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    Ben & Jerry’s debut flavor backing criminal justice reform

    Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has unveiled a new flavor to highlight what it calls structural racism and a broken criminal justice system.

    Justice ReMix’d is described as cinnamon and chocolate ice cream with gobs of cinnamon bun dough and spicy fudge brownies. A portion of proceeds supports Advancement Project National Office, a multi-racial civil rights group and its fight for justice for all, despite race or wealth.

    The company said it has been working with Advanced Project in St. Louis to close The Workhouse jail and in Miami to slow what the two groups call “the school-to-prison pipeline.”

    “Our approach to creating social change is to raise up the work non-profits are doing on the ground,” said Co-Founder Ben Cohen. “We bring every resource we have to support them—our business voice, our connection with fans, our Scoop Shop community and of course, ice cream. Somehow, it’s easier to talk about difficult issues over a scoop or two.”

    At the grassroots level, Ben & Jerry’s is deploying its Scoop Truck in various states to spark conversations, activate community members, and give away ice cream. It’s a tactic that has proven effective in growing social movements.

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    Mayor Broome Announces Community Development Grant Awards

    EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced 33 grant awards to 23 local non-profits, supportive service organizations, and community developers from the City-Parish’s federal Community Planning and Development dollars.

    Approximately $7.2 million was made available through four funding allocations to organizations that help low- and moderate-income residents with shelter, basic needs, housing rehabilitation, employment skills, and other supportive services.

    This year, the following community organizations are receiving grants:

    Community Development Block Grant
    A total of $3.1 million that provides for community development resources for a wide variety of community needs.

    · Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge, Inc.
    · Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
    · Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance
    · Humanities Amped
    · St. Vincent de Paul
    · The Walls Project
    · Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation
    · NOVAC
    · Turning Point
    · Premier Services
    · The CEO Mind Foundation
    · The Bridge Agency
    · Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless
    · Habitat for Humanity

    Emergency Solutions Grant
    A total of $266,896 that provides for homelessness prevention and shelter needs.

    · Capital Area Alliance for Homeless
    · Catholic Charities
    · St. Vincent de Paul
    · Preserving Life Ministries

    HOME Investment Partnerships Program
    A total of $1.3 million that provides grants for local housing strategies designed to increase homeownership and affordable housing opportunities for low- and very low-income citizens.

    · Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation
    · We Greaux People
    · Scotlandville CDC
    · Habitat for Humanity

    Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Grant
    A total of $2.5 million that provides local communities and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

    · East Baton Rouge Division of Human Development and Services
    · Metro Health
    · START Corporation
    · Our Lady of the Lake
    · HAART

    The City-Parish receives these federal dollars annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund activities that primarily benefit low- and moderate-income residents.
    “Our community is more resilient and the quality of life for our citizens is greatly improved thanks to the work of these tremendous organizations,” said Mayor-President Broome. “I’m proud to partner with these mission-driven organizations as their work through this critical funding is taking Baton Rouge in a positive direction.”
    The City-Parish uses a competitive application process to award the grants. A committee of volunteers and subject matter experts helps score the applications and makes recommendations on funding. Criteria are based on goals and priorities for the use of federal funds that are developed, in part, with input from local residents and federal grant requirements.
    In 2017, Mayor-President Broome reorganized the City-Parish Office of Community Development, the agency administering the federal grant funds. Now, the City-Parish partners with community development organizations like Build Baton Rouge – The Redevelopment Authority of East Baton Rouge Parish, the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, and the East Baton Rouge Division of Human Development and Services for the administration of the Community Planning and Development dollars.

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    Bluebonnet Dental Care to Host Free Dentistry Day Saturday, August 24

    Residents in the Baton Rouge community and surrounding areas will have the opportunity to receive free dental services at Bluebonnet Dental Care on Saturday, August 24.

    Doctors and team at Bluebonnet Dental Care will be improving the oral health of the community as part of Free Dentistry Day, a day dedicated to providing free dental care to the growing number of Americans without dental insurance. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 108 million Americans are living without dental insurance.

    “We understand that many people in our community and across the nation haven’t been to the dentist for a long period of time. Some don’t understand the importance of dental health, but more often than not, they don’t have the financial means,” said Burkhalter. “This event is a great opportunity for us to share our time and resources with those less fortunate and give back to the community.”

    There is increasing evidence that links oral health to overall health and well-being. The signs and symptoms of more than 100 medical conditions, including diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and oral cancer may first be detected through traditional oral examinations.

    “Dental health is a vital part of a person’s overall health,” said Rome. “Through this event, we hope to educate patients on the importance of dental health and encourage them to adopt an ongoing oral care regimen.”

    During Free Dentistry Day, cleanings, fillings and extractions will be provided to patients on Saturday, August 24, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 4451 Bluebonnet Boulevard, Suite A in Baton Rouge. Patients will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call 225-767-2273 or visit www.FreeDentistryDay.org.

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    Blind DJ inspires BR, Shreveport music scene

    Alton Dalton was born visually impaired in Amite. He is the youngest child of Wilma Dalton who moved the family to Baton Rouge for her young son to attend the Louisiana School for the Blind.

    As a child, Alton Dalton displayed a natural talent for music. His favorite memory was going to the Ziegler Music Store on Florida Blvd. listening to bands practicing using stereo equipment. He learned to play the drums as a child and often was allowed to play in church. While at the Louisiana School of Music, Dalton was exposed to turn-tables by a blind DJ. He instantly took to learning the equipment and practicing his DJ skills.

    In 2004, Wilma Dalton moved her family to Shreveport. There, his DJ career took off.

    From 2004 – 2013, he became a popular DJ known as “DJ K-Rock”. He began receiving DJ gigs at local clubs, birthday parties, and also worked for a short time as an online DJ for KHAM Radio. Word around town spread about an outstanding DJ who happens to be blind. “At first, people did not believe I was really blind. They would say, ‘no way someone blind could be doing that’,” he said.

    KHAM Radio's Alvin "DJ K-Rock" Dalton with David Banner at theShreveport Convention Center March 18, 2017

    KHAM Radio’s Alton “DJ K-Rock” Dalton with David Banner at the Shreveport Convention Center March 18, 2017

    He has been a featured DJ at Club Voodoo, Club Chicago, Coco’ Pellis, Disco 9000, Club Status, Mr. Bees, Club Lacy’s, Player’s Club, Club Navels, and Brickhouse–all in Shreveport. Veteran Radio Host and DJ Marvin “DJ Jabba Jaws” Williams on 102.1 KDKS Radio Station speaks highly of Dalton’s DJ skills and how he could control an audience.

    After 2013, the DJ business began to decrease and Dalton decided to relocate Baton Rouge to be close to his mother while still traveling to Shreveport for DJ gigs. Dalton usually spends his days monitoring the health and welfare of his mother, while being an active member of the Way of Holiness Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    Earlier this year, he decided to put serious efforts into advertising his DJ Services in Baton Rouge. He reached out to several local night clubs about being a DJ but no one gave him serious consideration. He could not help to think that perhaps his disability was causing club owners to shy away from him.

    “I am not sure if they do not believe I can do it or just do not want to give me the opportunity to prove I can DJ,” he said. Not to be deterred, Dalton has taken a grassroots approach to promoting his DJ services. He has offered to DJ local birthday parties as a way of getting his name out in the Baton Rouge community. Alvin is determined to show inspire others that although you have a disability you can accomplish great things if you do not give up.

     

    Submitted by Laurence Williams

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    Southern University plants first seeds in medical marijuana venture

     Southern University this week officially planted its first seeds in its unprecedented partnership to supply medicinal marijuana for patients in Louisiana. Present were representatives from the Southern University System administration, Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and Southern product vendor Ilera Holistic Healthcare.

    “This has been a historic week for the university,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president-chancellor. “As one of two institutions in the state and the only historically black university in the nation to be actively involved in the medicinal marijuana industry, Southern looks forward to working with our vendor to provide quality medication for the people of this great state. This will not only make yet another mark in how we excel in STEM disciplines but also how we greatly contribute to our communities.”

    Southern received final clearance from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry on Monday, July 22, after a final walkthrough of the facility located in Baker. Planting began on Tuesday, July 23.

    “We remain on target with all of our benchmarks,” said Janana Snowden, lead researcher and director of Southern’s Institute for Medicinal Plants. “We look forward to having products to the market soon.”

    Snowden, who is also an agriculture professor, said opportunities are on the horizon in academic, research, and other disciplines at Southern.

    The University is slated to receive more than $6 million over five years per its agreement with its vendor. Another beneficiary of the plan is the north Baton Rouge area, with the facility set to employ more than 40 people who will be responsible for growing, manufacturing and distributing pharmaceutical grade medicines from the cannabis plant.

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    Grambling State launches new dining program with Magic Johnson’s Sodexo Magic

    Grambling State University announced the launch of a long-term partnership with a new dining service provider SodexoMAGIC. The new agreement will deliver $6.7 million in facility renovations, new major-brand quick-serve restaurants, and 24-hour dining.

    “The best part of our new program is that we, as students, are driving the design,” said Steven Wilson, rising senior and President of the University’s Student Government Association. “I’m grateful to President Gallot and the entire administration for how they’ve helped turn our comments, emails, and surveys into an experience that supports all of our students.”
    Grambling State Partners with SodexoMAGIC

    The University’s partnership comes as a result of a collaborative RFP process where students, faculty and staff weighed in on proposals from America’s leading dining service providers. The winning finalist, SodexoMAGIC, is well known for its chairman, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and its service to universities and corporate clients that include Delta Airlines, the Walt Disney Company, the Federal Reserve Bank, and Toyota.

    “This agreement is a great example of what is possible when Universities put our students first,” said Rick Gallot, President of Grambling State. “We are fortunate to collaborate with a partner, like SodexoMAGIC who understands the holistic needs of our students.”

    The partnership will include a two-year overhaul of campus dining facilities and the launch of new program features that include:

    • New menus overseen by Chef G. Garvin, nationally acclaimed TV host, author, and NAACP Image Award winner
    • A New mobile app feature for ordering takeout and made-to-order items
    • Allergen-friendly meal programs to support vegetarians and other specialized dietary needs.

    The deal connects SodexoMAGIC and the University for a five-year partnership that will yield a $51 million return on investment and includes a five-year option to renew.

    “We are proud to partner with the Grambling State community and excited about investing in the students,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson, NBA hall of famer and chairman of SodexoMAGIC. “My team is committed to providing excellent service that the Grambling students, staff, and community deserve so they can continue leading efforts to change the world in sports, technology, and in business.”

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    Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to co-host the first Louisiana Rural Economic Development Summit with Southern University Law Center


    MARKSVILLE – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana is partnering with the Southern University Law Center (SULC) and the Southern University College of Business University Center for Economic Development to co-host the first Louisiana Rural and Economic (LaRuE) Development Summit in Marksville, LA at Paragon Casino Resort on Sunday, July 7 – Tuesday, July 9. Governor John Bel Edwards will address attendees at a special breakfast on Tuesday, July 9.

    The goal of the summit is to connect rural communities with local, state and national leaders as well as Native American Country and improving life in rural areas by helping future generations develop an entrepreneurial mindset while providing them the tools to succeed.

    “Our hope is that through this summit, we can develop a steady platform for small business owners and elected officials to be able to build relationships and create smart partnerships throughout Louisiana,” said Marshall Pierite, chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. “We’re grateful to Southern University Law Center for hosting this event with us and for offering to provide their knowledge from the legal perspective.”

    At the summit, the following topics will be discussed by panels of three to five people:

    • Workforce Development
    • Community Development in Rural America
    • 5G Expansion/Broadband Opportunities
    • Healthcare Access in Rural Communities
    • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    • New Marketing Opportunities in Agriculture
    • Financial Services
    • Small Business Opportunities
    • Creating and Improving Economic and Business Relationships with Tribal Governments
    • Business Development Opportunities with LA Tribes

    The summit will feature local and nationally-recognized scholars as well as business and community leaders who will share their expertise on the summit topics.

    The conference is open to all economic development professionals, including business owners, small business developers, government officials, chamber of commerce professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, faculty and staff from all universities within the state of Louisiana and students. In addition, anyone who is interested in learning more about economic development in rural areas or about doing business with tribal governments, is welcome to attend.

    The registration fee is $100. For details and to register, visit www.sulc.edu/larue or call (318) 597-8981.

    For more information on Southern University Law Center, visit www.sulc.edu.

    For more information on the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, visit https://www.tunicabiloxi.org/.

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    ‘Not Charity Lord, but a Chance’

    On the heels of winning an international People’s Choice Award for her aromatherapy pillow business, Condoleezza Semien, 13, shared a poem during the Baton Rouge African American History Museum’s Juneteenth celebration on June 3.

    She was invited to read the poem at the event and was recognized as an “inventor” by museum curator Sadie Roberts-Joseph. The museum sits in midcity Baton Rouge and hast hosted the celebration for 15 years as the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum. Roberts-Joseph led the Louisiana Legislature to approve statewide recognition of the day–June 19th–that commemorates American slaves being freed in 1865.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Condoleezza Semien share a smile June 3, 2019, following the annual Juneteenth Celebration at the Baton Rouge African American History Museum. Photo by Yulani S. Semien.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Condoleezza Semien share a smile June 3, 2019, following the annual Juneteenth Celebration at the Baton Rouge African American History Museum. Photo by Yulani S. Semien.

    The poem, “Not Charity, Lord, But a Chance,” is a petition for fair opportunities in America. Its message is timely and symbolic for this middle-schooler whose business has won two pitch competition within three months.

    “Blacks demanded a fair chance and were brilliant and excellent in what they did. That’s my goal,” said Semien.

    Semien created Beluga Bliss™, pillows infused with specialty blends of essential oils. For seven months, she participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge. As she worked through weekly assignments, she saw the need to create a product that could help people who are living with mental health conditions and incurable chronic illnesses.

    Then, she won the YEA pitch competition at LSU to receive the YEA Saunders Scholarship and seed funds for her business. On May 4, the eighth-grader traveled to the YEA-USA competition in Rochester, NY, vying for the top award against 60 teen entrepreneurs from across the USA, China, and India. Semien was the sole competitor from Louisiana.

    Fellow YEA-BR teen entrepreneurs and her classmates at Westdale Middle School cheered her on at the semi-final competition. More than 37,000 viewers watched the live stream and more than 300 viewers were in the audience at the Rochester Institute of Technology as she pitched Beluga Bliss.

    “You have a great stage presence,” one judge commented and another expressed how her aromatherapy blends and pillows were well developed.

    “You were above average and it shows… the smell was very pleasant,” said Lenin and Gian from California. “We could smell them where we sat!”

    At the end of each round of pitches, all viewers were able to text-to-vote on their favorite business. Back home in Baton Rouge, the class bell was held for Westdale students to cast their votes. “We are so excited and proud of Condi,” said Aliah James, advanced art teacher. Hours later it was announced that Beluga Bliss™ won the People’s Choice Award.

