Week in Review, Oct. 5-9: Debuts, Deals … and Delta

Tropical Weather
A fisherman loads his crab traps on a trailer after pulling them from Bayou Dularge in anticipation of Hurricane Delta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS – As Hurricane Delta approached the southwest Louisiana coast, New Orleanians were thankful for another near miss and hoped for the best for their neighbors. Meanwhile, it was another Biz-y week of news:

Phase 3 Restrictions to Stay in Place

Even as Republican lawmakers attempt to strip his power to do so, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday he’s keeping Louisiana’s current coronavirus restrictions on businesses and activities in place for another month. Opponents especially bristle at the tight controls on bars and the limits on crowds at sporting events but Edwards said he’s following White House protocol and has more relaxed rules than some states with better coronavirus stats than Louisiana. … Edwards said that alcohol sales can resume at Louisiana sporting events this weekend in parishes that have reached low rates of new coronavirus cases and are allowed to reopen bars. … Meanwhile, New Orleans officials on Saturday allowed bars to begin selling takeout alcoholic beverages, as part of the city’s gradual reopening from COVID-19. 

COVID-19 Help

The City of New Orleans announced it has set aside $1.5 million to provide mortgage assistance to small landlords owning eight or fewer rental units and whose rental income has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “At the start of the pandemic, we quickly recognized the impact that loss of revenue and income would have on renters facing eviction, and we worked to provide as much support as possible. Our combined efforts have provided nearly $9 million in rental relief. But there’s another side to this crisis,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. … The City is also launching a pilot version of its new curbside dining and parklet program. The program aims to help businesses – beginning with restaurants – create outdoor dining and seating in areas previously dedicated to on-street parking.

PPP Loan Forgiveness

The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department have released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program loans of $50,000 or less. The agencies say the action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to America’s smallest businesses. For New Orleans banks, the rule changes will make it easier for them to complete the forgiveness process. At Fidelity Bank, for instance, 1650 of 2200 loans were for less than $50,000 so the vast majority will qualify for streamlined forgiveness.

Debuts and Deals

Louisiana shipbuilding company Edison Chouest Offshore will build and operate a vessel that will help run and maintain offshore electricity producing wind farms off the coast of the northeastern United States. The Courier reports that Galliano-based expects the project to create 300 construction jobs. The ship will be built at the company’s yards in Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi.

BioAesthetics Corporation announced that it has surpassed its Series A funding goal of $2.5 million, further advancing development of its inaugural product: a nipple-areolar complex graft for patients who are undergoing breast reconstruction following breast cancer and mastectomy. Product inventor and company CEO Nick Pashos was doing his doctoral work at Tulane when the company was founded in 2015.

Renewable Energy Group announced a minimum $825 million capital investment by REG to expand its renewable diesel refinery in Geismar, La. With the investment, REG will retain 66 existing jobs and create 60 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $45,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in another 321 new indirect jobs, for a total of 381 new jobs in the capital region and surrounding areas.

D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments, a renewable energy producer, and Entergy New Orleans announced the groundbreaking of two solar projects in Louisiana: the Iris Solar project in Washington Parish and St. James Solar project in St. James Parish. Together, the projects will produce 70 megawatts. The Iris Solar site comprises 492 acres and the St. James site spans approximately 218 acres. Both projects are expected to reach commercial operation in mid-2021 and are expected to power more than 13,000 homes each year.

The Domain Companies announced that The Odeon at South Market, a $106M mixed-use project at 1100 Girod Street, is now pre-leasing and set to be complete later this year. The Odeon joins The Standard, The Paramount, The Beacon, and The Park as Domain’s fifth building in the South Market neighborhood, with plans for a sixth and final phase to be unveiled in 2021.

LOCAL 718, a “5-Star dive bar and restaurant concept” from The Little Easy owner Brian Mullin, is slated to open on Oct. 31 at 718 Bourbon Street, the former site of Johnny White’s Corner Bar and Hole in the Wall. “What’s a better meal than a bowl of gumbo, a plate of sliders and fries, with a cold beer in hand and the Saints game playing on every television?” 

Rotolo Consultants Inc. announced its acquisition of Vision Landscapes Inc., a commercial landscape and maintenance company based in Birmingham, Ala. The acquisition was completed on Sept. 30. The deal represents the fifth acquisition successfully completed by RCI over the last three years.

Playing the Long Game

Malcolm Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints has teamed with fellow NFL players to launch a venture capital fund. The three-time Pro Bowl safety and two-time Super Bowl champion launched Broad Street Ventures on Wednesday. The fund focuses on late stage and growth stage technology and consumer products. It has already invested in Airbnb, Epic Games, Turo, NoBull, Automattic and ZenWtr.

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