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  #81  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2009, 9:28 PM
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I'm glad they are being respectful to the original design, but I'd wish they'd upgrade the exterior lighting as well.
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  #82  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2009, 12:44 PM
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3/11/2009

Construction on the $100,000,000 Louisiana Cancer Research Center (LCRC) new research facility in New Orleans has broken ground. The 250,000-square-foot facility will be located on a 2-acre site between the LSU Health Sciences Center and Tulane University Health Sciences Center. Construction began in February 2009 and is scheduled to be complete in August 2011. Design services are being provided by RMJM Hillier Architecture. The mission of the LCRC, a joint venture between LSU Health Sciences and Tulane Health Sciences, is to discover and develop innovative cancer therapies that lead to clinical treatment programs. These programs will offer new opportunities for early detection, treatment and prevention of cancer. The facility will create more than 300 jobs and is the first major healthcare project in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

http://www.lcrc.info/aboutus.htm
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  #83  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2009, 3:41 PM
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Covington Medical Arts Pavilion
at Lakeview Regional Medical Center
Lakeview Court Covington-New Orleans Northshore



Upon completion of construction in the Fall of 2010, Phase I of Covington Medical Arts Pavilion will consists of a 3-story, 60,000 square foot Class A medical office building located on the campus of Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington, Louisiana.

http://www.stirlingprop.com/frame.ph...tingID=1610179
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  #84  
Old Posted Mar 16, 2009, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fla_tiger View Post


3/11/2009

Construction on the $100,000,000 Louisiana Cancer Research Center (LCRC) new research facility in New Orleans has broken ground. The 250,000-square-foot facility will be located on a 2-acre site between the LSU Health Sciences Center and Tulane University Health Sciences Center. Construction began in February 2009 and is scheduled to be complete in August 2011. Design services are being provided by RMJM Hillier Architecture. The mission of the LCRC, a joint venture between LSU Health Sciences and Tulane Health Sciences, is to discover and develop innovative cancer therapies that lead to clinical treatment programs. These programs will offer new opportunities for early detection, treatment and prevention of cancer. The facility will create more than 300 jobs and is the first major healthcare project in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

http://www.lcrc.info/aboutus.htm
I love the design, very beautiful and modern. This is great news!
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  #85  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2009, 6:53 PM
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I drove by the Cancer Research Center site over the weekend and there are cranes in place. Looks like a really cool new building.
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  #86  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2009, 1:49 PM
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Hospitality task force created to boost tourism

Posted by Jaquetta White
The Times-Picayune
April 01, 2009

The newly-created New Orleans Hospitality Strategic Task Force will spend at least $250,000 this year to study how best to grow the city's tourism industry over the next decade, members of the panel said Wednesday.

The 17-member group includes representatives from various hospitality-related entities, including the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, Harrah's New Orleans Hotel and Casino and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center-New Orleans. Several local restaurateurs and hotel operators and the associations that represent them also are on the panel, which was created by Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu to provide "one team that has one vision and one fight."

The task force's primary focus will be on creating a long-term plan for the hospitality industry. One goal would be to achieve measurable success by 2018, the city's 300th anniversary, said Doug Thornton, co-chairman of the task force and senior vice president of SMG, the company that operates the Superdome and the New Orleans Arena on behalf of the state.

While the members of the hospitality industry have, since Katrina, have worked more closely together to grow business, Thornton said the downturn in the national economy added a sense of urgency to their efforts.

"I think that what we're seeing right now is the national economy has impacted our industry and it has created a sense of nervousness," Thornton said. "Our job is to harness that energy."

Part of the plan will be determining just what success will look like. It could mean improving or repurposing existing infrastructure, developing new tourist attractions or reallocating funds, Thornton said.

He likened the change the task force is shooting for to that which occurred in New Orleans as a result of the world's fair in 1984. The fair gave birth to the first phase of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center-New Orleans and the redevelopment of the Warehouse district and by extension laid the foundation for a modern tourism and convention business in the city.

"This is how we create what the city is going to look like over the next 20 to 25 years," CVB President and task force member Stephen Perry said.

