Wednesday, 19 November 2014 17:17

Louisiana business: JEDCO, Allegiant to New Orleans, BP study, LOEWS, PAR

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new-orleans-tourismLouisiana Business News Buzz for today: Studying the impact of BP oil spill, Louis Armstrong Airport gets new airline Allegiant, PAR hires, JEDCO announces its annual business pitch competition, LOEWS HOTEL renovations are completed.


Here are their news releases


The Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will receive approximately $1.25 million over the next three years to work with Mexican colleagues in the southern Gulf of Mexico to look for residual impacts from the Ixtoc I oil spill of 1979-1980 on coastal areas, fisheries, and the deep sea.

This long-term study will reveal what impacts may be in store 30 years after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

Dr. Wes Tunnell, Associate Director of HRI, is leading the project.

“We are very pleased with the funding of this project,” said Tunnell. “It gives us the opportunity to work with our Mexican counterparts once again and re-examine the Gulf’s other major oil spill, Ixtoc.”

Tunnell is joined in this research effort by HRI endowed chairs: Drs. Jim Gibeaut, John Gold, Paul Montagna, Greg Stunz, and David Yoskowitz.

On Friday (Nov. 14), the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) awarded $140 million to 12 research consortia to conduct scientific studies of the impacts of oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health. These research investments focus on improving fundamental understanding of the implications of events such as the Deepwater Horizon spill, and on developing improved spill mitigation, oil and gas detection, characterization and remediation technologies.

The consortia were chosen following a competitive, merit review process that evaluated research applications submitted in response to proposals.

HRI will work with the C-IMAGE (Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems) consortium, led by the University of South Florida. C-IMAGE was one of the original consortia established by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) in 2012.

C-IMAGE received $20.2 million in this latest round of funding to support research over the next three years by 19 collaborating institutions, in five countries including Mexico, the Netherlands, Germany and Canada.

“It is another indication of how effective the Harte Model of integrated multidisciplinary research can be in helping us understand the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, HRI Executive Director. “We have a great team of Gulf experts at HRI and the partnership with the C-IMAGE is an exciting opportunity to join an established consortium with a history of innovation and discovery.”


Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. welcomed Allegiant Air to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). Allegiant Air’s announcement yesterday of new nonstop service to four destinations brings New Orleans to a record 43 destinations with nonstop service.

“Air connectivity is a key issue facing businesses looking to expand and locate in Greater New Orleans, and Allegiant Air’s announcement of four new nonstop destinations improves our ability to attract those businesses,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “We are pleased to welcome Allegiant Air to the fastest growing origin and destination airport in the country, and look forward to working with them to ensure continued success.”

“We welcome Allegiant to the New Orleans market,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “This airline will play a major role in introducing our wonderful city to new visitors from even more communities across the U.S.”

“Allegiant Air is a welcomed addition to Armstrong International, and we look forward to the incremental tourism passengers they will bring to New Orleans,” said New Orleans Aviation Board Chairwoman, Cheryl Teamer. “In addition to more tourism, Allegiant’s service will offer our local community new options for travel at ultra-low costs.”

“The addition of Allegiant will allow easier access for guests to visit our great City of New Orleans and an opportunity for our citizens to enjoy improved air service,” stated New Orleans Councilman Jared Brossett, Chair of the Transportation and Aviation Committee.

“We have been in discussions with Allegiant Air since I came to New Orleans, and we are very pleased to announce our efforts have paid off,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, Airport Director of Aviation. “This service creates new nonstop destinations for New Orleans and breaks all previous records for total nonstop destinations with 43 destinations. We look forward to their success and growth in New Orleans as their newest destination city.” Allegiant Air will begin nonstop service from four destinations beginning early February 2015, just in time for Mardi Gras. The nonstop destinations include Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN; and Orlando-Sanford, FL. Allegiant will operate from Concourse C.

Allegiant Air is a U.S. domestic low-cost airline owned by Allegiant Travel Co. that operates scheduled and charter service from America’s favorite small cities to world-class destinations like New Orleans. Allegiant was founded in 1997 and has been named one of America’s 100 Best Small Companies by Forbes Magazine for five consecutive years. The company operates low-cost, high-efficiency, all-jet passenger aircraft, while also offering other travel-related products such as hotel rooms, rental cars, and attraction tickets. Travel may be booked at

In commemoration of Allegiant’s debut in New Orleans, the carrier is also offering local travelers the opportunity to win free* Allegiant flights for an entire year. One lucky winner and a friend will fly free from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport as frequently as once a month for a year. To enter, visit


The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana announces the new hire of Criketa Matlock as Research Project Director.

 Criketa has joined the organization to further develop the growing portfolio of PAR's policy and research agenda. In her role at PAR, Criketa will bring her policy research, analysis and management experience to advance the non-profit organization's mission to prepare and publicize quality, independent research and policy recommendations, educate the public and engage members and stakeholders in our work.

Criketa comes to PAR from the Orleans Public Education Network (OPEN), a New Orleans-based nonprofit, where she served as the Policy and Research Analyst. In that role she was responsible for providing strategic leadership in guiding and crafting OPEN's policy agenda and conducting research and analysis on educational issues, local, state and federal laws, and the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education policies to develop proposed legislation impacting education.

She brings several years of experience in public policy, external relations and research with the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana as a policy intern and the Girl Scouts of the USA Public Policy and Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. Other employers include Professional Insurance Agents of Louisiana as a Government Affairs Specialist/Administrative Assistant and Applied Literacy and Learning, host of the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, as a Site Coordinator at Capitol Middle School in Baton Rouge.

