Departing business dean: 'This is not about money for me'
Eli Jones, who is leaving his position as dean of LSU's E.J. Ourso College of Business to take the equivalent job at the University of Arkansas, says he was not swayed by salary considerations. "This is not about money for me," he says. "This is about resources in my college." Jones will be paid $375,000 in Arkansas, which represents a $75,000 raise. However, LSU was willing to match the offer, according to a high-ranking LSU official. But LSU apparently cannot match the level of financial support for faculty and programs available to Arkansas' Sam W. Walton College of Business, named after the Walmart founder. In 1998, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation made the largest upfront cash gift ever given to a public business college—$50 million—according to the University of Arkansas. "The gift continues to provide a variety of programs and opportunities for both students and faculty," the university says. The LSU College of Business budget has been cut $1.8 million since Jones arrived in 2008, Jones says, and the faculty has been reduced by 14%. "It is not just this college. It is the campus," he says. "Because of budget cuts, our faculty size has continued to get smaller in each of our colleges." On Friday LSU will cut the ribbon on its new, $52 million Business Education Complex. "I feel like we've done some amazing things in the midst of a global recession," Jones says. "Tomorrow is a celebration for a lot of folks who have been working for 14 years to make this happen." —David Jacobs
B.R. gets another No. 1 ranking for corporate facility creation and expansion
For the second straight year, Site Selection
magazine has given the Baton Rouge metro area top ranking for creation and expansion of corporate facilities. The No. 1 ranking for 2011 is among all U.S. cities with a population between 200,000 and 1 million. The magazine uses its "new plant database" to track business development projects with significant impact, defined as projects involving capital investment of at least $1 million, the creation of at least 50 jobs and construction of at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space. It does not track retail and government projects, schools or hospitals. Based on the criteria, Baton Rouge finished the year with 38 qualifying projects. "2011 was a great year, especially considering the continued economic instability worldwide," says Baton Rouge Area Chamber President/CEO Adam Knapp. "The Baton Rouge area's project pipeline is robust today, and we look forward to another great year for regional economic development." See the full rankings and read the associated story from Site Selection here
City-parish may ask La. Supreme Court to hear expropriation case
The East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney's Office is considering asking the Louisiana Supreme Court to take up a disputed expropriation case involving property at the corner of South Harrell's Ferry Road and O'Neal Lane, formerly home to Jay's Donuts, says attorney Leo D'Aubin, who is overseeing the case for the parish attorney's office. The valuation of the expropriated property and just compensation for business losses are what's in dispute—as well as who's qualified to make the appraisal. The city-parish originally offered Jay's Donuts owner Jay Lindsey $599,000 in March 2010 for the land, which it needed for nearby roadway work included in the Green Light Plan. That amount was bumped up to $887,805—plus nearly $56,000 in attorney's fees—in a trial court judgment in February 2011. However, Lindsey was seeking $1.5 million at the trial, which was the valuation one of his witnesses, Michael Daigle, had given the property. The trial court refused to qualify Daigle as an expert witness at that time, but on Feb. 10 an appeals court reversed that decision and remanded it back to the trial court. The parish attorney's office has 30 days from the ruling to file a writ with the Louisiana Supreme Court. D'Aubin says the parish attorney's office was surprised at the appeals court ruling, adding it still believes Daigle does not qualify as an expert witness and that his valuation should not be accepted as testimony. D'Aubin says the option of filing a writ with the state Supreme Court is still on the table. —Steve Sanoski Read the full story here.
Ample resources at Arkansas may have lured Jones away from LSU
Departing LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business Dean Eli Jones "knew he was wanted and loved" in Baton Rouge, according to Lee Griffin, who says he spoke to Jones about the career move as a friend, not in his official capacity as executive director of the LSU Foundation. But the long-term opportunities presented by the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas were too good for Jones to pass up. "With Eli I don't think it was a matter of individual compensation," says Griffin, who was very active in recruiting Jones to LSU several years ago. "But I think he felt the resources that were going to be available to him at the Walton School were going to be substantial, and we've had cut after cut in state appropriations; and I think he saw more of an opportunity there to accomplish what he wants to accomplish." Griffin says he was aware of Jones' pending move for a couple of weeks. He could not say to what extent LSU tried to match Jones' offer from Arkansas, though LSU Chancellor Mike Martin said Wednesday that LSU "made every effort to keep" Jones. Griffin did say he encouraged Jones to stay. "But he and his family decided this was the right move for him," he says. "You also have to remember that Eli comes from a packaged goods and retail background, and the Waltons are big retailers. I think he felt like this enhanced and broadened his career in that arena." —Stephanie Riegel
Profita loses airport contract he's held for 27 years
After more than 27 years, local media personality and ad executive Bill Profita is no longer handling the advertising and public relations for the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. The airport terminated its contract with Profita at the end of 2011 and plans to award the new contract for consulting services, creative work and media placement to the Day Group, a local, five-person agency with billings of approximately $1 million. The airport's advertising contract is a lucrative one: Its total ad budget is $500,000, according to airport spokesman Jim Caldwell. Of that, the Day Group's contract accounts for about $100,000. Another $250,000 is reserved for an airline incentive program providing advertising to new airlines that come into the market with nonstop service. The remaining $150,000 is spent on in-house marketing and promotions by the airport's marketing department, Caldwell says. —Stephanie Riegel Read the full story here.