The task force plans to hire a consulting firm to frame its mission and recommend goals, said local developer Daryl Berger, co-chairman of the task force and principal and owner of The Berger Company Inc.

That firm will conduct an analysis of the industry's strengths and weaknesses and evaluate where opportunities lie. That report will cost at least $250,000, Landrieu said. Landrieu's office will pay for half the cost, while members of the hospitality industry will raise money to pay for the balance. The report could be ready by the end of the year.

In addition to that long-term planning, the new panel will tackle some short-term hurdles for the tourism industry. The current economic downturn, for instance, has siphoned away visitor traffic and with it money that would be reinvested into advertising.

Landrieu said a goal of the task force will be to make a case to the state legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal's office to fully fund the state's tourism marketing budget.

Crime is also an immediate concern, Landrieu said. He called it the No.1 inhibitor of growing the tourism business in the state.

"It is a general consensus in the tourism industry that safety and security in the New Orleans area are one of the major hurdles we have to overcome," Landrieu said. "It's one that we have to deal with."
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  #87  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2009, 1:51 PM
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Louisiana ranked among the fastest-growing states for high-tech employment

The Times-Picayune
March 31, 2009

Louisiana now ranks among the 10 fastest-growing states for high-tech employment, a technology study released today shows.

The state gained 4,349 high-tech jobs between 2002 and 2007, an increase of more than 11 percent, according to the Baton Rouge Business Report. Louisiana ranks 10th in the nation for the total number of tech jobs gained and seventh for its percentage growth.
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  #88  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2009, 2:07 PM
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Airport plan has May 1 deadline

By WILL SENTELL
Advocate Capitol News Bureau
Apr 2, 2009

State leaders plan to decide by May 1 whether to continue efforts to build a $4.4 billion airport near Donaldsonville.

The issue is in the final stages of a review by the state Department of Economic Development.

The report was ordered, with a May 1 deadline, by the Legislature last year amid criticism the state has spent too much money on a 17-year project that has failed to attract private investors.

“We will make the deadline,” state Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said Wednesday.

If state officials decide the airport makes sense, the Louisiana Airport Authority — which has led the push — will continue operations. If not, the agency would be abolished by July 1.

Backers envision an airport with links to water, rail and highways.

It would be built on a 25,000-acre site that would cover parts of Iberville, Ascension and Assumption parishes.

Supporters contend the airport, called the Louisiana Transportation Center, would be the biggest economic development project in state history.

Critics argue the proposal is unrealistic and note the state has already spent $7 million for studies, operating costs and other expenses without making any final decisions.

The state economic development department is working with SNC-Lavalin, an engineering and construction firm, to help settle the issue.

SNC-Lavalin is supposed to find out whether there are private investors willing to commit enough jobs, payroll and lease payments to justify state aid.

“We have to ensure that we have sufficient private-sector commitments to justify that,” Moret said of major state financial involvement.

Exactly how much taxpayer assistance would be needed to make the airport a reality is unclear. In the past, backers have said it would take $350 million or more.

The sudden downturn in the Louisiana’s financial outlook is another issue. There’s $1.3 billion less in state revenue available for services in the state financial year that begins July 1.

LAA officials referred questions on the airport to state economic development leaders.
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  #89  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2009, 4:36 AM
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AeroMexico will begin service through New Orleans this July

Jaquetta White
The Times-Picayune
April 07, 2009 5:00PM

International air service will return to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in July.

AeroMexico, Mexico's largest airline, will begin offering direct non-stop flights to Mexico City from New Orleans on July 6. The flights, which will continue from Mexico City to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, will operate six times a week, officials announced Tuesday.

AeroMexico will be the first foreign line to operate out of New Orleans since Katrina. Before the storm, the Kenner airport had non stop international flights to Canada and Central America through Air Canada and Grupo Taca, respectively. But that service did not return after Katrina, leaving the city with no international service.

The resumption of international service is both symbolic and practical, said Michael Hecht, president and chief executive officer of Greater New Orleans Inc., a local economic development group. The addition of the new service is symbolic in that it, perhaps, moves the region closer to its goal of being a "Gateway to the Americas." What's more, though, the service will cut down travel time between the two cities. Trips between New Orleans and Mexico City now take seven to 10 hours.

