Week in Review, Nov. 9-13: Tulane’s Initiative, a Green Energy Project and other ‘Big Plays’
NEW ORLEANS – Sure, the most fun story of the week was how decisively the Saints defeated Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But there was also time for some major business news. Here, from staff and wire reports, are the highlights:
Phase 3.3 Begins
New Orleans entered “phase 3.3” of its coronavirus reopening plan on Wednesday. Under the new rules, bars are allowed to seat customers indoors at 25% of their normal capacity. The total number of people allowed inside is 50. 100% of capacity will be allowed outdoors up to 50 people. Indoor weddings, funerals and other events will be allowed to have 100 people but attendees must wear masks and stay six feet apart. Caps on crowd size at outdoor events will be increased to 150 people. The news comes as the U.S. is experiencing a third wave of increased coronavirus cases. Louisiana, however, is not seeing the same spike.
City officials, meanwhile, have released detailed information about the permitting process to host live entertainment in indoor and outdoor settings, in accordance with the ongoing public health guidelines in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Live entertainment — including musical acts, theatrical plays, stand-up comedy, magic, dance performances, DJs, and burlesque and drag performance — will be allowed in outdoor and some indoor settings with either a special event permit or a certificate of registration issued by the Department of Safety and Permits. In accordance with Louisiana State Fire Marshal guidelines, singing, karaoke, and wind-blown instruments are not allowed in indoor settings and live entertainment is not allowed indoors in bars or breweries.
Tulane Makes Tuition ‘Promise’ to In-State Students
Tulane University President Michael Fitts has announced a new initiative called Louisiana Promise that will make an undergraduate degree more accessible and affordable for Louisiana residents from low- and middle-income families and increase access to higher education for all students in New Orleans. Around 11 percent of Tulane’s undergraduate students come from Louisiana. Louisiana Promise will increase that number by opening access to a much wider applicant pool that reflects the diversity of New Orleans and the state. “Louisiana Promise is a commitment to our state and community to make higher education more accessible,” Fitts said. “If a Louisiana student’s dream is to come to Tulane, we don’t want financial concerns to be a barrier for them to become a part of the Tulane family. These programs will help keep the state’s best and brightest students in Louisiana.”
Massive Renewable Fuels Complex Being Considered for south Louisiana
Fidelis Infrastructure announced that its portfolio company Grön Fuels LLC is studying the feasibility of a renewable fuel complex at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. With expansions and associated projects, the complex could involve up to $9.2 billion of total investment over several phases. A final investment decision is expected in 2021, which will determine the final cost of the project’s first phase. Through all phases and associated projects, the complex would create an estimated 1,025 new direct jobs, with an average annual salary of $98,595, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project and subsequent phases would result in up to 4,560 new indirect jobs, for a total of 5,585 new jobs for the Capital Region. “This renewable fuel production facility will help to secure Louisiana’s place as a leader in environmentally friendly energy production,” Gov. Edwards said.
A “paint and sip” company with local roots announced this week that it has purchased two other businesses as part of its quest to grow its national footprint. Twist Brands LLC announced it has acquired Color Me Mine, a paint-your-own pottery company, and Chesapeake Ceramics, a global ceramics supplier. In 2007, Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney founded the company that would eventually be known as Painting With a Twist when they hosted their first “Corks & Canvas” art class on the Northshore. Over the next 13 years, the company has grown to include more than 300 national franchise locations in nearly 40 states.
Digital marketing and advertising company Online Optimism – founded in 2012 in New Orleans by Tulane grad Flynn Zaiger – is opening a new office in the Atlanta area. The move comes after eight years of growth in the company’s birthplace. “We’ve scaled between 30% to 100% annually from years two through seven of our agency’s history, surpassing $1 million in annual revenue in 2019,” said Zaiger. “We’ve gone from 13 employees to 17 employees since March due to our aggressive growth through COVID-19.”
Brightside Clinic and Everso Systems announced that the mental health treatment provider and behavioral health software-development firm will create a combined 20 new direct jobs at their respective facilities in Bogalusa and Denham Springs, Louisiana. The new direct jobs will provide an average annual salary of $45,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the expansions will result in 25 new indirect jobs in Livingston and Washington parishes, for a total of 45 new jobs in the Capital and Southeast regions of the state. The firms also will retain 24 existing jobs.
JPMorgan Chase has made a $5 million commitment to help “ensure the resiliency and success of New Orleans neighborhoods and those who call them home,” according to a release from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. As one of seven winning cities selected by JPMorgan Chase for its AdvancingCities Challenge, New Orleans is making an investment into blue-green infrastructure, providing pathways to new career opportunities for residents and contract opportunities for local small businesses in the water economy.
DDD Leader Kurt Weigle Resigns
The Downtown Development District announced that President & CEO Kurt Weigle has resigned effective Dec. 31. Weigle, who has served the DDD for nearly 18 years, submitted his resignation to the chair of the DDD’s Board of Commissioners on Nov. 5. Under his leadership, the DDD says, downtown New Orleans has welcomed more than $7 billion of private real estate investment, its residential population has more than doubled, and millions have been invested in new and improved streetscapes throughout the DDD and on Canal Street. Dozens of new retail establishments have opened downtown, including leading national and international brands.