Daily Report

This Morning's Headlines / Tue, September 02, 2014

Downtown building sells for $1.28M

Business partners Gordon LeBlanc Jr. and Tom Adamek have purchased for $1.28 million a building at 631 Main St. that is currently leased to Cumulus Media. The nearly 90-year-old building was purchased as an investment, says LeBlanc, and there are currently no plans for any changes at the property. "It was renovated a few years ago, so it's in good shape," says LeBlanc, noting the property also includes on-site parking. Cumulus is the only tenant in the two-story building, and they will continue to lease the space, LeBlanc says. LeBlanc and Adamek purchased the property as Third Street Acquisitions LLC. The seller was 631 Main LLC, represented by J.S. Lawrence Green, according to land records filed with the parish Clerk of Court. LeBlanc and Adamek also own the roughly 4,000-square-foot building at 336 Third St. in downtown that was the longtime home of Riverside Patty before it closed in late 2012. —Kelly Connelly

Albemarle completes sale of pharmaceutical businesses, manufacturing sites to NY firm

Baton Rouge-based specialty chemical maker Albemarle announced this morning that it has completed the previously announced sale of its antioxidant, Ibuprofen and Propofol businesses to New York-based SI Group Inc. The financial terms of the deal—which also includes manufacturing sites in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and Jinshan, China—were not disclosed. SI Group also says the deal includes applications and technical support capabilities in Baton Rouge and Shanghai. Citing a plan for "realignment" to maximize its "core businesses," Albemarle first announced the deal back in April. "This acquisition, strongly aligned with our core alkylphenol capabilities, enhances our global supply network and expertise in the antioxidant and active pharmaceutical ingredients markets," says SI Group President & CEO Frank Bozich in a prepared statement. The acquisition includes proprietary technology and patents in several antioxidant product lines, as well as the FDA-regulated Ibuprofen and Propofol businesses. —Steve Sanoski

Alford: For health care woes, Jindal prescribes confusion

You should not drive or operate heavy machinery while attempting to understand the health care decisions made in recent years by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, says Jeremy Alford in his latest column. "Nor should you mix the resulting news coverage with alcohol. (Actually, that might not be a terrible idea.) Side effects may include headaches, feelings of despair, confusion, outrage or dizziness," Alford writes. "If these side effects persist, seek immediate care. Just be careful where you seek it." Last week, Baton Rouge General announced a November closure for its Mid City emergency room. "That was before the state swooped in with an unexpected cash infusion of $7.2 million, which, when coupled with a federal match, means $18 million," Alford writes. "The state saved the day—for now." The emergency room is hemorrhaging $1 million per month, due to an average increase of 400 patients, Alford notes. All of the new patients are uninsured, he says, driven there by the administration's decision to close down the nearby Earl K. Long Medical Center as part of the governor's hospital privatization plan. "Other once-public hospitals around the state are now being privately managed, but the situation in Baton Rouge could pave the way for more unintended cash infusions if the long-term solution of diverting patients elsewhere flatlines," Alford writes. "The latest side effects from the health care agenda prescribed by Jindal's administration may also prove costly for some. Especially if you're among the 230,000 members of the state's Group Benefits program, for which greater out-of-pocket expenses are anticipated." Read the full column.

(Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.)

Livingston has first site certified as development ready through LED program

A 93-acre site in Livingston Parish has become the first parcel of land in the parish certified as development ready through a program of Louisiana Economic Development, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Livingston Economic Development Council announced this morning. The land comprises the remaining available acreage in the Livingston Parish Industrial Park, located in Walker. Across the Capital Region, there are 20 LED Certified Sites. LED began the program in 2010, working with landowners and local officials to ensure sites are shovel-ready for major project development. To become a certified site, the property must either have all utilities and infrastructure in place, or have approved engineering plans to provide the utility infrastructure within 180 days. "Certified sites are crucial for the Baton Rouge area to succeed in securing new business," says Iain Vasey, BRAC's executive director of business development, in a prepared statement. "BRAC encourages industrial and commercial property owners who are interested in participating in this program to contact us." BRAC began working to certify sites in the Capital Region at the outset of 2012, with a goal of certifying eight to 10 sites each year through the LED program. Read a Business Report story from April 2012 on the certified sites program. —Steve Sanoski

