New airline coming to Baton Rouge this summer
Elite Airways—a six-year-old airline that, until now, has provided only charter service—will begin offering regularly scheduled commercial flights from Baton Rouge this summer. Elite's president, John Pearsall, tells Daily Report
the Portland, Maine-based company will be expanding into several markets around the country in the coming months, and that Baton Rouge will be its first hub city. “We think Baton Rouge is a great area and I think they can use some unique flights,” he says, adding that service is tentatively scheduled to begin in mid-July. “We are excited.” Pearsall declines to disclose at this time the number of flights Elite will offer locally or the destinations to which it will fly, but says the airline will offer non-stop service from Baton Rouge to destinations that currently can only be reached via connecting flights. “We've been working closely with the Baton Rouge Metro Airport,” Pearsall says. “They have been after us and showed us the need for service in certain markets and we agreed.” —Stephanie Riegel Read the full story here.
BRAC relieved, hopeful as session rolls on
BRAC officials are less concerned today about the state’s various economic incentive programs than they were a couple of weeks ago. But they’re still hoping the Legislature doesn’t suspend the Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive Program, which gives incentives of up to 15% of a company’s payroll for up to 10 years, or the Corporate Headquarters Relocation Program. BRAC President/CEO Adam Knapp says the payroll incentive is so new that it doesn’t cost anything yet, so freezing it won’t actually help fill any budget holes. BRAC also is backing legislation that officials say would streamline the application process for the state’s R&D tax credits. On the workforce front, BRAC supports Senate Bill 45, which merges local Louisiana Technical College campuses with Baton Rouge Community College, and Senate Bill 204, which would allow issuance of bonds for projects for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, such as the BRCC expansion at Smiley Heights. Both bills are meant to help LCTCS ramp up workforce development. "We have a realistic shot of competing for perhaps $130 billion, $150 billion worth of industrial construction over the next two years," says Iain Vasey, who directs BRAC’s business development group. "We’re going to have to add to the resources of the training programs to be able to build these things; otherwise, we’re going to miss out." —David Jacobs
La. jobless rate up in April, fourth month in a row
Louisiana's unemployment rate rose in April for the fourth straight month, as fewer people reported having work. While the labor force was basically flat, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people who reported having a job fell by nearly 5,000. The jobless rate rose to 6.5% from 6.2% in March, though it remained below April 2012's rate of 6.8%. The number of unemployed Louisianans rose to 135,000 in April, up from 129,000 in March but down from roughly 142,000 in April 2012. Nevada had the highest jobless rate among the states in April at 9.6%, while North Dakota again had the lowest rate at 3.3%. The national unemployment rate fell to 7.5% in April from 7.6% in March. It was also below the 8.1% level of April 2012. The monthly unemployment rate is calculated by a survey that asks how many people are looking for a job. A second survey each month asks employers how many people are on their payrolls, a measure many economists use as their top labor market indicator. Those numbers, also published by BLS, show payrolls were flat from March at 1.94 million but continued to hover just below Louisiana's all-time high of 1.95 million, set in December. About 16,000 more people had a job in April 2013 than in April 2012. Payroll numbers, like unemployment numbers, are adjusted to cancel out predictable seasonal fluctuations.
Louisiana's first charter school union is formed
The first charter school–based labor union in Louisiana has been formed by teachers at Morris Jeff Community School in Mid-City New Orleans, The Times-Picayune
reports. The school's board of directors voted unanimously Thursday night to recognize the Morris Jeff Association of Educators. Ninety-four percent of school staff signed union support cards, according to a statement. The group is affiliated with the Louisiana Association of Educators. Board President Aesha Rasheed says the idea had been brewing for a long time and did not come in response to any incidents at the school, adding that she believes having an official teachers association will improve the quality of education at the school. The relationship between unions and the post–Hurricane Katrina school system has been uneasy, with charters typically opposing some teacher protections that are supported by unions, such as tenure. Any individual teacher may join a union, including Teach For America instructors, but Morris Jeff is the first school where a union has been recognized as the sole voice representing staff. The full story can be found here
'225': How to do Las Vegas on $300
2 Broke Guys is a trio of gentlemen who want to experience everything the best cities have to offer. In the May issue of 225
, the crew showed the magazine how to do Las Vegas on a measly budget of $300. Most say this would be an impossible task. However, the guys only spent money on a hotel room and airplane tickets. Upon landing, 2 Broke Guys grabbed every tourist pamphlet they could, enjoyed a lot of free sightseeing, then took advantage of some amazing deals. Their money-saving highlights include the tour of M&M World, the Nathan Burton Comedy & Magic show, and some other attractions made more attractive if one is visiting Sin City with limited funds. Read the full feature here
'National Geographic' spotlights eroding La. coastline, restoration projects
For its weekly "In Focus" feature, National Geographic
today is shining a spotlight on the eroding Louisiana coastline. The article notes what many Louisianans already know only too well: that the area is one of the fastest-disappearing landmasses on Earth. It has lost nearly 1,900 square miles since the 1930s, and is still losing a swath about the size of a football field every hour. "And yet, as a slowly unfolding catastrophe, it gets much less national attention than acute disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010," the magazine says. "Land loss threatens not only the people, culture, and economy of southern Louisiana, but also unique wetland ecosystems." However, the magazine also notes that the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority this week unveiled a list of 39 long-term coastal restoration projects that it hopes to pay for, at least in part, with money the state receives from BP to compensate it for the 2010 oil spill. The projects are all part of a 50-year, $50 billion master plan that the authority announced last year. "That plan has an incredibly ambitious—some would say impossible—goal: to stop the land loss and even reverse it, in the face of a global rise in sea level, by the second half of this century," reads the article, the full version of which you can find here
News roundup: Dalai Lama kicks off New Orleans visit … Energy Dept. backs Texas LNG plan … Judge delays trial for ex-BP engineer charged in Gulf oil spill case
The Dalai Lama brought his message of peace and compassion today to New Orleans, a city plagued by persistent street violence. The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader expressed condolences to victims of a shooting spree at a Mother's Day parade four days before his arrival here. "Nonviolence is the only way of solving problems," he told reporters before addressing a gathering at the city's convention center. "The real gun control, ultimately it comes here," the Dalai Lama said, pointing at his heart. The Associated Press has the full story here
The Energy Department has given conditional approval to a Texas company that wants to export liquefied natural gas, the second LNG export project the Obama administration has approved as it faces a wave of export requests. The permit would allow Freeport LNG Expansion L.P. to export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from its terminal near Freeport, Texas, south of Houston. It is subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval. Today's approval follows the department's authorization for the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal in Louisiana in 2011.Further on down the road:
A federal judge today delayed for nearly six months the trial of a former BP engineer charged with obstruction of justice stemming from his actions after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval says in a court filing that Kurt Mix's trial, which had been set for June 10, will now begin Dec. 2. The delay was requested by Mix's lawyer, who says the defense needs more time to prepare. The government did not oppose a delay. Mix has pleaded not guilty.