    “Winning People’s Choice is an assurance to me. To know that people who didn’t even know me thought that I had a very good product without even smelling my scents. It was an eye-opener. I’m proud of myself and grateful for the support I got from everyone. It feels good to know people around the world think that I had a great product.”

    Condoleeza Semien along with YEA winners and VC

    “There have been so many requests for pillow packs that we have to open our online preorders June 1 instead of this fall,” she said.

    This summer, she and her family are creating pillows, bottles of a specialty blended essential oils, and car fresheners.

    Semien is also conducting a BlissTour where she visits summer programs and events to motivate youth to apply to YEA-BR, move on their dreams, and do everything that makes them happy.

    Reach her at www.belugabliss.com for the first opportunity to receive pillows before the official launch. Guests can download custom color sheets, playlists, and bliss tips. Beluga Bliss is also on Instagram @Beluga_Bliss.

    ONLINE: www.belugabliss.com

    READ MORE:

    • WAFB: Young entrepreneur uses pillows to chase her dreams – WAFB.com https://www.wafb.com/2019/04/11/young-entrepreneur-uses-pillows-chase-her-dreams/
    • EBR Schools Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/EBRPschools/posts/condoleezza-semien-8th-grader-at-westdale-middle-is-already-an-entrepreneur-she-/2044889712276961/
    • WVUE FOX 8 News - Condoleezza Semien, 13, is on a journey https://www.facebook.com/…/condoleezza-semien-13-is…/10157599869834610/
    • BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT. Baton Rouge investors give over $18K to 15 Young Entrepreneurs Academy startups. https://www.businessreport.com/business/baton-rouge-investors-give-over-18k-to-15-young-entrepreneurs-academy-startups
    Read more »
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    May 29 is Louisiana Black Chamber Day at the Capitol

    Make plans to join Louisiana Black business leaders from across the state for a day at the Louisiana State Capitol, Wed. May 29, 8:30am – 3pm to interact with legislators, explore the halls of the Capitol, and see how the legislative process works first-hand.

    Attendees will gain insight on the legislative process and can:

    • Engage with Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus members
    • Commemorate a special proclamation in support of Louisiana Black Chamber Day
    • Attend committee meetings and see the legislative process in action
    • Get updates and information from Louisiana Workforce Commission, Louisiana Economic Development, and other state agencies
    • Show pride for Black business within Louisiana

    ONLINE: https://brmbcc.org/

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    Teens invited to apply to UREC’s 2019 IGNITE Fellowship

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation is accepting applications for the 2018 College & Career Ready IGNITE Fellowship.  IGNITE is an interactive summer and after-school initiative that prepares high school students to create the jobs of tomorrow through entrepreneurship training, college and career readiness and ACT Prep. Complete the IGNITE Fellowship application here.

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    Private, online therapy could be best choice when help is needed

    From her virtual private practice in Baton Rouge, Shameka Mitchell Williams helps people who are overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. Her focus is singular: help them recover from pernicious experiences and toxic relationships. “I hold space for people who are hurt and confused to talk about what that relationship or marriage is really like without any judgment about how they should feel,” she says.

    A graduate of Louisiana State University and Washington University in St. Louis, Williams is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Louisiana and Texas. She says she believes in the importance of helping her clients understand how their thinking shapes their experience and also how they are influenced by societal systems.

    Williams, who is the owner of The Chrysalis Center, LLC, is one of 300 licensed therapists in Louisiana who offers online video counseling according to the Psychology Today database. This Pensiri: A Talk with Shameka Mitchell Williams explores online video therapy, who can benefit from it, and why.

    As a therapist with more than a decade of experience in community-based programs, schools, psychiatric hospitals, and correctional facilities, you’ve seen mental health professionals expand their services from in-person counseling to teletherapy and now to  online video therapy. How should we be defining therapy and who can practice or treat people with therapeutic needs?
    SW: Therapy is a specialized, systematic, formal interaction between a mental health professional and a client (an individual, couple, family, or group) during which a therapeutic relationship is established to help resolve symptoms of mental disorder, psychosocial stress, relationship problems, and/or difficulties coping in the social environment. It is also to help the client achieve specified goals for well-being. The term “therapy” is used interchangeably with counseling. While many therapists provide both therapy and counseling, not every counselor is qualified to provide therapy. The term “counselor” is often applied to highly trained mental health, education, or legal professionals, but it is also used for volunteers with minimal training and for paid workers who provide guidance and structure in group settings (as in camp and dorm hall counselors).

    Shameka Williams

    Shameka Williams

    Is virtual or online therapy a growing service among practitioners? When did it begin?
    SW: Online therapy is definitely a growing service. It may have first begun taking shape as early as the 1960s, and it began growing as most people know it today in the early 2000s. Earlier names for it included teletherapy and telemental health care since clinicians started offering sessions by telephone before beginning to utilize email, chats, and video. Today, many clinicians offer a mix of in-person and online services, and some offer online services exclusively. There even exists an International Society for Mental Health Online, which formed in 1997.

    How can we tell if we need or could benefit from therapy? (in general)
    SW: If you are experiencing distressing changes in your normal mood or functioning that are present more days than not for a period of at least two weeks, you may want to consider consulting with a professional. It can be good to start with talking to a medical professional to rule out any physiological reasons for the changes.

    Should there be some type of diagnosis or referral to seek therapy?
    SW: You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental disorder to benefit from therapy. If you are simply feeling overwhelmed with what life is throwing at you, and your usual coping mechanisms are not working, you may benefit from having a therapist to help you identify and remove obstacles that are blocking the progress you’d like to make. An obstacle could be as simple as a negative thinking pattern that you do not recognize on your own.

    What are signs that a person may need therapy?
    SW: You could benefit from therapy if you find yourself.

      • Eating more or less than usual
      • Sleeping more or less than usual
      • Having unusual difficulty concentrating or focusing
      • Experiencing intrusive thoughts that are distressing
      • Worrying or feeling nervous more than usual
      • Withdrawing or isolating yourself from family and friends

    Are there any specific conditions or needs that someone would have that would make them a good candidate for online therapy over in-house therapy?
    SW: People who suffer from mental health disorders that make going out in public difficult, such as agoraphobia

      • People with limited physical mobility and those who do not drive or who have limited access to transportation
      • People who live far away from their nearest mental health professionals
      • Stay-at-home mothers with young children who would rather not arrange childcare and other caregivers who cannot be away for long periods of time
      • People who need/want a provider who is credentialed in a specialty, such as an intensive trauma-focused treatment, energy psychology, or perinatal/postpartum mental health
      • People who would not seek in-person treatment due to fear of being recognized at/near a therapist’s office
      • What are the pros of online therapy?
        SW: Convenience, Efficacy, and Privacy. Research has found online therapy to be just as effective as traditional in-person therapy for many issues including depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

        What are the cons?
        SW: Online therapy is not appropriate for clients who are a danger to themselves or others (i.e., suicidal or homicidal) or for those whose mental health is seriously impaired as with psychosis, delusions, or uncontrolled mania. Some elements of nonverbal communication will be missed when the ​client and therapist can only see each other from the​ ​ cropped view of a screen. Confidentiality could become an issue if the therapist is not using HIPAA-secure software, sites, or apps or if clients are not careful with securing their own electronic devices. Some insurance companies do not cover online therapy.

        Williams admonishes anyone considering online video therapy to do additional research to make sure their potential therapist is qualified and licensed to provide the service they are seeking.

        By Candace J. Semien
        Jozef Syndicate reporter
        @jozefsyndicate

        ONLINE: https://thechrysalisctr.com
        PsychologyToday.com
        BetterHelp.com
        talkspace.com
        breakthrough.com

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    OneUnited Bank to award $1,000 to middle schoolers with national contest

    Ten Middle School Age Children Are Eligible to Win $1,000!

    For National Financial Literacy Month, OneUnited Bank, the nation’s largest black-owned bank, is proud to announce its 9th Annual “I Got Bank!” Financial Literacy Contest where ten children will win a $1,000 savings account.

    The contest represents the best essays and art projects that embody the “I Got Bank!” theme.

    Students from across the country between the ages of 8 and 12 are encouraged to read a financial literacy book of their choosing, and either write a 250-word essay or create an art project to show how they would apply what they learned from the book to their daily lives.

    “We’ve seen our financial literacy efforts increase awareness through the #BankBlack and #BuyBlack movement,” said OneUnited Bank President Teri Williams, who authored the book, “I Got Bank!”, when she found that there weren’t any books geared toward educating urban youth about finances.

    Submissions must be emailed or postmarked by June 29, 2019. The Bank will choose ten winners and award each winner a $1,000 savings account at OneUnited Bank by August 31, 2019.

    This article originally appeared in LA Focus.

     

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    Youth Summer Employment program kicks off April 13 in Baton Rouge

    Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Broome will kick off the 2019 Mayor’s Youth Workforce Experience on Saturday, April 13 at 9 am. This new initiative evolved from the original Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

    Students may choose to attend the 9 am or 11 am session. Attendees will have the opportunity to pre-screen for worksites and get detailed information about employment opportunities from partners such as Excel, BREC, Raising Canes, and more.

    Broome has called together a collaborative of youth-serving agencies, led by Big Buddy and Employ BR, to serve a minimum of 500 local youth. The program serves both in-school and out-of-school youth ages 14 to 24 who reside in East Baton Rouge Parish. Teens and young adults are placed in various public sector, private sector, or non-profit jobs throughout the parish for eight consecutive weeks during the summer.

    The Mayor’s Youth Workforce Experience will offer participants a valuable educational and employment experience, exposing them to potential educational or career paths.

    Applications will open to the public on Monday, April 15 at www.brla.gov/mayorsyouthworkforce. Applicants will receive a notification of acceptance during the first week of May.

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    SU Ag Center, SBA to host 15th Annual Procurement Conference

    Hundreds of current and potential small business owners will gather at the Felton G. Clark Activity Center on April 16 for the Southern University Ag Center’s 15th Annual ‘Connecting Businesses with Contracts’ Procurement Conference.
    The event, which will be held from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., will feature sessions on Marketing Your Business to the Federal Government; How to Get on a GSA Federal Supply Schedule; How to Get a Loan, Financing Options or Capital Access and International Trade/Export Financing; and Updated Tax Laws and Insurance Requirements. There will also be a procurement panel consisting of federal agencies and prime contractors who will discuss how you can do business with their respective agencies and companies.
    The conference provides a venue for potential and existing business owners, contractors, non-profits, small towns, and municipalities to learn about the resources that are available through federal, state and local government agencies and prime companies.
    Co-sponsors for the conference include the U. S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University, Louisiana Economic Development (LED), and the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).
    Online registration for the conference is available here.
    For additional information, contact Eual Hall at 225.771.4105, Krystle Washington at 225.771.3902, or e-mail jo.lawrence3@sba.gov.
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    Chenese Lewis ‘honored’ to host Bronner Brothers international beauty show in New Orleans

    Show makes its Louisiana debut, March 30-April 1

    Positive-body image advocate Chenese Lewis will be the mistress of ceremonies on the main stage of the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show in New Orleans.

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    Chenese Lewis of Baton Rouge

    Lewis, a Baton Rouge native and resident, is a veteran hostess and MC whose career spans more than a decade nationally. She was selected to MC the Bronner Bros. show based on her known ability to engage audiences with her quick wit and relatable disposition. She has hosted major fashion and beauty events across the United States, including her 6-year run as host of the New Orleans Natural Hair Expo that takes place during Essence Music Festival. Lewis gained international attention in the early 2010s as a highly sought-after keynote speaker, expert commentator, and positive body image/self-esteem advocate. Through this platform, she has been featured as an expert on Dr. Phil, Huffington Post Live, E! News, Extra, People.com, USA Today, among other outlets.

    “I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to host the legendary Bronner Brothers International Beauty Show,” Lewis said. “This is a huge opportunity for me to not only expand my brand but to be a part of history, as this is the first year the event will be held outside of Atlanta in its 72 years of existence.”

    Known as the “hairdressers fashion week,” the extremely popular beauty show, native to Atlanta, averages audiences of more than 35,000 bi-annually. It is the largest multicultural, multi-textural tradeshow in the United States, featuring more than 100 professional education classes, innovative workshops sessions, exciting evening entertainment, inspirational worship service, creative competitions, more than 300 exhibitors, celebrity guests, and much more. The show will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, March 30-April 1.

    ONLINE: CheneseLewis.com

     

    ABOUT BRONNER BROS., INC.  

    Headquartered in Atlanta, Bronner Bros., Inc. (BB) is a privately held, family-owned company founded in 1947 by Dr. Nathaniel H. Bronner Sr. and his brother Arthur E. Bronner Sr. Today, the BB Enterprise consists of multicultural beauty products, UPSCALE Magazine, and professional trade shows, which attract more than 60,000 salon and barber professionals annually. BB employs more than 100 people in its manufacturing plant, shipping operations, and corporate offices. For more information about the company, visit http://bronnerbros.com/our-history/.

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  • ,,,

    Girard Melancon picked to lead BRCC’s workforce solutions

    Girard Melancon, Ph.D., as vice chancellor for workforce solutions at Baton Rouge Community College. He has work with sector-based workforce training programs for more than 15 years and has invested more than $60 million foundation and taxpayer dollars into progressive workforce development initiatives. He is president of the National Council for Workforce Education. He earned a doctorate in education administration with higher education concentration in community and technical college finance and non-traditional students from the University of New Orleans.

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    Shell makes donation to River Road African American Museum for 25th anniversary

    On February 21, Shell presented a check in the amount of $25,000 to the River Road African American Museum (RRAAM), in honor of the organization’s 25th Anniversary. Shell made the presentation during an event celebrating Black History Month, hosted by the Shell Black Employee Network Group (SBNG) at the Shell Convent Refinery.

    “We at Shell are proud to support the important work of the River Road African American Museum,” said Shell Vice President Gulf Coast Rhoman Hardy, who presented the check. “Congratulation to everyone associated with this organization for their vital work in preserving the history and culture of our region.”

    The program, attended by Shell employees, community members, and teachers and students from local high schools, featured an incredible performance by the Southern University Gospel Choir. Shell Convent General Manager Alan Pertuit offered the keynote address, and Shell Convent SBNG President Karen Smith served as emcee for the event.

    Shell and the River Road African American Museum have been partners in the community for a number of years. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the River Road African American Museum. There will be many activities to celebrate the RRAAM’s 25th Anniversary, including a 25th Celebration Gala in September. More information about the RRAAM 25th Anniversary events can be found at africanamericanmuseum.org.

    The preservation of African-American history in Louisiana has been the mission of the River Road African American Museum for the past 25 years.

