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Thursday, 17 March 2011 18:13
Louisiana Business: New Orleans Bio District, Baton Rouge Real Estate, GNO Inc, Dr. John, Emeril
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Louisiana Business: New Orleans Bio District, Baton Rouge Real Estate, GNO Inc, Dr. John, Emeril Lagasse


New Orleans Bio District

The results are in from the BioDistrict's online survey. The survey, created as part of the BioDistrict's master-planning process by AECOM, allowed New Orleans residents to review the major consensus points that have emerged from previous stakeholder and community meetings. The survey was available from February 8th through February 28th.


Survey highlights included:

82% of respondents supported the creation of a new Math and Science school by renovating the existing Butterworth and Diebert buildings.
75% of respondents supported the establishment of a multi-institutional, shared “Allied Health” campus by repurposing the former Charity and VA buildings.
83% of respondents supported the creation of a BioScience Research and Development “cluster” within the district’s core Medical/Health zone.
Review the survey's results in the BioDistrict New Orleans web resource section




A.M. Best Co. has upgraded Starmount Life Insurance Company’s issuer credit rating to “bbb+” from “bbb” and affirmed the financial strength rating of B++ (Good). The outlook for both ratings is stable.


Starmount is the sister company and an underwriting partner of AlwaysCare Benefits, Inc., a leading national dental, vision, critical illness, accident, life and disability benefit plan provider.


In a statement issued by A.M. Best, the upgrade reflects Starmount’s continuing growth in premium and surplus along with its ongoing diversification efforts, including the introduction of several new insurance products. The new products continue to produce favorable growth in the company’s annualized premium in addition to Starmount’s/AlwaysCare’s core dental and vision insurance products.


A.M. Best’s credit rating upgrade and financial strength affirmation are the latest of many accomplishments for Starmount and AlwaysCare. Highlights of the companies’ growth over the last year include:


• Surpassing more than half a million Members and dependents covered by AlwaysCare group benefit plans; • Opening of new 24,500-square-foot Starmount/AlwaysCare headquarters in Baton Rouge; • AlwaysCare’s  launch of new group critical illness and accident plans; • AlwaysCare’s  launch of a new, fully insured individual dental and vision plan, with a hearing savings plan (AlwaysCare OnePlus).




One hundred four of 178 LSUHSC graduating medical students participating in the National Resident Match Program chose to remain in Louisiana to complete their medical training. That’s about 60% of the class, as high as last year.




LaTrac, Louisiana state government’s transparency and accountability website and online state spending database, tied for fourth best in the nation according to a report released Wednesday by the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the result of a “comprehensive study” that graded “all 50 states on how well they provide online access to information about government spending.”


The creation of LaTrac was first set in motion by Governor Bobby Jindal, through an executive order (BJ 2008-2) issued on his first full day in office, and authorized by legislation (Act 20) during the 2008 special legislative session on ethics reform.  LaTrac, which can be accessed at www..latrac.la.gov, launched in November of 2008 and since then has undergone several upgrades, with new features added.


NOCCA And Emeril Lagasse


On Tuesday, March 22 as Chef Emeril Lagasse marks the launch of the Culinary Arts program at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts! The celebration includes a champagne reception catered by Joel’s Grand Cuisine, and an “Inside the Chef’s Studio” interview with Chef Lagasse, moderated by American Routes’ Dr. Nick Spitzer.

There are a very limited number of tickets available to this event — order yours today by visiting www.NOCCAInstitute.com, or by calling 504 940 2900!


Baton Rouge River Joint venture

The $14.5 million joint river front venture between developer Pete Clements and Hollywood Casino will celebrate its grand opening on March 18th.

“This development is projected to create over 1,400 temporary jobs and more than 3,400 full-time positions directly and indirectly”

After nearly 5 years of approvals, funding and construction, the four lane road that now passes under the Canadian National railroad tracks represents only the first phase of a mixed-use development just north of the casino.

Although the underpass was paid for privately, it took considerable help and hard work from numerous partners to bring the project to fruition. The Mayor’s Office, the Metro Council, Baton Rouge Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Downtown Development District, and the State of Louisiana all played important roles.

“This project opens up a significant part of our riverfront for development,” said Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden. “With increased access to such a large tract of undeveloped riverfront, we expect to see private investment take off in the future.”