Dardenne frowns on report calling Louisiana unhappy
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne says there's only one possible explanation for the part of a new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report that ranks Louisiana among the most unhappy states. "The only explanation for the Gallup poll showing Louisiana as an unhappy state would be if it were conducted the day after the BCS Championship Game," Dardenne says. "Otherwise, we know Louisianans are among the happiest people in the nation, and we have confidence in the study conducted by the CDC as published by Science
." Dardenne is referring to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December, which ranked Louisiana No. 1 in happiness among its residents. The CDC study was based on a survey of 1.3 million Americans over a four-year period that asked how satisfied they were with their lives. Louisiana took top ranking, over Hawaii and Florida, in the study. To be fair, ranking resident happiness is just a small part of the The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which ranks Louisiana No. 36 among U.S. states for overall health of its residents. As part of the index, a map claiming to chart the levels of happiness by state was included. On it, Louisiana is a pale shade of pea green, signifying it's in the "lower range" of happiness. That's the lowest ranking according to the map, which divides the states into a "lower range," "midrange" and "higher range." You can check out the map and a related article about it from The Atlantic here
Jindal outlines proposals to crack down on crime
Gov. Bobby Jindal today outlined a number of initiatives that will be introduced in the upcoming legislative session in an attempt to crack down on crime and increase public safety. The governor's crime package focuses on three areas: increasing penalties for street gangs, continuing to aggressively pursue sex offenders and enhancing penalties for human trafficking. "The bottom line is that we have been aggressive in our efforts to crack down on crime, but we can never become complacent because criminals will always try to find a new way to game the system and hurt our communities and families. Our crime package will increase penalties for street gangs, continue to crack down on sex predators and enhance penalties for the awful crime of human trafficking," Jindal says. Get the full details on Jindal's proposals on his website here
Jindal's education reform push gathering more national attention
Ever since The Wall Street Journal
called Gov. Bobby Jindal's multifaceted push to reform Louisiana's schools a "moon shot" in a recent editorial
, the national attention paid to Jindal's proposals seems to be ratcheting up daily. On Wednesday, it was the The Weekly Standard
's turn to remark on Jindal's ambitions in this public policy arena. "It's hard to summarize Jindal's education proposals—they're so numerous, comprehensive, and built upon other states' experience they might be described as a conservative policy wonk's Christmas list," says the conservative weekly magazine, which also focuses on the rising tension between the governor and teachers unions. "Since Hurricane Katrina shook the state, Louisiana teachers unions have been losing power. The storm wiped out many of the state's infrastructures, including in education. It remains to be seen how Jindal's popularity and aggressive full-court press on education will influence the Legislature. Local observers have (said) it will be an 'interesting session' but that Jindal just might make his shots." Check out the full story here.
Pair of B.R. area businesses net national award
Covalent Logic of Baton Rouge and Triton Industries of Lottie are two of 75 businesses across the country named Blue Ribbon Small Business Award winners by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The chamber gives the award to businesses dedicated to the principles of free enterprise, restoring jobs and continued prosperity. As recipients, Covalent Logic and Triton Industries—the only two businesses in Louisiana to get the award—are in the running for the chamber's Community Excellence Award, which goes to a small business that has demonstrated "outstanding achievements in promoting community excellence." The public chooses the winner via an online vote that's open here
through March 15. The winner will be announced on May 22. Covalent Logic Principal Stafford Kendall has also been named the 2012 Young Businessperson of the Year by Business Report
and Junior Achievement, and will be among the honorees at the 29th annual Business Awards and Hall of Fame banquet on March 20. Kendall was also a member of Business Report
's 2011 Forty under 40 class, and you can read her profile here
. Learn more about Triton Industries in a Business Report
story from September here
. See the full list of Blue Ribbon Small Business Award winners here
'225 Select': The Dude abides at Manship Theatre
Manship Theatre will screen the Coen Brothers' cult comedy The Big Lebowski
on Saturday in honor of Baton Rouge's hosting the U.S. Bowling Congress Open Championships. Film producer and distributor Jeff Dowd, the inspiration for Jeff Bridges' iconic persona "The Dude," will be on hand for the 7 p.m. screening that will include bar service—complete with Lebowski-approved White Russians and other libations. Dowd will introduce the movie and discuss a new Louisiana film festival he's developing with a group of local industry professionals. Tickets range from $20 for the pre-show and screening to $40 for the whole shebang, including an after-party. Discounts are available for students and USBC members in town for the championships. Click here
for complete details and tickets; and read the rest of this week's 225 Select
e-newsletter for more local entertainment options on tap for this weekend and beyond here
Per capita debt in La. rose $11 to $1,318 in 2011
The amount of debt Louisiana carries for each state resident rose again over the last year, the third year of increases, but the state remains well below its debt cap. The latest assessment, presented to the Bond Commission today, shows Louisiana carried a debt load of $1,318 for every man, woman and child in the state, an increase of $11 per person from the previous year. The total "net state tax supported debt" showed outstanding state debts of $6 billion as the books were closed on 2011. The per capita debt has grown under nearly every year of Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, though it hasn't reached the record set in 2007. Treasurer John Kennedy says the state has a healthy debt load that puts it squarely in the middle of states by comparison. The assessment is more optimistic than in recent years, when Kennedy and commission members worried the state's budget woes could edge Louisiana ever closer to the constitutional limit on debt. A limit enacted in the early 1990s requires that the state's annual repayment requirements fall under 6% of the state's yearly income from taxes, licenses and fees. The state has never exceeded the limit. The per capita debt has been higher only once since the commission started yearly tracking in 1988: when it reached $1,369 per person in 2007 under former Gov. Kathleen Blanco's administration, pushed up by post-hurricane rebuilding, road construction and other projects.
