Thursday, 14 April 2016 12:32

Mailbag: Edwards wants $100M; Blanco to be honored; Film Festival begins; Dryades Public Market

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Today's mailbag:

In today's mailbag, the Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards is officially making a request to seek $100 million from the federal government for roads.  A top advisor for tthe Edwards for Governor campaign, Elizabeth Wray, will chair the Women of Distinction luncheon chair and one of the women being honored is former Governor Kathleen Blanco. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has announced the grand opening of a major project on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, in New Orleans.  The Louisiana Film Festival kicks off today.

Here are the releases:

Following through with a commitment to bring federal dollars back to Louisiana to reinvest in infrastructure, today Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) will formally submit the official request for $100 million in FASTLANE grant funding. If approved, the funding would allow the state to complete a nearly 15-mile pavement replacement and lane addition project between the I-10/I-49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. FASTLANE grants are provided by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) from their new discretionary grant program called the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program.

“Since taking office, I have met twice with the President, twice with the Vice President, and twice with the Secretary of the DOT,” said Gov. Edwards. “We’re committed to reengaging our federal partners to bring our tax dollars back to Louisiana to make the critical investments we need in our infrastructure. If we’re awarded these grants, we will have the ability to free up additional state dollars to invest in other projects around the state. I am confident that Secretary Wilson has put together a strong package for Louisiana, and I hope the federal government will work with us to help fund these important projects.”

This project will improve a portion of the interstate system that carried 120 million tons of freight worth $204 billion in 2015. The entire I-10 corridor is experiencing tremendous growth, but this is the most competitive section given the federal grant requirements.

Traffic counts from 2016 indicate that more than 33 percent of all vehicles traveling on this portion of I-10 are freight related. Future freight flows are expected to grow by 55 percent, and the value of the freight will grow to an estimated $435.3 million.

The entire project is estimated to cost more than $300 million.

If funded, the state is committed to dedicating available state funds to advancing other multimodal projects on the I-10 corridor. Those projects include construction of a new Washington Street off ramp in Baton Rouge, advancing the design of a reconstructed interchange at Loyola Avenue for the New Orleans Airport, improving railroad crossings on the freight-rail corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and advancing efforts to complete the I-20/220 interchange into Barksdale.

“Travel conditions on this corridor demand action, as it represents half of the worst conditions on all of Interstate 10 in Louisiana,” says DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson. “Much of the road along the project area was last paved in the 1960s, resulting in poor pavement conditions today. We will work aggressively with our federal partners to bring funds back into Louisiana so our infrastructure can support our growing economy.”

Pavement replacement will improve safety and extend the life of the highway for all travelers. Lane expansions will provide additional capacity to accommodate growing freight and passenger volumes through this corridor.


Mary-Patricia Wray, owner of Top Drawer Strategies LLC, will chair the Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon held May 11, 2016. The annual luncheon is a headline fundraiser for Girl Scouts Louisiana East, which serves thousands of girls throughout the state as the premier leadership training organization for girls. Wray served as a top advisor to John Bel Edwards during his successful run for Governor. 

Wray is a lifelong Girl Scout, and recipient of Girl Scouting's highest honor, the Gold Award. 

Honorees are set to include: former La. Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, LSU Lady Tigers Basketball Coach Nikki Caldwell-Fargas, Baton Rouge Symphony Board-Elect Mae Calvin Belton and La. State Representative Julie Stokes.

"In Girl Scouts, our mission is to build girls of courage confidence and character that make the world a better place. The Women we'll honor in May have exhibited the highest commitment to those principles," Wray said. "I'm really humbled to have a chance to chair this event to honor Governor Blanco, who in recent years, has become a very important professional mentor to me."
Girl Scouts Louisiana East council began its Women of Distinction recognition program in 2012 during the Girl Scout Centennial.  The council’s Women of Distinction are nominated from across the council’s 23-parish jurisdiction and are selected based on their remarkable achievements as business, community and civic leaders dedicated to supporting leadership opportunities for girls. 