"This greatly facilitates the prospects for business," Hecht said.

In addition to GNO Inc., representatives from the city, the airport, the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, Louisiana Economic Development and Ochsner Hospital had been working together for about nine months to woo the Mexican carrier.

Ochsner serves 4,000 international patients and physicians at its main campus every year. Most of them travel from Latin America.

"Our decision is a statement about the distinctive service we plan to bring to your city. It also is an expression of our confidence in New Orleans and the tremendous progress you have made since Hurricane Katrina," Frank Galan, vice president of AeroMexico's United States division, said in a statement. "We believe this is an ideal time to expand the travel opportunities for residents of New Orleans and visitors to your community.

At a press conference announcing the new service Tuesday, Galan said the airline is also looking into adding a service from New Orleans to Cancun. AeroMexico previously operated a nonstop flight between New Orleans and Cancun, but shuttered that service in 2003.

AeroMexico's new service could increase traffic at the airport by more than 8,000 passengers a year, according to a study conducted by Loren C. Scott & Associates.

About 7.9 million people passed through the Kenner airport in 2008, up 5.5 percent from 2007. The figure is 82 percent of the number of travelers who traveled through the airport gates in 2004, the last full year before Hurricane Katrina and one of the airport's busiest. That year, 9.7 million people traveled through Louis Armstrong International.

Airport Aviation Director Sean Hunter said demand for service to Latin America has been increasing, especially because of the number of Hispanics living and working, not only in the New Orleans area, but within a two to three-hour radius. The closest city offering international travel to Mexico is Houston, Hunter said.

"This return has the potential to reintroduce New Orleans as a partner in commerce to the Latin American nations," Hunter said.
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  #90  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2009, 4:37 AM
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Louisiana should position itself to reap the benefits of an expanded Panama Canal, panel says

Jen DeGregorio
The Times-Picayune
April 07, 2009

New Orleans City Council members heard from a panel of lawmakers and business leaders on Tuesday about ways Louisiana could benefit from an expansion of the Panama Canal.

With only five years to go before the expanded canal is set to open for business and flood the Gulf of Mexico with new shipping traffic, Councilman Arnie Fielkow said the council should support any plans that could make Louisiana ports stand out among their competitors.

"The greatest asset that we have in this community is the Mississippi River," said Fielkow, chair of the council's economic development committee, which hosted Tuesday's forum.

Panel members agreed about the need for a strategy to lure cargo from the canal, saying the initiative would create new jobs and tax dollars. But there was some contention about how best to accomplish the task.

Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, said the state's best bet would be to construct a megaport along Southwest Pass, near the mouth of the river. The world's largest cargo ships are too deep for the river, he said, and a port closer to open water would be the only hope to draw their cargo into Louisiana.

Such a facility could benefit the Port of New Orleans, he said, with smaller ships taking cargo from larger vessels to ferry upriver for distribution by rail or truck.

"It's business we don't have right now," said Crowe, who drafted legislation last year to create the Louisiana International Deep Water Gulf Transfer Terminal Authority, a state body that would govern a megaport near the river's mouth.

The complex could be up and running in as soon as two years, according to Crowe, who said a company has already proposed spending as much as $2 billion to build a new port on state-owned land along Southwest Pass. Louisiana Economic Development is considering the idea, and a formal proposal should be made public next month, he said.

"That's a very, very bullish thing to happen," Crowe said of the proposal.

Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, said a larger port near the mouth of the river should not come at the expense of cargo docks in New Orleans.

LaGrange is lobbying for a $500 million expansion of the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal, which he said would be needed to handle any new boxed cargo that may arise from Crowe's proposed transfer terminal.

"If you don't do that, you will lose your market edge .¥.¥. for when the Panama Canal does open," said LaGrange.

At least one other plan for a major cargo facility has been discussed in recent months. Sea Point, a transfer terminal proposed off the coast of Venice, would use an offshore platform to move containers from ships to barges that would then take the cargo up the Mississippi.

Eugene Schreiber, managing director of the World Trade Center of New Orleans, a group that promotes trade with the city, described the fragmented plans as a downfall for the state.

