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Can’t get a good tortilla here? That premise, plus entrepreneurial spirit, launched Hola Nola Foods

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Olvin Lopez shovels corn tortilla mix into the head of the 'sheeter' at Hola Nola Foods in Geismar.

Three years ago, former Zapp’s Potato Chips executives and minority shareholders Kevin S. Holden and Rod Olson found themselves in unfamiliar territory. They wanted to quit. Both worked for Utz Quality Foods Inc., which acquired the Gramercy-based chippery in 2011 following founder Ron Zappe’s death. Olson had been one of Zapp’s first delivery drivers and risen through… Continue reading →

People in Business for Nov. 29, 2015

Kristen Pforr, BASF

BASF in Geismar has named Scott Brandenburg as vice president of engineering and maintenance; Kristen Pforr as vice president of operations, chemical intermediates North America; and Kevin Williams as procurement hub manager at Geismar. Brandenburg was vice president of engineering and maintenance at BASF’s Freeport, Texas, site. Pforr was… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Nov. 29, 2015

Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group has opened a Primary Care for Women clinic in Suite 201 of the O’Donovan Medical Plaza, 5131 O’Donovan Drive, Baton Rouge. The clinic offers primary and preventive health care services for women 18 and older in a… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Nov. 29, 2015

Employees at the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Complex received international recognition at the Wildlife Habitat Council Conservation Conference for their contributions to wildlife habitat conservation and education. The complex achieved Wildlife at Work and also Corporate Lands for Learning recertification. The complex is roughly 700 acres and includes the Baton Rouge Arboretum,… Continue reading →

Business Meetings for Nov. 29, 2015

LOUISIANA SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER WHEN: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. WHERE: Ascension Parish Library, 500 Mississippi St., Donaldsonville SPEAKER: William Hawn, business consultant, Louisiana Small Business Development Center, on “Starting and Financing a Small Business”… Continue reading →

PetroQuest chief operating officer leaves Lafayette company

Lafayette-based PetroQuest announced Tuesday the departure of Chief Operating Officer Todd Zehnder to continue a career outside of the oil and gas industry. The company said he left on good terms and did not name a replacement. “I along with the other executives that he worked so closely with will miss his tremendous contributions and insight… Continue reading →

Industriplex office-warehouse sells for $367,000

A 4,400-square-foot office warehouse in the Industriplex has sold for $367,000. KCE Properties LLC bought the building at 6951 North Merchant Drive in a cash deal that closed Monday, said Grey Hammett, managing broker for Mike Falgoust and Associates. Hammett represented the buyer and the seller, BPJK Ventures LLC, both of which are based in Baton… Continue reading →

Retailers counting on Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales in stores and online

Associated Press file photo -- Retalers are ready fo the nearly 136 million consumers expected to participate nationally in the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Many of them are making more if not all of the same Black Friday deals available online as in stores.

Lured by the promise of deep discounts on hot-ticket items such as home appliances, big-screen televisions and video game consoles, plenty of people will put away the leftovers and head to the store on Thursday as more retailers begin opening their doors on Thanksgiving rather than waiting for Friday. Nearly 136 million consumers may participate in… Continue reading →

Land acquired for Prairieville residential development

Brian Dantin and Ross Bruce have purchased 60 acres of land near Prairieville to build Hidden Farms, a 142-lot development, in the spring. DB Hidden Farms LLC, a corporation controlled by Dantin and Bruce, bought the 60-acre site on Brown Jr Road near Old Jefferson Highway in Prairieville. The deal closed Tuesday and DB Hidden Farms… Continue reading →

Blue Bell ice cream returning to Louisiana just in time for Christmas

FILE - In this April 10, 2015, file photo, Blue Bell delivery trucks are parked at the creamery's location in Kansas City, Kan. Blue Bell can resume production and sale of ice cream manufactured at its Alabama plant, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced Wednesday, Aug. 5. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

Blue Bell ice cream will be available in Louisiana on Dec. 21 after listeria contamination halted sales and prompted cleanup of production plants. The ice cream also will be back for sale in Jackson, Mississippi. Blue Bell on Tuesday also announced the return of 115 workers put on paid furlough after the April voluntary recall of all products. The… Continue reading →

Florida firm buys Port Allen’s Gator Environmental

Gator Environmental & Rentals Inc., a Port Allen waste water disposal company, has been acquired by QualaWash Holdings LLC of Tampa, Florida. The price was not disclosed. Gator also collects and transports waste water. QualaWash is part of Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital’s portfolio. Gator is the ninth company QualaWash has acquired since 2012… Continue reading →

