JEDCO Announces 2019 Award Recipients

KENNER – The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) celebrated a successful year of economic development wins and initiatives at its annual year-end meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5. The 2019 JEDCO Annual Luncheon sponsored by Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company is JEDCO’s largest event of the year, offering opportunities to highlight the organization’s successes in front of hundreds of regional business and community leaders. This year’s event touched on major projects, such as the Churchill Park Master Plan, the continued focus on securing tenants for the iconic Avondale Marine property, the reimagining of Clearview Shopping Center and the retention of U.S. Foods. The organization also announced the recipients of its 2019 business awards at the event.

Each year, JEDCO recognizes a small business for its contribution to the Jefferson Parish economy and community. The Small Business of the Year Award is given to companies that grow their employee numbers, increase their revenues and give back to the community in meaningful ways. This year, JEDCO selected two companies to receive this prestigious recognition: Magnolia Physical Therapy and High Level Speech & Hearing Center.

Dr. Lana Joseph-Ford founded High Level Speech & Hearing Center in Harahan with the help of JEDCO funding in 2016. It was her goal to bring speech and hearing services to an underserved community. Since then, the business has grown exponentially to serve over 20,000 patients. High Level Hearing currently employs 30 people, up 50% from 2017. In 2019, the business saw 160% revenue growth. The clear success of the first location allowed Dr. Joseph-Ford to open a second location in New Orleans in 2018. The business contributed over $100,000 in charitable donations and has partnered with more than 70 schools and daycare centers in Louisiana since its inception. Dr. Joseph-Ford was named a 2018 Business Person of the Year by Biz New Orleans and has a strong presence within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Magnolia Physical Therapy, a privately-owned outpatient physical therapy practice, began in Jefferson Parish nearly 15 years ago with just three employees in a 1,200 square foot space. Today, Magnolia has 61 people on its staff and it occupies a 13,000 square foot facility. The company’s annual revenues have grown year after year. Magnolia has taken a company-wide approach to educate the public about the benefits of physical therapy. The business was instrumental in lobbying for direct access to physical therapy care in 2016. The passing of this legislature allows the public to seek and receive physical therapy services without the costs of referrals or unnecessary testing. In 2019 alone, Magnolia Physical Therapy provided nearly 1,000 hours of community service in the forms of free massage, physical therapy screenings and educational seminars across the city.

Bill Ganon, founder of The Ganon Group, received the 2019 Business Retention & Expansion Award, which is given to an individual or business that has been instrumental in the retention and expansion of jobs and businesses in Jefferson Parish.  Bill has been a longtime partner of the JEDCO Challenge, a pitch competition for startup companies with ties to Jefferson Parish. Bill’s longtime experience with organizational communication and sales performance has made him an ideal pitch coach for the entrepreneurs who participate in the annual competition. Despite a busy schedule, which includes travel to various parts of the country for multiple clients, Bill offers his unique skill set to each of the JEDCO Challenge finalists in order to prepare them for a seven-minute, live pitch in front of an audience tasked with choosing one winner. He offers multiple training sessions and invaluable advice to prepare small business owners for the pitch competition and beyond. Once the competition is over, he continues to provide support as the business grow within the region. He maintains a healthy knowledge of each entrepreneur’s business trajectory, so he can step in and offer guidance as they go before investors, industry leaders and more. Bill also supports JEDCO in another role. For many years, he has been a presenter at the monthly Prosper Jefferson seminar series, providing valuable and informative content on Public Speaking, Sales and Networking to the small business owners in attendance. His passion, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit have set a gold standard for the JEDCO Challenge finalists and all of the business owners who work with him.

JEDCO’s 2019 Chairman of the Board, Lloyd Clark, presented Bruce Layburn with the Chairman’s Champion Award. Bruce serves on the Board of Directors for the Homebuilder’s Association of Greater New Orleans. JEDCO worked with local stakeholders and elected officials to develop the Terrytown Neighborhood Revitalization Strategic Plan. The plan calls for improved neighborhood amenities and infrastructure, development of desirable housing units, and incentives to improve existing housing stock.

During the planning process, Bruce met with JEDCO, Jefferson Parish leadership, Tulane, and other partners on countless occasions to provide expert knowledge and input pertaining to real estate development in the region, including considerations for market trends, flood zones, financing, real estate data, and other key details that proved to be crucial feedback for the development of the plan. Bruce continues to spearhead major components of this strategy, including the development of a program that will build and renovate houses in Terrytown to follow the plan’s architectural design guidelines. His work with Terrytown is driven by his passion for bettering Jefferson Parish. It follows years of similar service on the JEDCO board.

“This annual event allows us an opportunity to formally showcase a year of wins for JEDCO, and to recognize the many partners that supported our efforts along the way,” said JEDCO President & CEO Jerry Bologna. “This year’s award winners are integral to the continued prosperity of the Jefferson Parish economy. Their work moves us forward, builds momentum, and allows for innovation, helping us to create the future we all want. We are so grateful for their contributions to Jefferson Parish.”

JEDCO recognized multiple key project partners at the Annual Luncheon as well, including Louisiana Economic Development, Greater New Orleans, Inc., Port of New Orleans and the Public Belt, the Jefferson Parish Council and Administration, and multiple business organizations such as the Jefferson Business Council and the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. The 2019 JEDCO Annual Luncheon took place at the Hilton New Orleans Airport on Airline Drive.

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