The "lack of coordinated planning" has thwarted progress on any single effort to improve the state's port infrastructure, Schreiber said.

Andrea St. Paul Bland, vice president of business development for the economic development group GNO Inc., hopes that her group will address that problem with a report that would suggest ways for Louisiana to leverage its port assets to compete with other states.

The study, which will assess world shipping trends as well as state port facilities, should be complete in June, St. Paul Bland said.

Fielkow said he hoped that GNO would apprise the Legislature even sooner about any findings that could help lawmakers decide how best to address the Panama Canal expansion.

Although the city will play a supporting role by lobbying for the ports, state lawmakers will have to take the lead, Feilkow said.

"We are a little behind the timeline," Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis, the only other council member at Tuesday's hearing, said of the state's efforts to capitalize on the canal expansion.
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  #91  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2009, 4:06 AM
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New retail center to begin taking shape on Tulane Avenue this summer

Posted by Kate Moran
The Times-Picayune
April 09, 2009
The development firm behind many of the apartments flying up along Tulane Avenue will begin construction this summer on a 15,000-square foot retail center along the same strip.

The Domain Companies plans to open 1,200 new apartments by year's end near Tulane Avenue, a corridor that historically lacked both a residential component and the basic retail offerings that thrive in busy neighborhoods.

The two principals behind the Domain Companies aim to change that with their new retail center at 3001 Tulane Ave. It will sit directly across the street from the Crescent Club, one of their new apartment developments, which itself has retail space on the ground floor.

"Within six to nine months, there will be thousands of households living on this street, and they can't walk out their front door and buy a bottle of water," said Matt Schwartz, a New York native and Tulane University graduate who founded the Domain Companies with business partner Chris Papamichael.

The retail center, to be built of brick, stucco and glass, is roughly 70 percent leased. Its future tenants include a dry cleaner, a bank branch, a nail salon and a Subway. A coffee shop has also committed to opening across the street at the Crescent Club.

The development is notable in part for its timing. The recession has prompted many retailers to delay or reduce their volume of new store openings. At an economic forecast sponsored by the University of New Orleans last week, the president of local real estate firm Stirling Properties said retail construction is expected to slide 30 percent nationwide this year, to the lowest level since 1995.

Yet Schwartz said the transformation of Tulane Avenue has created an opening for retail expansion, no matter what the broader economic climate. He also said that New Orleans has not suffered an economic decline of the magnitude many other cities are experiencing.

"Even in this environment, there are unique pockets of opportunity," Schwartz said.
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  #92  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2009, 4:46 PM
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Hollywood-style complex to occupy 25-acre site in Harahan

Posted by Stacey Plaisance
The Associated Press April 13, 2009

HARAHAN, La. (AP) -- A collection of blighted office buildings and warehouse space on a 25-acre site in this New Orleans suburb is being transformed into a Hollywood-style film studio complex that is expected to become one of the largest outside Hollywood.

Louisiana Film Studios, a former Winn-Dixie grocery distribution center that stood vacant for years, is in the early stages of renovation. Already the privately financed project has landed two big-budget movies that are expected to begin filming in coming weeks.

Once complete, the complex will provide more than 500,000 square feet of space for movie sets, soundstages and other film production work. But unlike studios in California, or even the cutting-edge Albuquerque Studios in New Mexico, this one is far from glamorous.

"It's not fancy," said Daniel Forman, a New Orleans native and Louisiana Film Studios president. "But what we've learned is that production companies don't want fancy. What they want is functional space."

The site is emerging from little more than shells of buildings. Plans call for creation of six adjustable soundstages and work space for wardrobe, among other functions.

The facility opened in March, months ahead of its projected fall 2009 start, to accommodate the independent thriller "Dead of Night" and the action flick "The Expendables." Both were seeking production space in the New Orleans area this spring.

Crews have already begun moving in, building props and sets such as a military plane with an approximate 60-foot wingspan and a Brazilian palace and fortress. Plans also call for a ship to be built on a parking lot.

"You have to have room to do stuff like this," said Forman, standing in a warehouse with ceilings lofting 30 feet overhead.