     

    ——-

    Shell Vice President Gulf Coast Rhoman Hardy, Shell Convent General Manager Alan Pertuit, RRAAM Co-Founder and Interim Director Darrell Hambrick, RRAAM Board President Todd L. Sterling

    Photo Cred: Alpha Media and Public Relations
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  • ,,

    Darryl Johnson opens The Garden Cafe at Goodwood Library

    Darryl Johnson, owner of SYI Food Services, has opened The Garden Cafe at Independence Community Park. The cafe is located directly across from the Goodwood Main Library in Baton Rouge near the botanic gardens and serves hot and cold coffee drinks, smoothies, breakfast dishes, salads, soup, sandwiches, and desserts. Johnson also operates a food truck and catering service, as well as provides concessions at BREC’s Memorial and Olympia Stadiums. Formerly known as Socially Yours, SYI’s food truck provided the refreshments for the opening of the expansion of the botanic gardens in 2018 as his company had begun customizing the café’ space.

     

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  • ,,,

    ESSENCE launches initiative for Louisiana-based, minority entrepreneurs, professionals

    GET CONNECTIONS TO CONTRACTS AND ACCESS TO RESOURCES 
    ESSENCE, the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women with a global brand reach of over 17 million, will partner with the City of New Orleans and the Urban League of Louisiana to launch The Pipeline: An Economic Inclusion Initiative.
    The Pipeline is designed to increase the pool of Louisiana-based women and Black professionals pursuing careers and business opportunities in live events and technical production. This initiative will also create opportunities to connect existing production entrepreneurs to service contracts in the industry at both the corporate and governmental levels and give them access to networking, capital raising and opportunities for training and skills development.
    As part of ESSENCE’s partnership with the Urban League of Louisiana, the Pipeline Initiative will launch with information briefings that will target potential bidders in key Louisiana cities featuring RFP training and more.
    The sessions will be held in:
    New Orleans Tuesday, February 5 6:00pm-8:30pm Urban League of Louisiana
    Baton Rouge Wednesday, February 6 9:00am-11:30am Goodwood Library
    Shreveport Thursday, February 7 9:00am-11:30am Round-up Room – Cattlemen’s Ranch
    Monroe Friday, February 8 9:00am-11:30am Louisiana Delta Community College – Monroe Campus
    Current Contract Opportunities Include:
    Event Video Services
    Superdome Catering Services 
    Ground Transportation Services 
    Portable Toilet Services
    Photography Services
    Printing Services 
    Audio Production Services 
    Superlounge Video Services 
     
    For PDFs of Contracting Opportunities and to Register, Visit
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  • ,,,

    Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance holds inaugural meeting at the SU Ag Center

    The Southern University Land-Grant Campus hosted the inaugural meeting of the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance (LIHA) on Monday, January 14.

    The meeting, which was held in Fisher Hall on Southern University’s Campus, was convened to address new legislation regarding Industrial Hemp.

    “Industrial Hemp has been around for millennia,” said Arthur Walker, Chair of the LIHA. “It is a grain in the family of Cannabis Sativa L. The difference between it and other versions of the cannabis plant is in the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. It has a level of .3% and below. Marijuana, its cousin, has THC levels of 5 and above,” he said.

    THC is the psychotropic component of the plant that can cause individuals to experience a “high.” Making it virtually impossible to get high from the Industrial Hemp plant.

    However, it was still classified as a schedule I drug, along with marijuana, by the Nixon administration in the ’70s. Making it illegal to be grown in the United States, but, the purchase of imported raw materials to manufacture products from the plant was legal.

    Many of these products include clothes, soap, fiberboard and insulation.

    “For a number of years the US has spent morethan $150 million per year on importing Industrial Hemp products just from China alone,” said Joe Lavigne, LIHA member. “We feel that Louisiana is the perfect safe space to take a fraction of that market and really drive the Industrial Hemp economy.”

    “The small farmers and the small business owners of Louisiana need that infusion of opportunity,” said Walker.

    The 2018 Farm Bill officially removed Industrial Hemp from the schedule I classification. Industrial Hemp is now classified as a commercial commodity like corn, sugarcane, and rice.

    “Now farmers can get crop insurance and receive financing opportunities from the federal government to start growing Industrial Hemp,” said Walker. “The whole commodity designation and moving Industrial Hemp from the Department of Justice, where it was a schedule I drug, to the control of the Department of Agriculture is a game changer.” 

    As of the end of December 2018, 40 states had passed legislation that allowed their farmers and business owners to get involved with Industrial Hemp. Louisiana is among the last 10 states to have no legislation for the commodity.

    “With the passage of the Farm Bill, those 40 states that have passed legislation are now ready to go to commercialization, as long as their laws are modified to fit under the federal umbrella,” said Walker. “Louisiana has to have something established from ground zero.”

    The Alliance hopes to influence legislation in the state of Louisiana to allow the state’s small farmers and business owners to involve themselves in the commercial end of Industrial Hemp.

    If legislation is passed, the Southern University Land-Grant Campus plans to assist small farmers in the propagation of the crop.

    “Part of the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’s mission is to work with small, limited resource farmers throughout the state. We will assist the LIHA in helping to teach small farmers how to grow, cultivate and prepare this commodity as a value-added crop that can be exported throughout the world,” said Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D., Chancellor-Dean of the Southern University Land-Grant Campus. “It is our hope that this crop will enable small farmers to remain on their farms and be able to earn a decent living by growing Industrial Hemp.”

    The Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance’s mission is to aid in the acceptance of the free marketing of Industrial Hemp as an agricultural crop in Louisiana. The organization is dedicated to a free market of Industrial Hemp, Low-THC varieties of Cannabis, and to change current laws to allow Louisiana farmers to grow this crop and Louisiana processors to process this crop on a commercial scale.

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

    For additional information about the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance, contact Arthur Walker at artw@communicationsone.com.

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  • ,,

    LWC provides guidance to furloughed federal employees in Louisiana

    The Louisiana Workforce Commission recognizes the challenges faced by workers furloughed by the partial government shutdown. Furloughed Federal employees who are impacted by the shutdown are subject to specific documentation requirements:

    • Furlough Notice or documentation if available
    • A copy of the SF8 or SF50
    • Proof of wages (W-2 or check stubs)

    To file a claim go to HiRE at  www.laworks.net. LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie said, “I’ve worked throughout my career with workers faced with the loss of a paycheck, it is never easy.  As with all Unemployment Insurance Claims, wages offset benefits. Claims filing and required documentation are different for furloughed workers. Another extremely important peculiarity exists.  If Congress approves retroactive pay, which has been the norm after prior federal shutdowns, all workers who receive unemployment insurance benefits must repay all benefits received.”

    Important tips and information:

    • Federal employers are contacted and have 12 days to provide wage and separation information.
    • Furloughed workers should continue to file benefits weekly as long as on furlough. Claims processing may take up to three weeks. Continue to file every week.
    • Unemployment Insurance claims based on furloughs may be approved for payment unless there is another disqualifying eligibility issue. In these cases, the claimant will be contacted for additional information.

    All required information can be provided to the LWC by either of these methods:

    • Electronically (best option): The furloughed employee can file their unemployment claim through HIRE (www.louisianaworks.net/hire.) Once logged in, go to Unemployment Services > Provide Specific Documents to upload the requested documentation.
    • Fax: (225) 342-2856 (Attn: Special Claims Unit)

    More information and Frequently Asked Questions can be found athttp://www.laworks.net/UnemploymentInsurance/UI_MainMenu.asp.

     

     

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  • ,,,,

    Professor researches link between ADHD, entrepreneurship

    Reginald L. Tucker, assistant professor in the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems at LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business, recently published an article in Journal of Business Venturing that examined the influence of ADHD on business start-up.

    “It’s my most cited paper, and I think seminal to the Mental Health and Entrepreneurship literature stream,” said Tucker, adding, “We found that ADHD did influence business start-up when impulsivity was present.”

    There has been increased interest recently in how negative traits associated with mental disorders, such as ADHD, may have positive implications in entrepreneurship. While this research has the potential of producing important results, it is still in its infancy and consequently has received limited attention. To that end, Tucker’s study developed and tested a model that ADHD influences entrepreneurship through the multifaceted trait of impulsivity or the tendency to act on impulse rather than thought.

    “Findings demonstrate that entrepreneurship is indeed a unique area where negative traits, such as ADHD, may represent valuable assets,” Tucker said. There are at least two important practice implications associated with the results. First, the results imply that individuals with ADHD symptoms may be empowered to craft their own jobs to fit their special needs. Second, the findings suggest that people with ADHD symptoms and impulsivity will tend to prefer action speed over action accuracy and that this may be functional in the context of entrepreneurship.”

    ONLINE: https://www.lsu.edu/business/sdeis/index.php.

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  • Cookies and Ice Cream! Business is sweet in Zachary

    Business is sweet for Josh and Leah Collins who are making history less than one year after opening Great American Cookies and Marble Slab Creamery at 20103 Old Scenic Hwy in Zachary.

    Zachary Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Scott joked that the Collins were in business for “five minutes” before taking home Minority Enterprise honors, but Josh Collins is a homegrown success story much like Scott.
    Josh Collins explained that he was born and reared in Zachary and felt it was an excellence business environment for his new franchise. 46492447_1944047952569613_1750653340141748224_n

    “We chose Zachary for the simple reason that there were not other options like this in Zachary,” Josh Collins said. “We lived in Zachary and we said ‘what does Zachary not have and let’s bring something to Zachary that it does not have.’”
    The Collins fondly remembered that their first date was Marble Slab so that make the choice to bring the franchise to Zachary. The roll of the sweet dice has paid off in tremendous ways. “Honestly, it’s been overwhelming,” Josh Collins said. “We broke the franchise record in sales so the initial plans we had were scrapped and we had to go back to the drawing board.”

    ONLINE: facebook.com/GreatAmericanSlab

    By Frances Spencer
    Contributing Writer

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  • ,,,

    MILESTONES: Eddie Ponds turns 80 with more than 500 published issues of The Drum

    Fall of 2018 is a special time of recognition and appreciation for Ponchatoula’s Eddie Ponds, a man known and respected far beyond the city limits.

    Image (144) HIGH SCHOOL

     

    He’s celebrating having published the 500th edition of his newspaper, “The Drum,” which has readers around the nation and beyond. Now, that’s a lot of papers and that’s a lot of work!

    With his friendly smile and quiet demeanor, one would never guess the long, sometimes rough roads it took to get so far in the world of media.

    Born in the Millville area of Ponchatoula 80 years ago, little Eddie was fourth in a family of ten children and grew up in a far different world than today.

    In a time when Italians could not live in Ponchatoula and had to be out by sunset, Blacks could not walk on the sidewalks if a white person, even a child, was there.Image military 1

    In the Ponds’ home, a high standard of living was instilled by teaching and by example. Both parents had third-grade educations and stressed the importance of education and solid work ethic. A family of faith, they walked together to services at Millville’s Star Valley Baptist Church.

    Eddie attended the Ponchatoula Colored School before going on to Hammond’s Greenville Park High School. Ponchatoula High School was just across the tracks — but Blacks weren’t allowed to cross the tracks.
    Further puzzling to youth was that on Saturday nights, teenage boys, all friends from both races, enjoyed hanging out at Billups Gas Station but they just couldn’t go to school together!

    Regardless of color, many young people got jobs out in public before they were old enough. Eddie’s was doing dishes in Little Ory’s diner where he worked all through high school.

    After graduation, it was off to the Army during the Viet Nam era, where he was in Ft. Benning, Georgia, and Hawaii for Advanced Jungle Training. Just before he was sent to fight, the situation changed and he returned home to marry Carrie Wells. For two years he worked at the sawmill until following his father-in-law in construction. Three times the salary, but some of the work in those days was brutal.

    After telling his wife he’d really like to save to go to college, she asked, “Why haven’t you said something before? You could have started this semester!”

    At some time, Eugenia “Sis” Hebert of PHS, had shown him how to do papers and thanks to the GI Bill, he was able to enroll. He earned his degrees at Southern University in Physical Science and P. E. along with his Teacher Certificate and his Master of Education at Southeastern. He and his wife both held two jobs to make it all possible and he commuted to Algiers to teach at L. B. Landry his first year.Drum 30 yrs

    Ever since high school he’d been interested in photography and even in the Army, where he also played saxophone in the military band, after hours he learned film processing. Hearing that teachers could attend Tulane at half price, he enrolled in Photography but had read every book on the subject he could find. Ponchatoula Librarian Clara Heitman called him any time a new book came into the library behind Little Ory’s, now the Library Room at Roux and Brew Restaurant.

    By now he was teaching at Ponchatoula High School and over the Photography Club. Some of his club members today are professional photographers, saying they owe it all to him.

    “How to Make Money with Photography” said that world was open to journalists so back to Southern University he went to study creative writing. This introduced him to owner and editor of the “Ponchatoula Times,” Brian McMahon, who gave him his start, hiring him to cover City Hall, thus deepening his interest and love for newspaper work.
    For in Eddie Ponds’ heart, he’d recognized early on the only news reported about Black people was for heinous crimes and he wanted to bring awareness and credit for good. He observed that even when famous Civil Rights leader, Julian Bond, spoke at Southeastern, no press covered the event.

    Image (149) ponds taking picturesLeaving a City Council meeting alongside Don Ellzey from “The Ponchatoula Enterprise,” Ponds expressed a desire to start a newspaper to “put things in perspective for the Black Community.” Ellzey offered the use of his facilities along with helpful hints in laying out a paper from start to finish.

    Thus, 1986, the fifteenth year of his teaching at Ponchatoula High School, saw the first edition of “The Drum”.
    That was the day “cut and paste” really was “cut and paste” and when it was time to go to press, he’d sometimes be up three nights in a row. On those days, he made his lesson plans for lots of activity so he could be on his feet to stay awake in the classroom.

    Ponds is known for his “positive” press as he avoids negativity and doesn’t even include police reports. “The Drum” and his good name have opened doors to meeting folks from all walks of life including officials and governors.
    He humbly considers himself “recording African American history” and, for the past year, has added videoing, especially the older population.

    Recently he was recognized by the Baton Rouge Metro Council with a proclamation for his service and on November 3, was honored with a proclamation by Ponchatoula Mayor Robert Zabbia declaring it “Eddie Ponds’ Day” before the whole congregation of his New Zion Baptist Church family.

    ponds familyEddie and Carrie Ponds have passed along the tradition at home as well, being the proud parents of two daughters, Sharon
    Ponds of Ponchatoula and Michelle Nesbitt of Conyers, Georgia—both graduates of Southern University and both educators. Following them are one grandson, one granddaughter and one great-grandson.

    What a credit this fine gentleman is to the innumerable lives he touches in person and through media! Congratulations, Eddie Ponds!

    By Kathryn Martin
    Contributing Writer

     

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    Opportunities Outlook 2019 for DBEs in Construction starts Friday, Dec. 7

    The Urban League of Louisiana’s Contractor’s Resource Center will host its 2019 Opportunities Outlook for DBE Contractors on Friday, Dec. 7, 9am – noon, at the Urban League of Louisiana, 4640 S. Carrollton Avenue, Suite 110, New Orleans, LA 70119.

    This annual event is held to support contractors in preparing for the upcoming year by focusing attention on new opportunities for strategic growth and competitiveness. The event will feature updates on current opportunities and upcoming bids from procurement officers and prime contractors. Other programs and resources that support capacity-building and profitability for the contracting community will also be featured.

