Leslie’s Midsummer Biz Roundup

Usually it’s “sleepy time down south” this time of year, but there are so many business events and announcements to be made that a literal Leslie’s List of Biz happenings is warranted for the week:


  • FastStart Ranked No. 1 Workforce Program in U.S. For The Ninth Year In A Row

Business Facilities magazine has ranked Louisiana Economic Development (LED) FastStart as the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program for a record ninth consecutive year.

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In the magazine’s 2018 State Rankings Report, Louisiana also earned Top 10 rankings among the best states for economic growth potential, foreign trade zone export activity and chemicals manufacturing.

LED FastStart works with new and expanding companies in target industries to tailor comprehensive recruiting, screening and state of the art training solutions that enable employees to be fully prepared for the launch of new corporate operations.

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Entergy’s Energy Smart Program Brings Cost Conscious Innovation to New Orleans

Offering comprehensive energy efficiency at no cost to the consumer, Entergy’s Energy Smart program incentivizes Entergy New Orleans customers to perform energy-saving upgrades in...

* Louisiana tops the list for best workforce program in the nation. CREDIT: businessfacilities.com


  • Arabi No. 6 Fastest Growing Suburb In The Nation

Realtor.com has named Arabi the sixth fastest growing suburb in America, out of more than 7,000 zip codes:

         6 – Arabi, LA

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         ZIP code: 70032

         Metropolitan area: New Orleans, LA

         Median home list price: $249,700

         Three-year price appreciation: 86.7%

         Three-year home listing increase: 76.3%

Realtor.com reports, “Just about 20 minutes from downtown New Orleans, Arabi is attracting both middle-class families and single, female buyers… They’re coming for the new homes – usually cottages, with high ceilings and porches. Or they want the town's remaining historical homes, which often date back to the early 20thcentury and were made out of salvaged wood from ships.”

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*Realtor.com’s fastest-growing suburbs in the United States | CREDIT: Tony Frenzel


  • Instapath Awarded $225K National Science Foundation Grant

Recent 2018 JEDCO Challenge winner Instapath, a biotechnology company that makes a digital microscope that provides an exact picture of cancer biopsies within seconds, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $225,000 to conduct research and development (R&D) work on a novel imaging technology for point-of-care biopsy evaluation. 

Company reps said Instapath helps cancer patients get a more accurate and efficient diagnosis, so they can begin receiving proper treatment as quickly as possible. 

“The National Science Foundation supports small businesses with the most innovative, cutting-edge ideas that have the potential to become great commercial successes and make huge societal impacts,” said Barry Johnson, director of the NSF’s division of industrial innovation and partnerships. “We hope that this seed funding will spark solutions to some of the most important challenges of our time across all areas of science and technology.”

“We are grateful to receive the prestigious STTR award from the National Science Foundation to further develop our technology,” said Dr. Mei Wang, CEO of Instapath. “This award is validation of the team’s hard work and dedication toward delivering a faster, more exact solution for biopsy diagnosis to cancer patients.”

Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/ STTR grant (up to $225,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $750,000). Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales. 

For more information

*Dr. Mei Wang – CEO of Instapath | CREDIT: www.instapathbio.com


  • Covington-Based Ballard Brands, Investors Purchase Jose Garces Group – Celebrity Chef Garces Special Guest At 7thAnnual Gold Medal Chefs Gala

The owners of a New Orleans company staple are expanding their restaurant holdings to include several Latin-American concepts in Philadelphia. Brothers Paul, Steven and Scott Ballard of Ballard Brands, the Covington-based restaurant and hospitality group with brands such as PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, WOW Café, and New Orleans Roast Coffee & Tea, recently purchased Garces Group of Philadelphia through 3BM1, a partnership with David Maser, a Philadelphia attorney and investor, and Ronnie Artigues, Ballard Brands’ general counsel. Garces Group restaurants and catering companies were founded by Chef Jose Garces, an Iron Chef and James Beard Award winner.

         Amada, Tinto, Village Whiskey, The Olde Bar, JG Domestic, Volvér, and their full-service catering division, Garces Events. Chef Garces remains in a leadership position as Chief Culinary Officer. Ronnie Artigues will serve as CEO of the Philadelphia-based operations.

“Chef Jose is a culinary expert who brings a renowned reputation and vision to our team—and we’re thrilled for the new partnership,” said Scott Ballard, co-founder at Ballard Brands. “We look forward to exploring new ideas and expansion in Louisiana, Philadelphia and beyond.”