The New Orleans area already has several smaller production studios, including the Nims Center in Harahan and Louisiana Soundstage in LaPlace. Studios also have popped up in recent years in Baton Rouge.

But exactly how many studios Louisiana needs -- and where they should be located -- remains to be seen, said Amber Havens, spokeswoman for the state film office.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, when much of the state's filming industry was driven to northern Louisiana, the Shreveport area burgeoned with at least four production studios and dozens of films. One studio has plans to expand its operation there to include visual effects work.

Still, the fate of most studios depends on production traffic through the state, Havens said. "Production drives the train," she said, and when warehouse-style studios aren't being used, they sit idle like "big empty elephants."

While hundreds of film and TV projects have come to Louisiana since the state began offering tax incentives for in-state filming in 2002 -- last year Louisiana had a record filming year with more than 70 film and TV projects -- 2009 is shaping up to be a slower year.

Louisiana Film Studios is a bit of a gamble considering the project won't come cheap. Forman said the first phase, including acquisition outlays, will cost more than $20 million. Renovations such as soundproofing will raise the total to about $45 million, he said.

Forman maintains the size and business model for Louisiana Film Studios makes the project worth the investment. Besides movie sets, the facility will house industry vendors, such as Cinelease, a lighting and grip equipment rental company that is now moving its Louisiana base of operations into the facility.

The idea is one-stop shopping, "to make it as easy as possible" for companies to make film and TV projects in Louisiana, Forman said.

Forman said the site lent itself to film production because it's only minutes from New Orleans and comes with plenty of acreage and parking. There's already a laundry area for washing, dyeing and aging costumes, and some of the rows of tall metal racks once used for storing Winn-Dixie merchandise can hold movie props and equipment.

Even before being acquired by Louisiana Film Studios, the site was used briefly as a location for the movies "Meet the Spartans" in 2007 and "Cirque du Freak" in 2008. Forman said the goal is to be able to handle up to six projects at a time and some 3,000 workers.
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  #93  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2009, 4:56 PM
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  #94  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2009, 2:36 PM
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Beer industry contributes $2.3 billion each year to Louisiana's economy, study says

Posted by The Times-Picayune
April 14, 2009 7:06AM

A new study commissioned by the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute says that the nation's beer industry contributes $2.3 billion each year to Louisiana's economy.

The study also shows that the beer industry directly employs more than 18,000 people in Louisiana, paying them $382.9 million in wages.
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  #95  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2009, 11:50 PM
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So that would be around 21,000 $ in income a year for the 18,000 workers ?
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  #96  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2009, 6:32 PM
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So that would be around 21,000 $ in income a year for the 18,000 workers ?
Well I can't imagine that the beer industry would pay too much. I know a few beer reps, and they dont make much. However the perks are awesome.
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  #97  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2009, 2:06 PM
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New Orleans is weathering the national economic downturn well

Posted by Becky Bohrer
New Orleans Times Picayune
April 15, 2009

When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal touts the state's job market and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin sells his city as one of the best places to ride out the recession, it's not just routine boosterism.

In the midst of a severe nationwide downturn, the Louisiana economy is holding up better than most. It's a role reversal from a few years ago, when Louisiana was one of the country's weaker states financially following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The state has the 10th lowest unemployment rate and was the only state to add nonfarm jobs in February, the most recent month for which data are available. Sales tax collections in New Orleans have risen close to levels seen before Katrina. And foreclosure rates have remained low by national standards, in part because the state never experienced a housing bubble.

What's unclear is how long the state can keep the downturn's worst demons at bay. March state-by-state employment data, which the Labor Department releases Friday, will offer fresh insights.

The major reconstruction effort that continues more than 3½ years after Katrina partly explains why Louisiana has been fairly insulated from the worst of the recession.

To take advantage, Wes Wyman diversified his south Louisiana construction business after Katrina, adding home rehabilitation to his usual mix of residential and commercial work. "If you make it a job to find a job, you'll find a job," he said.

There are other factors that state officials probably wouldn't brag about in better times, such as the relatively stagnant population and the lack of manufacturing jobs, which have been hard hit.

