Week in Review, Feb. 7: Advano Raises $18.5 million, Scariano Expands
Happy first week of February! Here are a few highlights from the week’s business news:
Parishes west of Louisiana’s capital city will see expanded high-speed internet connections as part of a $15 million federal project to improve online access in rural communities. This news came on the heels of a report that the Louisiana town of Grosse Tete earned the dubious distinction of having the slowest internet speed in the country.
New Orleans’ own Melvin Rodrigue, president and CEO of Galatoire’s Restaurants, will serve as the 2020 board chair of the National Restaurant Association, the foodservice trade association that represents a half million restaurant businesses.
Trendy gym chain Blink Fitness is looking for a franchisee to open four or more locations in New Orleans. Blink’s reputation is built on low monthly membership fees combined with high-end amenities. Possible locations include Mid-City, the West Bank, Metairie/Kenner and New Orleans East.
Patricia “Pat” Brister, a former chairwoman of Louisiana’s Republican Party who served two terms as president of St. Tammany Parish, died early Monday at age 73. Brister was mourned throughout the week by friends, family and fans.
A vote by the Mobile City Council on Tuesday moved the northern Gulf Coast one step closer to a resumption of regular Amtrak service for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. For years, Mobile and the state of Alabama had resisted committing resources to repairing the tracks damaged by the storm. Louisiana and Mississippi have already signed on to the project.
The Big Easy is getting an infusion of Silicon Valley glamor and money thanks to … silicon. Local business boosters cheered when news broke last month that upstart tech company Advano – founded by New Orleanian Alexander Girau – had raised $18.5 million to fund efforts to create a patented form of powdered silicon that will improve the performance of the lithium-ion batteries.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office confirmed in an email to Biz New Orleans that mid-March is the planned time frame for the controlled implosion of the Hard Rock Hotel disaster site but no specific date has been announced. Estimates are the emergency has cost the city around $12 million so far in direct expenses and lost revenue.
Scariano Wholesale Foods announced a $10 million expansion of its wholesale food distribution facility near Hammond. The project aims to improve transportation, access and logistics at the site while creating 20 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $42,000 plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the expansion will result in an additional 27 new indirect jobs, for a total of 47.