The new underpass will finally provide unimpeded vehicle access to over 80 acres of prime Mississippi River property and a mile of its riverfront including the Hollywood Casino property.

The tracks have hampered many proposed projects in the past. Residents and planners have complained for decades that traffic on the railroad cuts downtown Baton Rouge off from perhaps its greatest asset, the Mississippi Riverfront.

With the underpass project now completed, much of the development envisioned for the area can finally get underway.

“This project strengthens Downtown’s position as being the premiere place to live, work, play, and dine,” said Davis Rhorer, Executive Director of the Downtown Development District in Baton Rouge. “What was once a working gravel pit, will soon become a 36 acre mixed-use development district with a 10 acre riverfront park making it a regional attraction. This underpass access allows an extraordinary opportunity for development on the Mississippi River unparalleled in Louisiana.”

For the area, the economic benefits are staggering. “This development is projected to create over 1,400 temporary jobs and more than 3,400 full-time positions directly and indirectly,” said Mayor Holden. “And we expect $103 million in local tax collections just in the first 10 years alone.”

Plans for the site include a riverfront park and boardwalk, a riverfront bicycle path, beautiful hotels, residential development including nearly 800 units, modern office space plus, an entire retail and entertainment complex.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the brand new underpass is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, March 18th with many city and state officials planning to attend.


Dr. John, Allen Toussaint


On April 5 at 11am, the Hotel Monteleone will honor musical legends including Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Pete Fountain, Louis Prima and Etta James for their contributions to the Hotel’s musical history by dedicating the booths in the famous Carousel Bar as part of its 125th anniversary celebration. Dr. John and Allen Toussaint along with Louis Prima’s two daughters and a rep for Etta James will be at the dedication ceremony. This event is free and open to the public.


Immediately following the ceremony will be the second luncheon in the Hotel’s 5-part Legacy Series. The panel discussion will focus on the musical history of the Hotel and the contributions that the various artists have made not only on the Hotel, but on the city of New Orleans. Hosted by Jeff Crouere, panelists include Jan Ramsey, Laura Cottingim, Keith Spera, Mike Shepherd, Vince Vance and John Blancher. The cost for the luncheon is $35 and is open to the public.


GNO Inc Iphone

At its Annual Meeting, on Wednesday, Greater New Orleans, Inc. launched the GNOi iPhone App, an application designed as an interactive economic development tool available to the public. During a presentation to approximately 1,000 individuals, Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO, Inc., described the purpose of the app.

"Our staff often receives requests from board members, parish partners, and the general public, looking for statistics on doing business in the Greater New Orleans region," said Hecht. "We recognized the need for easily accessible information about our region's competitive business advantages and the accolades we've received from news media outlets around the country. There is currently a very strong case for business investment in Greater New Orleans, and the data available through GNOi allows users to spread awareness of this historic moment in our region's history."

Landry and Deepwater Horizon

Special guest and keynote speaker Rear Admiral Mary E. Landry, Commander of the Eighth U.S. Coast Guard District, will discuss “The Deepwater Horizon Response.”

Dr. Earl Melancon, Distinguished Service Professor of Biological Sciences at Nicholls, will also address the reception with a presentation titled “Oil, River Diversions, Estuaries and Fisheries: How Louisiana’s Response to the Deepwater Horizon Tragedy is Relevant to Coastal Restoration Strategies.”


Josh Groban

Live Nation is pleased to announce that Josh Groban’s “Straight To You” world tour will start its North American leg with an eagerly-awaited May 12th Lakefront Arena performance.


Tickets go on sale Friday March 11th at 10:00am. They will be available at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster outlets, the Lakefront Arena Box office, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.


A ticket pre-sale for members of Josh’s fanclub, Friend’s of Josh Groban, will begin Wednesday, March 16th. Visit joshgroban.com/join for access to pre-sale tickets and a chance to meet Josh on his upcoming tour.


The “Straight To You” Tour will bring the feel of a theater experience to an arena setting though stage design, lighting, and projection, as well as through the spontaneity and interactivity Groban delighted his fans with during last year’s “Before We Begin” shows. As a result, for the “Straight To You” shows, Groban will continue to interact with audiences and perform favorites from his best-selling albums, including his self-titled debut, Closer, and Awake, as well as songs from Illuminations.


Groban recently performed the National Anthem at the 60th Annual NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

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