Facebook giving pages for businesses a new look
Facebook, which is trying to sell marketers on the idea that modern advertising is becoming social, has introduced new profile pages for businesses in addition to new paid ad features that will even reach people on mobile devices or as they log off, The San Francisco Chronicle
reports. The Menlo Park, Calif., firm says it's converting profile pages for companies and brands to the Timeline design, with a big photo on top, which Facebook has been phasing in for profile pages of regular members since September. Facebook is also introducing premium services that will place ads—in the form of news feed stories and sponsored stories—on mobile devices for the first time. Mike Hoefflinger, director of the social media giant's global business marketing, says Facebook is offering the Internet version of the way small-town shop owners did business 150 years ago: personally getting to know their customers, their stories, and what they want and need to buy. "We are, in a way, going back to the future," Hoefflinger says. "We are going back to stories; we are evolving from ads to stories." Read the full story here
.Today’s poll question:
What do you think of the new Facebook Timeline design and features?
Sports roundup: Mettenberger says he's ready to redeem himself, lead LSU … Saints' restructuring of Smith's contract was necessary to help in free agency … Hornets' new owner unlikely to be announced today
Airing it out:
Four years removed from high school and LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is still waiting to take his first meaningful snap in an SEC game. Is he ready? ESPN.com reports it could hear "the hunger, pain and focus—all wrapped up into one—very clearly in his voice" when they put that question to Mettenberger recently. "It's been a long and winding road in my college career so far, and I've gone through the trials and tribulations just to get here," Mettenberger says. "People remember me as the talented guy who got kicked off the team at Georgia. It sucks that it's that way, but that's the way the world is until I go out there and show who I really am; and then hopefully people will forget about it. I made a mistake, and I had to pay for it." Read the full story here
.5 million reasons:
The restructuring of New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith's contract makes sense—and cents—reports The Times-Picayune
, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who understands the Saints' predicament. With free agency looming on March 13, the Saints need to work some kind of accounting magic to make the numbers work. They have 16 unrestricted free agents. The six-year, $70 million deal Smith signed in 2008 was a good place to start. Smith's $10.15 million salary cap figure for this season was the highest on the roster. By guaranteeing most or all of the $8.15 million Smith was scheduled to earn in base salary and bonuses this season, the Saints will save about $5 million to $6 million in cap space. Read the complete story here
.The latest buzz:
Although NBA Commissioner David Stern previously predicted a new owner for the New Orleans Hornets could be announced sometime today, there's been no announcement yet and it looks unlikely that one will be made till another day. As The Times-Picayune
reports, two groups have been identified in bidding for control of the team: a California-based consortium led by swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal, in union with Larry Benson, Mike Dunleavy and potential New Orleans-area minority investors; and former Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest. The Bhathal group, according to sources, is believed to be the one in the lead, as characterized last week by Stern, with Chouest as a backup. Read the full story here
News roundup: Cinderella Project partners with local bank to collect dresses, gowns … Bill would increase salaries for La. judges
Banking on donations:
If you've got an old prom dress or wedding gown that you don't have any use for, The Cinderella Project—which has distributed about 3,600 prom dresses to students at 84 high schools in 18 parishes across Louisiana since 2008—would like you to donate it at a local Fidelity Bank branch today through Tuesday. The Cinderella Project will give the dresses and gowns to women in Louisiana who cannot afford them. All five local Fidelity branches are accepting donations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Guidelines and exact location can be found here
A New Orleans area lawmaker says he's sponsoring a proposal to boost judges' salaries across the state for the next two years in order to get them to the average that's paid to jurists across the South. Rep. Jeff Arnold, a Democrat, notes on the bill that he sponsored it "by request." If the measure passes, lawmakers would need to back a separate appropriation to pay for it. The proposal follows the recommendation of the Judicial Compensation Commission. On July 1, trial court judges would receive a 0.9% raise to $138,926; appellate court judges' salaries would go up 2.6% to $147,441; and Supreme Court justices' pay would increase 3.8% to $156,470. Salaries would go up another 2.2% a year later. The complete language of House Bill 483 can be found here
.Editor's note: This story has been changed since its original publication.