Linda Law Clerk, Bethany France and Robyn Merrick will assist Wray with chairing duties.


Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined City officials, The Food Trust, Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE) and community members to celebrate the grand opening of the new Dryades Public Market at 1307 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in Central City. The 32,300 square-foot Dryades Public Market is located in the former Myrtle Banks Elementary School building, which has been completely restored. The project was a recipient of the City’s Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI), a program designed to increase access to fresh foods in traditionally underserved neighborhoods. The grocery store and prepared foods market anchors a major revitalization project on Central City’s main corridor and brings 45 jobs to the neighborhood.
“We’re excited that Dryades Public Market is officially open for business to serve the residents of Central City,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The City’s Fresh Food Retailer Initiative allows us to increase access to fresh food options for our citizens in neighborhoods that need it most, promote a better quality of life and foster healthier lifestyle habits for all our citizens. Projects like this create jobs, generate taxes, bring vacant properties back into commerce and reinvigorate neighborhoods. We look forward to more fresh food store openings in neighborhoods throughout the city.”
District B Councilmember Latoya Cantrell said, “Our communities need healthy food options, especially at a reasonably-priced choice.  As a city, we have certainly made progress in efforts to make our citizens healthier. Dryades Public Market will serve as a beacon for other healthy initiatives and economic developments in neighborhoods of our city where it is most needed. I look forward to seeing the community come together and seeing this amazing section of our city thrive even more.”
Fresh Food Retailer Initiative
Dryades Public Market received a $1 million loan from the FFRI with a forgivable amount of $500,000. The proceeds of the loan were used to complete leasehold improvements, purchase furniture, fixtures and equipment and provide working capital.
Launched in March 2011, FFRI awards low-cost, flexible financing for vendors to open, renovate or expand retail outlets in areas of the city lacking fresh food access. The City previously announced FFRI awards to the Circle Food Store in the Seventh Ward and the ReFresh project featuring Whole Foods Market in Mid-City.
Rebecca Conwell, Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Economic Development, who oversees the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative said, “We are committed to promoting and providing access to quality food and retail in every neighborhood in our city. FFRI supports the physical health of our citizens and the economic viability of our neighborhoods. We are pleased to support Dryades Public Market as they bring fresh food, new jobs and investment into Central City.”
NORA’s Commercial Corridor Revitalization Program
Dryades Public Market also received a $900,000 award from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) through their Commercial Corridor Revitalization program which provides funding for catalytic projects on key commercial corridors in New Orleans.
Jeff Hebert, Executive Director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, said, “NORA is excited to partner with Alembic Community Development in the revitalization of the former Myrtle Banks School. This once blighted building that many thought could never come back is not only back, but is also a much needed fresh food destination and another great addition to the thriving Oretha Castle Haley corridor. This is an outstanding example of the projects we support through our Commercial Corridor Revitalization Program, supporting catalytic projects in underinvested neighborhoods. Through such investments we hope to change neighborhoods and people’s quality of life by providing goods, services, economic development and jobs.”
Dryades Public Market
In order to best serve its community, Dryades Public Market offers:
Open doors seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fully-stocked grocery shelves with food staples from diapers to pet food and flour to barbecue sauce, all at diverse price points including hundreds of items under $5.00
Full fresh produce section featuring seasonal and local produce
Refrigerated cases stocked with local meats, meats cured in-house, and local eggs and dairy
Dozens of local products including local items in the bakery, produce department and on the grocery shelves
Indoor dine-in and outdoor patio seating, with Wi-Fi available throughout the store
