Week in Review, Aug. 23-27: All Eyes on Ida
NEW ORLEANS – The National Hurricane Center warned that Tropical Storm Ida could intensify and hit New Orleans as a Category 3 hurricane on Sunday, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. “The forecast track has it headed straight towards New Orleans. Not good,” said Jim Kossin, a senior scientist with the Climate Service, according to the Associated Press.
On Friday, local residents and businesses focused on preparing for the storm.
Here, from staff and wire reports, are the other top business stories of the week:
On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which, up until now, had only been available through the agency’s emergency use authorization. The move is likely to encourage more vaccine mandates by companies, universities and local governments. Ochsner Health was one of the first to require all of its physicians, providers and employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 29.
Blue Bikes will be rolling on city streets again starting this week, after a year’s absence. Blue Krewe, the local, community-based nonprofit that operates and manages the bikeshare program, has relaunched the program with a fleet of 504 pedal-assist e-bikes.
Starting this week, Blue Krewe is placing Blue Bikes at hubs throughout the city; the full complement should be out on the streets by the end of the week and well in advance of Labor Day Weekend.
Louisiana State University is forgiving more than $7 million in student debt using COVID-19 relief funds, the latest allocation in what LSU officials say has been $25 million in student relief since the pandemic began. “In an effort to continue providing access to an LSU education, we have made the decision to clear all unpaid prior tuition and fee balances for LSU students who enrolled at any point during the COVID-19 pandemic period,” LSU Vice President for Enrollment Management Jose Aviles said.
Tim Coulon will leave his position as executive director of the Jefferson Business Council at the end of the year, announced Eric Bosch, JBC chairman, during the Aug. 18 general membership meeting. The JBC is a membership-based organization comprised of Jefferson’s influential business and civic-minded leaders. The group’s mission is to “encourage, promote and enhance the economic posture, social welfare, and environment of Jefferson Parish and the surrounding region.”
The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission has announced that global food manufacturer Fuji Vegetable Oil has commenced operations at its new processing facility in Avondale. The specialty oil and fat producer broke ground in late 2018 on a $70 million food processing, storage, and distribution complex on property owned by International-Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT) with construction completed in August 2021. The company created 45 direct jobs with an average annual salary of $77,000, plus benefits.
At an Aug. 26 meeting, the board of commissioners of the Port of New Orleans unanimously approved a contract for program management and program control services to HDR Engineering Inc., a global engineering and consulting firm, as part of the multi-year due diligence and permitting process for the proposed Louisiana International Terminal container facility in St. Bernard Parish. In December 2020, Port NOLA purchased approximately 1,100 acres of land for the project next to the existing Port of St. Bernard in Violet. In July, infrastructure consulting firm AECOM signed on to provide preliminary design and permitting support. Next steps will include consideration and evaluation of a potential terminal operator and financial partners. Neighborhood groups and local officials have raised concerns about the project’s impact on the area, but the port says the expansion is necessary for the city’s transportation/logistics industry to keep pace with regional competitors.
A teenager is among the latest COVID-19 victims to die in Louisiana as officials in the state and nationwide express worries about the increasing number of children affected by the disease.
Louisiana’s health department reported more than 5,100 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday and 72 virus-related deaths. However, hospitalizations statewide continued a downward trend. The latest figure of 2,729 — while still well above the peaks hit in three previous surges — is down from more than 3,000 earlier this month.