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Monday, 15 December 2014 20:35

Louisiana business: IBM, Clarkson, WTCNO, Visa waiver, insurance rates drop

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 new-orleans-tourismTen days before Christmas but the business scene in Louisiana is still showing plenty of life, even between those holiday parties.

So, what’s on the business front for today? 


Here are the highlights:  Jackie Clarkson becomes an Honorary Consul, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal tops off IBM, Visa waiver ad shows $, World Trade Center of New Orleans readies for a big event and Commissioner of Insurance Donelon says workers compensation rates are dropping:


Former City Councilmember and State Representative Jacquelyn “Jackie” Brechtel Clarkson has been named Honorary Consul of the Republic of Lithuania for the State of Louisiana.  As the newest member of the 59-member Louisiana Consular Corps, Consul Clarkson will be honored by Lithuania, the city and her peers at a reception on Monday, December 15 at Gallier Hall.

As Honorary Consul, Mrs. Clarkson’s responsibilities will chiefly relate to encouraging trade, commerce and tourism between Louisiana and the Baltic nation of approximately 3 million people.  Mrs. Clarkson’s own personal connection with Lithuania stems from her grandmother, who emigrated from Lithuania in 1914 and lived the remainder of her life in the French Quarter.

“Serving the Republic of Lithuania is a distinct honor and privilege,” said Consul Clarkson. “I am grateful to His Excellency Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis and the government of Lithuania for entrusting me with this opportunity and I look forward to working closely with my peers in the Louisiana Consular Corps and city and state officials in the conduct of my responsibilities,” Mrs. Clarkson concluded.

“We are delighted that the Republic of Lithuania has made an appointment here in Louisiana and that they have chosen such a distinguished public servant to represent their interests,” said The Honorable Constance Willems, Dean of the Louisiana Consular Corps and Honorary Consul of The Netherlands. “Consul Clarkson has a long legacy of community and civic service and this appointment allows her to continue and expand that record of service in new ways,” said Dean Willems.

Consul Clarkson, a New Orleans native, served for 24 years in a variety of governmental capacities including as State Representative and a member and President of the New Orleans City Council. For the past 45 years she has been a licensed realtor, having served as President of the Louisiana Real Estate Association.  Consul Clarkson attended Tulane University and received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Our Lady of Holy Cross College.


Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and IBM Vice President Tim McLachlan were joined by Baton Rouge Area Foundation President and CEO John Davies and Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret in a topping-off ceremony, one in which the executives and guests signed a piece of structural steel to be installed near the top of the nine-floor IBM technology center now under construction and slated for completion in May 2015.

Part of a $55 million urban development in downtown Baton Rouge, IBM’s technology center represents the permanent home for a project that will create 800 new direct jobs serving major IBM technology customers. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 542 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,300 new permanent jobs in the Capital Region of Louisiana. IBM began operations for its new Louisiana project in 2013, moving into an existing Essen Lane office in Baton Rouge, where the company already employs more than 200 professionals and is on target to reach full employment of 800. Next spring, those operations will move into the downtown IBM center, which will be joined on the same block by 525 Lafayette, a 10-story residential tower featuring CenturyLink smart-home automation in each of its 85 units.


The Partnership for a New American Economy today released a new study showing how expanding the Visa Waiver Program to six new countries – Brazil, Hong Kong, Israel, Poland, South Africa, and Turkey – would result in $7.66 billion additional spending and 50,000 American jobs within five years.

 “Tourism is a critical part of Louisiana’s economy. People come here from all over the globe to enjoy our culture and our food. Small changes in our tourist visa laws could mean tremendous growth for restaurants and other businesses like ours. Most people agree this is a modest approach to immigration reform that could be accomplished quickly and easily,” says Jim Urdiales, former President of the Baton Rouge Restaurant Association and owner of Mestizo’s Louisiana Mexican Cuisine restaurant.

The Partnership also released a new ad in its series highlighting the need for immigration reform across broad sectors of the economy. This ad showcases the role of international tourists as significant revenue generators and American job creators.

 The ad, which premiered today, will play in Washington D.C taxi’s and airports as well as select movie theatres across the country.


Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon announced today that rates for workers’ compensation insurance will decrease in Louisiana effective May 1, 2015.  Commissioner Donelon recently approved a 2.4 percent decrease in workers’ compensation loss costs submitted by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). NCCI is a national organization which analyzes workers’ compensation data and files loss costs or rates in 35 states.

Most workers’ compensation carriers in Louisiana use the NCCI annual loss cost filing to formulate their insurance rates. This loss cost reduction marks a cumulative drop of 37 percent since 2006 and a 56 percent drop since 1995. 

“Companies today are paying half as much for the same coverage as they were 20 years ago, and about one-third as much as they were paying just ten years ago,” said Commissioner Donelon. “While many states are seeing their workers’ compensation costs going down, we are also seeing some states with increasing rates. We are pleased that Louisiana businesses are seeing a second successive year of declining loss costs that are coming as the result of fewer and less severe workplace injuries.”


On Tuesday, December 16, the World Trade Center of New Orleans will host the fourth and final installment of its 2014 Executive Speaker Series. The event will feature Jim O’Neil, Chief Executive Officer and President of Quanta Services. Mr. O’Neil will speak on the 21st century energy infrastructure perspectives in the electric power sector and the oil and gas sector.

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Jim O’Neil serves as chief executive officer and president of Quanta Services. In this position, he oversees the company’s operations and strategic initiatives across the electric power, natural gas, and renewable energy industries.

 WHEN:             Tuesday, December 16th §  VIP Meet & Greet, 8:00am,   Westin Canal Place Hotel,                        11th floor, Crescent Ballroom, 100 Rue Iberville, St., New Orleans, LA 70130

WHO:               Jim O’Neil, President & CEO, Quanta Services


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