    Already confirmed:

    • City of New Orleans – Office of Supplier Diversity
    • New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
    • New Orleans Regional Transit Authority
    • Veterans Administration
    • Broadmoor LLC
    • Landis Construction
    • Woodward Design + Build
    • Hernandez Consulting and Construction

    This event is free and open to all DBE firms. However, space is limited. Register to reserve your spot. Light refreshments will be served.

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    Gregory Pierson appointed assistant director of aviation

    Gregory Pierson was appointed assistant director of aviation of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) by Mike Edwards, the director of aviation.

    Pierson has 12 years of airport management experience, and was serving as the Interim Assistant Director of Aviation. He was previously the BTR Airport Computer/Electronics Systems Manager (IT Manager). He first joined the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport 15 years ago as a PC LAN Specialist. Within his first three years, he was promoted to a PC LAN Administrator. In his most recent role as IT Manager, his Airport-wide involvement afforded him the experience to identify and manage the expectations and needs of various stakeholders, while ensuring the decisions and processes related to the Technology division were in alignment with the overall mission of the Airport.

    Pierson holds a bachelor of science degree in computer science with a minor in business management from Southern University, and a masters of business administration from the University of Phoenix. He has an ITIL Foundation and Software House industry certification and is currently preparing for his AAAE Certified Member certification. He is also a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), and is an IRS Registered Tax Preparer.

    “I am truly humbled and excited about the opportunity to serve in this new capacity. I look forward to continuing to do my part to make BTR the airport of choice, and to facilitate improvements in our community outreach efforts.”

    Greg grew up in the Baton Rouge Area, graduating from Scotlandville Magnet High School in Baton Rouge. He and his wife LaToya have three children, Alyvia, Dylan and Skylar.

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    Family favorite frozen treats brand Rita’s Italian Ice will host 4-day grand opening event

    Rita’s Italian Ice Creamery is excited to announce they will be hosting a four-day grand opening celebration for the recently opened location in Baton Rouge beginning Thursday, November 15, 2018.  This new location is owned and operated by Maria Finley.

    Regular size Italian Ice and Gelati will be served from Thursday, November 15th to Sunday, November 18th at reduced prices of $1 and $2, respectively.  Also, beginning at11AM on Saturday, November 17th, the first 50 families in line at the grand opening will receive coupons for a year’s worth of Rita’s Italian Ice. Ice Guy, Rita’s loveable mascot, a face painter and balloon twister will be present at the celebration. Drawings for special prizes including an autographed football and jersey by LSU Football Coach Ed Orgeron will occur throughout the weekend.

    Maria Finley

    Maria Finley

    Finley enjoyed Rita’s for the first time while visiting her son in Washington, D.C. when she thought she was opening a new chapter and leaving Louisiana behind to pursue her master of law at Georgetown University.

    “I tasted Rita’s for the first time and immediately called my realtor and told him to take my house off the market because I was coming back to Louisiana to open my own Rita’s Italian Ice franchise.  I said to myself ‘what is this stuff and why don’t we have it in Louisiana?’ It was that good. I am so excited to bring handmade frozen custard and Italian Ice made fresh daily to Louisianans,” said Finley.

    After the great flood in August 2016, plans to open were slowed, but Finley is happy to finally hold the grand opening celebration and invite the community to experience the same fresh Italian Ice she did while visiting her son.

    She has been a practicing attorney in Baton Rouge for more than 17 years and is excited to bring another passion of hers to the community.  She shared that the business has become a family affair with her son Douglas, managing the location’s website and social media accounts, her other son Branden, being her presence in the store when she is still practicing law, and her grandson’s mother, Tatyana, managing the store operations.

    Rita’s is partnering with the American Cancer Society in honor of her friend, Allison Kleinpeter Smith, by collecting monetary donations and travel size toiletries at the grand opening celebration to benefit the Hope Lodge in New Orleans.  Cancer patients traveling from outside of the city of New Orleans receiving life-saving treatment can stay at Hope Lodge for free.  Guests are encouraged to lend their support for the organization during the grand opening even and enjoy delicious Italian Ice at the new store while benefiting this great cause.

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  • ,,

    Fashion’s next big designers–Christopher John Rogers, Oonarissa Brown-Bernard–hail from Baton Rouge

    When it comes to fashion destinations Baton Rouge is city that could be at the bottom of the list, but Christopher John Rogers and Oonarissa Brown-Bernard are changing that.

    Besides dominating the charts this year?  What do Cardi B and Sza have in common? They turn to Rogers for his ‘80s glamour meets punk rock inspired designs to make sure their style, just like their music, reigns supreme.

    While Rogers, who made his New York Fashion Week debut this year, is poised o be this season’s breakout designer he said this collection’s inspiration comes from a number of sources rather than one single theme. “I really like to allow my mind to wander,” he said. This year’s collection had a variety of influences ranging from 1930s French couture to 1970s West African photography.

    Brown-Bernard, the designer behind the labels OonaNicole and DoubleOSeven, is already preparing for her fashion debut on both coasts in 2019.

    “What I hope to gain from the experience is to increase exposure for my brand and ultimately have my garments sold in retail stores and boutiques”, said Brown-Bernard

    As many will begin 2019 with resolutions, Brown-Bernard will beginning the new year with a debut both coasts at New York Fashion Week and in Los Angeles at Style Fashion Week.

    As Brown-Bernard resides in Austin and Rogers has put down roots in Brooklyn, the two designers take the time away from their studios to discuss, their inspirations, design processes and most importantly the effect a Louisiana upbringing had on their careers.

    10 OonaNicole

    What inspired you to pursue a career as a designer?

    ROGERS: All of the greats — Todd Oldham, Issac Mizrahi, John Galliano. Also anime, manga, cartoons — the idea of clothing being a transformative vehicle and allowing the wearer to tap into a certain power that they’ve always had.

    BROWN-BERNARD: My mom who taught me how to sew when I was 12 years old, however, my husband is the reason I am pursuing my career as a designer.  I started out as an actress and I was ultimately pursuing a career as an actress.

     

    Did you study fashion and if so where?

    ROGERS: I graduated from Baton Rouge Magnet High School and then I went to Savannah College of Art and Design

    BROWN-BERNARD: I graduated from Southern University Lab School and then I studied fashion at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California

     

    What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about those who work in the fashion industry?

    ROGERS: That everyone’s super materialistic and doesn’t go deeper than face value.

    BROWN-BERNARD: The biggest misconception people have about those who work in the fashion industry is that anybody can be in the fashion industry.  Many people think that one style of fashion is suitable for everyone and that’s not true. Each person has his or her own individual style.  You have to have an eye for fashion to be able to decipher what will look good on each body type but also represent the individual’s personal style.  Not everyone has a full understanding of what it takes to create a garment from scratch.  They think its simple like 1, 2, 3 and for basic design it is, but once the garment gets detailed its a totally different ball game.

     

    You made your New York Fashion Week debut this year, what was that experience like and what do you hope to gain from it?

    ROGERS: Hah, super overwhelming! I learned a lot about sticking to time lines, being ridiculously organized, and how to directly communicate your vision with as much clarity as possible. We’re working on building an actual business; so increased visibility towards stores was the goal.

     

    Where do you find inspiration?

    ROGERS: Mostly through color, and the idea of treating it like an object as opposed to just an abstract concept placed onto other things.

    Brown-Bernard:  I am a retro, vintage type of designer.  I love classics so I get my inspiration from the costuming in certain films.  Jackie O, Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Christian Dior, and Alexander McQueen inspire me. I’m also inspired by the thought of being the first well-known African American female menswear designer.

     

    How do you see the fashion industry changing over the next few years?

    ROGERS: A sense of increased accountability and transparency that’s come with the proliferation of social media. I think it allows artists and brands to be more direct with what we say through our work and connect with people who actually understand what we’re trying to say.

     

    Brown-Bernard: I am not sure because fashion is forever changing as the world keeps evolving. It’s a cycle. What is old to us is new to the new generation with just a different name.  I would really like to see fashion return to a place where you don’t have to expose your body to be sexy.

     

    Did living in Louisiana have an influence on your designs? Is there anything you miss about it? 

    ROGERS: For sure! A sense of needing comfort in clothing (depending on the garment), and understanding that things have to function. I absolutely miss my family, 100%.

    Brown-Bernard: Living in Louisiana did not have an influence on my designs; however, it influenced me to be a great designer because of where I come from and always pushing to be better. I definitely miss my family and the good food.

     

    If an aspiring designer came to you from Baton Rouge and said they wanted to follow in your footsteps, what would be your advice?

    ROGERS: Work as hard as you possibly can, and then work harder than that. It’s all about the end game, so learn as much as you can and always say “yes”.

    Brown-Bernard: My advice would be intern or work under a reputable designer and learn as much as you can. This would be very difficult to accomplish in Louisiana, so my next bit of advice would be to travel and attend networking events so you can see what fashion looks like outside of Louisiana. Work on your craft and build your resume, and most importantly don’t give up. It’s a long and rough journey, but if you’re serious about fashion it’s worth it to see it through.ℜ

     By Cameron James
    Special to The Drum

     

    ONLINE:

    www.christopherjohnrogers.com

    @christopherjohnrogers

    @oonanicole007

     

    Read more »
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    Gotcha gets state support to launch first public bike share program

    Gotcha has been selected by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to launch the first public bike share program in Baton Rouge early next year. Gotcha’s bike share services will include the siting, installation, operation, maintenance, and ongoing management of the program in partnership with the City-Parish. The system will encompass approved locations within the city, Louisiana State University, and Southern University.

    Launching in early 2019, the bike share program will include 500 GPS-enabled e-bikes and 50 hubs across the city. Riders can locate and reserve bikes through Gotcha’s app. The system promises to be an affordable, accessible, and sustainable form of transportation for the Baton Rouge community.

    “Launching bike share in Baton Rouge continues our commitment to expanding transportation alternatives for our citizens. Throughout this process, we were seeking a partner with the expertise to serve both the community and local universities with integrated, multi-modal forms of environmentally-friendly transportation,” said Mayor Broome. “I am excited that this system increases alternative forms of transportation, reduces parking issues, and promotes an active, vibrant City-Parish.”

    “We’re excited to partner with the City-Parish of Baton Rouge to provide convenient and efficient ways for residents to reduce vehicle usage. Gotcha is committed to enhancing the health, mobility, and landscape of our partner communities and the leaders of the city share this commitment,” said Sean Flood, CEO of Gotcha.

    Gotcha was selected after a competitive RFP process conducted by the City-Parish of Baton Rouge and a third-party partner, Bantam Strategy. Details about the bike share system including name, hub locations, pricing plans, and bike design will be unveiled in the coming months.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Women! A Week-Long Celebration kicks off October 5 in Baton Rouge

    The Women’s Council is a network of organizations and individuals committed to enhancing our community by connecting, promoting and empowering women. Women’s Week is a week long celebration October 5-14th. There are 115 free events during the week dealing with important issues including healthcare, education, family, community, economics, business, sports, arts and humanities as well as offering fun and interesting activities.
    With the kickoff luncheon being held October 5th from the Marriott Hotel in Baton Rouge, this year’s theme, “Coming TogetHER,” promotes collaboration, partnerships, and to strengthen the links of the chain of women who have continued to make our city/state dynamic!

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    Who to Watch: Niki’ H. Morrow

    As a child growing up in Lake Charles, Niki’ H. Morrow wanted to “save the world.” It is a passion that she said has led her to earn a degree in sociology from LSU and to hold a career in social services. “It has been my passion since a very young age,” said Morrow who has recently been selected as one of 30 professionals to participate in the state’s Adverse Childhood Experience Educator Program. The program will train-the-trainers on the impact of childhood adversity and traumatic experiences such as abuse, neglect, or sexual assault.

    A case manager for a local nonprofit, Morrow also mentors young girls at Star Hill Baptist Church. She often used craftmaking to release stress and express herself creatively. But, what began as a hobby has become a growing business in Baton Rouge.

    “My father, who was an entrepreneur, always wanted me to follow in his footsteps, but I refused not knowing it would be my saving grace in life years later,” she said. HarloweHearts

    In 2015, Morrow, established Harlowe Enterprises LLC and Harlowe Hearts Custom Designs. “Harlowe Hearts is a lifestyle brand that takes pride in bringing you exclusive custom made designs and products that fit every occasion in your life. Our staff has an amazing eye for detail, vast knowledge of products, and constant growing proficiency in the latest printing methods,” said the 37-year-old.

    Moves made: Harlowe Hearts Custom Designs opened in 2015. Since that time, we have grown into a full-service custom design boutique that offers screenprinting, vinyl designs, and embroidery.

    What to expect from you: We will begin to provide embroidered school uniforms and expand services provided to business such as promotional items and uniforms.

    Personal resolution: Constantly strive for growth and excellence

    Life/business motto: Let’s make something amazing together.

    Business resolution: To double our company’s net worth by the end of the year.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Growing Harlowe Hearts into a full-service, brick and mortar embroidery boutique.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? NO simply means “Next Opportunity.”

    Role Models:  My father, Lawrence Morrow, founder and owner of Gumbeaux Magazine, and my mother, Jacqueline Malveaux

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? The joy and excitement we get from our customers.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Trevor Jackson, Ella Mae, and Shamar Allen

    What are you reading? The Art & Science of Respect by J. Prince and  Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

    What’s entertaining you? Ted Talks

    ONLINE: www.harlowehearts.com and @harlowehearts

     

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    Tax advisor wins nearly $1 millions IRS appeal case

    Celebrity tax advisor Jayson Thornton, founder of Thornton Tax, announces winning his appeal case, representing a client served with a $957,553.20 tax deficiency notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The St. Louis-based accountant shares tips on how to go up against the IRS and win. His practice helps clients with IRS tax compliance cases including audits, collections and appeals.

    At just 35-years old, Thornton has built an accounting firm dedicated to defending overwhelmed taxpayers. He says, “I love fighting for the underdog, and when it comes to the IRS everyone is an underdog.”

    Thornton has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Treasury for his “Outstanding Contributions” in tax counseling, and in 2017 was voted one of the best accountants in the City of St. Louis by St. Louis Small Business Monthly. He was also honored as one of 20 outstanding African American professionals under the age of 40 by the St. Louis American Foundation.


    About Thornton Tax Firm, LLC
    Thornton Tax is a St. Louis, MO-based accounting firm that specializes in tax law for clients in the Sports and Entertainment industry in tax compliance cases, tax preparation and IRS tax debt settlements. ONLINE: www.ThorntonOffice.com.


    About Jayson Thornton
    Jayson M. Thornton is a tax advisor and enrolled to practice by the United States Department of Treasury. He is also a certified public accountant candidate for the State of Missouri. Thornton earned his associate degree in accounting from St. Louis Community College, and bachelor’s degree in 2006 from Missouri Valley College as an honors graduate.