Dine-in options including Esses Foods (house-made pastas), Curious Oyster Company (raw oysters and seafood dishes) and Bar 38 (happy hour, cocktails & mocktails), as well as in-house prepared hot food dishes
Daniel Esses, CEO of Dryades Public Market, said, “We are so happy to be opening our doors to fully-stocked market shelves and a diverse range of options for our customers. We look forward to being a place where neighbors will stop in for groceries as well as gather with friends, and we are so pleased to have already been warmly welcomed here on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.”
Gary Williams, Senior Vice President of Community and Economic Development at HOPE Enterprise Corporation, said, “For over a decade, HOPE has actively engaged in the redevelopment of small businesses, nonprofits and housing along O.C. Haley Blvd. and in Central City. Our investment in Dryades Market complements this ongoing work by bringing jobs and healthy food options to our neighborhood. We are grateful for the vision of Mayor Landrieu and his team with the City of New Orleans in the crafting of the Fresh Food Retailers Initiative and for the leadership of Alembic Development, that made this project a reality.”
Myrtle Banks Building Restoration
The Myrtle Banks Elementary School building, home of Dryades Public Market, was restored by Alembic Community Development.
Jonathan Leit, Director of Alembic Community Development’s New Orleans Office, said, “Alembic congratulates the entire team at Dryades Public Market on the grand opening of its food market in the Myrtle Banks Building. We thank all of our public and private funders, development team members, and community members for their partnership in helping to bring this day to fruition. The project began with a vision to preserve this beautiful historic building, promote economic development and improve fresh food access for Central City, and we’re very proud of the mix of grocery, small business and nonprofit offices, and art exhibition space that now serve as an anchor on the Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard corridor.”
The building was originally opened in 1910 as the McDonogh No. 38 School. The elementary school was later renamed in the 1980s for Myrtle Rosabella Banks, a long-time educator and principal, and served the neighborhood until it was closed in 2002. In 2008, a major fire destroyed the roof and much of the 3rd floor, leaving the building exposed to the elements and further deterioration for several years. Alembic Community Development acquired the historic school in 2011, and began construction in 2013 on an adaptive reuse program to transform the building into a home for fresh food, the arts, nonprofits and small businesses. The Myrtle Banks Building has been selected for a 2015 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation by the Louisiana Landmarks Society and an Alliant Build America Award by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Alembic and the building received an award to support restoration from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority through their Commercial Corridor Revitalization program.
The Louisiana Office of Community Development provided Alembic with debt financing to support the renovation of the historic building.
Pat Forbes, Executive Director of the Louisiana Office of Community Development, said, “In the years to come, the impact of a vital and active Dryades Public Market will be evidenced by the number of jobs created, the continuing revitalization of the Oretha Castle Haley neighborhood, a healthy population, and the re-established sense of community that comes with the presence of a neighborhood anchor. The use of disaster recovery funding to drive economic development and provide affordable fresh food to the Central City corridor is a perfect example of recovering safer, stronger and smarter than before.”
Dryades Public Market has partnered with workforce programs in Central City to hire employees, working in close coordination with the Foundation for Louisiana’s Community Investment Fund.
Lydia Cutrer, Director of Community Investment Fund with Foundation for Louisiana, said, “Foundation for Louisiana remains committed to supporting the economic growth of businesses and residents in neighborhoods such as Central City. We are pleased that Dryades Public Market's new leadership has hired graduates of workforce programs such as Cafe Reconcile and continues to build relationships with this community.”
First NBC Bank provided New Market Tax Credits, investment and construction and permanent financing towards the renovation of the historic building.
Brad Calloway, Executive Vice President with First NBC Bank, said, “First NBC Bank is pleased to be a part of the redevelopment of the Myrtle Banks Building into the Dryades Public Market. This project continues the revitalization of New Orleans and specifically the Central City neighborhood.”
About Dryades Public Market  

