Monday, 06 December 2010 21:28

Louisiana Business: AlSstate SugarBowl, Mabus And Ready 4 Takeoff New Orleans Startup Fund, Patrick Bell

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Today, local community and business leaders joined together to launch the New Orleans Startup Fund, a nonprofit venture capital fund designed to accelerate local early-stage companies that demonstrate high-growth potential. By providing seed capital and business assistance to local startups, The Startup Fund seeks to create more jobs and economic prosperity for the Greater New Orleans region.

"In the past few years, New Orleans has seen a surge of talent and energy," said Leslie Jacobs, Executive Vice President of Strategic Comp and Founder and Secretary of the Startup Fund. "Now more than ever, these entrepreneurs have the opportunity to strengthen and diversify our economy with new ideas and companies. But to do so, they will need early-stage capital --and this is exactly what the Startup Fund will provide."

In recent years, New Orleans has harnessed the power of its competitive advantages to develop a strong entrepreneurial community and establish the region as a hub of innovation and creativity. However, a lack of access to early-stage funding and a relatively undersized venture capital market have prevented the local startup community from maximizing its full potential. The Startup Fund will correct this deficiency by providing "proof-of-concept" funding – the first rung of the "capital ladder" – to not only help start and grow companies, but also build the local capital infrastructure in the process.

"When we founded TurboSquid in 2000, there were few companies like ours, and we were incredibly lucky to get seed funding," said Matt Wisdom, CEO of digital marketplace TurboSquid and Chairman of the Startup Fund. "We've been fortunate to have so many companies starting up in New Orleans in recent years, but we need to take the luck out of the process. The Startup Fund will provide the seed capital needed to help new organizations transform our economy."

In order to qualify for funding, the startups must be headquartered within the 10-parish Greater New Orleans region and must demonstrate a clear vision to grow their business to $20 to $50 million in revenue within five to seven years. The Startup Fund will seek to provide $25,000 to $250,000 to startups that can meet these requirements. In addition, startups will receive technical assistance – including Financial Modeling, Marketing Strategy, Operation Planning, Management, and Follow-on Capital Raising. With a current fund size at $3.9 million, consisting of private, state, and federal monies approved and in process, the target size of the fund is $7 million.

"Greater New Orleans is at an economic inflection point," said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO, Inc. and CEO of the New Orleans Startup Fund. "Our rates of entrepreneurship, talent attraction, and business development are all rapidly increasing - and the early-stage capital of the Startup Fund will be the key to transforming these ideas and energy into jobs and wealth."

GNO, Inc. is incubating the Startup Fund, which is a separate 501(c)(3) organization.

The Startup Fund is modeled after successful venture development programs across the country and has developed a partnership with Cleveland’s JumpStart program, considered the best in the country, ensuring that local startups and the New Orleans economy benefit from their experience and insights. Unlike other venture development programs, the Startup Fund does not measure success by return on investment (ROI), but by the creation of a strong portfolio of companies able to attract outside financing and the development of a local capital ecosystem. In fact, the fund is "evergreen" and will reinvest all profits back into the program.

"By investing $2 million of hurricane recovery funds through the Office of Community Development in the Startup Fund, we are supporting local innovators and harnessing their creativity to create jobs in the region," said Paul Rainwater, Louisiana Commissioner of Administration. "This public-private partnership will help Louisiana businesses access the capital they need to continue to grow."

With a Board of Directors led by experienced local businesspeople and philanthropists, the Startup Fund Investment Committee will be led by John Elstrott, Chairman of the Board of Whole Foods and internationally recognized leader in investing and entrepreneurship. His associate, Ralph Maurer, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Tulane University, will be Executive Director of the Startup Fund.

"The New Orleans Startup Fund is the catalyst needed to ensure that more entrepreneurial ventures in the Greater New Orleans region break through to create jobs and wealth," said Elstrott.

Applications for funding will be taken, beginning immediately, through the Startup Fund’s online application form, available at


Ready 4Takeoff-Mabus

Four members of the Gulf Coast Economy: Ready 4 Takeoff Coalition traveled to the nation’s capital today to meet with U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has been tasked with leading the efforts to establish a plan of federal support for the long-term economic and environmental restoration of the Gulf Coast region.

Mobile Mayor Sam Jones (AL), Pensacola Mayor-Elect Ashton Hayward (FL), and Ewell Smith, Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood and Marketing Board met with Secretary Mabus in a one-on-one meeting at the Pentagon and provided an assessment of the Gulf Coast economy six months post the epic BP oil spill and recommended ways in which the federal government to act to boost local economies in the Gulf.

“Today, Secretary Mabus made clear that he is committed to creating a strong and effective plan that will revitalize the Gulf Coast region, create good-paying jobs for our hard-working families and restore Americans’ confidence in the assets our great region has to provide,” said Pensacola, Florida Mayor-elect Ashton Hayward. 

“In my home state of Alabama, we have several projects that could takeoff if the federal government opts to make some much-needed investments,” said Mobile Mayor Sam Jones.  “Currently, we have pending federal contracts to build the KC-45 Tanker and to construct Littoral Combat Ships. If awarded the contract, these projects could create tens of thousands of jobs for our region. This is the type of one-two punch we need to get local economies in the Gulf moving again.”