The Ballards founded Ballard Brands in 2001 after years of owning and operating retail beverage franchises. Since then, Ballard Brands has opened locations in 30 states and three countries. With the addition of the Garces restaurants, the Ballard portfolio will include 165 locations and about 1,450 employees.

“I look forward to working with the Ballard team to continue building on the success we’ve seen over the years at our restaurants and to identify new concepts that will excite our customers,” Garces said. “New Orleans is one of the culinary capitals of the world, so I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

“This is a truly exciting endeavor for our staff and customers,” said Steven Ballard, co-founder of Ballard Brands. “We see this acquisition as an opportunity to expand our unique, flavorful offerings to not only a new region, but also to learn from the high-end culinary and service expertise Chef Jose brings to the table. We also see opportunities to introduce Chef’s rich Latin-American roots and concepts to New Orleans’ diverse culinary scene.”

“Partnering with Garces Group was a strategic move for our company and our long-term vision to offer a full suite of hospitality brands focused on creating memorable moments for our customer through unique flavors and outstanding service,” said Paul Ballard, co-founder of Ballard Brands. 

For more information


The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation will host its seventh annual Gold Medal Chefs Gala and Hospitality Awards on Wednesday, Aug. 15, at the La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom inside the Morial New Orleans Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd. More than 600 attendees will enjoy an evening of culinary delights featuring a cocktail hour, a five-course seated dinner, silent and live auctions and an industry awards presentation.

This year’s slate of Louisiana-sourced “Gold Medal Chefs” includes:

         • Chef Jana Billiot – Restaurant R’evolution

         • Chef Scot Craig – Katie’s Restaurant and Francesca

         • Chef Michael Gulotta – Maypop and MoPho

         • Chef Carl Schaubhut – DTB

         • Chef Amy Sins – Langlois​

The gala will also feature special guest and celebrity Chef Jose Garces of the Garces Restaurant Group who will prepare one of the evening’s dinner courses.

“The Foundation is excited to showcase such a recognized chef, father, farmer, food and drink lover, restaurateur, James Beard Award winner, author and Iron Chef,” said David Blitch, president and co-founder of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation. “Chef Garces, combined with the talents of our amazing Louisiana chefs, will provide the best gala dinner this industry has ever enjoyed while celebrating our Foundation’s important work in the community.”

In addition to the dinner, industry honorees will be recognized at an awards ceremony and presented with a “Hospy Award” for the following categories:

         • President’s Outstanding Volunteer Award

         • Drago Cvitanovich Award for Outstanding Philanthropy by an Entrepreneur

         • Jamie Shannon Outstanding Chef Award

         • Bryan Klotz Award for Outstanding Philanthropy by a Supplier

         • Archie Casbarian Humanitarian of the Year Award

         • Outstanding Philanthropy by a Hotel

         • Hotel Champion of Hospitality

Tables and tickets are on sale now here

*Paul, Steven and Scott Ballard and Chef Jose Garces​ | CREDIT: Ballard Brands, Martin Buday


  • Gardner Realtors $2.9M Listing Selected As Winner In HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt Competition

Gardner Realtors sales associate Elizabeth McNulty represents a property selected as a winner in the 2018 HGTV Ultimate House Hunt, a month-long online promotion held on HGTV.com, which attracted more than 880,000 votes and 84 million page views.  

The award-winning home in the “Urban Digs” category was chosen based on its extraordinary features and inspirational design captured by striking photography, Gardner reps said. The “Urban Digs” home, located at 1220 Dauphine St., is a rare and magnificent new construction French Quarter home filled with historic style and contemporary ease and elegance listed for $2,995,000, they said.

This is the seventh consecutive year HGTV has aligned exclusively with Gardner Realtor’s global real estate network Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and its luxury marketing division Luxury Portfolio International to host the Ultimate House Hunt, which is one of the most popular contests on HGTV.com.

“I was ecstatic simply to have two of my listings selected to be included in this exclusive HGTV Ultimate House Hunt competition, but to be declared a winner is extremely rewarding,” said Elizabeth McNulty of Gardner Realtors. “I think it speaks to the caliber of homes available in the New Orleans area.” 

For more information

McNulty's winning listing at 1220 Dauphine St. was one of her two New Orleans properties selected as HGTV finalists.* | CREDIT: www.luxuryportfolio.com


  • Loyola University New Orleans School Of Mass Communication Partners With Gray Television To Create A ‘Producer Incubator Lab’

Loyola University New Orleans’ award-winning School of Mass Communication is embarking on a new partnership with Gray Television to create a “Producer Incubator Lab.” The new student laboratory on campus will bring producers from Gray Television stations around the nation to Loyola to help coach and educate aspiring producers, as well as give lectures on all aspects of production in the television broadcast industry. 