Criketa is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her family moved to Baton Rouge when she was a teen. Criketa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge. She also holds a Master's of Public Administration in public policy from Louisiana State University. In college she held many leadership positions such as Vice-President for the Public Administration Institute Student Association (PAISA) and President of the Pre-Law Society at Southern University. Criketa's academic and professional background afforded her much experience in community outreach and organizing; policy research and analysis; economic development; and program evaluation.

Criketa comments, "I am excited to start a new challenge within PAR and look forward to working with the team to further develop their already extensive policy and research agenda. I am fortunate to be joining such a respected organization that prides itself on serving the state as a strong voice for open and accountable government."


The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO), in conjunction with First NBC Bank, is pleased to announce the launch of its third annual pitch competition for entrepreneurs with ties to Jefferson Parish. Held during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, an event produced by The Idea Village, the 2015 JEDCO Challenge will elevate opportunities for early-stage companies in the area.

The competition will be held on Monday, March 23rd at Southport Hall in front of a panel of Jefferson Parish business leaders and an audience of their peers. Finalists will be judged on a seven-minute pitch and a business plan, which must be submitted in advance of the competition. The crowd will have an opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite entrepreneur, contributing to the overall scoring process of the competition. The winning pitch will receive $20,000 in direct capital and additional in-kind business services to help grow the company locally.

For the first time ever, entrepreneurs chosen to pitch in the 2015 JEDCO Challenge will also be eligible to participate in the 2015 Big Idea pitch competition. The Big Idea is the world's largest crowd driven pitch event that closes out New Orleans Entrepreneur Week as local entrepreneurs vie for the public's support to propel them into the final round of the competition, where $25,000 is on the table.

The application will be live on JEDCO's website until December 12th, 2014. Applicants will be narrowed down through a rigorous review process. Finalists will be chosen in mid-January to provide two months for pitch preparation and business plan assistance.

JEDCO is looking for entrepreneurs with unique ideas that have the high potential to grow and positively impact Jefferson Parish. Entrepreneurs are urged to apply for the challenge on JEDCO's website. They must meet the following criteria to be eligible:

Must live, work or have a strong presence in Jefferson Parish

Must generate less than $500,000 in revenue

Must have less than 5 employees

Must be a for-profit company

"Entrepreneurs are the future of Jefferson Parish and we will do everything we can to best assist them as they grow," says JEDCO Executive Director Jerry Bologna. "This entrepreneur challenge provides us with a platform to better connect with the future leaders of our Jefferson Parish business community. It is exciting for JEDCO to play a role in helping these companies find success in Jefferson Parish and we look forward to providing a continuous support system in the future."

"It is a priority of First NBC Bank to positively impact communities where we do business," says Ashton J. Ryan Jr., President and CEO of First NBC Bank, the presenting sponsor of the 2015 JEDCO Challenge. "The entrepreneurial spirit has always played a major role in thriving economies and we see that infusion of new ideas and products taking hold throughout Jefferson Parish and the remainder of the River Region. Through the JEDCO Challenge, we are furthering our role within the entrepreneurial community and finding new ways to engage and assist companies as they journey toward growth and sustainability. This is a wonderful partnership and we are proud to be a part of this event."

In 2013, the pitch competition was born out of a challenge posed by Jefferson Parish start-up, Cordina New Orleans Cocktails. The company, which creates on-the-go adult drinks and the Slush Puppie/ICEE pouches, asked JEDCO to host a pitch competition for local entrepreneurs. Not only did the event showcase the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jefferson Parish, but it also connected our up-and-comers with today's business leaders through direct capital, business resources and mentorship.

In the competition's second year, five finalists competed in front of an audience of 150 people. With sponsorships from seventeen local companies, the 2014 winner, Terry Ancar of PortaVision Medical, walked away from the competition with close to $80,000 in direct capital and in-kind services. Terry used the prize package to continue developing the NeoRay, an x-ray system used to enhance the care of premature babies.

The entrepreneur challenge will be held during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) for the third year in a row. NOEW is the annual festival celebrating business, innovation and advanced thinking in New Orleans. The event engages a dynamic global network of entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, non-profits, students and professionals to support growing companies and elevate entrepreneurial successes through eight days of discussion, debate, education, competition and celebration.

This event would not be possible without assistance from our presenting sponsor, First NBC Bank, and our Jefferson Parish businesses and organizations. JEDCO is currently accepting donations of in-kind services and capital to grow the JEDCO Challenge prize package. Click here for details.

The deadline to apply for The JEDCO Challenge is December 12, 2014. Visit JEDCO's website to apply!


The Loews New Orleans Hotel today announced the completion of its $4 million guest room and restaurant renovation.

Following three months of remodeling, the 285-room hotel now boasts updated guest rooms and suites, refreshed corridors and a sleek, modern look in Café Adelaide.

“New Orleans has experienced an incredible surge in visitors these past few years, which means everyone in the city wants to put their best face forward,” said Loris Menfi, general manager at the Loews New Orleans Hotel. “At just 10 years old the hotel is in beautiful shape, but we wanted to give our guest rooms, corridors and restaurant, Café Adelaide, a complete revamp to keep each space looking fresh and vibrant.” She added, “We are confident our guests will be as thrilled with the new look as we are.”

Designed by local firm Lisambiance Interior Design, the new look layers historic New Orleans culture with modern lines in blue and gray tones reminiscent of the region’s waterways. New carpeting patterns emulate the historic wrought iron seen throughout the city, while sofas, chairs and fabrics inspired by men’s suiting provide a tailored appearance. New contemporary lamps and sconces throughout the guestrooms and bathrooms offer brighter lighting for late night work sessions, and new art depicts popular New Orleans scenes including riverboats, musical instruments and architecture.

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