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

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

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

      Tony Brown

      Tony Brown

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

    Untitled4pm event.

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

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    Liberty Tax Service Offers Tuition-Free Tax School, Sept 12

     Liberty Tax Service at 4911 S Sherwood Forest Blvd and 1402 N Burnside in Gonzales will offer a 10-week, tuition-free* Tax School for aspiring tax preparers, do-it-yourself filers, and those who want a better understanding of income taxes, beginning September 12, 2017.

    Tax School combines classroom discussion with hands-on learning. It offers practice in preparing income tax returns and covers a variety of topics, including: filing status, exemptions, tax credits, and more. Students learn about the tax code and gain a new, marketable skill. Those who successfully compete the course can apply for positions with Liberty Tax Service.

    Registration is open now for the Liberty Tax School that runs September 12, 2017. Small fee for books and supplies. Enrollment in, or completion of, the Liberty Tax Course is neither an offer nor a guarantee of employment, except as may be required by the state. Additional qualifications may be required. Enrollment restrictions apply. State restrictions may apply and additional training may be required. Valid at participating locations only. Void where prohibited. Liberty is an equal opportunity employer.

    For more information, call Liberty Tax Service at (225) 778-5892 or visit the Baton Rouge office at 4911 S Sherwood Forest Blvd.

     

     

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    A Different Kind of Saint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tyrone Leggett. Photo by BlackBoot News.

    Tyrone Leggett. Photo by BlackBoot News.


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

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

    Football helped shape Legette as a businessman. “There would be 80,000 people in the Superdome but you don’t really see any of them. You hear them, but you don’t really see them,” he explained. “You have to have tunnel vision to get the job done. You have to ignore everything around you and focus on what’s right in front of you. As a visionary, I have learned that same concept has to be applied to business.”
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    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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    Connect2Black launches in New Orleans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE:connect2black.com

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    Southern calls Town Hall to discuss medical marijuana venture

    The Southern University land-grant campus–consisting of the SU Ag Center and College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences–will host a Medical Marijuana Town Hall on Feb. 23, at 2pm in the Southern University Ag Center, A. O. Williams Hall, 181 B. A. Little Drive in Baton Rouge.

    The meeting will provide an overview of the land-grant campus’ medical marijuana venture.

    Potential vendors and the public are invited to attend. Individuals must pre-register to attend the meeting by visiting www.suagcenter.com/townhall.

    The land-grant campus is requesting that all questions from vendors regarding the Medical Marijuana Program be emailed in advance to Janana Snowden, Ph.D., at janana_snowden@suagcenter.com. The deadline to submit questions is at noon on February 21. All questions received will be addressed during the Town Hall.

     

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    Stantec promotes aspiring engineer through North BR program

    Stantec, a Baton Rouge engineering and design firm, recently extended a full-time internship opportunity to Elvis Richard Jr.  Richard is a senior at Scotlandville Magnet High School and aspires to be an engineer.

    Richard was first introduced to Stantec through UREC’s North Baton Rouge Youth Development Program (NBR) two years ago. Through the NBR program, he was afforded the opportunity to job shadow and receive direct professional mentorship from engineers at Stantec.

    The exposure has resulted in significant growth for Richard, who says he is more disciplined and serious about his future as a result of the opportunities he has received.  He also has great respect and appreciation for his Stantec mentors for pointing him in the right direction.

    Since 2014, Stantec Engineer Matthew Davis has supervised Richard, ensuring that his understudy obtains the technical and soft skills needed to be competitive.  Similarly, Stantec Project Manager Joseph Cains III serves as the company’s NBR liaison; he holds Richard accountable on researching colleges and scholarship opportunities.

    “It builds you up. It motivates you to be successful because I wasn’t on the right track,” Richard said of his Stantec opportunities.

    Evlis Richard Jr_NBR 2014 - Copy

    As a result of the experiences, Richard improved his presentation and technical writing skills.  He also leveraged his NBR experience to grow his relationship with Stantec.

    ONLINE: www.urecbr.com

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

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

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    Small business and recruitment events end June 4

    East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden will host a series of events during the first week of June to foster the growth of opportunities for small, woman-owned and minority businesses, and individuals seeking employment.  All events are free, but participants for each event are asked to register in advance online at http://businesswithbr.com.

