Week in Review, Feb. 22-26: From Amtrak to ‘Shark Tank’
NEW ORLEANS – Here, from staff and wire reports, are the week’s top stories:
City Eases Virus Restrictions
The City of New Orleans announced that new COVID-19 guidelines went into effect on Friday, Feb. 26. The new rules increase gathering size limits to 75 indoors and 150 outdoors, raise table limits to 15; and increase indoor stadium capacity to 15% and outdoor stadium capacity to 25%. The City said in a statement that the past 30 days have shown a “sustained decrease in case counts, transmission rate, and positivity rate, allowing for further easing of some restrictions. COVID-19 metrics remain low; case counts are around 50 cases per day, the positivity rate remains under 2%, and the transmission rate is well below 1.0.”
Chase Invests $10M in Liberty Bank
JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced that it has invested $10 million in Liberty Bank. “This infusion of capital will allow us to scale up our efforts to support small businesses, increase our mortgage lending and help refinance predatory lending products, which will result in significant cash flow enhancements for our most challenged communities,” said Liberty Bank President and CEO Alden J. McDonald Jr. “We appreciate the confidence JPMorgan Chase has placed in our ability to understand our customer base and offer financial services that build wealth in our communities.”
Amtrak Plans 2022 Return to Gulf Coast
Amtrak has told freight railroads it intends to resume service next year along the northern Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Mobile for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The plan would include two round trips daily with stops in four Mississippi cities: Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula. Freight operators CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. said they hope studies of the proposal continue, and details including schedules and the exact location of some train stops need to be worked out.
University of Holy Cross ‘Toasts’ New Beverage Lab
The University of Holy Cross has officially opened the Brown Foundation Beverage Science Laboratory at its West Bank campus. The comprehensive facility will allow faculty members from the university’s food science program to expand their curriculum to include the growing field of bottled and canned drink manufacturing. The new lab is made possible by support from the local Brown Foundation, which has funded nearly a half million dollars in grants to UHC’s food science program over the past six years.
Mandeville Inventors to Appear on ‘Shark Tank’
Two Mandeville inventors, Nita Gassen and Judy Schott, will appear on the Feb. 26 episode of the ABC TV business reality show Shark Tank to pitch their idea for a device that simplifies a common household chore: making the bed. The two moms-turned-entrepreneurs created the Better Bedder sheet fastener in 2018. “We were pinching ourselves the whole time we were on set pitching these billionaire Sharks,” said Gassen. “We still can’t believe they picked us to go on the show.”
Wine & Food Experience Plans June Event
Tickets are now on sale for the 2021 for the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, organizers have moved the event to June 9-13. “We are excited about our summer plans,” said Aimee Brown, NOWFE executive director. “We will have several of our popular events. However, coming together safely is most important. Rest assured NOWFE 2021 will be a safe place to share your love of food and wine.” Events will have limited attendance and some will have additional time slots added.