Week in Review, March 15-19: Drew Makes Moves
NEW ORLEANS – Stimulus payments began arriving in many New Orleanians’ checking accounts this week as a result of the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act. The $1.9 trillion law is intended to provide far-reaching relief from the economic and other repercussions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to funding for testing, contact tracing, vaccinations, education, and state and local governments, the ARPA includes extensive relief that will directly impact many people’s finances. Hannis T. Bourgeois CPAs and Business Advisors explains the highlights of the bill.
Meanwhile, in more good news related to the pandemic, the AP reported that Gov. John Bel Edwards has further expanded eligibility to a long list of healthy essential workers in Louisiana who don’t have one of the two dozen medical conditions that already provided access to the shots. As the Democratic governor announced the widened eligibility, the state also kicked off an outreach campaign aimed at getting vaccines to people in underserved areas and persuading those who are skeptical — as the state continues to see available, unused appointments for its vaccine doses. The new immunization eligibility rules, which take effect Monday, will include workers at grocery stores, bars, restaurants and colleges. That’s expected to be the last expansion of access before Edwards throws open vaccinations to all adults around the state. Already, most of the adult population is expected to meet one of the eligibility criteria on the books.
Here are more of the week’s top business stories:
Drew Makes News
Drew Brees joined NBC Sports on Monday, a day after announcing his retirement from the NFL, reported the AP. He will serve as an analyst for Notre Dame games as well as work from the studio during “Football Night in America” on Sunday nights. “I’m excited about that journey. I’m excited to stay very closely connected with the game of football, it’s been such an important part of my life,” Brees said during an appearance on the “Today” show. “And I continue to be able to talk about it and show a passion for it and bring my kids along for the ride there, as well, and let them be part of some of those special moments.” … Brees didn’t waste time transitioning to other projects: News broke this week that a development team featuring Brees and current Saints lineback Demario Davis is among the finalists selected by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration to potentially redevelop the former Six Flags site in New Orleans East. The team’s plan is to build educational centers, with a focus on urban agriculture, along with a transportation and logistics hub.
Louisiana Talent in National Spotlight …
Louisiana’s creative talent was featured at Sunday’s Grammy Award presentations and Monday’s Academy Award nomination announcements. Six Louisiana acts scored Grammy wins, in categories ranging from jazz to blues to gospel. Two Louisiana-made motion pictures earned a total of four Academy Award nominations, and four additional Oscar nominations went to Louisiana-based artists for other projects. “The success of Louisiana artists with this year’s Grammy Awards wins and Academy Award nominations demonstrates that our traditional leadership role in entertainment is still recognized as best-in-class,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said.
… and Entergy Problems Under a Microscope
Entergy, the utility company serving New Orleans, has been in the news for the wrong reasons lately. Utility regulators recently filed a federal complaint seeking more than $1 billion in customers refunds after, the complaint says, Entergy wrongfully charged them for expenses at the problematic Grand Gulf nuclear power station. The company also recently admitted to cutting four times as much electricity as it needed to during emergency winter weather blackouts in late February. And there’s a front-page story this week about customers frustrated with recent spikes in their bills. Now, responding to requests from several groups, the New Orleans City Council has ordered a full management audit to identify cost-savings and recommend corrective action.
Startups Compete for $50k
The Idea Village has announced the return of its live, high-stakes pitch competition, IDEApitch, and the three emerging startups selected as finalists to compete for a $50,000 investment prize. The three competitors are Something Borrowed Blooms, a premium silk flower rental company; Hampr, an on-demand laundry app; and Spot2Nite, offers users the ability to find and book vacant RV camping spots. “The three founders on stage have incredible stories, have tapped into unmet market need in innovative ways, and are building technology driven companies that represent tremendous economic potential for our region,” said Jon Atkinson, CEO of the Idea Village. “We’re excited to enable these three early-stage startups to share their stories with our community while competing for an investment prize.”