Week in Review, Nov. 2-6: Biding Our Time
NEW ORLEANS – The historic national election – and extended vote-counting process – dominated the week’s news but there was plenty of time for some major New Orleans business developments. Here, from staff and wire reports, are the highlights:
This year, some New Orleans businesses and organizations gave their employees paid time off so they could vote in the Nov. 3 election. Some even offered extra time off so workers could be politically active in the days leading up to voting day. … Four incumbent Republicans and an incumbent Democrat all won reelection to the U.S. House in Tuesday’s election, while a race to replace Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham, who is stepping down from his northeast Louisiana-based district, will be settled in a December runoff. Republican Bill Cassidy defeated 14 challengers Tuesday to win a second term representing Louisiana in the U.S. Senate without a runoff, coasting more easily to victory than his hard-fought campaign six years ago to attain the seat. … The U.S. gambling industry won big at the polls Tuesday, with three states authorizing legal sports betting and three others either approving or expanding casino gambling. Maryland, South Dakota and Louisiana approved sports betting. That sets up a situation in which by the end of next year more than half the country could have legal sports betting, less than three years after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for all 50 states to adopt it if they chose.
Alcohol at Your Doorstep
Just in time for the election, Louisiana-based food delivery company Waitr has announced it can now deliver alcohol to its customers in New Orleans. The new service allows anyone 21 years or older to add beer and wine to their orders when they make purchases from their favorite restaurant. The move comes after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed legislation allowing alcohol delivery by delivery services.
New Bank Branches Debut
On. Nov. 2, Fidelity Bank officially opened its new corporate headquarters and its newest branch in downtown New Orleans at 353 Carondelet Street, a historic building once occupied by the former Union Savings & Loan. … Investar Bank, meanwhile, has opened its newest branch at 4401 St. Charles Ave. This is Investar’s 31st branch location and fifth in the greater New Orleans region. It offers “high-touch, personal community banking service for businesses and individuals with a full array of products and services.”
Formosa Plastics Complex in Doubt
The Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether potential environmental impacts require it to change, suspend or revoke the permit for a $9.4 billion plastics complex planned in Louisiana by a Taiwan company, U.S. Department of Justice lawyers said Wednesday. The Corps plans to explain by Tuesday why “the intended construction activities authorized under the permit … may not proceed,” said a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Amazon Lands in Nola
Amazon Air daily cargo service began this week at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. After launching its air fleet four years ago, the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth said in June that it was leasing 12 Boeing 767-300 converted cargo aircraft to join its existing 70 aircraft. Now, New Orleans will be one of its stops. This is part of Amazon’s plan to compete with UPS, FedEx and DHL.
Dixie Becomes Faubourg Brewing Co.
Dixie Beer is now the Faubourg Brewing Co. The century-old brewery, now owned by Saints owner Gayle Benson, announced in June that it would retire its old name in response to the national conversation about racial justice that swept the nation earlier this year. The term “Dixie” is associated with a romanticized version of the slavery-era south.
Statewide Restrictions Stay in Place
Even as his coronavirus restrictions are being challenged in court, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that he’s extending Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, business limitations and other rules he enacted to combat COVID-19 for another four weeks. House Republicans are trying to throw out all the restrictions and fully reopen state activities, with no face covering requirement, no rules governing bars and restaurants and no crowd limits for sports games or other events despite the pandemic. But the Democratic governor is arguing in court that the method the GOP lawmakers used to attack his emergency order is unconstitutional, and he is continuing to enforce the limits. The coronavirus restrictions were set to expire Friday, but Edwards said he’s renewing them through Dec. 4.
Shell Closing Convent Refinery
Shell is closing one of its refineries between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, after failed attempts to sell the facility. The refinery in Convent can process 240,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It employs nearly 700 workers and 400 contract workers, who will be affected by the closure expected to begin in mid-November. “Despite efforts to sell the asset, a viable buyer was never identified,” Shell spokesman Curtis Smith told The Advocate. “After looking at all aspects of our business, including financial performance, we made the difficult decision to shut down the site.”
Benson Fund Invests in N.O. Biotech Company
Benson Capital Partners announces its first investment from its recently launched fund, Benson Capital Fund I, in AxoSim, Inc., a New Orleans-based neurological drug discovery platform company. AxoSim’s proprietary technologies, NerveSim and BrainSim, are designed to empower scientists from leading biopharmaceutical companies to predict how the human nervous system will respond to therapies much earlier in the drug development process. Benson Capital Partners coinvested with Jefferson Capital Partners’ Opportunity Zone fund vehicle.
Prytania Theatres Debut at Canal Place
Prytania Theatres at Canal Place will host a free preview weekend event beginning Friday, Nov. 6 at 333 Canal St. The theater will screen “No More Joy,” “Father Time, Mother Nature” and other films as well as dedicate one large screen for PlayStation gaming. Several football games will also be screened. The concession stand will be open to purchase snacks and drinks.