"It's kind of a backhanded compliment," said Peter Ricchiuti, assistant dean of the Tulane University business school.

But at a time when all states are struggling, any advantage helps. Consider:

* Billions of dollars in government-backed rebuilding projects are planned or under way following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike last summer, and that's cushioned the jobs market.

* Louisiana's population has fallen an estimated 1.3 percent since the 2000 Census. That means less competition for jobs.

* Oil and natural-gas drilling, which is critical to Louisiana's economy, hasn't slowed as much as in other states since energy prices plummeted. Companies are reluctant to shut down expensive, high-volume projects off Louisiana's coast; they are more likely to put the breaks on onshore drilling in other parts of the country, such as the Rockies, where the upfront investments aren't as high and the payoffs may be smaller.

New Orleans has some advantages the more rural north Louisiana does not. Among them: a port, which helped insulate the city against the Great Depression, and its status as a global tourism destination.

And while Katrina left most of New Orleans under water and wiped out whole neighborhoods, the federal government has set aside billions for rebuilding homes, levees and other infrastructure. Nearly $15 billion has been committed to flood-protection projects in the region.

Ricchiuti said the city could be a good place to weather the U.S. downturn, as Nagin asserts, provided that the overall economy gets on a growth track by late this year or early 2010.

"If this recession were to linger, it would eventually take us as well. There's no question about that," he said.

The state's February unemployment rate was 5.7 percent. Nationwide, the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in February, and 8.5 percent in March, according to the Labor Department.

Louisiana's unemployment rate has risen from 3.8 percent in February 2008, when the nationwide level was 4.8 percent.

The state has taken aggressive steps to try to offset the trickle-down effects of the recession.

State officials have keyed in on persuading businesses to stay and expand in Louisiana. The state is offering better trained workers suited to a business' needs and potentially huge incentives to companies weighing a move here. The efforts, initiated before the economic crash, have taken on new urgency since.

Recently, state officials offered $50 million to try to keep a chicken processing plant and about 1,300 jobs in rural north Louisiana -- $10 million more than the California-based company that would run the facility has offered to put into the deal.

The Jindal administration has proposed spending two-thirds of a $414 million "mega-fund" on four projects with much of the money helping retain existing jobs if lawmakers sign off on the plans. Some have actually eyed the funds to fill holes in the state budget.

"The state is just doing way better than we anticipated," economist Loren Scott, who's studied Louisiana for years, said.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern.

Nonseasonally adjusted unemployment for February was 10 percent or greater primarily in a cluster of northeastern parishes that are poorer, rural and have been hit by layoffs in sectors like wood products. And economists see vulnerabilities in auto manufacturing, chemicals, tourism and oil and gas. Some of those sectors have already shed jobs.

Big Mardi Gras crowds in February were considered a good omen for New Orleans. Whether businesses will cut back on attendance at conventions and corporate meetings remains to be seen.

Alex Lewis, interim managing director of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, said businesses are bracing for a slowdown.

State-backed incentive offers to manufacturers such as International Paper Co. and General Motors weren't enough to save 550 jobs at the Bastrop mill, which closed, or hundreds more at the GM Shreveport plant, which produces the Hummer brand.

"We're struggling," said Dorothy Ford, director of the Bastrop-Morehouse Chamber of Commerce.

The state's been involved in business expansions expected to add hundreds of jobs in the Shreveport area and has promised to underwrite economic recovery plans for hard-hit small communities like Bastrop.

"The reality is, we can't, from a state level, control the national credit freeze or the international demand for these products," said Jindal, who has balked at accepting some federal stimulus funding.

But Jindal, a rising star in the GOP, said the state has cut taxes and implemented ethics reforms to improve the business climate. He said everything possible is being done to mitigate the effects of the recession.

The state had an estimated 1.9 million nonfarms job in February, 9,600 more than in January and 9,500 more than a year earlier.

Scott, who earlier this year worried the state would suffer its own downturn, was stunned by the recent figures.