Dryades Public Market is a food market that builds upon New Orleans’ historic tradition of public markets in Central City. Through partnerships with established New Orleans vendors and purveyors, Dryades Public Market provides fresh and prepared foods on the Oretha Castle Haley corridor and serves as a flagship property in the neighborhood, driving further economic development. For more information about Dryades Public Market, visit
About the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative 

In March 2011, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the launch of the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI) in an effort to expand access to healthy food at affordable prices, provide quality employment opportunities for New Orleans citizens and serve as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. New or existing stores funded through the FFRI program must demonstrate a commitment to the sale of fresh produce by dedicating significant shelf space to fruits and vegetables.
To fund FFRI, the City provided $7,000,000 in Disaster-Community Development Block Grant (D-CDBG) funds, which are matched 1:1 by the City’s partner, HOPE, for a total of $14,000,000. In addition, the City has partnered with The Food Trust, a national non-profit organization with a track record for administering innovative approaches to expanding access to fresh foods across the country.
Applicants must plan to either open a self-service supermarket or other grocery retail outlet primarily selling fresh produce, seafood, meat, dairy and other groceries; renovate and substantially improve a store’s ability to stock and sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; or develop a real estate project that will lease space to a grocery retail tenant.
Click here for more information about FFRI.



Thursday, April 14 @ 6 pm at Cinemark Perkins Rowe  

Members of LSU's renowned Marching Band and the famous Golden Girls are Celebrating the future of film and music at Cinemark Perkins Rowe for the official Opening Night of the 4th annual Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) on Thursday, April 14th at 6 pm. The Tiger Stadium-style performance kicks off the Opening Night Gala Film  about a soul singer in MISS SHARON JONES! Directed by two-time Academy Award Winner, Director Barbara Kopple. The after party will follow at The Filmmaker Lounge (included in the ticket price or purchased Pass).

On Thursday, April 14th, the bus carryingMEMBERS FROM THE GOLDEN BAND FROM TIGERLAND will depart from Tiger Band Hall (College of Music & Dramatic Arts, off of Aster Street) in the heart of the LSU campus leaving at5:00 pm to the Hollywood lights of the film festival held at Cinemark Perkins Rowe (10,000 Perkins Rowe, Baton Rouge, LA 70810). The street in front of Cinemark will be closed for the performance.

The special performance kicks off the Opening Night Gala Film MISS SHARON JONES!


Thursday, 4/14 @ 7:30 PM in Cinemark 1

 A cinema verité portrait of soul singer Sharon Jones as she battles cancer, develops a new album, and readies for a world tour. The film, bursting with funk and soul music, features toe-tapping excerpts of Jones's performances with the Dap-Kings.     

Whether she is breaking barriers in the music business or beating disease, Jones is a fighter and a survivor, and Kopple's rousing tribute celebrates the singer as an effusive life force. 

Friday April 15th kicks off with "Free Friday at the Film Festival" on Mentorship Day for Students with a valid ID. Friday starts with a tour of the Celtic Media Centre back lot with special guest presenters (9:00 am - 11:30 am) and in theater presentations & screenings at Cinemark Perkins Rowe by Swaybox "Puppetry & Animation" (Noon - 1 PM), Apple Presents "Videography for the iPhone" (1 pm - 2 pm) and Official International Animated Short Film Selections (Family/Kids). Baton Rouge schools McKinley High School, Lee High School and Southeast Middle School are participating in the program. Mentorship Day workshops are free to Students and public with an RSVP: MENTORSHIP RSVP

Special Highlight U.S. Premiere of BREAKING THE BANK starring Kelsey Grammar who will be attending as a special guest on Friday 4/15 @ 7:30 PM in Cinemark 1.

The LIFF Mentorship Program is sponsored by The Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge and the

Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation.   


LIFF 2016 will premiere over 50 films from around the world and Louisiana April 13 - 17 with Gala receptions, after parties, live musical performances, mentorship workshops and more. Full Program and Special Event lineup at

VIP ($150), All Access ($100), Student Festival Passes ($20) to see UNLIMITED films and individual movie tickets ($10) are on sale now through the festival Individual movie tickets are also available for purchase in person at the Cinemark Perkins Rowe box office.

Our Official Festival Headquarters is located in the great hall of Cinemark Perkins Rowe and will be open:

Wednesday (4/13) 12pm-10pm

Thursday (4/14) 12pm-10pm

Friday (4/15) 11am-10pm

Saturday (4/16) 9am-10pm

Sunday (4/17) 9am-10pm

Please redeem pre-selected tickets and pickup passes at the Festival HQ. Purchase new tickets and redeem Golden Tickets at the Cinemark Box Office.  




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