“We’re living in a fast-moving digital age where the newsroom is changing rapidly and where journalists are facing increased demands to juggle responsibilities and produce important stories that serve their communities,” said Mike Smith, director of talent recruitment and retention for Gray Television. “Producers are the heart of a television station, and we recognize that some of the most crucial parts of their development start in the classroom. We’re excited to be training tomorrow’s newsroom leaders.”

For 10 consecutive weeks during the Spring 2019 semester, Gray Television will send one visiting professional per week to spend two days in classrooms and lab settings working with SMC journalism students. The 10 professionals will be producers drawn from 10 different markets around the country. They will address all aspects of the production of a newscast, from story generation to vetting sources and streaming news.

The production incubator program will be integrated into the Senior Capstone experience, a mandatory semester class in which senior journalism students draw on the skills gleaned throughout their college experience to produce a professional weekly live broadcast. In the Digital Communications Lab at Loyola, journalism students work on HD cameras to record live and taped interviews and shepherd them to post-production in a state of the art television production studio and installation room.

In the Digital Communications Lab, Loyola now has added capability of multi-channels of Skype-enabled live shots with a professional, broadcast quality. Students will use the new equipment to train for broadcasting live shots and interviews.

“At Loyola University New Orleans, we are training the newsroom leaders of tomorrow,” said Sonya Duhé, professor and director of the School of Mass Communication. “Through this partnership, we will continue to expand journalism students’ view of what is possible and what is critical in the newsrooms of tomorrow so that they enter the workforce personally and professionally prepared to succeed.”

For more information

 Sonya F. Duhé, Ph.D. – Loyola’s School of Mass Communication director and professor 

CREDIT: cas.loyno.edu


  • Xavier University Institutes Evolution Of The Core Curriculum; Adds 10 New Programs

A new expansion of Xavier University of Louisiana’s academic programs is being introduced in the 2018 academic year, as administrators and teachers adapt the fundamental curriculum to meet the changing needs of educating each new generation.

Reps said since the school’s founding, Xavier University of Louisiana has prided itself on its commitment to the liberal arts, requiring all of its students, regardless of major, to take a prescribed set of courses that were deemed fundamental to a Catholic liberal arts education. Current students and thousands of alumni will recognize this as the Core Curriculum.

The Core Curriculum in its current form, as rolled out in 1980, was designed to ensure that students in majors as diverse as business and history, or music and the sciences, would receive the same basic preparation. Reps said the expectation was that students, exposed to a wide variety of disciplines, would develop a wide range of intellectual capacities that would enable them to flourish throughout their lives – and to make a difference in the lives of others.

And while the number of required hours expanded from 56 to 60 and a few of the specific courses themselves were added or dropped since that most recent tweaking of the core, for the past 37 plus years all Xavier students needed to meet those basic requirements to graduate.

To elevate the academic experience of future students, reps said this fall semester will see the implementation of a new Core Curriculum, the end result of years of study and planning by a dedicated faculty committee. This year’s new freshman class, the class of 2022, will be the first group of students to follow the new standards. Upperclassmen will have the option to adopt them or remain under the Core Curriculum their class came in with.

Although the most significant feature of the new Core Curriculum is that it reduces the mandated workload from 60 to 40 hours, the impact of the changes go far beyond the mandatory basic course requirements, reps said. It fundamentally changes the essence of what the Core is supposed to do by modifying the types of courses that qualify as core requirements, increasing the flexibility for students to choose between different requirements, and introducing several new courses to satisfy certain criteria.

The streamlined core will also give students a greater opportunity and an ownership of their education and open up the possibility to pursue majors, minors, concentrations, certificates or classes both within and outside of their chosen degree path that are interesting and innovative.

The new Core Curriculum is the not the only area where changes have occurred, as Xavier has made a conscious effort to expand the University’s academic offerings. In just the past year the College of Arts and Sciences has added five new undergraduate programs, one additional master’s program, three minors, and a specialized certificate program.  

Those new undergraduate degree programs include the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Bioinformatics, the B.S. in Data Science, the B.S. in Neuroscience, the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Sociology with a concentration in Crime and Social Justice, and the B.A. in Music degree with a concentration in Jazz Studies, while those seeking an advanced degree need look no further than the new Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) in Health Equity. 

New Minor programs include Afro Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Bioethics and Neuroscience. A new Certificate program is called Spanish for Healthcare Professionals.

