Week in Review, March 8-12: More Vaccinations, Less Restrictions
NEW ORLEANS – Lots of positive stories this week. Here, from staff and wire reports, are the highlights:
Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced that International-Matex Tank Terminals, a provider of bulk liquids handling and storage, will retain and expand its headquarters in New Orleans. By the end of 2021, IMTT will make a $1.3 million capital investment to expand its 400 Poydras Plaza headquarters, and by 2022 the company said it will create 42 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $133,000, plus benefits. The project will bring IMTT’s headquarters employment to 87.
St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation is trumpeting the groundbreaking of a new warehouse space at the St. Bernard Port‘s Chalmette Terminal that will be leased by American Sugar Refining Inc., a member of ASR Group and operator of the Domino Sugar Chalmette Refinery. The new $4 million facility, located at 521 Bonita Drive, will serve as storage space for the company’s refined and finished sugar products from the refinery located in Arabi. Construction of the 80,000 square foot warehouse will begin in April, with plans to be fully operational by the end of 2022. “It’s great to see a business that’s been in St. Bernard for over a hundred years expand operations and consolidate logistics at our facilities,” said Drew Heaphy, executive director of the St. Bernard Port.
Big Possibilities: From Rare Earth to Outer Space
A new business partnership is strongly considering investing $800 million rare earth elements project in Gramercy. The project could spur the creation of hundreds of permanent jobs and more than 2,000 temporary construction jobs, officials said. A final decision is expected within a year. DADA Holdings, which owns Gramercy-based Noranda Alumina, is partnering with green technology firm Enervoxa to separate rare earth elements and other valuable minerals from alumina byproducts. The joint venture formed last year is called ElementUS. Alumina is used to produce aluminum and other products. Rare earth elements are used in many high-tech devices, including applications used in national defense.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced the State of Louisiana has signed an agreement with NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility that could lead to creation of the Louisiana Space Campus, a dedicated 50-acre business park within NASA’s 829-acre site in New Orleans. According to a release, the space campus would target commercial office development, with contemporary amenities, for existing Michoud tenants and new prospects from the public and private sector to support Michoud Assembly Facility and other industry in New Orleans East. “This year, as we celebrate 60 years of NASA’s operation of the Michoud Assembly Facility, we proudly announce a new chapter in this site’s storied history,” said Edwards.
More Vaccines, Less Restrictions
On the one-year anniversary of its first confirmed COVID-19 case, Louisiana is widening coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 years and older who has among two dozen high-risk medical conditions, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday. The broader vaccine eligibility sweeps hundreds of thousands of additional people onto the access list — starting immediately. The Democratic governor’s decision adds anyone age 16 to 54 if they have hypertension asthma, cancer, diabetes, sickle cell disease, chronic kidney or liver disease, chronic pulmonary disease, Down syndrome, heart conditions, weakened immune system or several other preexisting conditions. Smokers and people who are overweight also are eligible for the immunization. In addition, people who work at homeless shelters, jails and group homes now have access.
Live indoor music can resume in New Orleans beginning this weekend, city officials announced Wednesday, but dancing will remain prohibited, while venues, performers and audiences will be under strict requirements to employ measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. The new rules take effect Friday morning, in response to a decline of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the city. It was not immediately clear how many bars and other live music venues will be able to meet them and begin hosting live entertainment again in a city where music is ingrained in cultural history and vital to tourism.
Hello Faubourg Brewing Company
Dixie Beer officially changed its name to the Faubourg Brewing Company last year – and the new branding is about to make its debut. Jim Birch, the brewery’s general manager, said the tap handles at Dixie’s year-old, $30 million facility in New Orleans East will be switched out on March 26. Faubourg kegs will ship to bars shortly thereafter and the new brand’s cans and bottles will arrive in stores about a month later. The Dixie logo near Interstate 10 has already been painted over. Brewery owner Gayle Benson decided to retire the name Dixie this past June amid the national conversation about social justice issues because of the name’s association with a romanticization of the slavery-era South. The decision came just three years after Benson and her late husband Tom purchased the brewery and a few months after the debut of a new 85,000-square-foot brewery.
Oak Street Health, a network of value-based primary care centers for adults on Medicare, has opened its first center in Louisiana at 6521 Airline Drive in Metairie. Oak Street Health now has a presence in 12 states. “We are excited to expand access to our high-quality, value-based care to members of the greater New Orleans community with the opening of this new center,” said Dr. Kevin Stephens, the company’s senior medical director. “The majority of older adults we care for have two or more chronic conditions, making this kind of care so important. As our organization continues its mission to rebuild healthcare as it should be, we look forward to improving patient outcomes in Louisiana and helping older adults live their healthiest lives.”
Saints running back Alvin Kamara will celebrate the grand opening of his new juice bar, called the Big Squeezy, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, March 12 at 303 St. Charles Ave. “I’m so excited to be able to provide New Orleans with a new juice experience,” said Kamara. “We put a lot of hard work and thought into this location and we’re so happy to finally be able to share it with the community.” The Big Squeezy offers fresh juices, acai bowls, smoothies, and other freshly prepared “grab and go” items. The focus is on healthy options “without sacrificing the taste and flavor loved so dearly in New Orleans.”