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    Lashley means business in the Big Apple

    Growing up in Franklin, La., LSU graduate Victor Lashley may have come from a small town, but he’s making a name for himself in New York City.

    “My very first day in New York City was the day I moved here for my summer internship. I packed my bags, got in a cab and pretended to know the address that I gave my taxi driver,” said Lashley.

    Lashley said the internships and connections he made at LSU set him on a path for success.

    “The College of Business has a lot of good partnerships with a lot of different companies, so they would come into the Finance Club and with a lot of opportunities for internships or careers and JP Morgan was on my radar. I just worked with the Olinde Career Center to be a qualified candidate. I applied and started interning when I was a sophomore.”

    During Lashley’s first summer at JP Morgan, he worked in the prime brokerage operation within their investment bank. Lashley returned to JP Morgan for a second summer, this time working in treasury services. After graduating from LSU in 2012, he became an official employee of JP Morgan, working as a sales associate.

    “Every 6 months I went to a different role, so during my first two years I had four different jobs. And then after that program finished, I placed permanently in trade finance and that involves importing, exporting, and working capital transactions internationally.”

    Lashley has since worked his way up to vice president of global trade at JP Morgan.

    “The day-to-day responsibilities are connecting U.S. customers with either a buyer or seller in an international market. So, (working with) a U.S. manufacturer selling to an emerging market or a U.S. company that’s sourcing or purchasing somewhere overseas,” Lashley said.

    While a student at LSU, Lashley majored in business marketing with a minor in leadership development.

    “I did a program in the Honors College called LASAL (Louisiana Service and Leadership), which is all about partnering with Louisiana locally to address poverty and coastal land loss, so it was a combination of two unrelated topics that gave me a very diverse experience in terms of class and activities.”

    Lashley said that experience at LSU, along with everything he learned through his various internships, has helped him get where he is today. And he’s not the only LSU graduate who is enjoying success in New York City.

    “LSU gives you the world in South Louisiana. It’s definitely very cultural, very rich in spirit and the LSU brand will stay with you for the rest of your life. I meet people in New York City who may recognize my class ring, or maybe purple and gold when I wear it, and it’s a connection that’s always there.”

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    Who to Watch: Steven C. Baham

    Steven C. Baham, 40, is a computer scientist and owner of Baham Laboratories, LLC, in Baton Rouge. A native of Slidell, Baham is the son of Les and Eva Baham. As a child, he and his brother, Michael, wanted a Nintendo game system, but their father wanted them to build computers to play video games instead. Since 1994, Baham has been gradually building clientele as a technology consultant. He established Baham Laboratories, LLC in 2004, and today the company has more than 600 clients and nearly 30 business IT service agreements in Baton Rouge, Hammond, New Orleans, and Slidell.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017: The 2016 flood was challenging because with my home office damaged, I had to learn to operate with a small amount of equipment with minimal space. Even so, we were able to build a custom e-mail cloud server for Baham Labs clients with special security features, recover valuable data for clients who had their office computer flooded.

    What to expect in 2018 from you? My biggest topic I keep reinforcing is digital security. I think most people don’t take it seriously until something really bad happens to them. It’s my job to help protect and educate people/organizations on how to protect themselves. When you’re a person like me who sees the worse things happen to some people online, it makes it easier to explain to others the steps they should be taking. I still have a few surprises for 2018 that I can’t reveal yet, but watch our social media accounts in the next couple months.

    Baham Laboratories

    Baham Laboratories

    Role models: My parents are my main role models.

    What is your #1 priority right now? I have a small team finishing the data wiring for the new Geico building in Baton Rouge. That’s my priority since the next business steps will take place after that.s complete.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Prepare yourself for what you want to do in the future, as well as prepare yourself the best you can for what might happen.

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? It took me missing a wedding anniversary, and my daughter’s birthday one year because a client didn’t follow my advice… which lead to a system crash which they expected me to fix on those days respectively. I think when I realized that I could tell people what they HAD to do to improve their data systems, and if they refused, I could tell them to sign off on a form showing that I wasn’t liable for what might happen, was when I realized I had more power over how I could run my business.

    Personal resolution: More vacation time

    Business motto: “We organize digital chaos.”

    What music are you listening/dancing to? I’m enjoying my 80s station on XM radio.

    What are you reading? Currently a lot of technical information online.

    What’s entertaining you? I love going to the movies! I’m also a Marvel movie fan, and a lifelong Star Wars fan.

    ONLINE: www.bahamlabs.com 

     

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    Local businesswoman to be featured in Avon campaign

    Baton Rouge-local and Avon Representative Starsky Clark will be starring in iconic beauty brand Avon’s upcoming campaign. From top-sellers to accomplished leaders, Avon’s Campaign 19 will feature all real-life Avon Representatives as models in their newest catalog, launching August 21.  A former Marine, Clark works as a full-time pharmacist.

    Starsky’s tips for success:

    1.  Be passionate about your business by using the products yourself, and share your authentic, personal anecdotes with others to build personal relationships and special connections with your customers.
    2. Always give samples – customers love to touch and feel before purchasing, and it makes them feel special to be able to try new products before they buy. 
    3. Invest your earnings back into your business by supporting, motivating, and mentoring your team! 

     

     

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    Facing the nation: Making inclusion a priority in Baton Rouge aviation

    Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and its commission chairman Cleve Dunn Jr. are facing two national nominations for being catalysts for diversity inclusion. This first-time praise comes from the Airport Minority Advisory Council, the only national, non-profit trade association dedicated to promoting the inclusion of minorities and women in contracting opportunities within aviation and aerospace industries. Dunn has been nominated for the AMAC Advocate of the Year Award and the AMAC Inclusive Leader Award. As a result, the airport earned the nominations as well. The advocate award recognizes an outstanding spokesperson, educator, innovator, advocate,  and strategic partner with AMAC for diversity inclusion. The leadership award honors an organization for demonstrating diversity inclusion within its corporate structure of procurement and employment.

    Earlier this week, Dunn discussed the nominations and the airport’s work with minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

    THE DRUMSince this is the first time you and the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport have been nominated, what does this nomination say for the BR Airport?

    DUNN: It simply says that the leadership has changed and the culture at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport is changing and becoming more inclusive.

    THE DRUM: What were the specific actions/programs you initiated or completed that encourages minority opportunities at the Baton Rouge airport?

    DUNN: During my time on the Baton Rouge Metro Airport board of commissioners there has been no new program rollout to encourage minority opportunities. What I chose to do as a commissioner for the past 5 years and now the chairman of the board is to aggressively advocate for inclusion and diversity in every thing that we do at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR). That includes assuring that minorities receive jobs and career advancement opportunities at the airport, making sure minority owned and disadvantaged businesses are in our pipeline for contracting opportunities, and making sure that we are exposing children from our community to the aviation industry. As a result, our administration is more culturally diverse than it was five years ago, BTR is much more visible in the community and BTR is supporting more North Baton Rouge businesses, organizations and non profits than ever before.

    Sean

    Sean Joffrion

    Sean Joffrion, director of fine arts at the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, said, “Because of Mr. Dunn’s passion for showcasing Baton Rouge and what it has to offer, he advocated for one of Baton Rouge’s premier schools, McKinley Middle Magnet, to have a wall space in Baton Rouge Metro Airport. This space allowed our diverse multi cultural population the opportunity to showcase art work which depicted the students interpretation of Louisiana and its culture. It also gave travelers the opportunity to get a first hand look of what our school and school district could offer to prospective students/parents. This amazing partnership between the school, district, and airport allowed McKinley the opportunity to recruit students to our program. Cleve is an amazing guy who knows the importance of having relationships between our community and business.”

    THE DRUM: What had been barriers for diversity inclusion at the airport when you arrived as a commissioner? How are you leading or assisting the commission and the airport leadership in removing those barriers?

    DUNN: In my opinion leadership sets the tone and creates the culture for any business or organization. The leadership team has to be passionate about an issue or project and get buy in from the rest of the staff and/or team members in order for that initiative to be implemented successfully.  Our barrier at BTR was that our leadership was not passionate enough about inclusion and diversity as we needed to be to bring about a culture of inclusion at BTR. That is why I lead the charge in advocating for a national search for us a new aviation director. I felt it was very important for us to evaluate the best and brightest aviation professionals around the country; who could develop the land surrounding the airport, grow our air service by adding airlines and destinations and work with our board of commissioners to create a culture of inclusion at the airport. The airport’s aviation director search committee, made up of three metro council members and myself as one of four airport board commissioners concluded our work on July 9. After vetting the group of 39 candidates, conducting video interviews, reviewing their resumes and  several in person interviews; we narrowed the group down to three candidates that the committee chose to recommend to the metro council. The metro council is scheduled to choose a director from the group of three finalists in the weeks to come.

    Baton Rouge Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    Baton Rouge Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    THE DRUM: You are now in your second term on the commission and first term as chair, how do you plan to continue building business capacity for the airport? Plans for supplier diversity?

    DUNN: Supplier diversity has been and will continue to be a top priority for me. One of the first things I proposed as chairman is a board retreat where the commission and the staff could meet and develop the annual mission and goals for the airport. During my previous five years on the commission we had not been given the opportunity to have this level of input prior to budget review. Our first retreat will happen in the next 30 days or so; it is during this retreat where we will create and assign action items to board members and staff that will help us to build business capacity and increase our supplier diversity numbers.

    THE DRUM: Do you or other commissioners help develop aviation or aerospace career interests among local students? K-12, technical school, or college students? If not are there plans to do so?

    DUNN: Yes, I do help to develop aviation career interests among local students. I often times bring young people to the airport, give them a tour of the airport and let them sit in on our commission meetings. I also work with Big Buddy and local colleges to give students internships at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport.

    Lauren Smith Marrioneaux

    Lauren Smith Marrioneaux

    The program operations director for Big Buddy’s LevelUp program, Lauren Smith Marrioneaux  said, “After finding out that Cleve served on the Baton Rouge Metro Airport Board, I contacted him about the airport becoming a host site for the Big Buddy Level UP! Summer Internship Program. He committed to making it happen and he did just that! He made it happen and helped increase the employability of the youth in our program. Because of Cleve’s help and support the Level UP! Summer Internship Program and the Baton Rouge Metro Airport has exposed several teenagers in the Baton Rouge area to the aviation industry. After this experience some of our students later gained employment in the aviation industry.”

    THE DRUM: What is the status of the airport  as a growth opportunity for businesses and North Baton Rouge?

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    DUNN: I’m a native of North Baton Rouge, and I’m very passionate about the areas growth and development, as well as the people of North Baton Rouge being benefactors of that growth and development by improving their quality of life through jobs and contracting opportunities. We have some 4,000 jobs at the airport and hundreds of contracting opportunities there as well. I will make sure that people living in and around North Baton Rouge are aware of the job and income opportunities and do what we can to help them get those opportunities.

    As director of programs and events for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Black Chamber, Troy R. Lee, said, “it was imperative that I secured sponsorship for our Inaugural Minority Business Conference and Expo. I called Mr. Dunn and explained the need to have a successful expo and without hesitation he made sure we had sponsorship from the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. Without his timely assistance our expo would not have been the success that it was. BR Metro Black Chamber members and myself are eternally grateful for Mr. Dunn’s kindness and belief in the fact that it does take a village to make things happen especially in underserved communities.”

    THE DRUM: Who are you acknowledging as you receive this nomination?

    DUNN: I am honored to receive the Catalyst award nomination from such a prestigious organization like AMAC. I want to thank the AMAC Catalyst award nominating committee for valuing and recognizing the work that many of us do around the country to promote minority-owned businesses, increase contracting opportunities and professional advancement for minorities in the aviation industry. I do not accept this award nomination alone. I also accept it on the behalf of all the current and former Baton Rouge Metro Airport board of commissioners who have advocated for minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses while serving on our commission. Finally, I’d like to thank the Baton Rouge Metro Airport administration and numerous staff members who have been committed to inclusion and increasing the participation of minority owned and disadvantaged business enterprises.

    Winners of the AMAC awards will be announced during the 34th Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference in Seattle, Washington, Aug 21-25.

    ONLINE: http://amac-org.com
    ONLINE: www.flybtr.com

    By Zenobia Reed
    The Drum contributing writer

     

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Virginia College Back to School Event, August 2

    Virginia College in Baton Rouge will host a Back to School Event for the community Thursday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the campus located at 9501 Cortana Place. The event is free and open to the public and will feature refreshments and candy for kids, a spelling bee, photobooth, campus tours, a scavenger hunt, backpack and school supply giveaways while supplies last and more. Additionally, attendees 18 and older can enter to win gift cards and other prizes.

    The event will also allow attendees to explore programs offered through Virginia College, including: Business Administration, Culinary Arts, Medical Assistant, Medical Office Specialist, Network Support Technician, Network and System Administration, Electrical Technician, HVAC-R Technician, Pastry Arts, Pharmacy Technician and Surgical Technology.

    WHAT: Virginia College Back to School Event
    WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    WHERE: Virginia College in Baton Rouge – 9501 Cortana Place, Baton Rouge, LA 70815
    PHONE: (225) 236-3900

    “With the start of a new school year comes a great deal of excitement and anticipation, promise and possibility,” says Campus President Joe Dalto. “No matter your age or stage of life, we want to celebrate education and the aspirations of all members of our community. We invite everyone to come by our Back to School Event and say hello, and for those interested in pursuing a new career, talk with a member of our staff about the fast and focused career training we offer at our campus.”

    The event is part of Virginia College parent company Education Corporation of America’s national Back to School Events being held at 62 other Virginia College, Brightwood Career Institute and Brightwood College locations throughout 17 states.

    ONLINE: vc.edu/batonrouge.

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    Businesses can access new Vendor Self Service Portal for Baton Rouge procurement opportunities

    East Baton Rouge Mayor’s office has launch of the Vendor Self Service portal, a new website that streamlines the processes used by vendors to register and do business with the City-Parish. 

    Vendors can access the VSS portal at http://brla.gov/vss. Those who have not done business with City-Parish previously can register as a new vendor. Existing City-Parish vendors will be mailed the information needed for them to create an account in VSS. After registering for an account in VSS, vendors will have the ability to electronically update their contact information, upload tax forms, set communication preferences, and select the goods and/or services they provide. In addition, vendors will now be able to access a variety of purchase order and payment activities that will allow the vendor to find out if a purchase order has been issued, an invoice has been received, or a check has been written. All of this can be done through the VSS portal without having to contact City-Parish via phone or email.

    “We have heard from numerous businesses about the obstacles they face when searching bids and competing for City-Parish contracts. Based on feedback from these companies, we began listing upcoming procurement opportunities on the City-Parish website,” said Broome. “Our next step is this launch which makes the process more streamlined and efficient for vendors who do business, or wish to do business, with the City-Parish. This new functionality is a result of the City-Parish’s deployment of a modern enterprise resource planning system which replaced a 20-year-old financial and procurement system.”

    For more information on becoming a vendor with the City-Parish, visit http://brla.gov/vendors.  To access the City-Parish’s listing of upcoming procurement opportunities, visit http://city.brla.gov/dept/purchase/purfops.asp.

