This Morning's Headlines / Tue, March 11, 2014
Maxwell's Market to open new store in Lafayette
Maxwell's Market is expanding into the Lafayette market and plans to open what will be its first store outside of Baton Rouge some time this summer. The newest addition to the Maxwell's chain, which will bring its total number of specialty markets/delis to four, will be located on Kaliste Saloom Road near the popular River Ranch TND in a small, mixed-use development of retail and office space. The market will be about 5,000 square feet and will be a new construction. "We weren't really looking at moving into Lafayette but the developers approached us," says Maxwell's Market owner and founder Ron Lewis. "We thought about it a long time and looked at the market and the demographics, and it just really made sense." Lewis, who opened the first Maxwell's Market on Corporate Boulevard 14 years ago this week, has been slowly growing his brand, at a time when the market for high-end grocery stores has become increasingly crowded with national competitors like Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Trader Joe's. Still, Lewis says he has been able to hold his own by carefully selecting locations for further growth. He opened a Perkins Road store in late 2005 and a Highland Road location in late 2009. For now, Lafayette is the only city outside of Baton Rouge where expansion is planned. "We're just going to see how it goes," he says. "We have people ask us all the time to look at Mandeville or Covington or Old Metairie, but I'm very conservative and like to take it slow." —Stephanie Riegel
Maginnis: The method to Jindal's badness
Whenever Gov. Bobby Jindal travels outside Louisiana these days, says columnist John Maginnis, "he turns into one bad trash-talking dude who repeatedly calls out the president of the United States." From standing outside the White House and accusing President Barack Obama of waving the white flag of surrender on the economy to last week's bombast before the Conservative Political Action Committee conference—where he ranked No. 44 as the worst president of his lifetime—"Jindal has gone steroid," Maginnis says in his latest column. "Before any national microphone he can find, he growls like he's in the middle of a heated election campaign, which, of late, it seems we always are," reads the column. "He has been sharply critical of Obama before, but, as before CPAC, he now questions the commander-in-chief's smarts (as others, back home, have his). Yet currently he has been on such a tear that he seems on a mission." An obvious explanation, Maginnis says, is that Jindal wants to be noticed as a serious presidential contender. But while Jindal may have one eye on the nation's top seat, Maginnis suspects he may have his other on the No. 2 seat. "Our governor may be ambitious as ever but he is not delusional," Maginnis says. "Not to say he has taken his eye off the top prize, but his recent behavior suggests he has his other eye set lower, and that he is auditioning to be somebody's vice president. He is displaying two important characteristics expected of the junior running mate, pugnacity and preparation." Read the full column.
(John Maginnis and Jeremy Alford publish LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow them on Twitter, or on Facebook.).
BRAC to push for legislation to increase government contracts for small businesses
BRAC says it's taking the lead to get legislation passed during the session that opened Monday that would help small businesses get more contracts with the state. Specifically, BRAC says it's seeking legislation that would require the Division of Administration to advertise state contracting opportunities with the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center utilizing Louisiana's Small Entrepreneurship Program, also known as the Hudson Initiative. In 2005, the Hudson Initiative was created to provide more opportunities for entrepreneurs to land contracts with the state, but BRAC says the state has failed to meet its targeted amount of contract funds to be paid to small businesses certified with LED. BRAC also announced today that it has formed a new partnership with the LA PTAC, which provides educational seminars and consultation to small businesses interested in getting government contracts. The organization currently operates in 54 of the state’s 64 parishes, but not in Baton Rouge. The new partnership with BRAC will provide the organization with local offices and meeting spaces. —Staff report
LOGA lines up 'town hall' series across La. to drum up support
Bloodied by an unfavorable court ruling Monday, leaders of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association nonetheless vowed to take the offensive, determined to launch a grassroots campaign across the state that will focus on what they say are "greedy trial lawyers attacking our industry." Gifford Briggs, vice president of LOGA, tells The Advertiser that the organization will tour the state, meeting with oil and gas supporters in a series of public 90-minute "town hall" sessions to drum up support for their cause. Briggs says the meetings, styled as part of the Give 'em the Boot Tour, began Monday in Metairie and will continue this week to Covington, Crowley, Lafayette and Morgan City. The tour launched on the same day that LOGA lost a key decision in state court in Baton Rouge. There, Judge Janice Clark ruled that Attorney General Buddy Caldwell was within his rights to allow plaintiffs in a lawsuit against 97 oil companies to hire private counsel. LOGA had argued that because the plaintiffs, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East, are a state agency, the attorney general should represent them in their suit, rather than private attorneys who take cases on contingency fees. The authority is suing the oil companies because, the authority contends, the companies inflicted environmental damage on the coastline while extracting oil. Read the full story.
La. lawmakers open hearings on $25 billion state budget
A day after opening their annual legislative session, Louisiana lawmakers began their work this morning on the state's operating budget. As The Associated Press reports, the House Appropriations Committee began combing through the recommendations of Gov. Bobby Jindal for how to best spend state dollars in the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The committee convened at 9 a.m. Jindal offered a $25 billion budget proposal that proposes new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers, and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training. Some lawmakers have criticized the piecemeal funding he's using to balance the spending plans. They say it will perpetuate a cycle of budget uncertainty because Jindal included dollars that aren't certain to reappear year after year.
News roundup: LSU Flores MBA program No. 67 on 'U.S. News' Best Business Schools list … EATEL launches cloud-based business phone system … 2014 Good Growth Awards Gala set for Aug. 21
Earning their stripes: Though it slipped six spots down the list from last year's ranking, the LSU Flores MBA program remained on the U.S. News & World Report's Best Business School list this year, at No. 67. "We did not have the splash factor of the new Business Education Complex opening, like last year, to influence peer review factors," says LSU Flores MBA Program Director Edward Watson in a prepared statement issued by LSU this morning. Last year, the Flores MBA program jumped 20 spots on the list to No. 61.
Off the ground: Gonzales-based EATEL announced today that it is now offering a cloud-based phone system called Hosted Voice to local businesses throughout Ascension Parish and in select areas of Livingston and Baton Rouge. The network-based phone system uses a managed, secure and high-performing private IP network, EATEL says, and the traffic is managed and prioritized so that voice traffic takes priority. Last year, EATEL acquired Baton Rouge-based Venyu, a cloud-based data services provider.
Save the date: The 2014 Good Growth Awards Gala, hosted by the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition and sponsored by Business Report and Arrighi Construction, is set for Thursday, Aug. 21, at the Renaissance Hotel. Award nominations will be accepted until July 1, in digital format only. More details and ticket information for the gala will be released in the coming months. You can get complete details on awards nominations at the Growth Coalition website.
Today's poll question: Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, has filed a proposal to repeal Louisiana's stand-your-ground law. Do you support repealing the law?
The method to Jindal's badness
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Boeing to end pensions for non-union workers
Economy added 175,000 jobs in February