Wednesday, 14 November 2012 19:05

Louisiana Business: New Orleans BioDistrict, Seniors, SBA, Online Incentives Exchange, Blue Cross

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neworleans-biodistrictToday's Louisiana business news focuses upon the New Orleans Bio District, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the City of New Orleans, The Online Incentives Exchange and state tax incentives and Louisiana seniors (and the US Treasury) and the SBA and Hurricane Isaac



 New Orleans BioDistrict

Recognizing the need for career training for available and upcoming health IT jobs in New Orleans, HIMSS and BioDistrict New Orleans have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance workforce health IT initiatives anticipated to grow in the next several years in BioDistrict New Orleans. The agreement focuses on educational, career support and online initiatives before and during the 2013 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition, which will be held in New Orleans on March 3-7, 2013.
The synergies between the two organizations focus on career development resources offered by HIMSS, recognizing the ongoing demand for skilled health IT employees in the BioDistrict. The BioDistrict, Louisiana’s #1 Employment Center, encompasses 1,500 acres spanning the Downtown and Mid-City areas of New Orleans and focuses on the development of the biosciences industry in New Orleans that will provide world-class biosciences research and development; local, regional, and global healthcare delivery; and stable, high-paying jobs for professionals, managers and workers representing a wide range of skills.
“This new collaboration with HIMSS and BioDistrict New Orleans is positive news for our city,” says New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “I am hopeful that this partnership will help to create new economic and workforce development opportunities in the hospitality, health IT and innovation sectors for New Orleanians.”
HIMSS will work with BioDistrict to provide career development resources, through white papers, webinars and other online and career-supporting tools. This information will equip current professionals to learn grow, and advance in their health IT careers. Additional services include HIMSS JobMine® job listings, online mentoring and an emerging professionals community, resources that can be used in the BioDistrict. Also available will be various HIMSS online tools for current, new and transitioning professionals who are interested in a career in health IT.

“HIMSS recognizes the ongoing need for skilled health IT professionals across the country, and in BioDistrict New Orleans. Our Career Services provides an employment, education and networking center with valuable online resources and tools for current and aspiring healthcare and IT professionals. We look forward to working with BioDistrict New Orleans, before and during our upcoming annual conference in the city,” says Carla M. Smith, MA, CNM, FHIMSS, Executive Vice President, HIMSS.

At HIMSS13, BioDistrict will be part of the conference Career Services Institute, a full-day program on Tuesday, March 4, 2013. The Career Services Institute will feature a nationally recognized career coach and will support networking opportunities for all participants. In addition, the Career Services Center at HIMSS13 provides a centralized location at the conference for recruiters, consultants and others who contribute to the development of the health IT workforce. It will be a gathering point for both job seekers and organizations looking for talent in health IT with a poster and a q/a session, both on Tuesday, March 4, 2013.

“This partnership with HIMSS will serve as an example of how BioDistrict New Orleans is creating opportunities for workforce development and training to build a successful biosciences industry in New Orleans,” said James P. McNamara, President & CEO of BioDistrict New Orleans. “Through our work with HIMSS, new companies will be recruited, creating more high paying jobs in the bioscience and healthcare IT industry and providing the foundation for viable careers for the people of New Orleans.”

“The New Orleans Chamber of Commerce is happy to facilitate a relationship of this magnitude to benefit the residents of our city, state and region. Anytime there is a chance for economic development and job creation, especially in the growing healthcare IT industry, its considered a win for the future of New Orleans,” said Ben Johnson, President & CEO, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.
For more information on BioDistrict New Orleans, visit