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  • Black Restaurant Week celebrates African, Caribbean-inspired cuisine in New Orleans

    New Orleans Black Restaurant Week (NOLABRW) will take place  July 1 – 8, in New Orleans, LA celebrating the flavors of African-American, African, and Caribbean cuisines. Black Restaurant Week, created in Houston, TX, is introducing its culinary series of taste-filled festivities to New Orleans. For 10 days, foodies and local influencers will satisfy their culinary cravings with signature events and restaurant menu specials.

    Due to the huge success of the annual culinary series in other cities, BRW has decided to expand to New Orleans. Diners can enjoy casual dining options for $15 – $25 per person, and fine dining options from $35 to $45 per person.
    Foodies will be able to enjoy options for brunch, lunch and dinner from the following list of participating black-owned restaurants:

    • Willie Mae’s Scotch House
    • The Praline Connection 
    • Neyow’s Creole Cafe
    • Louisiana Bayou Bistro
    • Beaucoup Eats 
    • Tasty Treat Food Truck and Restaurant 
    • Heard Dat Kitchen 
    • We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp
    • Sassafras Creole Kitchen
    In addition to its staple showcase of new and well-known restaurants, BRW is known for its exciting lineup of hot-ticket events including:
    Nosh: Culinary Showcase | Thursday, July 5, 2018
    An evening of culinary excitement and live demonstrations featuring an All-Star lineup of local Executive Chefs. Nosh presents tastings and competitions featuring New Orleans top Caterers and Executive Chefs, presented by Verizon, and in partnership with New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.
     
    Power of The Palate: Bartender Competition | Thursday, July 5, 2018
    New Orleans top Black Bartenders create craft cocktails with the freshest ingredients, while attendees indulge in their delicious creations. Presented at the exciting Nosh event, this popular competition sponsored by Martell provides guests an even tastier and thirst-quenching experience.
    As an extension to NOLABRW’s commitment to the agricultural community, NOLABRW has partnered with F.A.R.M.S. (Family. Agriculture. Resource. Management. Services.), a national nonprofit organization supporting family farmers through education and retail market expansion, while relieving hunger in the farmers’ community.

    Restaurants, caterers, and bartenders interested in participating in NOLABRW can find more information here.

    Featured photo of Caribbean Jerk Salmon Topped with Shrimp from Star Fusion Restaurant.
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    Baton Rouge flights head nonstop to Austin, Orlando for $99

    Travelers from the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport gain nonstop options to favorite destinations in Texas and Florida starting this fall thanks to a new agreement with Via Airlines.

    The airline has announced it will launch new nonstop service between Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR) and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) in Central Florida and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) in Central Texas on September 13th. The new nonstop flights will operate three times each week to/from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and two times each week to/from Orlando Sanford International Airport with 50-seat Embraer ERJ- 145 jets.
    The BTR – Austin-Bergstrom flights will operate on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays with 1:38 p.m. departures. The BTR – Orlando Sanford International flights will operate on Mondays and Thursdays and depart at 1:48 p.m.

    “Baton Rouge is an amazing city and we’re excited about the opportunity to serve both its business and leisure travelers alike with nonstop jet service to/from both Orlando Sanford International Airport in Central Florida and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Central Texas as we bring the convenience of nonstop flights to these markets as part of our 2018 expansion,” said Matthew Macri, Via Airlines’ Vice President of Operations. “Via Airlines takes pride in being the airline of the hospitality industry. Our jet service to Orlando and Austin will move travelers to and from Baton Rouge far faster and more economical than existing options or traveling by car. When flying with us you are truly our guest, not just a passenger,” said Macri.

    “We are elated that Via Airlines has chosen to partner with Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) as their newest destination for nonstop service,” said Mike Edwards, Interim Director of Aviation at Baton Rouge Metro Airport. “The addition of Via Airlines is yet another positive growth factor for BTR, and is an exciting response to local demand for additional air service options.” “Austin and Orlando are major destinations for both business and leisure travel, and the Greater Baton Rouge community will greatly benefit from these new non-stop routes.”

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said, “Thank you Via Airlines for having the confidence in Baton Rouge to add two new nonstop destinations in Austin and Orlando. Area residents will enjoy visiting the many attractions they have to offer, but the nonstop flights will also be a significant time saver for business travelers whether they are flying from Baton Rouge or into Baton Rouge.”

    “This is a big win for Baton Rouge, and we look forward to a long relationship between our area and Via Airlines,” said Cleve Dunn Jr Airport Commission Chairman.”Attracting low cost carriers has been the mission of our board and staff so that we may give our business and leisure travelers more options to choose from…We are excited to have Via Airlines call Baton Rouge Metro Airport home. It is our hope that this announcement is one of many more to come. This historic announcement will provide direct flights to Austin, Texas for the first time ever and reestablish direct flights to Orlando, Florida for the first time in over 5 years. By securing these new markets with a low cost carrier like Via Airlines, it will help us to increase our enplanements, increase our connectivity and decrease our leakage. The Via Airlines proposed rates of (less than $100) per one-way flight will help us to be more competitive with the New Orleans International Airport in these markets.”

    Jim Caldwell, BTR Marketing & Air Service Development Manager, noted the importance of community support for the new service. “Via Airlines is an established, quality airline that is giving us a great opportunity for new service that is not easy for smaller airports to secure in today’s airline environment. We encourage travelers to support the flights for both vacation and business travel to ensure their success, which can potentially lead to more flights.”

    Limited, introductory discounted fares are available by visiting flyviaair.com or calling 800-565-5042. Via Airlines also participates in the GDS (Global Distribution Systems), allowing bookings through local travel agencies, online travel agencies (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.), and corporate reservations booking tools.

    Baton Rouge (BTR) to/from Orlando Sanford (SFB):
    Days of Operation: Mondays and Thursdays
    Time of Operation: Depart BTR @ 1:48 pm Arrive SFB @ 4:30 pm
    Depart SFB @ 11:45 am Arrive BTR @ 12:45 pm
    Baton Rouge (BTR) to/from Austin (AUS):
    Days of Operation: Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays
    Time of Operation: Depart BTR @ 1:38 pm Arrive AUS @ 3:08 pm
    Depart AUS @ 11:45 am Arrive BTR @ 1:03 pm

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  • East Baton Rouge Parish library to launch small business services

    Starting one’s own business may soon become the most viable path to achieving the American dream. It is projected that by 2020 half of all workers will be independent freelancers, responsible for their own fortunes and well-being. Knowing this, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is partnering with 11 other public library systems from across the U.S. and Canada to explore ways libraries can reach and engage entrepreneurs in their communities — particularly people of color, women, immigrants and veterans. This effort is being led by the Urban Libraries Council, a membership organization of North America’s leading public library systems, as an extension of ULC’s collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to strengthen libraries’ capacity to support entrepreneurship.

    “The library plays an important role in building businesses and our economy,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “This experience will shape current thinking about how libraries can support entrepreneurship and create new opportunities for all community members.”

    Participating in this initiative, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library (EBRPL) will develop a program to connect its new business librarian to established and new entrepreneurs, to provide them with customized Library resources that will meet their specific needs. Andrew Tadman, Coordinator of Reference Services, and Natalie Denby, Business Librarian, will take the lead on the Small Business Services project.

    “We are excited about the opportunity to connect budding entrepreneurs with the Library’s excellent resources, whether they are brainstorming or ready to develop a business plan,” said Tadman.

    Entrepreneurs play an increasingly important role in growing local economies as technology continues to transform the labor market. However, barriers to resources and information prevent many individuals from pursuing or achieving entrepreneurial success. Public libraries are uniquely equipped to reach populations who are underrepresented in today’s entrepreneurial economy and most in need of guidance.

    Coordinating efforts with EBRPL, 11 additional public library systems will pursue projects to explore new approaches to reaching and engaging entrepreneurs in their communities.

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s mission as a community service organization is to connect our citizens with information, resources, materials, technology, and experiences in order to make a positive difference in their lives.

    To that end, the Library offers a variety of FREE tools for business with its Small Business Services. Established organizations can receive help for finding new customers, and budding entrepreneurs can get assistance for transforming and idea into a solid business plan. We also offer FREE consultations with a business librarian who will guide entrepreneurs through the Library’s resources. Staff can come out and meet with business owners and entrepreneurs to customize what we have to match their unique needs.

    Visit the Small Business Services InfoGuide at http://ebrpl.libguides.com/smallbusiness. For more information or to set up a consultation, send an email to smallbusiness@ebrpl.com or call (225) 231-3750. To learn more, contact Andrew Tadman at atadman@ebrpl.com or call (225) 231-3735.

    Information about the Library and any of its other programs, events and resources can be found online at www.ebrpl.com.

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    First Black Female CEO of the NBA Honored at State Capitol

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — While residing in the Easter Hill Village public-housing project in Richmond, Calif., during her younger days, Cynthia Marshall’s mother put two books in her hands — a publication of mathematics and the Bible to guide her through her life’s journey to success.

    For a young person living less than 18 miles east of San Francisco, those two books became the important focal point of Marshall’s life and career in telecommunications. They lifted her out of despair and a constant element of crime.

    Now that she is the Chief Executive Officer of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, the professional sports team is discovering how the books still play an integral role in the task she has acquired. Marshall is an effective problem solver and has a strong Christian faith.

    “She put those two books in my hands at an early age and said, ‘If you keep your head in these books they will get you out of poverty,’” Marshall said of the advice given by her mother. “That’s what I did. When people ask me what is the secret to your success, I tell them it’s those two books. I kept my head and eyes in both of them because that is what I was told to do.”

    Today, Marshall, who retired from AT&T as its senior vice president of Human Resources and chief Diversity Officer, is not only the first Black female CEO of an NBA franchise, she is the first woman ever to hold the position.

    At a time when the “Me Too” movement has rapidly picked up the pace, Marshall was specifically brought in to address and subdue an alleged culture of sexual violations against women within the Mavericks’ organization.

    The Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban, announced that there would be in-house investigations, and then introduced Marshall as the interim CEO who would lead the independent review as well as provide solutions to ensure women work in a respectful environment. “The CEO interim tag has since been removed,” Marshall said.

    Cuban’s decision to introduce Marshall into the corporate world of sports also brings hope to other African Americans and women who would like to follow her path.

    “I think for our community it means that we have opportunities, it means somebody like Mark Cuban saw the value and didn’t care if I was a man, woman, Black, White, or Asian. He didn’t care,” Marshall said. “He wanted somebody equipped to do a job and it just so happens he called upon a Black woman to do it. He made the call. It says a lot about our society. Hopefully, we’ll have more people like him that will follow suit and get beyond gender and race.”

    Thanks to her mother providing her a math book and Bible, Marshall’s climb to leadership roles has been one of determination. She earned every position she attained since graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the first Black cheerleader on the campus and earned degrees in Business Administration and Human Resources Management.

    Marshall started at AT&T in 1981, holding positions in operations, human resources, networking, engineering, planning, and regulatory and external affairs. She was named senior vice president of Human Resources in 2012, and then was appointed Chief Diversity Officer as a dual role in 2015. Black Enterprise listed Marshall as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in corporate America the same year. She retired from AT&T in 2017 to start her own consulting firm.

    Marshall was honored on the California Senate and Assembly floors at the State Capitol on April 19, 2018 in Sacramento, a place where she spent time advocating “good public policy” for AT&T, she said.

    Loretta Walker, who worked alongside Marshall at AT&T before retiring as vice president of Employment Engagement Communication, said the Mavericks’ hiring of Marshall “makes sense.”

    “From the standpoint of looking at an established institution in AT&T that has gotten a lot of recognition for diversity, they (the Mavericks) have gained a lot by allowing her to bring in her expertise,” Walker said. “I know I’ve been blessed. I know I’ve never experienced anything like (sexual harassment) in my lifetime working for a company like At&T.”

    By Antonio R. Harvey
    California Black Media

    Read more »
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    Using faith-based training, Team Family resolves conflicts, creates peaceful, productive environment

    Genia Coleman-Lee and Sandra Dee Olison met while serving in ministry together. Their love for people and professional backgrounds led them to want to improve the way people function in the workplace, with family, and in church.

    That desire birthed their company, Team Family, which provides faith-based training and professional development. Their goal is to create a “team family” atmosphere by changing the way leaders lead and how people interact with each other.

    “We started this company because we noticed a lack of customized training and development for specific groups or organizations such as nonprofits, churches and small businesses. Leadership is very popular; however, we want to provide support or direction to the entire unit, not just the leaders,” said Olison, who is a technology consultant and real estate agent. “Addressing and resolving internal issues while providing an obtainable solution to benefit the entire family or team is our goal.”

    Genia Coleman-Lee

    Genia Coleman-Lee

    “We noticed that this failure to effectively communicate was at the core of most issues of life, such as in the workplace, church and home. Who is responsible for making certain that the family remains a team and the team remains a family? The leader,” said Coleman-Lee, a Southern University Law Center graduate and community advocate. “The leader is not the one who holds the title, but the one who takes on the responsibility because he or she cares.”

    Coleman-Lee and Olison work to create peaceful and productive workers and work environments. They want to establish forums where all people can be heard and equip leaders with the tools they need to resolve issues. They also are gearing up to travel across the country hosting “Let’s Talk About It” sessions for companies, families, and congregations.

    “Creating a team family atmosphere helps to foster and create a common vision or goal that benefits the entire group or organization. Sometimes we do not view a team like family nor envision a family as a team, which can lead to a disconnect and lack of concern for the entire unit,” Olison said.

    Sandra Dee Olison

    Sandra Dee Olison

    “We are all familiar with team building, which focuses on the project. Team Family focuses on the people who are working the project. When leaders strengthen and build the people rather than the project, the entire team will benefit from the growth of the participant,” said Coleman-Lee who is also an attorney in Lake Charles.

    To transform the mindset of leaders, the duo said they use pre-assessment data, research, and Biblical principles to create client specific training materials, workshops, or seminars that meet the needs of the individuals they serve.

    “Building trust and concern among team or family members can be difficult. We are here to help start the foundation of building those relationships,” Olison said.

    ONLINE: myteamfamily.com

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    Mayor Broome launches Buy Baton Rouge program

    In celebration of Small Business Week, Mayor Broome kicked off Buy Baton Rouge, a new program aimed at encouraging purchases of goods and services from local businesses throughout the city and parish. Buy Baton Rouge is in partnership with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and two local apps, sLocal and SellSwipe, that both focus on bolstering local businesses.

    “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy – they play a critical role in the vitality of our community and aid in uplifting the areas surrounding them,” said Mayor Broome. “We want to encourage residents to buy local whenever possible, and utilize these two home-grown apps to find great deals and discover local products.”

    sLocal is an educational initiative that builds community by supporting education, promoting local businesses, and generating consumer savings. sLocal has created a dynamic mobile platform for local businesses to creatively market their products and services and currently has over 175 participating Baton Rouge businesses.

