Week in Review, Jan. 11-15: Vaccinations Underway, Fests on the Move
NEW ORLEANS – While the nation remained riveted on the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, there was plenty of time for some big business stories here in New Orleans. Here, from staff and wire reports, are the highlights:
Dr. Kathy Baumgarten, featured on this week’s Biz Talks podcast, said a successful immunization program is the best way for the community to get back to normal life with the least amount of suffering. To that end, Ochsner reported on Jan. 11 that it has now administered 57,035 vaccine doses to employees, healthcare providers and eligible community members statewide and has more than 100,000 appointments scheduled. “For people not to get sick in the future, we need to reach herd immunity,” said Baumgarten. Other healthcare providers have been joining the effort to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana Department of Health released a list Monday of more than 200 pharmacies and clinics offering the COVID-19 vaccine this week, almost double the number of locations available last week. Supplies are limited and vaccinations are by appointment only. Residents who are at least 70 years old are eligible to get vaccinated.
Paycheck Protection Program is Back
The Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department have revived the Paycheck Protection Program five months after its first two rounds of funding ended. In the latest round, businesses that received loans last year will be able to borrow up to $2 million as long as they have no more than 300 employees and suffered at least a 25% drop in quarterly revenue. First-time borrowers with no more than 500 workers will be able to borrow up to $10 million.
The loans, which can be forgiven, will have five-year terms and carry an interest rate of 1%.
Edwards Renews Virus Restrictions
With an unrelenting coronavirus spike bearing down on Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards called on the state’s employers Tuesday to keep as many workers as possible in their homes, but he didn’t tighten restrictions on businesses any further. The Democratic governor said he’s renewed the same coronavirus rules that he’s had in place since late November, which were slated to expire Wednesday. Those rules include a statewide mask mandate, limits on crowd sizes, provisions keeping bars limited to outdoor and takeout service and restrictions on the number of customers allowed in nonessential businesses such as restaurants, gyms and salons.
Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest Move to the Fall
French Quarter Fest announced it will kick off on Sept. 30 and wrap on up Oct. 3 using a modified layout that adheres to CDC protocols and guidelines. In 2022, French Quarter Festival will return to its traditional April date. “Although French Quarter Fest typically takes place in April, the ongoing COVID crisis has made it necessary for us to remain flexible,” said Emily Madero, CEO of FQFI, in a press release. “As one of the largest free music and food festivals in the United States, we always want to ensure our impact is in the best interest of the City and our French Quarter neighbors and businesses.”
Meanwhile, it’s not official, but various sources are reporting that the 2021 version of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will be scheduled for Oct. 8-10 and Oct. 15-17. That places the hugely popular celebration of New Orleans music, food and culture on the two weekends after French Quarter Fest, which will be Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. An official announcement is likely coming next week. Both festivals were cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic and both are moving their dates from the spring to the fall of 2021 for the same reason. It’s going to be a busy fall: Voodoo Vest is scheduled to happen Oct. 29-31 in City Park and the Buku Music + Art Project may also take place around that time. No lineups have been announced.
City Park Welcomes New CEO
The City Park Improvement Association has announced that Cara Lambright will become the next chief executive officer of the 167 year-old park starting this February. “We are starting 2021 with a clear and progressive plan for the Park’s future that will continue to build on our previous successes in recent years,” said CPIA President Jay Batt in a letter to park supporters. Lambright comes to City Park from Memorial Park Conservancy in Houston, where she produced a nationally recognized master plan, negotiated a 30-year operating agreement with the City of Houston, quadrupled the park’s annual operating budget and raised over $200 million for capital improvements.
New Holiday Inn Resort Opens on Carondelet
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Incorporated, a national vacation ownership company, has announced the opening of its New Orleans resort at 203 Carondelet St. The historic property, originally built in 1893 as New Orleans’ first skyscraper, was acquired by Holiday Inn Club Vacations in 2019 and converted into a 105-villa resort. The company hired 45 new team members. “Despite the many challenges caused by the pandemic, we remained hopeful and excited to open this incredible resort,” said Tom Nelson, Holiday Inn Club Vacations CEO. One block from Bourbon Street, the resort offers full-size villas with one- and two-bedroom layouts that include kitchens and living rooms. The first floor of the resort contains a marketplace and the Maritime Bar & Lounge, a full-service bar that is expected to open later this year. On the building’s top floor, there is a fitness center, outdoor dipping pool and rooftop terrace.