Blue Cross and Blue Shield
The City of New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA) have been awarded a $50,000 Play Streets Grant to use in 4 locations to be determined across New Orleans. The grant is a collaboration between the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), who works with the private sector and its Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to end the childhood obesity epidemic in America. Funding will be awarded to NOHD to develop 5 recreation programming events at various parks and playground areas for kids to play.
“As a Let’s Move! city, New Orleans is committed to being one of the top 10 fittest cities by 2018. We appreciate the support of our community partners for the opportunity to provide children with safe places to play in our community as part of our Fit NOLA effort,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans.
“We’re committed to helping people in the community live healthier and happier lives. We are excited to work with the New Orleans Health Department to host Play Streets events to encourage kids to play and be active – a key step on the road to a healthier lifestyle,” says Christy Reeves, Executive Director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.
Over the next year, NOHD will work with BCBSLA, BCBSA and PHA to hold Play Streets events in the community. This is part of a series of initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle from NOHD and BCBSLA, which are also behind several other community-based programs.
New Orleans is taking bold steps to becoming a fit city and eliminating obesity in its local community. In 2012, NOHD hosted a series of forums to develop a Fit NOLA Partnership Shared Action Blueprint to achieve healthy weight and fitness for everyone in New Orleans. Over 100 community partners have joined the Fit NOLA Partnership to increase awareness, build capacity and set standards for nutrition and physical fitness. The Shared Action Blueprint will guide the Fit NOLA Partnership as it integrates healthy lifestyles in schools, childcare centers, healthcare, businesses, government and the community. Together, the New Orleans Community will achieve the Fit NOLA vision of becoming a top 10 fittest city.
BCBSLA is dedicated to helping people across the state be healthy. Its free Louisiana 2 Step program ( encourages all Louisianians to take two small steps, eat right and move more, to get healthy and stay healthy. Blue Cross also offers a companion program for kids 12 and under, 2 Step 4 Kids, to help kids get healthy through educational games and activities. Visit to learn more.
With childhood obesity remaining a major problem in Louisiana, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation has partnered with the LSU AgCenter for more than seven years to offer the Smart Bodies program to kindergarten through fifth-grade students across the state. Smart Bodies integrates classroom activities with hands-on learning to teach children how to build strong bodies and develop active minds. Visit for more information.
The impact on activity rates from Play Streets is expected to be significant. Pioneer programs have already shown that when given the choice between participating in Play Streets or a sedentary activity, the majority of children chose the more active option of Play Streets. The benefits went beyond children’s health, too. Local economies can profit from the increased foot traffic that Play Streets brings to the businesses in the area.
“Today in America, one in five kids doesn’t have access to a playground – that’s millions of children who can’t pick up a ball, run outside or have fun in a safe environment,” said PHA President and CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “We’re thrilled that New Orleans and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana are proactively tackling this challenge by creating new Play Streets. We can’t wait to see the initiative in action – to see kids running around these new spaces and to hear sounds of traffic replaced by sounds of kids at play.”
Details about the location and dates of the Play Streets events in New Orleans can be found online at

Hurricane Isaac and Small Business Administration
- To continue serving Louisianians affected by Hurricane Isaac, the State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Metairie is transitioning Monday, Nov. 19, to a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC).
SBA representatives at the DLOC will answer questions, explain the application process and help survivors apply for low-interest disaster loans. FEMA Individual Assistance specialists will also be on hand to answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available to survivors.
The center is located at:
East Regional Library
4747 W. Napoleon Ave.
Metairie, LA 70001
DLOC hours are: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They are closed Thursday, Nov. 22, and Friday, Nov. 23, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Survivors are encouraged to register with FEMA before visiting a DLOC. They may register online at or via web-enabled phone at They may also call 1-800-621-3362 or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Those who use 711 Relay or Video Relay Services may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
For SBA information or to apply online, visit or call 1-800-659-2955. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 1-800-877-8339.
Louisiana Seniors and US Treasury Dept.

Louisiana Seniors and US Treasury

With just four months remaining until the March 1, 2013, transition to all-electronic federal benefit payments, the U.S. Department of the Treasury reports that Louisiana seniors and other federal benefit recipients are still receiving more than 109,000 paper checks each month and have yet to switch to direct deposit or the Treasury-recommended Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card.

"If you or a loved one haven't yet made the switch, please take note of this new law and sign up for electronic payments today," said David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service. "Our friendly, courteous call center agents are available to answer questions and assist seniors and others with the switch to direct deposit or the Direct Express® card."
Two choices for electronic payment
In Louisiana today, more than 897,800 monthly federal benefit payments are already made via direct deposit to a bank or credit union account, or to the Direct Express® card. The card allows federal benefit recipients to pay bills, withdraw cash and make purchases without paying check-cashing fees. The money on theDirect Express® card is FDIC-insured, and many card services are free.

Online Incentive excchange

The Online Incentives Exchange (The OIX) ( has begun operations as the first truly national, transparent, liquid exchange for the trading of state tax credits.
The OIX is initially facilitating a market for transferable tax credits in Louisiana, with plans to roll out nationally to all 45 states that offer transferable and/or refundable tax credits. In December 2012, the Exchange will enable the trading of tax credits in California and Georgia.
The US market for monetizeable credits exceeds $5 billion annually. Currently, tax credits trade via direct brokerage in an opaque and often illiquid manner. The OIX provides a transparent marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of state tax credits to transact directly on a Bid/Ask platform. In Louisiana alone there are over $300 million in transferable tax credits issued on an annual basis.
"Many growing businesses are not well informed about the availability of tax incentives in their state, and, moreover, they often find the process to be complex and cumbersome, with very few monetization options available," said Daniel Bigel, co-founder and chief executive officer of the OIX. "The OIX will democratize this market by empowering all taxpayers – individuals and businesses of any size – to access this market, enabling them to offset tax liability and re-invest capital in the local economy."
Bigel added, "By providing liquidity to the tax credit market, and empowering small and mid-sized businesses to participate, we are strengthening these invaluable state tax incentive programs, enabling businesses to fund economic growth and add jobs. The OIX will help states that offer these incentives to encourage broader use of tax credits to fund economic expansion in their communities."
"We, at the state and federal level, have worked hard to create tax credit incentives in order to support growing businesses and serve as a job creator," Michael J. Olivier, Former Louisiana Secretary of Economic Development; CEO Committee of 100 for Economic Development. "The OIX system will align the interests of all parties, increase participation in these valuable programs and help businesses of all sizes realize their benefits."

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