    The Mayor will kick off the week by welcoming the Women’s Business Enterprise Council, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and the Southern Regional Minority Supplier Development Council fora 6pm networking event on June 1, at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel, 777 L’Auberge Avenue.

    From 9am – 1pm, June 2 the Mayor will host a technology recruitment fair for those seeking employment opportunities.  Representatives will be sourcing business consultants, designers, certified professionals, programmers and other highly skilled technical professionals.   This fair will take place at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel.  Holden encourages those attending to come dressed for success with several copies of their resume.

    The Mayor will then host his 4th annual Small Business Development Summit on June 4 , to help local businesses explore possible contracting opportunities with the City-Parish. The summit will be held from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel.

    Representatives from the following city-parish departments will be on hand to discuss their processes for procuring goods and services, and to provide information about how small businesses can take advantage of those opportunities:
    •           Purchasing
    •           Mayor’s Office of Community Development
    •           East Baton Rouge Parish Library
    •           Downtown Development District
    •           Sanitary Sewer Overflow Program/Department of Public Works
    •           Fire Department
    •           Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
    •           Division of Human Development and Services
    •           Juvenile Services
    •           Information Services

     There will also be opportunities to meet one-on-one with city-parish departments, procurement managers and technical assistance partner.

    “Building on our past successes, this year’s upcoming summit will again work to strengthen the local pool of qualified small businesses and  help small business owners achieve success by providing one-on-one consulting, networking opportunities and other assistance,” Holden said.

    All three events, including the summit are free, but participants are asked to register in advance online.

     

    Business with Baton Rouge is part of the Mayor’s Small Business Investment Initiative administered by the Mayor’s Office of Community Development to stimulate the local economy through small business growth.   The program is funded by an SBA grant obtained by the Mayor for supporting entrepreneurship, creating jobs and stimulating local economic recovery and growth. 

    The Business with Baton Rouge program, coordinated by the City-Parish Business Development Coordinator, Stacie Williams,  brings our City-Parish agencies together to assure there is consistency across programs designed to encourage small business participation. 

     

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    Baby Dolls Cafe relocates to larger site

     

    Babydolls

    Baby Dolls Cafe celebrates its second quarter in its new 7869 Greenwell Springs Rd. location in Baton Rouge.

    The owners and staff boast a “good ol’ taste from New Orleans,” with great tasting Southern soul food and seafood. “From our gourmet cinnamon rolls, to our slow cooked falling-of-the-bone ribs, just like Grandma used to cook, our food will certainly guarantee your return. You will experience New Orleans cuisine from the time you walk into our Cajun atmosphere. Locals love us and we love you, come stop by today at Baby Dolls Cafe!”baby dolls ribs

    Daily lunch specials with sides for $6.49
    Hours: 6am – 11pm, Monday – Saturday
    6am – 7pm Sunday
    Call in orders to: (225) 372-2295
    Menu available online at www.babydollscafe.us

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    Technology firm to bring 200 jobs

    LAFAYETTE– Perficient, a St. Louis-based information technology and management consulting firm, will open a center in Lafayette that hopes to create 245 full-time jobs within six years and spawn 248 indirect jobs, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Perficient President and CEO Jeff Davis announced Sept. 4. The company will open in November and begin hiring. Operations will begin in late 2014 and the company hopes to reach 50 employees by the end of 2015, Davis said. The direct jobs will average $60,000 a year in pay, plus benefits. The company is expected to provide jobs for computer science graduates from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College, which initiated a two-year software application program this semester.

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  • Dunkin Donuts to open in North Baton Rouge

    Dunkin Donuts will open their newest location at 8121 Florida Blvd, in North Baton Rouge, Feb. 12, with a grand opening celebration.

    The restaurant will be open 7 days a week from 5a.m. to 10p.m. and feature free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen television, and a full service drive thru. To celebrate the grand opening, Dunkin Donuts will offer patrons 99cent regular and iced coffee along with door prizes.

    The restaurant will employ 35 residents and  is located at  the former location of Enterprise car rental at the corner of Wooddale Blvd and Florida Blvd.
    image

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