Week in Review, Feb. 6-10: NOLA Coalition, PortSL, Antares and More

NEW ORLEANS — On Feb. 7, approximately 75 members of the NOLA Coalition gathered for a press conference and progress report outside the offices of Impetus Construction in the 1700 block of Tchoupitoulas Street.

At times competing with the roar of nearby 18 wheelers, eight speakers discussed the six-month-old coalition’s efforts to improve public safety in the city and create more opportunity for young people.

The goal of the alliance — a diverse group of nonprofits, civic organizations and businesses — is to rally public support for the New Orleans Police Department while also raising $15 million over the next three years to bolster youth services in the city.

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“Today is a celebration of the Power of unity, which I think you’re seeing behind us very much,” said Greater New Orleans Inc. CEO Michael Hecht, one of the group’s organizers. “But it’s also a sober reflection that we still have a long, long way to go until we achieve a city with peace and prosperity for all of our residents.”

In regard to supporting NOPD, the coalition’s efforts are mostly limited to lobbying city leaders to take action, but Greg Rusovich, chairman of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said the coalition has already been a powerful and effective voice advocating for much-needed policy changes.

Here are more of the week’s top business stories:

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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...

On Feb. 9, the Jefferson Parish Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the State Bond Commission to support a bond request from the Port of South Louisiana to purchase Avondale Global Gateway. In January, the Port of South Louisiana announced intentions to purchase the former Avondale Shipyard from current owner T. Parker Host. The Council resolution states that the new partnership between the Port of South Louisiana and Avondale will “increase economic growth in a facility that once employed over 5,000 people.” “The Port of South Louisiana has put forth an expansion plan that will be a game changer for our entire state,” said Deano Bonano, Jefferson Parish Council vice chairman and Councilman for District 2. “By purchasing Avondale Global Gateway, the Port of South Louisiana will return this once active point of commerce on the West Bank to its former strength. This expansion is not just about Jefferson Parish. It sets the state of Louisiana on a path to success by increasing our port capacity and attracting new business. The Council is proud to support this project, and we look forward to working with the Bond Commission to see this through.”

On Feb. 10, Service Corporation International announced that it is investing approximately $10 million for renovations and improvements to five of its local properties. The Houston-based provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services is owner and operator of seven Dignity Memorial funeral homes in New Orleans and the surrounding region. “This means new and improved facilities to provide our families with the best possible accommodations to honor their loved ones with dignity,” said Huey Campbell, Dignity Memorial New Orleans market director. “We are also committed to supporting local nonprofit organizations working to improve the quality of life for people in our community.”   

LCMC Health has announced the promotion of John R. Nickens IV to the new role of president of hospital services and chief of pediatrics. Nickens moves into this role later this month after serving as the head of LCMC Health maternal and child health services and as president and CEO of Children’s Hospital New Orleans over the last five years. Nickens will have executive oversight and responsibility for all hospital operations across the nine-hospital LCMC Health system, which welcomed the three Tulane University hospitals in January. “I am honored to contribute my passion and knowledge to support the growth and continued success of LCMC Health, bringing with me all that we have accomplished at Children’s,” said Nickens in a press release. “I am humbled and excited to work alongside Greg Feirn, the LCMC Health leadership team, and all of our hospitals to deliver the best possible healthcare for our communities and to impact the health and well being of people in all stages of life.”

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Antares Technology Solutions, a Louisiana-based software development and information technology consulting company, announced that Barrett Conrad is its new president, CEO and owner. He succeeds Ralph Melian, who announced his retirement after a 45-year career in the technology and healthcare industries. “I am very excited about Barrett and the ideas and energy he brings to Antares,” said Melian in a press release. “His business and software development background are a perfect combination to lead Antares into the future.” Melian will remain at the company during the leadership and ownership transition.

On Feb. 6, New Orleans business leaders and elected officials competed with the sounds of songbirds and helicopters as they gathered for a sunny outdoor press conference to celebrate the installation of four electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot of the Audubon Zoo. Audubon Institute CEO Ron Forman was joined at the pavement podium by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Entergy New Orleans President and CEO Deanna Rodriguez and City Councilmembers Eugene Green and Oliver Thomas. “Listen to those birds. Look at this beautiful sky. This is why we need to be very deliberate in our attempts to lower our carbon footprint,” Green told the crowd. “We want our great grandchildren to come to the Audubon Zoo on a beautiful day like this and be able to hear birds and be able to see the sunshine. This is about the future of our city, the future of our nation and the future of this world.” The new charging stations, which will be free to use, were installed and paid for by a partnership between Audubon, Entergy and the City. The group is halfway to its goal of placing 30 stations at 25 locations across New Orleans — mostly located at NORD facilities, libraries and public parks. Entergy has committed $500,000 to the cause.

The former chief executive of a failed bank in New Orleans was convicted Thursday of bank fraud, conspiracy and other charges in federal court. New Orleans news outlets report that a federal jury convicted Ashton Ryan in connection with the collapse six years ago of First NBC Bank. The verdict followed a five-week trial. Prosecutors said Ryan, 75, repeatedly approved loans for a group of borrowers that he knew couldn’t even pay the interest on the mounting debts. Ryan’s lawyer argued his client started First NBC in 2006 to help his community rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

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