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  • New Orleans-Based 365 Connect Partners With Nonprofit Electric Girls To Provide Scholarships To Next Generation Technology Leaders

365 Connect, a leading provider of award-winning marketing, leasing and resident technology platforms for the multifamily housing industry, announced that the company will provide scholarship grants for Electric Girls educational programs. The grants will ensure all girls have the opportunity to become leaders in the technology field, regardless of their family being able to afford furthering their education.  

With a mission to transform girls into confident, innovative leaders in technology, Electric Girls provides an array of educational initiatives to its participants. Utilizing several tech products and tools that are interactive, informative, and most importantly, fun, the programs introduce and inspire girls to become the next generation of leaders in the tech industry. Serving girls aged five through 14, the program teaches fundamental skills in electronics, design, computer programming and fabrication. Blazing the trail with its empowering curriculum, Electric Girls is one of the fastest growing educational platforms in the New Orleans area, reps said.

“Nothing is more important than fostering and inspiring our youth to engage in educational programs that will encourage them to build a variety of skills and create a foundation for a successful future,” said Kerry W. Kirby, founder and CEO 365 Connect. “Electric Girls’ Flor Serna is a true leader in our community, and she has put her heart and soul into creating programs for young girls to not only learn, but to also gain confidence in all of their abilities. We are proud to partner with Electric Girls to make these programs accessible to everyone.” 

The 365 Connect scholarship program is already in full motion. The company recently provided fully funded grants for 30 girls from low-income families to attend after school programs at no cost. In addition, 365 Connect and Electric Girls are working together to bring STEM programs into more schools throughout the region. Remaining true to its Silicon Bayou roots, 365 Connect is one of the largest supporters of Tech-Ed events throughout the city, with the primary focus of promoting equal opportunities to all, reps said.

“We are excited to have 365 Connect join us in our mission to develop leadership skills in young girls through their learning of electronics and computer programming,” said Serna, co-founder and executive director of Electric Girls. “These scholarships will open the door for more families to be able to send their girls to our summer camps, one-day workshops, and after school, weekend, and in school programs. The philanthropic generosity of Kerry and Melinda Kirby demonstrates their continuing commitment to the technology community and the future of our city.”  

For more information

*Electric Girls has served hundreds of girls in the greater New Orleans area through summer camps, after school partnerships, weekend and in school programs and one-day workshops, catering to girls aged five through 14. | CREDIT: Electric Girls


Adams And Reese Celebrates 30 Years Of Community Service With HUGS

On Friday, July 27, Adams and Reese will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its HUGS (Hope, Understanding, Giving and Support) Program across all its offices.

Founded in 1988 by Mark Surprenant, a partner in the New Orleans office of Adams and Reese, HUGS is an employee volunteer program that has provided charitable and philanthropic programs with financial resources, donations and countless hours of hands-on volunteer support. HUGS has benefited thousands of people in need through its connections with more than 200 organizations across the southeastern United States, reps said.

HUGS’ 30th anniversary will be celebrated with a special luncheon in each of the firm’s offices. Programs that have benefited from volunteerism and donations through HUGS will also be represented at these celebrations. 

“I am tremendously proud of the many ways Adams and Reese employees have come together over the past 30 years to give back to our communities through HUGS,” said Surprenant, who also serves as liaison partner of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. “This week, we are celebrating not only our core value of community service but also the people in our communities whose daily efforts improve the lives of countless individuals. It’s an honor to be a part of an organization whose people truly exemplify the values of HUGS: caring, generosity, selflessness and hope.”

For more information

* Mark Surprenant – Adams And Reese | CREDIT: www.adamsandreese.com


  • Camp Able In Session; Talent Show Saturday

Camp Able New Orleans, located at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1031 S. Carrollton Ave., is a day camp specifically designed for persons with special needs aged 10 and up. The Rev. Robert Wm. Beazley, the associate rector and chaplain at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, said the day camp is not focused on disabilities, but abilities.

 “We hope to build awareness in the community for potential campers and counselors,” said Beazley. “No matter what the challenge, we work to tailor the camp personally to each camper. All campers attend the camp for free, and we are staffed by volunteers from across the United States. The camp has grown from 17 campers to more than 50 in just three years. We maintain a two to one ratio between student counselors and campers, so that means we will have more than 100 local youth from dozens of high schools in the Orleans area volunteering. Our theme this year is ‘space,’ and on Saturday, July 28, at 1:00 p.m., we will have a talent show that will be out of this world!”

Camp Able New Orleans is in operation from Wednesday, July 25, through Sunday, July 29, from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and its goal is to establish a community of unconditional love, compassion and acceptance.

Activities include arts and crafts, games, a pool day with a water slide, a second line, trips to the Audubon Aquarium & Zoo, the Amusement Park at City Park, Bayou St. John for kayaking, and the must-see talent show on Saturday.