    “sLocal is thankful for the tremendous support from Mayor Broome and shares her deep commitment to education and local business,” said J.P. Kelly, co-founder of sLocal. “As an incentive, the sLocal Team is offering two months of free membership, and a monthly subscription rate of $25/month for EBR-based businesses after that. Over the next month, we will double the amount that will be given back to the schools in our community.”

    sLocal’s promotional code is “MayorBroomeSBI” which stands for Mayor Broome Small Business Initiative.

    Buy Baton Rouge is also partnering with SellSwipe, a hyperlocal social network centered around product discovery from local businesses. Their goal is to personalize the entire shopper’s journey through advanced analytics, connecting consumers to businesses within their community, while also connecting consumers with each other.

    “By using our innovative technologies to embed ourselves within the community, SellSwipe will allow the next generation to form real relationships with local businesses – businesses who provide goods & services that locals might otherwise look elsewhere for,” said David Facey, Founder of SellSwipe. “Our mission is to contribute to a healthy local commerce ecosystem, and make the term “shop local” fun, engaging, and effective.”

    “Small businesses are major drivers of entrepreneurialism, account for nearly all net job growth, and make up the majority of all businesses, both here in Baton Rouge and nationally,” said Ric Kearny, chairman of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber board of directors. “BRAC is proud to partner with the city on the Buy Baton Rouge program, and encourages both small businesses and the local community to engage with it.”

    sLocal is available on the App Store or Google Play and SellSwipe is available on Google Play. Businesses that want to join SellSwipe’s social network can email contact@sellswipe.com to set up their profile and start uploading items they have for sale. Shoppers will be able to go to www.SellSwipe.com to register for access to the beta iOS application at the beginning of June.

    Read more »
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    Tell State Rep. Carmody that Louisiana’s Black communities aren’t for sale!

    Earlier this week, the Louisiana Senate narrowly passed SB 365, a bill that would allow predatory payday and car title loan companies to financially exploit Black communities with “installment loans” that carry interest rates of over 167%. Trapping them in a cycle of toxic debt.

    Payday lenders and car title lenders already drain more than $240 million in fees each year from low-income Louisiana residents. Louisiana should be reining in these devastating practices, not expanding them. Similar bills have been blocked in 14 out of 16 states where they were introduced and we’re fighting to block this one in Louisiana.

    We have a real chance to shut down this exploitative bill in the House, but we need to act fast. The legislative session is winding down, and the only way for this bill to move forward is if Chair of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Thomas Carmody, listens to payday lobbyists and extends the session. A flood of calls from Louisianans is just the pressure we need to stop this exploitative bill.

    Call Rep. Thomas Carmody and tell him to kill SB 365

    Black people are twice as likely to become trapped in long term cycles of debt from predatory loans and that is deliberate. Even when income is the same, payday lenders set up shop in 2x as many Black and Latinx communities than white ones.1 By targeting Black and Latinx communities, this industry is doing everything it can to keep people of color in financial servitude and widen the racial wealth gap. In Louisiana, 79% of payday loans are lent to borrowers on the same day they paid back their previous loan, while 87% of loans went to borrowers who re-borrow within two weeks of paying back their old loan.2

    Fourteen organizations, including Color of Change and the Louisiana NAACP, have signed an open letter asking the Louisiana legislature to block this bill because of the harm it would cause low-income families and Black communities, in particular.3 Under SB 365, payday loan company would still have direct access to your bank account, removing their exorbitant fees from your account before you even get to pay your regular bills or buy groceries. Louisiana needs responsible lenders, like HOPE Credit Union, who offer installment loans that help borrowers build savings and improve their credit score. Support for this payday lender giveaway is waning, and if we put pressure Rep. Carmody we can shut it down for good.

    Tell Rep. Carmody: stop selling out our communities

    Until justice is real, 

    –Evan, Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Jade, Johnny, Future, Corina, Chad, Mary, Angela, Saréya, Eesha, and the rest of the Color Of Change team

     References:

    “Predatory Profiling: The Role of Race and Ethnicity in the Location of Payday Lenders in California”, Center for Responsible Lending, 26 March 2009 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/24924?t=8&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy
    “Analysis: SB 365 expands the predatory debt trap”, LA Budget Project, 9 April 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/42366?t=10&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy
    Letter to House and Senate Commerce Committee Members, LA Budget Project, April 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/46305?t=12&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy

    Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

    If you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to hear from Color Of Change again, click here to unsubscribe.
    This email from Color of change urges Louisiana residents to speak against a bill in the legislature designed to enhance predatory lending throughout the state.

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    Perkins has been appointed as library’s PR director

    Kayla D. Perkins has been appointed as the new East Baton Rouge Public Library Public Relations Director. Perkins has been employed by the Library for five years. She will be responsible for coordinating marketing and promotion of all library programs, services and resources and direct responsibility for ads, news releases, media appearances and The Source, the library’s monthly newsletter. Perkins is a native of Baton Rouge, LA and a graduate of Southern University.

    Read more »
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    Entrepreneurship program seeks new applicants from military personnel

    The Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program, or LVEP, is accepting applications from Louisiana military personnel, including active duty, reservists and veterans, who are interested in starting a business. The deadline to submit applications is April 17.

    LVEP was created in 2017 as a partnership between Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs, the Louisiana National Guard, the Louisiana Business and Technology Center and LSU Executive Education. LVEP is designed to boost business opportunities for Louisiana veterans through a three-week, online learning program, followed by a one-day “boot camp” or in-person training session. LVEP graduates are then provided long-term counseling from small business resource partners in their communities.

    The program strives to have at least 30 percent of its participants launch a business and collectively raise at least $5 million in startup capital. A long-term goal of the program is to create 100 new jobs through new veteran-operated businesses.

    “Our veterans come home with remarkable leadership skills and on-the-job training,” said LSU Innovation Park executive director Charles F. D’Agostino. “This program empowers them to utilize these skills and channel their entrepreneurial spirit, creating new businesses and generating jobs in our communities.”

    Participants must have access to a computer and Internet connection to participate in the three-week online portion of the course and to complete assignments.

    Submit applications on the LSU Innovation Park website:www.lsu.edu/innovationpark/LVEP.php.

    Read more »
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    Grocery Delivery begins in Baton Rouge

    Baton Rouge area residents can get groceries delivered from a variety of stores, right to their door.  Instacart, the nation’s largest on-demand grocery delivery service, is launching in the Baton Rouge area starting March 8, through popular local stores including Rouses Markets, Albertsons, Costco, CVS, and Petco. 

    The delivery area will cover over 188,000 households and is bringing income earning opportunities to the area with plans to bring on more than 100 new shoppers. Areas of service include: Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Denham Springs, Zeeland Place, Port Vincent, Dennis Mills, Geismar, Dutch Town, Brittany, Duplessis, Prairieville, Hobart, St. Amant, Acy, St. Gabriel, Walker, Inniswold, Westminster, Acadian Place, Merrydale, Monticello, Park Forest, Old Jefferson, Shenandoah, and West River Oaks. The service is also launching in New Orleans.

    ONLINE: www.instacart.com

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    Louisiana Travel Association announces new officers, honors graduates of tourism leadership class

    The Louisiana Travel Promotion Association–-which voted Jan. 23 to change its name to the Louisiana Travel Association-– installed a group of tourism industry leaders as new officers for its executive committee and board of directors during the association’s Annual Membership Meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Lafayette.

    “For 57 years, LTA has strengthened Louisiana’s tourism industry through our marketing program, advocacy efforts and educational opportunities,” said Jill Kidder, LTA President and CEO. “We are thrilled that our members have selected tourism industry leaders from throughout the state to lead this organization as we continue to promote a viable job-creating and revenue-producing industry.”

    New officers installed on the executive board committee include:
    · Chairman Travis Napper, Ruston-Lincoln CVB
    · Vice-Chair Janice Delerno Verges, The Stockade Bed & Breakfast
    · Secretary Ben Berthelot, Lafayette CVC
    · Treasurer Kerry Andersen, Pinnacle Entertainment
    · Immediate Past Chair Mark Romig, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation

    New directors:
    · Timothy Bush, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou
    · Dustin Gontarski, Compass Media
    · Jennifer Ritter Guidry, Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
    · Kevin Kelly, Houmas House Plantation & Gardens

    Returning directors:
    · Marc Becker, New Orleans Hotel Collection
    · Peggy Benoit, Carmel Inn & Suites Thibodaux
    · Dickie Brennan, Dickie Brennan & Company
    · Alana Cooper, Monroe-West Monroe CVB
    · John Crook, Vernon Parish Tourist Commission
    · Brandy Evans, Shreveport-Bossier CTB
    · Marion Fox, Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission
    · Arlene Gould, Natchitoches Parish CVB
    · Andy LeBouef, Mardi Gras World
    · Ralph Ney, Marriot Hotel Baton Rouge
    · Donna O’Daniels, St. Tammany Parish Tourist & Convention Commission
    · Lynette Tanner, Frogmore Plantation & Gins
    · Denise Thevenot, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping

    LTA also honored the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy graduates during the meeting. The 18 members of the LTLA class spent all of 2017 developing their leadership skills while learning from seasoned professionals from throughout the tourism industry. The goal of the program is to equip each class member with knowledge and skills that will enrich their tourism-related organizations, therefore strengthening the state-wide tourism industry.

    “LTLA has been a tremendous opportunity for those interested in learning more about Louisiana’s tourism industry, and we are proud of the 2017 graduating class,” said Jill Kidder, LTA President and CEO. “It is our hope that these professionals will utilize their new-found knowledge and experience to better themselves, their organizations and their state.”

    Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy 2018 graduate

    Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy 2018 graduate

    The graduating class of LTLA includes: Rebecca Blankenbaker, with Cane River National Heritage Area; Marica Brewster, with Von Mack Agency; Alvon Brumfield, with Louisiana Renaissance Festival; Kimberly Caldarera, with L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles; Megan Gavlick, with L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles; Katherine Johnson, with Natchitoches CVB; Zondra Jones, with St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission; Leslie Landeche, with Mardi Gras World; Barry Landry, with Louisiana Office of Tourism; Shanna Landry, with Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB; Kaylie Leblanc, with Lafayette CVC; Angie Manning, with Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB; Joshua McNemar, with Office of the Lt. Governor; Jessica Ragusa, with Office of the Lt. Governor; Madeline Sanchez, with Louisiana Travel Association; Timika Spurlock, with Sheraton New Orleans; Stella Thorton, with Louisiana Tax Free Shopping; and Kellie Walters, with Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou.

    LTA is a trade association leading and strengthening Louisiana’s vibrant tourism industry through promotion, education and advocacy on behalf of our members. The membership voted in early 2018 to shorten the association’s name and staff is working with an agency to reveal a full rebrand later this year. Tourism generated $1.04 billion for Louisiana in 2016 and employs more than 230,000 people throughout the state.

    ONLINE: LTPA.org

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    Technical assistance services available for small businesses impacted by floods

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development has announced an application deadline of Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the Restore Louisiana Small Business Program, which offers interest-free, partially forgivable loans to businesses impacted by the 2016 floods.

    The $43 million program is designed to help eligible businesses in the 51 parishes that were impacted by the March and August 2016 floods. To date, the program has funded about $11 million in loans.

    “This program has the potential to help many small businesses impacted by the 2016 floods, but time is running out,” OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes said. “The first step for owners to find out if they qualify is to apply, and we encourage all of those who are in the recovery process to do so before the deadline.”

    There are five participating lenders accepting applications throughout the 51 impacted parishes. Their information, as well as coverage area, office locations, program criteria and application instructions can be found on the Restore Louisiana website.

    The interest-free loans range from $10,000 to $150,000, with 40 percent of the loan forgiven if qualified borrowers comply with all program requirements.

    The loans can be used for working capital—such as rent, mortgage, utilities, non-owner employee wages and inventory—as well as for furniture and movable equipment. Construction-related expenses are not eligible. For more information, call (225) 219-7824.

    Representatives from the Restore Louisiana Small Business program will be available at upcoming outreach events for the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program, where representatives will answer questions and accept applications. Due to the recent winter weather, some outreach events have been rescheduled. Please note the new dates:

    • Feb. 5 – East Baton Rouge Parish Library/ Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Feb. 6 – Livingston Parish Library/ Denham Springs-Walker Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Feb. 7 – East Baton Rouge Parish Library/ Baker Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

    Flood-impacted small business owners are also encouraged to contact a local office of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center for technical assistance services. These centers can provide free one-on-one consulting, financial management guidance, business plan development, long-term recovery and sustainability plans, financial projecting and disaster preparedness planning. Click here for a list of locations and contact information.

    Read more »
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    Who to Watch: James Gilmore Jr., Ph.D

    On any given day, James Gilmore Jr, Ph.D., can be found actively push- ing a political issue, managing an athlete, marketing spa services, or fishing. Within his company, Bayard Management Group, he manages government relations, workforce development, and strategic planning for clients in healthcare, education, and private business. As a policy advisor, Gilmore has worked with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Gov. John Bel Edwards, and former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, leading the Children’s Cabinet and Louisiana Housing Finance Agency. He is also a founding member of the Mentorship Digital Media Academy and the Mentorship Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Academy.

    Gilmore is a member of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District where he works with a
    team tasked with bringing economic developments to the under-resourced area.

    Today, he maneuvers throughout the parish working with senior citizens in his role as chief administrative officer of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.

    What is your #1 priority right now? To ensure that Senior Citizens across East Baton Rogue Parish are provided the best quality of life and services via the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017: Director of Training for Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Director of the Children’s Cabinet Office of Governor John Bel Edwards, Chief Administrative Officer Office of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

    What to expect in 2018: I will monitor the performance of the recent $7.8 million annual millage passed in the 2016 election for the purposes of supporting senior citizens in East Baton Rouge Parish; strengthen police and community relations in East Baton Rouge Parish; host a Minority-Owned Business Expo in East Baton Rouge Parish; host an East Baton Rouge Parish Senior Expo; ensure that minorities have a more equitable share of City of Baton Rouge contract opportunities.

    Personal resolution: To live my best life daily

    Life/business motto: Stay organized and purposeful for high productivity.

    Business resolution: To ensure the success of my sports agency, spa, and work- force develop- ment training firm by hiring competent and reliable staff.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Everyone does not think like me, respect differences, and be capable of using discernment in personal and professional decision-making.

    Role models: President Barack Obama and Honorable Louis Farrakhan.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Ledesi, Smokie Norful, Big Krit, Chris Brown, Jeezy

    What are you reading? The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz

    Social media: James Gilmore (Facebook); Bayard_Sports (Instagram)

    Online: www.bayardmanagement. com and www.bayardsports.com 

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

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    Castine named New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center event manager

    Lauren Castine has been named event manager at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center–the sixth largest convention center in the nation. She will be responsible for managing all aspects of the event planning process. As a liaison between the Center and clients, she will guide clients through event preparation and show set-up, monitor in-house events and oversee all related activities to ensure successful events.”

