Week in Review, Aug. 31-Sept. 4: Business Community Helping Laura Evacuees

Tropical Weather
A statue of Jesus that had fallen during Hurricane Laura was uprighted by unknown persons, amid devastation in Holly Beach, La., in the aftermath of the hurricane, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS – City officials, state leaders, the business community and individuals all worked this week to aid residents of southwest Louisiana who have been affected by Hurricane Laura.

Among the efforts:

  • New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan is joining with United Way of Southeast Louisiana to help raise funds via GoFundMe to support immediate response and long-term recovery efforts for areas of Louisiana affected by Hurricane Laura.
  • NOLA Public Schools announced the donation of more than 400 care packages for elementary and secondary school students affected by Hurricane Laura.
  • Cavan restaurant is partnering with disaster recovery nonprofit SBP to help with Hurricane Laura disaster relief.
  • Urban South Brewery has announced the Coastal Harmony beer collaboration, an initiative created to raise awareness and funds for the communities impacted by Hurricane Laura.
  • UnitedHealthcare is donating $500,000 to the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana to help residents recover and rebuild following the devastating impact of Hurricane Laura.

That is by no means a complete list.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, meanwhile, said this week that the total cost of the storm is likely to exceed $700 million, a key threshold that means the federal government will pay a higher percentage of the cost to clean up.

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts to support New Orleans’ struggling hospitality workers continue as well. Everybody from LCMC Health to Emeril Lagasse has joined the cause. And the City of New Orleans Department of Safety and Permits has announced it will extend through the end of 2020 its temporary suspension of enforcement of off-street parking requirements for eligible restaurants and bars and will continue to issue sidewalk use permits in order to provide additional outdoor seating.

Here, from staff and wire reports, are some of the other most notable business stories of the week:

Tulane University said it will team up with partners in Louisiana and Israel to lead one of the country’s three inaugural U.S.-Israel Energy Centers aimed at improving the safety, efficiency and sustainability of offshore natural gas production. The five-year, $27 million initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy and Israel’s Ministry of Energy, will, in partnership with industry, work to develop and deploy new and critical technologies for the fossil energy, energy storage, and energy-water nexus sectors. “I am thrilled that Tulane will be leading the U.S. component of this consortium involving nearly 40 scientists from 10 different organizations in the U.S. and Israel,” said project leader Daniel Shantz. “The mission of the Center, to more safely extract and more efficiently utilize natural gas, is an important one to both nations as we continue to expand energy consumption while lowering our environmental footprint.”

Elsewhere, Clearview City Center’s management team has kicked off construction of its $100 million mixed-use development with the announcement of its first new tenant, Regions Bank, which has a branch under construction at the corner of Clearview Parkway and Veterans Boulevard. “This first phase of construction marks an important milestone in the development of Clearview City Center, which will completely transform this area and provide world-class amenities for all who live, work and play in Jefferson Parish,” said Thomas Richards, Clearview City Center managing partner.

Providing more positive economic news, the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission and Service Corporation International announced that SCI, through its Stewart Enterprises Inc. subsidiary, will create 115 new direct jobs based at the Stewart offices in the Elmwood area of Jefferson Parish. The new jobs will be filled by Louisiana residents and will provide an average annual salary of $47,000, plus benefits. Founded in New Orleans in 1910, Stewart has had a presence in Jefferson Parish for more than 100 years. After acquiring Stewart seven years ago, Houston-based SCI retained more than 130 corporate jobs in Jefferson Parish. As part of this project, the company is retaining an existing workforce across Louisiana that has averaged 600 employees during the past year.

And, from the startup world: newcomer Gasology has announced the release of a marketplace built using patented technology that will allow consumers to purchase motor fuel online. The startup’s suite of web-based and mobile apps enables motor fuel suppliers and buyers to connect using a design the company hopes will transform an industry which has not materially changed since the 1800s. 

And, finally, two dispatches from the worlds of media and entertainment:

WWNO New Orleans Public Radio announced that Priska Neely has been hired as the first managing editor of the Gulf States Newsroom, the new collaboration among NPR, WWNO, WRKF Baton Rouge, Mississippi Public Broadcasting and WBHM Birmingham. Through the Gulf States Newsroom, NPR and the participating Gulf States broadcasters will build a regional team of beat reporters designed to strengthen reporting across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, a region in which legacy media organizations are challenged to maintain local news coverage. In Louisiana, the Gulf States Newsroom will enable the addition of two or more reporting positions to the WWNO-WRKF Regional Newsroom.

And Film New Orleans, the city’s film office, justifiably bragged about the Netflix feature film “Project Power,” which was filmed in New Orleans and has become the No. 1 film on the popular streaming service in 100 countries. The movie stars Jamie Foxx and Joseph-Gordon Levitt. Filmed in late 2018 and 2019, “Project Power” is an action thriller set in New Orleans in the near future when humans can take a drug to unleash a particular superpower for five minutes at a time. The film features scenes at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Port of New Orleans and Canal Street.


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