Week in Review, June 28-July 2: Port Plans, Crime Worries, Cash for Athletes

Joe Labarriere
Photo by Joe Labarriere (courtesy of Port NOLA)

NEW ORLEANS – Here are the week’s top business stories:

The Port of New Orleans has issued a Request for Proposals for program management/program controls services for the development of its hoped-for Louisiana International Terminal (LIT) container facility in St. Bernard Parish. Responses to the RFP are due on July 13. This is the second RFP that has been issued related to LIT. The Port said a contract for assistance with preliminary design and permit support services is expected to be awarded at a July Board of Port Commissioners meeting. “This RFP represents tangible progress toward maintaining our gateway’s continued competitive advantage and building on Port NOLA’s 50-year history as Louisiana’s only international container port,” said Brandy D. Christian, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, in a release. “A second terminal ensures we will be able to meet current and future container volume demand and continue to serve Louisiana as an economic driver, creating new jobs and unmatched opportunities for private sector businesses.” …

Seventy-four percent of New Orleans residents believe the crime problem in the city has gotten worse over the last year, according to the latest annual survey conducted by the New Orleans Crime Coalition. The June 11-17 survey, conducted by Faucheux Strategies, was designed to measure public perception of the performance of the New Orleans Police Department and resident opinions and concerns regarding crime in the City. Designed to track trends over time in how New Orleans residents view NOPD, the study is based on a representative sample of 800 adult residents of New Orleans with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. The survey was conducted by live telephone interviewers via cell and landlines. …

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Delta Biofuel CEO Philip Keating announced the company is evaluating Iberia Parish, Louisiana, for a planned $70 million renewable fuel plant. The planned production facility would produce biomass fuel pellets made from residual sugarcane fiber, known as bagasse. If located in Louisiana, Delta would create 126 new direct jobs with an average salary of $62,500, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project would also result in 149 indirect jobs, for a total 275 new jobs in the Acadiana region. The production facility’s peak construction would generate up to 100 construction jobs. Delta has secured long-term supplies of feedstock bagasse, which can be processed into biomass fuel pellets and used alongside, or in lieu of, standard industrial wood pellets in power generation. Bagasse fuel pellets are lower cost alternatives to typical wood pellets, and also result in greater reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, or GHGs. European and Asian power and industrial heating plants transitioning away from fossil fuels now use over 25 million metric tons per year of wood pellet biomass, primarily displacing thermal coal as a feedstock. The use of biomass fuel pellets results in a reduction of GHG emissions more than 100 percent versus the use of fossil fuel in these plants. The Jeanerette facility would produce up to 300,000 metric tons of bagasse fuel pellets annually. …

The AP reports that District Donuts is branching into Mississippi.The chain already has five locations in New Orleans and one at a Las Vegas hotel. Now, the Clarion Ledger reports, the business is taking over a space in Jackson’s Bellhaven Center. A complete remodeling of the space will include indoor and outdoor seating. District (full name “District Donuts. Sliders. Brew.” to reflect its menu of craft doughnuts, specialty coffee and sliders) is taking over the spot that was home to Campbell’s Craft Donuts. …

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit watchdog group, has released a report on the City of New Orleans’ decision last fall to increase pension benefits by 32% for all future hires and retroactively for about 1,000 employees hired since 2018. This reversed a benefit reduction plan enacted three years earlier. BGR said its analysis of the pension increases reveals “significant problems with virtually every aspect of the decision-making process.” …

From the AP: Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday signed legislation creating the framework for Louisiana college athletes to earn money from endorsements and sponsorship agreements, as players on some campuses already have started inking such deals. The governor’s announcement came a day after the NCAA Board of Directors agreed to a temporary national policy allowing the compensation, pressured as more and more states authorized student athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. Many of those laws — including in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas — took effect Thursday. Louisiana’s bill by Sen. Pat Connick, a Marrero Republican, setting the state’s rules was enacted as soon as the Democratic governor signed his name to the measure. Edwards called it “a critical and historic moment for athletes in Louisiana.” “It is only fitting that college athletes be able to benefit financially from their hard work and to have more control over their personal likenesses, which many organizations and entities have already done for years. It’s beyond time for this law, and I am excited for the opportunities it will open for Louisiana’s talented athletes,” the governor said in a statement.

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