French firm adds Baton Rouge food contractor to menu

Paris-based food services giant Elior Group has acquired ABL Management, a Baton Rouge company that specializes in cafeteria food for prisons and schools. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ABL had around $60 million in revenue in 2014 and has 800 employees. The company was founded in 1990. The deal adds close to 200 corrections… Continue reading →

South Louisiana retailers stay hopeful about strong holiday shopping season

South Louisiana retailers said they are optimistic about the upcoming holiday shopping season, which will start in earnest at many stores and shopping malls on Thanksgiving night. “Our leasing has been very strong, and we have more tenants than ever before,” said Tony Stephens, general manager of the Mall of Louisiana. Because the regional… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Nov. 22, 2015

The LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station in Crowley has been renamed for the late H. Rouse Caffey in recognition of his dedication to the rice industry and Louisiana agriculture. Caffey retired from the LSU AgCenter in 1997 after serving 13 years as chancellor. He also was chancellor of LSU of Alexandria, vice… Continue reading →

People in Business for Nov. 22, 2015

Mike Nizzo, Investar Bank

Investar Bank has named Mike Nizzo as regional chief lending officer and senior vice president, focusing on growing the commercial loan portfolio and products and serving the treasury management, deposit and other businesses needs in the area. He was senior commercial lender at Business First Bank. Continue reading →

U.S. rig count declines by 10; Louisiana down 4

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. this week declined by 10 to 757. The company said Friday that 564 rigs were seeking oil and 193 natural gas. A year ago, with oil prices almost double the prices now, 1,929… Continue reading →

Idea for experiments website wins Baton Rouge entrepreneurship pitch contest

When Matthew Loupe arrived at the Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week Pitch Night competition Thursday evening, his plan was to sit back and watch the founders of fledgling businesses make their case for taking home the top prize of $1,000 and some free professional consulting services. Instead, Loupe, 25, who recently quit his job at the Nissan plant… Continue reading →

Louisiana loses 8,800 nonfarm jobs as oil slumps, other sectors take a hit

Louisiana’s nonfarm employment fell by 8,800 jobs for the 12 months ending in October, as the state lost ground in seven of 11 economic sectors. The 0.4 percent decline dropped Louisiana to 1,992,900 jobs in October from a year ago, according to preliminary numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the same 12-month period, the… Continue reading →

Louisiana construction industry expects strong 2016

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Cranes operate last month at the Cheniere Sabine Pass LNG Terminal, one of the projects driving industrial construction in southwest Louisiana.

Louisiana’s construction industry is headed for another strong year in 2016, with job growth expected in the Lake Charles and New Orleans areas, according to speakers at the South Louisiana Economic Forum. “I picture it as fairly level. … The good part about it, we just had in our local operation the best year ever,” said Newton Thomas,… Continue reading →

Largest health insurer questions ties to exchanges

UnitedHealth chopped its 2015 earnings forecast and the nation’s largest health insurer has begun to question its future in public insurance exchanges, a key component in the nation’s health care overhaul. The company said Thursday that it would pull back on the marketing of its exchange business a few weeks after open enrollment for that coverage began… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge riverboat casino winnings surge in October

Riverboat casino winnings in Baton Rouge increased by 13 percent in October, thanks to strong business at L’Auberge that helped offset a decrease at Hollywood Casino. The Baton Rouge gambling market brought in $24.6 million in October, according to figures released Thursday by Louisiana State Police. That compares with $21.8 million in winnings during October… Continue reading →

Retail spending rises 1.6% in East Baton Rouge Parish in September

Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish rose by 1.6 percent in September, the fourth month in a row where economic activity was higher than the year before. Businesses and consumers spent $720.7 million in September, according to figures released Wednesday by the city-parish Finance Department. That compares with $709.6 million in September… Continue reading →

LSU grad joins Seattle venture capital firm Madrona

An LSU graduate has joined Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group, an early-stage technology company investor that manages nearly $1.3 billion, as a venture partner. S. “Soma” Somasegar holds a master’s degree in computer engineering from LSU. He had been with Microsoft Corp. for nearly 27 years, most recently as corporate vice president of the Developer Division. The division… Continue reading →

Volunteers of American Greater Baton Rouge names CEO

Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge has named Janet Hilliard Pace as president and chief executive officer, effective Dec. 1. She assumes leadership duties from Jane F. Shank, who will retire after 20 years with Volunteers of America, including 13 years as Greater Baton Rouge affiliate CEO. Pace was executive director of the Foundation for East… Continue reading →

