unemployment insurance account via the Internet.

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler said GeauxBiz will to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and cut out duplications across state government. Startup business tasks involving Schedler’s office, the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the state Department of Revenue will be on a single website by 2015.

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