Holden helps kick off monthlong Trevor's Wish food drive

Mayor Kip Holden helped kick off a monthlong food drive in memory of Trevor Sims this morning, officially proclaiming September as "Trevor's Wish—Help Feed The Hungry Month" at an event at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Before dying of cancer on Oct. 16, 2013—just four days after celebrating his 11th birthday—Sims inspired the community to take up a weeklong effort to help feed the homeless and poor. The drive last year raised enough food and money to provide for over 433,000 meals. This year, those behind the food drive are aiming to raise even more. As 225 reports, the food drive kickoff festivities continue tonight with a party at Caliente Mexican Craving, 1072 W. Lee Drive, from 5 to 8 p.m. Those who bring one canned good will receive a free scoop of ice cream. The event, which coincides with September's Hunger Action Month, will also feature a patio party for kids and families. In December, the Metro Council voted unanimously to rename the North Boulevard Overpass as the Trevor J. Sims Memorial Bridge. Get more details on the food drive and find out how you can participate.

Highest paid college football coaches are worth their salaries, study says

According to a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt, college football coaches who command what are widely seen as very robust salaries are worth the money because of the value they bring to their universities. As The New York Times reports, the Vanderbilt study, which included 947 contracts from 2005 to 2013, benchmarked coaching salaries against those of chief executive officers at public companies—another group that is often accused of being paid too much. "Coaches are running large programs that have tremendous value," says Randall S. Thomas, a law and business professor and one of the authors of the study. "They are creating great value, and they are being paid for creating that value." He adds that coaches compare "quite directly to public company CEOs." The increasing demands to win, coupled with billion-dollar television deals, have combined to cause the average pay for coaches at the top level of Division I football to double since 2005 to $1.5 million, the Vanderbilt study finds. At LSU, head coach Les Miles earns $4.3 million a year. That makes him the seventh-highest paid coach and places him among an elite group of coaches making more than $3 million a year. He is also among the top-tier coaches who enjoy special perks, the researchers found. Miles has a provision in his deal that will automatically make him the highest-paid coach in the SEC, by $1,000, should he coach his squad to another national championship. Alabama coach Nick Saban, meanwhile, receives personal use of a private jet each year, in addition to his pay. Read the full story.

Today's poll question: At $4.3 million a year, do you think LSU football coach Les Miles is overpaid?

News roundup: La. highways rated poor, funding shrinking … Halliburton reaches $1.1B Gulf spill settlement … US business owners see state, local tax bill go up

Rocky roads: Louisiana's highways continue to be rated poor in national assessments and, though drivers contribute 20 cents for every gallon of gasoline and diesel they purchase, the amount of money going to construction and repairs is shrinking. Gannett Louisiana reports the 20-cent tax paid at the pump generated $587.3 million in 2013. But after all of the deductions—such as $60 million to state police operations and paying off the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED program) bonds—only about $27 million is left for state highways and bridges. It costs about $70 million a year to maintain the infrastructure. Read the full story.

Here's the deal: Halliburton announced this morning that it has reached a $1.1 billion settlement with plaintiffs who sued the Houston oil field service company in the wake of the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Thousands of individuals, businesses, property owners and local governments sued BP, Halliburton, Transocean and others claiming property damage and financial losses after a subsea well blowout triggered an explosion on BP's leased Deepwater Horizon four years ago, killing 11 workers and eventually spilling millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf. FuelFix.com has the full story.

By the numbers: State and local tax bills for companies across the country grew modestly last year as the economic recovery accelerated, according to new research by professional services firm Ernst & Young and the Center on State Taxation, a tax policy group. Businesses' state and local tax burdens last year expanded by 4.3%, to $671 billion, compared with 3.9% the year before, and it was the third consecutive year of growth after back-to-back years of shrinking bills in 2009 and 2010. The Washington Post has the full story.

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