    ONLINE: https://www.mccno.com/new-orleans-ernest-n-morial-convention-center-names-lauren-castine-event-manager/

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    Good Job workshop to teach how to get the job you really want

    Workshop will teach how to set goals and reach them this year 

    It’s a New Year and you’re still doing the same old thing. But it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

    The “Good Job workshop: How to get the job you really want in 2018” will teach you how to set your goals and reach them this year.  The workshop will be held Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. to noon at the EpiCenter, business and event center, 6220 Florida Blvd. Suite B, in Baton Rouge. The cost is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. (Register online)

    As part of the workshop, participants will learn effective goal-setting techniques, how to develop a plan and work it and valuable tips and strategies for pursuing their passions and following their dreams.

    The seminar is sponsored by Michelle McCalope, president of On Assignment Media, and the EpiCenter, a business and event center. The former award-winning journalist, author, and entrepreneur has 30 years of experience in the media and business industry.

    The seminar is based on McCalope’s motivational books, Good Job: A Guide to Pursuing Your Passions and Following Your Dreams  and That Good Job: Strategies for Pursuing Your Passions and Following Your Dreams. She shares the lessons she’s learned along the way to help inspire others to follow their dreams and not just settle for a job that pays the bills.

    Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information, email onassignmentmedia@gmail.com

    ONLINE:  www.goodjobworkshop18.eventbrite.com

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    City sees community pharmacies expand

    Following the closure of Community Pharmacy 1 Baton Rouge’s first Black-owned closed-door pharmacy, the city began to see an increase of pharmacies opening around the city and particularly in North Baton Rouge.

    Community Pharmacy focused on providing prescription drugs through health care providers like nursing homes and mental health facilities rather than directly to individual consumers. It wasn’t until 2008 that Baton Rouge customers would have other options for purchase medicine instead of at big-box pharmacies like Rite Aide and Walgreen’s. That year, Kimberly Murphy Paul, a registered pharmacist, opened Noah’s Pharmacy in Brusly, La. This has led the way to a type of surge in Black pharmacies opening in the city.

    According to state records, Belford Johnson and Duston Stacia, PharMD, became owners of Affordable Pharmacy in 2009. In 2015, Johnson and Jabari Alexander open a second location on Gardere Lane, Brent Landry opened Brent’s Pharmacy in Mid-City Baton Rouge. In February 2017, Eric Peters, PharMD, opened Lagniappe Pharmacy on Drusilla Lane while operating two locations in Gonzales since 2014.

    Each pharmacy has unique service or distinction. Noah’s Pharmacy has a digital app. Brent’s Pharmacy is a Health Mart franchise. Affordable Pharmacy, which offers free delivery, has earned AIDS Drug Assistance Programs credentials. All locations of Lagniappe Pharmacy has online prescription refills.

    The area will see its sixth Black-owned pharmacy, Parker’s Pharmacy, open in the Broadmoor Shopping Center on Florida Blvd this month. Owner Orlando J. Palmer Jr., Pharm, and brother Kyle will operate the new location which Orlando calls their “first”.

    Orlando Palmer is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy with a doctor of pharmacy.

    How would you describe what you do? As owner and Pharmacist in Charge, I am responsible for the day to day business aspects of the pharmacy. From filling patient prescriptions, counseling patients on their medication, training, coaching and managing employees.

    How did you get started? I’ve always known that one day I would start my own community pharmacy. My brother and I have been planning our vision for Parker’s Pharmacy for over two years. We both left Baton Rouge after high school to pursue college and professional goals. After 10 plus years away, we collectively decided that Baton Rouge was where we needed to be to continue our vision.Orlando Parker Pharmacy

    Where did your interest in pharmacy start? I always had an interest in healthcare growing up. I was going to be a pediatrician, anesthesiologist or pharmacist. The first two years of Pre-Med/Pre-Pharmacy college curriculum was the same. I decided to become a pharmacist and the rest is history.
    My pharmacy career consisted of retail pharmacy experience (Walgreen’s and CVS Pharmacy) and nuclear pharmacy experience (PETNET Solutions, a Siemens Company). Managing a nuclear manufacturer was very rewarding. Every single day, we assisted in the diagnosis and management of various cancer and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

    Why did you choose Baton Rouge? Baton Rouge is home, born and raised. My brother and I collectively made the decision to move back to Baton Rouge to grow our family and business.

    Why the Broadmoor area? The Broadmoor area needs a community pharmacy. It met all of our target site selection criteria. We have other Parker’s Pharmacy locations planned for the Baton Rouge area.

    What is most challenging aspect of your business? Poor service in business has been a documented issue. This include the retail/community pharmacy industry. It will be a challenge to decondition patients, to choose a better pharmacy experience, from the only thing they may currently know.

    What’s most rewarding? Improving patient health outcomes of family, friends and the community where I was born and raised.

    What are two things you wished everyone understood about pharmacy and medicine? Pharmacy, specifically prescription medications, is only one main component to improving and managing your health. Healthier food choices, diet, physical exercise, smoking cessation are also key components. The world of medicine will constantly evolve and Parker’s Pharmacy will be there for their patients to help guide them through those times.Parker family

    What do you think is the most important aspect of pharmacy? This is a tough question. I have gone back and forward with education and adherence as the most important aspects of pharmacy. Ultimately, I conclude education. Educating your patients on their new or current medication regimen and course of therapy. This includes directions, side effects, drug-drug interactions, drug-food interactions, any additional supplements needed, nutritional education, etc. The more time you take to educate your patients will ultimately improve adherence to medication. It’s a direct correlation to improved patient health outcomes.

    What are your goals or future plans? My goal is to provide an exceptional pharmacy experience to all patients. This includes customer service, education and awareness and improving the overall health of my community. We have plans for multiple Parker’s Pharmacy locations around the Baton Rouge metro area.

    Who works with you in the pharmacy? My brother Kyle Palmer is co-owner of Parker’s Pharmacy. His role is Director of Community Outreach Services. We also employ a team of pharmacist and pharmacy technicians.

    Should you (a pharmacist) be asked clinical questions? How do you handle clinical questions when asked? Every single day a pharmacist answers clinical questions. The intense college curriculum, clinical rotation requirements, national and state board exams and work experience allows pharmacist to continue to be one of the most trusted professionals. If a pharmacist is unable to pull up information from memory, there are ample clinical resources readily available.

    What unique business relationships or partnerships do you have in Baton Rouge? As we launched our business venture, we have partnered and aligned our services with many great organizations. These organizations are top notch when it comes to execution and results. Off the top of my head they include:
    1. The BYAN Group led by Courtney Scott for strategic planning and marketing
    2. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber for business development
    3. The Maxine Firm led by Ellen McKnight for nutritional support and logistics
    4. The CEO Foundation led by Jasiri Basel for community outreach
    5. Louisiana Healthcare Services led by Dr. Leah Cullins and Nicole Thomas for clinic services

    Why are you here? I love this question. This venture is way bigger than the impact of a neighborhood pharmacy on a community. My brother and I are here to build and strengthen our hometown community of Baton Rouge. We are here to provide HOPE to the community where we were born and raised, specifically 70805.

    ONLINE: parkersrx.com

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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  • ,,

    Study: Blacks work 30 jobs at high risk of automation

    Innovation is changing America, from self-checkout lanes in grocery stores to driverless cars. New jobs will emerge, like technicians who service these technologies. Other jobs will be eliminated, such as some cashiers and drivers.
    To what extent are Blacks—whose unemployment rates are already twice as high as those of Whites—currently represented in jobs at high risk to automation?

    According to a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, joblessness among Blacks is expected increase more because 30 jobs Blacks work in are at high risk of automation.

    “Twenty-seven percent of Black workers are concentrated in 30 occupations at high risk of automation. By comparison, these 30 occupations account for 24 percent of all white workers and 20 percent of all Asian-American workers,” according to the report Race and Jobs at High Risk of Automation.

    There are 3.3 million cashiers and 580,000 are Black or 3.22 percent of the Black workforce compared to 1.92 percent of the white workforce and 2.54 percent of the Asian workforce.

    There are 500,000 taxi drivers and chauffeurs and 143,000 are Black or 80 percent of the Black workforce compared to 21 percent of the white workforce and 87 percent of the Asian workforce.

    At risk are retail salespersons, cashiers, secretaries, administrative assistants, cooks, waiters, waitresses, laborers, freight and stock movers, hand construction laborers, accountants, auditors, receptionists, information clerks, grounds maintenance workers, office clerks, sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, food preparation workers, real estate brokers and sales agents, production workers, security guards, gaming surveillance officers, miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators, agricultural workers, inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, weighers, insurance sales agents, industrial truck and tractor operators, shipping/receiving traffic clerks, taxi drivers and chauffeurs, sales workers and truck drivers, billing and posting clerks, paralegals and legal Assistants, bus drivers, fast food workers, operating engineers, and construction equipment operators.

    “While automation will create new types of jobs, the Black community faces a unique combination of well-documented challenges that make it particularly vulnerable in labor-market transitions,” the report said. “These challenges include: an average household net worth that is one-tenth of whites, making periods without income particularly difficult.”

    The study also noted that automation could increase the Black unemployment rate from 7.5 percent to more than 20 percent. However, the study reported that economic disruption can create new opportunities that address long-standing social inequities. The Joint Center is a research and policy analysis institution focused exclusively on issues concerning people of color.

    ONLINE: jointcenter.org

    By Cora Lester
    The Drum reporter

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  • ,,,

    Southern University, LSBDC proclaim ‘Innovate now!’ with workshop series

    When innovation meets entrepreneurship, great things happen. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University and the Southern University Innovation Center are bringing to the capital region a series of trainings through an event called, “Innovate Now! When Innovation Meets Entrepreneurship” that will begin on January 16, 2018 at the Southern University Innovation Center located at 616 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA.

    Innovate Now! will build awareness and provide information to the small business community to inspire and inform aspiring and existing entrepreneurs about resources to help them succeed. This dynamic series addresses three major areas of focus: Innovation in Business, Product Innovation, and Innovation Globally.

    “Entrepreneurs want to be intellectually challenged, and want to make a difference in society while still obtaining financial gain,” said Ada Womack, LSBDC at Southern University interim director.

    Innovation is simply a new way of doing something, Womack said, and added that Innovation is defined as incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.

    Entrepreneurship is “one who takes a risk to start a small business.” Womack said the well- known Innovation Equation model is Innovation = Creativity + Risk-Taking.

    “Southern University offers Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship assistance all on one campus,” Womack said.

    Southern University has taken large steps towards developing its entrepreneurship and economic activity especially since the grand opening of its Innovation Center in September.

    Southern University Executive Director for Strategic Engagement Deanna Williams Smith said “we are equally as excited about the upcoming Innovate Now Campaign which allows the local business community to take advantage of the numerous resources offered in one stop.”

    “The SU Innovation Center provides attractive and affordable lease office space to small upcoming businesses as well as outreach programs for our students who are guided by an entrepreneurial spirit,” Smith said. “Through our partnership with the LSBDC, our business tenants have a unique opportunity to form critical partnerships, business training resources, and access to student and faculty engagement. It’s a great time to start the New Year with ideas and passion through innovation.”

    The Innovate Now! schedule:

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Innovation in Business: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Shakita Billups, Entrepreneur
    Anyone can be innovative. Innovation means coming up with new ways of doing things. During this session you will learn about bringing innovation into your business that can help you save time and money, and give you the competitive advantage to grow and adapt your business in the marketplace. Innovation can increase the likelihood of your business succeeding. Businesses that innovate create more efficient work processes and have better productivity and performance.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – Product Innovation: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker – Carlos Thomas
    What is product innovation? This session will provide an introduction to product innovation and the steps in creating your product or service that is new or significantly improved regarding characteristics or intended uses. These components are inclusive of significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics. Product innovations may include both new products and new uses for existing products.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – Innovation Globally: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Mike Smith, CEO-OPEX
    My business is going global! Many businesses are aware that there are hidden opportunities in global innovation. Global operations is a treasure trove of ideas and capabilities for innovation. It can be challenging going global with your ideas or exploit the capabilities in global innovation projects. Some of the challenges of global projects are familiar: figuring out the right role for top executives, for example, or finding a good balance between formal and informal project management processes. In this session you will learn about the challenges and benefits of taking your business global.

    ONLINE: www.lsbdc.org.

    page2image14256 page2image14416 page2image14576 page2image14736

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  • ,,

    Edwards makes board appointments to Children’s Trust Fund, polygraph, others

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

    Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board
    The Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board provides funds for non-profit and public agencies throughout the state for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

    Alicia C. Kober, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Kober is a pediatrician at Ochsner. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

    Shailindra M. “Lynn” Farris (photographed), of Baker, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Farris is a licensed clinical social worker and a Title IV-E Director at Southern University Baton Rouge. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

     

    Sabine River Authority
    The Sabine River Authority’s mission is to provide for economic utilization and preservation of the waters of the Sabine River and its tributaries by promoting economic development, irrigation, navigation, improved water supply, drainage, public recreation, and hydroelectric power for the citizens of Louisiana.

    Dayna F. Yeldell, of Zwolle, was appointed to the Sabine River Authority. Yeldell is a real estate broker and the owner of First Choice Real Estate Services, LLC. She will serve as a resident of Sabine Parish.

    Byron D. Gibbs, of Hackberry, was reappointed to the Sabine River Authority. Gibbs is a retired teacher, coach, and administrator with the Cameron Parish School Board and a veteran of the United States Air Force. He will serve as a resident of Cameron Parish.

     

    Louisiana State Polygraph Board
    The Louisiana State Polygraph Board issues polygraph examiners licenses and monitors the continuing education of polygraph examiners in the state of Louisiana.

    Don A. Zuelke, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Polygraph Board. Zuelke is a licensed polygraphist and the owner of Don A. Zuekle & Associates.

     

    Fluoridation Advisory Board
    The Fluoridation Advisory Board assists public water systems with obtaining funding to implement water fluoridation, assists the director of the state Oral Health Program with the educating of the general public, and advises the state Fluoridation Program.

    Alicia C. Kober, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Fluoridation Advisory Board. Kober is a pediatrician at Ochsner. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

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  • ,,,,

    BUSINESS EVENT: Monthly Pitch Competition Networking Mixer

    Best 30 second PITCH wins $250 in FREE marketing & advertising

    Our Purpose
    Build business and personal relationships through recurring networking events.

    Our Vision
    Be the most sought-after networking group in Lousiana.

    Our Mission
    Make each event better than the last by asking for feedback and help.

    Our Goal
    Have each attendee bring at least one of their most trusted and respected professional contacts as a new guest every time they come back to an event.

    We host Networking Events monthly on a Thursday from 6-8PM. We regularly have 1 complimentary drink for each preregistered guest and use the events to promote charitable causes.

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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.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    ‘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.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    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.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    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.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    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.

    Read more »
  • ,

    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.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    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.

    Read more »
  • ,

    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 »
  • ,,

    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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    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 »
  • ,,

    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

    Read more »
  • 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.

    Read more »
  • 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


    Read more »
  • ,,

    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.

    Read more »
  • 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

    Read more »
  • 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.

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