This past fall, the group toured the Gulf Coast through a series of regional town hall meetings. From Bayou La Batre, Alabama to Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, all the way down to the Florida Panhandle, Ready 4 Takeoff spoke to families, learned their stories, and heard recommendations on how to build a better future for the Gulf Coast.

“The message emerging from all of our town halls was unanimous: the federal government must make it a priority to invest in America’s Gulf Coast and help foster new, good-paying job opportunities,” said Ewell Smith, Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood and Marketing Board. “Today’s meeting with Secretary Mabus was a welcome opportunity that proved extremely productive. I am confident that if we unite forces, we can and we will turn the economic tide in the Gulf Coast and finally give workers peace of mind with a steady paycheck.”

Orleans Parish Pumping


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently awarded a contract to storm proof four pump stations on the East Bank of Orleans Parish so that they can remain operational during and immediately following tropical events.


“This project includes several crucial pump stations,” said John Ashley, branch chief for existing pump stations in the Corps’ Hurricane Protection Office. “These particular pump stations are integral in providing flood protection to the most densely populated parts of New Orleans.”


On December 2, the Corps awarded an $8.35 million base contract to Benetech, L.L.C., a New Orleans-based service disabled veteran-owned small business, to storm proof Pump Station 1, which is located on South Broad Street near Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. On December 3, a $6.7 million option of that contract was awarded to Benetech, L.L.C., to storm proof Pump Stations 2 and 4 and the Interstate 10 Pump Station. Pump Station 2 is located on North Broad Street between Canal Street and Orleans Avenue. Pump Station 4 is adjacent to the London Avenue Canal between Robert E. Lee Boulevard and Filmore Avenue and the I-10 Pump Station is along I-10 near its juncture with West End Boulevard.   


Storm-proofing measures for the abovementioned pump stations include strengthening walls, strengthening and / or replacing roofs, installing new doors and windows, adding back-up generators and miscellaneous electrical and mechanical work. The notice to proceed will be issued later this month and work will take approximately 14 months to complete.


Marcia St. Martin, executive director of the Sewerage & Water Board, added, “This work will strengthen the existing buildings, making it safer for S&WB employees that stay on site, working throughout all significant weather events. It will also provide back-up generator power to the facilities, making the stations more independent of Entergy power and dependable during commercial power losses that occur during storms and adverse weather events.”


She stated, “Our staff has worked in very close contact with the Corps of Engineers staff and their consultants to move this project rapidly through the design and bidding process.  The Sewerage and Water Board is pleased to partner with the Corps of Engineers in moving forward with this important project that will increase the safety for both our residents and employees.”


Patrick Bell, Minority Affairs


Commissioner Jim Donelon announced that Patrick W. Bell has been appointed Deputy Commissioner of Minority Affairs at the Louisiana Department of Insurance effective November 1, 2010.  As head of the Office of Minority Affairs, Bell and his staff will work to assist small, minority and disadvantaged insurance agencies and producers by fostering a greater awareness of the skills, training and education necessary to prepare for employment opportunities in the insurance industry. The office also assists minority and disadvantaged people throughout Louisiana with complaints of discrimination and harassment.

Before joining the department, Bell was director of government relations at Capital One Bank where he was responsible for monitoring and lobbying for banking-related legislation before the Louisiana and Texas State Legislatures and occasionally before the United States Congress.  Prior to Capital One, Patrick served on the staff of United States Congressman Billy Tauzin for 13 years as Senior Executive Assistant.


AllState Sugar Bowl

Allstate Sugar Bowl, a member of the Bowl Championship Series for post season college football, today announced it will be offering an official hospitality party for the first time in Sugar Bowl history. The Allstate Sugar Bowl has chosen PrimeSport, the global leader in sports event packages and hospitality, as the Official Hospitality Provider for the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl game, being played on January 4th in New Orleans, LA.

“New Orleans is a festive and energetic city and the Allstate Sugar Bowl has proven to be a fun experience year after year.”

PrimeSport will host the official Sugar Bowl pre-game hospitality party at the Pantheon Café two hours before kick-off. The Pantheon Café is located on the Plaza Level inside the Louisiana Superdome. Featuring an open premium bar, New Orleans inspired food, and exclusive stadium access, this hospitality party will be a first-class experience.

“PrimeSport has extensive experience and a first-rate track record when it comes to offering hospitality packages for college bowl games,” said Paul Hoolahan, Chief Executive Officer for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. “This marks our first year to provide a hospitality offering and we really believe it will be one to provide lasting memories for fans and companies as they come to enjoy this city’s extraordinary character and charm.”

PrimeSport is offering Sugar Bowl hospitality and hospitality plus game ticket packages at “To join forces with the Allstate Sugar Bowl to provide both fans and companies with hospitality and ticket accommodations is very exciting for us here at PrimeSport,” said Greg Nortman, Vice President, Business Development at PrimeSport. “New Orleans is a festive and energetic city and the Allstate Sugar Bowl has proven to be a fun experience year after year.”



Bayoubuzz Staff

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