Camp Able is a nonprofit enterprise that’s free to all campers and staffed by volunteers.

The Rev. Beazley said it’s a “life-changing camp.”

For more information

Camp Able participants enjoy taking turns on a water slide. | CREDIT: Camp Able New Orleans


  • Soca Fête Mini Festival To Celebrate Soca Music, Trinidadian Street Food

The NOLA Caribbean Festival is keeping the Caribbean vibes going this summer with the Soca Fête Mini Festival. This high-energy festival, that will take place on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Roux Carre, 2000 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., will celebrate the pulsating rhythms of Soca music and mouth-watering tastes of Trinidadian street food.

The Soca Fête will feature Caribbean DJs, New Orleans DJ legend DJ Raj Smooth and international Soca artist Imani Ray. 

Festival organizer Joel Hitchcock Tilton said, “Like at our parent festival, the NOLA Caribbean Festival, we will feature the cheapest and most delicious drinks of any festival in Louisiana; one beer for $3 and two for $5, mixed drinks with a souvenir cup for $6 and two for $10.”

Tilton said in addition to Trinidadian food and Caribbean drinks the festival will also feature eight top arts and crafts vendors.

General admission tickets are $10, and advanced tickets are available here.


  • Mardi Gras Indian Hall Of Fame To Host Panel Discussion, Book Signing

As part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame, there will be a panel discussion and a book-signing event on Monday, Aug. 6, at the Three Keys at the Ace Hotel, 600 Baronne St., from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Featured authors will include:

         • Dianne “Gumbo Marie” Honoré – “Living the Black Storyville Baby Doll Life”

         • Al Kennedy – “Chief of Chiefs: Robert Nathaniel Lee and the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans”

         • David Kunian – Writer for DownbeatOffbeatGambit and other publications

         • Eric Waters – “Freedom’s Dance: Social and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans”

The moderator will be Cara Harrison Daniels.

The first 20 Mardi Gras Indians to attend will get a free drink ticket.

The event is free is open to the public.

For more information

*Photographer Eric Waters will be signing copies of his book, “Freedom’s Dance: Social and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans,” on  Monday, Aug. 6, at the Three Keys at the Ace Hotel.


  • Reginelli's Celebrates 300 Years Of NOLA

Reginelli’s Pizzeria is celebrating New Orleans’ 300th birthday with a special Tricentennial Tasting Menu. Through Sunday, Sept. 30, guests dining at any Reginelli’s location can enjoy a special three-course menu, featuring both popular menu staples and brand new fare. 

The new Tricentennial Tasting Menu at Reginelli’s Pizzeria includes:


         • The Shrimp Taco – Marinated shrimp drizzled with a lemon caper aioli sauce, wrapped up in a house-made cauliflower shell and topped with alfalfa sprouts and avocado. 

         • The Eggplant Reginelli – Marinated with olive oil and fresh garlic, covered in melted fontina and topped off with a soft herbed goat cheese butter.

         • The Watermelon Salad – Watermelon cubes garnished with feta and fresh mint, drizzled with a house-made citrus glaze and sprinkled with candied southern pecans.


         • Reginelli’s Gumbo Pizza – 10” pizza with a spicy smoked tomato sauce, layered with Andouille sausage, crystal-marinated shrimp and holy trinity, crowned with pickled okra and parsley. 

         • Sausage N Peppers Pizza – 10” pizza with Italian sausage and barbecued red onions with a garlic butter sauce and a flavorful and spicy roasted pepper blend – a combination of red and yellow bell peppers, poblano, chili and wax peppers.

         • Bacon & Blue – A chopped romaine salad tossed in a creamy avocado dressing and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted corn, gorgonzola and pancetta. 

         • Spinach Manicotti – This baked pasta features ricotta and parmesan cheese-stuffed manicotti on wilted spinach with a creamy lemon tarragon béchamel sauce, with melted mozzarella and topped with zesty lemon croutons.


         • Angelo Brocato’s Spumoni – Wedge of Tutti Frutti, lemon and pistachio almond gelato 

         • La Louisiane Bakery’s Birthday Cupcake – A funfetti-filled almond-flavored cupcake topped with buttercream icing and sprinkled with a bit of New Orleans flair.

Reginelli’s is open daily and offers full-service dining, take-out, delivery and catering at 10 locations throughout New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Houston.

For more information

*Reginelli’s Shrimp Taco appetizer is featured on its Tricentennial Tasting Menu through Sunday, Sept. 30. | CREDIT: Reginelli’s



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