He said he now believes Louisiana will hold its own this year, perhaps gaining about 1,300 jobs.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed here," he said.
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  #98  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2009, 4:05 PM
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Port of New Orleans is working toward developing a new operations center for New Orleans Cold Storage

Posted by Jen DeGregorio
The Times-Picayune
April 16, 2009 11:54AM

The Port of New Orleans took another step toward claiming $20 million in hurricane recovery money to build a new operations center for poultry exporter New Orleans Cold Storage.

The Dock Board of the Port of New Orleans voted today to allow port staff to sign contracts and file documents that would enable the agency to draw the funds from the Louisiana Office of Community Development.

The New Orleans Cold Storage facility is slated to rise on two Mississippi River cargo docks near the French Quarter.
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  #99  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2009, 4:07 PM
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Wetlands restoration touted at panel discussion on climate change

Posted by Molly Reid
The Times-Picayune
April 16, 2009 5:41PM

Wetlands restoration was touted as a lucrative way to enter the burgeoning carbon credit market Wednesday evening at a panel discussion on climate change.

Going beyond the direct environmental benefits and job-creation opportunities posed by multi-million dollar wetland restoration projects currently in the works, panelist and wetlands expert Sarah Mack said the immense carbon-saving value of restoring Louisiana's coastline can make the state a powerful player in the European and, prospectively, American carbon trading markets.

"When we lose wetlands, we emit major amounts of carbon into the atmosphere," Mack said, speaking to an audience of about 100 at Loyola University's Nunemaker Hall at the "Restore Our Coasts, Repower Louisiana" town hall forum. "If we rebuild .¥.¥. 30,000 square miles, that's the equivalent of removing the emissions of 8 million cars. That translates to $1 billion of the European carbon trade market."

Gaining support for the idea hinges largely on the existence of a cap and trade program in the United States, which President Obama has stated is a major priority for his administration. Cap and trade legislation, proposals of which have been circulating through Congress in recent weeks, would place a limit on companies' greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to global warming, and would commodify emissions reductions or carbon credits for trade to companies needing to exceed that cap.

The money obtained through the sale of carbon credits could fund further wetlands restoration projects, Mack said.

The forum was hosted by a group of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Alliance for Affordable Energy and Gulf Restoration Network. Also on the panel were author and regional levee board secretary John Barry, Councilwoman Shelley Midura, environmental justice attorney Monique Harden and 2nd Congressional District Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao.

In his opening remarks, Cao stated that, unlike many members of his party, "I recognize there is an issue of global warming that we have to address," but that those needs, combined with the economic, health care and housing needs of his constitents, "involves honestly a balancing act, and that is a much more complicated problem than people seem to believe."

The freshman Congressman has not spoken extensively about his stance on environmental policy, and despite his stated need for "balance," audience members seemed eager to hear him take a side, as the first audience question for the panel was addressed specifically to Cao. Speaking of a cap and trade proposal currently circulating through Congress, the questioner asked Cao "do you support this legislation, and if you don't, what would it take for you to support it?"

Cao said that though he knew of the proposed legislation, he had not read it in detail.

"I can't support the bill without knowing the details," he said. "I am open to options and I hope eventually we will reach our goal to be energy-independent and that we will have an economy that will embrace the green jobs that we want."

Cao then excused himself, apologizing, to "rush to another appointment."

Midura said the city's immediate goals in helping to curb climate change lay in implementing the Energy Smart New Orleans plan, a citywide energy-efficiency program that would incentivize lower energy use in homes and businesses. On the state level, wetlands restoration and river diversion projects are a significant step, but they are not enough, Barry said.

"I say we're at the point of the spear" for climate change, Barry said. "The eyes of the world are upon us. There's no question about it, and what we do here is going to be a model and a case study for the rest of the world. It's up to us whether that case study is something that's emulated or something that people use to scare their kids."
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  #100  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 4:44 PM
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Post-production studio under construction in Esplanade mansion

Posted by Kate Moran
The Times-Picayune
April 26, 2009 1:00AM






A crumbling, gothic mansion on Esplanade Avenue that served as a setting for several films is about to become a post-production space that should help grow the movie-making industry in Louisiana.

A group of investors bought the house in 2007 and has begun renovating the neglected interior to include sound studios, editing rooms and a space to screen films, as well as apartments where directors, editors and technicians can stay as they shepherd movies through their final stages of production.

