Week in Review, May 3-7: Gifts That Keep on Giving

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A SpayMart staffer wears GiveNOLA Day gear. (Photo courtesy of the Greater New Orleans Foundation - Facebook)

NEW ORLEANS – On May 4, the Greater New Orleans Foundation hosted the 8th annual GiveNOLA Day, a 24-hour fundraising event that encourages people to donate to local nonprofits. Preliminary results show that the organization topped last year’s record numbers by raising more than $8 million from nearly 70,000 donors. Support went to 914 participating nonprofits in 13 parishes working in the areas of animal welfare, the arts, community improvement, education, environment, health, housing, human services, public safety, youth development and more. 

Here are more of the week’s top business stories:

Louisiana State University named William Tate as the university system’s first Black president. He is also the first African-American university president in the Southeastern Conference. A provost at the University of South Carolina, Tate was the unanimous pick of the LSU Board of Supervisors. He’ll begin overseeing multiple campuses and serving as chancellor of the flagship campus in Baton Rouge in July. “We set about to find a great leader, and we found one,” said Robert Dampf, chairman of the LSU board, in a quote from the Associated Press.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden made the case for his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan at events in New Orleans and Lake Charles, where he spoke in front of a 70-year-old bridge that is 20 years past its designed lifespan. Biden is trying to sell Republican voters on the idea that higher corporate taxes can provide $115 billion for roads and bridges and hundreds of billions of dollars more to upgrade the electrical grid, make the water system safer, rebuild homes and jump-start the manufacturing of electric vehicles.

Rio Morado LLC, owned by members of the Besthoff family, has announced the development of Luling Business Park and Enterprise Center in Luling, La. “We see a need in greater New Orleans for large, modern distribution facilities with high ceilings, 50-ft column spacing, and ESFR sprinkler systems,” said Besthoff family spokesman Andrew Marcus in a press release. “We will begin to meet this need by building a 250,000 square foot distribution building within the overall master plan of the site, which calls for over one million square feet of flexible distribution space. After extensive due diligence, we believe this is the best possible development site for distribution in the region, and St. Charles Parish has been great to work with through the whole process.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Ochsner Health President and CEO Warner Thomas,  SafeSource Direct CEO Justin Hollingsworth and other officials on Monday, May 3 to announce the development of two manufacturing facilities for personal protective equipment in Louisiana. State economic development officials estimate the Acadiana Region projects will create a combined 1,221 new direct jobs and 992 new indirect jobs. Ochsner Health partnered with Trax Development on a joint venture to create SafeSource Direct LLC. SafeSource is investing $150 million to develop the facilities, with $73 million to retrofit an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lafayette Parish that will also house its headquarters, and $77 million for the development of a new 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in St. Martin Parish.

Business owners can register now to apply for help from the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a program designed to provide relief for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. This program may provide funding equal to a business’s pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million – with a limit of $5 million per location. Recipients are NOT required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023. Owners of catering companies, bars, bakeries, food trucks, breweries and distilleries may qualify.

The founders of Property One Inc., a Metairie-based real estate firm, announced the sale of their company to three senior staffers. Paul F. Dastugue III and Quentin Dastugue said they will transition to advisory roles after handing the reins over to Michele Casi, Paul E. Langenwalter III and Matt Taylor. Casi will be the company’s new CEO, Langenwalter will remain CFO and COO, and Taylor will be president. Founded in 1985, Property One specializes in commercial property management, leasing, brokerage and consulting services. It claims 4.2 million square feet of commercial space and 4.9 million square feet of multifamily assets under management across more than 60 properties in the Gulf South. The company said it employs more than 125 people across three offices in multiple states.

Technology company General Informatics has purchased one division of rival EMCO Technologies, also based in Baton Rouge. GI is a full-service IT managed service provider, cloud services business, and IT consultancy with offices in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. EMCO is a technology firm that specializes in IT staffing support and solutions for Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. While all other divisions of EMCO will continue to operate as always, its PC sales and managed services division, along with its employees and clients, will join the GI platform. This division provides IT managed services, consulting, network support, hardware/software sales and other services to clients in and around Baton Rouge. 

San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants announced the May 11 opening of Kimpton Hotel Fontenot, a 202-room boutique hotel located in New Orleans’ Central Business District. The opening marks the brand’s return to the city after a 16-year absence. The hotel is located at 501 Tchoupitoulas Street, the former address of the  Staybridge Suites New Orleans. Named in honor of Creole fiddle player Canray Fontenot, the new Kimpton Hotel Fontenot was designed by New York-based consulting firm MarkZeff. It features several “chef-led” food and beverage concepts, including a corner cafe and restaurant and bar.

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