While filmmakers have descended on Louisiana in recent years, drawn both by its lush, tumbledown charm and by the lucrative film tax credits the state launched in 2002, they tend to stay only for the time it takes to shoot their footage. Then it is home to California, where editors begin the painstaking job of culling scenes and layering in sound.

The partners behind the studio-cum-residence at 807 Esplanade hope to keep more films in town during the post-production stage, an effort that should bring high-tech, high-paying jobs to New Orleans. They plan to cater to small and independent films, hosting perhaps two crews at a time inside the converted house.

"We want to essentially trap the business and double the amount of time they spend here," said Michael Arata, a principal in Voodoo Productions, a partial owner of the project. "Post-production can amount to 25 to 30 percent of a film's cost, and that has left Louisiana."

The house Arata and company chose sits on the edge of the French Quarter, at Esplanade and Bourbon Street, and offers an expansive view of the downtown skyline from the third floor. A rusted balcony runs along the side of the house, allowing guests to peer down at the courtyard that until recently was festooned with thick tropical overgrowth.

The house was built in 1859 for the ship captain William Whann and was owned in more recent times by Leon Impastato, a landlord with extensive holdings in the French Quarter. It had been carved up into tiny, tenement-like apartments, but the current owners have largely gutted the interior, taking care to preserve marble fireplaces and other historic elements.

"This place got tremendous hard, hard use," Arata said.

Elaborate cornices and ceiling medallions have survived inside the front parlor, a room Arata said would hold a large screen that filmmakers could use to view a day's edits or host a local premiere. The parlor's murals are preserved behind a silken fabric draped over the walls during the filming of the recent Brad Pitt movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

Other rooms in the house will be made distinctly modern, including a third-floor mixing room that will be sealed with a rubber floor to keep ambient noise out. The house will also have Foley stages, where technicians can manufacture sounds such as footsteps or the clattering of hooves.

Arata, an actor and film producer, is pursuing the venture with Jerry Daigle, an attorney and fellow principal in Voodoo Productions. They are collaborating with Peter and Susan Hoffman, the founders of Seven Arts Productions, an independent producer and distributor that brings a roster of well-known clients to the effort. Advantage Capital Partners, a venture capital firm that has been a longtime supporter of the movie industry in New Orleans, also has joined as an investor.

The partnership received historic, new market and film infrastructure tax credits to birth the venture, which will be called Seven Arts Post. Arata did not disclose the total value of the project, but he said the group purchased the house on Esplanade for $1.7 million.

At least a handful of post-production spaces already exist in Louisiana, including Digital FX in Baton Rouge and Storyville and Swelltone Labs, both in New Orleans. Seven Arts is unique in offering small apartments, complete with individual kitchens and bathrooms, where directors, editors and others can stay with their families for several weeks or even months.

Arata said editors often pare down a film from a sterile cubicle in Hollywood. The opening of the space at 807 Esplanade will allow those editors to soak up the same lush atmosphere as the actors and director do, an advantage Arata believes could influence the ultimate shape of a film.

"The way the project was envisioned was as a unique opportunity for people to live and work in the same place," Daigle said. "The editor could come down and begin working as the film is progessing to see the material and how it is being put together, which would enhance his ability to improve the project and make sure everything is consistent and looks good."

Louisiana implemented a tax credit for film production in 2002, and since then state residents have earned a total of $250 million in wages from the movie-making business. Chris Stelly, the director of film and television at the state's Office of Entertainment Industry Development, said some of the jobs that will be created at Seven Arts Post will be permanent positions, not the transient sort that disappears once the shooting of a film concludes.

While the group behind Seven Arts Post hopes to attract filmmakers shooting in New Orleans, it also hopes to perform editing, sound, color correction and other post-production work for directors who film in locations beyond New Orleans. Those jobs would be relatively stable and permanent.

"The more we as a state are able to offer from pre- to post-production, the better able we will be to grow an indigenous industry," Stelly said. "We're really pleased that our infrastructure in Louisiana continues to grow and mature, helping lay the cornerstone for permanent jobs in the entertainment industry."
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