Air Liquide to buy Airgas

French industrial gas producer Air Liquide will buy U.S. counterpart Airgas in a deal valued at about $10.3 billion. The companies say Air Liquide will pay $143 in cash for each share of Airgas in a deal that already has been approved by the boards of both companies. Including debt, the deal is worth $13.4 billion.… Continue reading →

Louisiana finds employers misclassify thousands of workers as independent contractors

The Louisiana Workforce Commission expects 2015 will yield a second consecutive record number of workers that employers have misclassified as independent contractors. As of Nov. 12, audits of 865 companies have identified nearly 9,400 people who should have been considered employees, not independent contractors, according to the state agency. By the end of the year, LWC expects… Continue reading →

McGlinchey Stafford law firm expands into Alabama

The law firm of McGlinchey Stafford PLLC has expanded into Alabama, with an office opening in Birmingham The new office marks 13 for the firm in Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Texas and Washington, D.C. An initial team of four attorneys with experience in commercial litigation, commercial real estate and financial services litigation… Continue reading →

Point of Care opening Mid City urgent care clinic

Point of Care Health Group will open an urgent care clinic at 2840 Florida Blvd. in the Mid City area in December. The clinic will treat most common illnesses and injuries, and its services include X-rays, tests for flu and strep, wellness exams, electrocardiograms and urinalysis. Dr. Rubin Patel, co-chief executive officer and chief medical… Continue reading →

Six companies win LSU Louisiana Business and Technology Center Awards

The Louisiana Business & Technology Center recognized six current and graduate companies from the LSU business incubator for their success and impact on the local economy. At its 27th anniversary celebration, the LBTC named: Tenant of the Year: Hydra-Guard, creator of a refilling hydrating mouth guard for athletic and medical applications.… Continue reading →

Louisiana sees big improvement in worker safety at private companies, tops state rankings

Work-related injuries and illnesses among Louisiana’s private companies fell to their lowest level in 13 years and pushed Louisiana to the top of state rankings, according to figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Louisiana had just 2 incidents per 100 full-time workers in 2014, down from 2.2 a year earlier, the BLS survey shows. The… Continue reading →

Conrad Industries reports lower third-quarter profit

Conrad Industries Inc. in Morgan City reported third-quarter net income of $2.0 million, or 35 cents per share, compared to net income of $4.5 million, or 74 cents per share, a year ago. Conrad’s backlog of work was $91.1 million at Sept. 30, compared to $135.0 million a year ago. Since Sept. 30 and as of Nov.… Continue reading →

Manchac Lake secures $30 million loan

Real estate lender Greystone said Monday it has provided a $30.6 million loan that will finance the construction of Manchac Lake Apartments, a 272-unit complex in Prairieville. The loan to Noland McKay Manchac Limited Partnership is insured by the Federal Housing Association. Manchac Lake is one of the first large apartment complexes the… Continue reading →

Magnolia LNG, KBR sign engineering contract for Lake Charles facility

Magnolia LNG, a planned natural gas export facility in Lake Charles, has signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract with global engineering firm KBR Inc. KBR will lead the KSJV joint venture with SK Engineering & Construction, a South Korean firm, on the project. The work will cover four liquefied natural gas production lines, each capable of… Continue reading →

Heavy rains hit Louisiana sugar cane industry hard, reducing crop yields

Photo provided by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry -- Sugar cane fields flooded from backwater caused by heavy weekend rains and southeasterly winds during October and November.

The fall’s heavy rains hit the Louisiana sugar cane industry at just about the worst possible time, slowing down the harvesting process, reducing crop yields, knocking down thousands of acres of plants and flooding fields. “These are not the best conditions for a harvest,” said Ken Gravois, a sugar cane specialist with the… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Nov. 15, 2015

Ilya Vekhter, LSU Department of Physics and Astronomy

LSU Department of Physics and Astronomy Professor Ilya Vekhter has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Election is based on contributions to physics, including outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics or significant contributions to physics education. Vekhter was recognized “for… Continue reading →

People in Business for Nov. 15, 2015

Bruce Salisbury, Capital Area Human Services

Capital Area Human Services has named Bruce Salisbury as director of information technology. Salisbury was infrastructure manager for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and served as a senior systems engineer for Venyu Solutions in Baton Rouge.… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Nov. 15, 2015

CC’s Coffee House will be opening in Youngsville in spring 2016. The Louisiana-based coffee bistro franchise will be in Building 5 of Metairie Centre, a mixed-use development being built at the corner of East Milton Avenue and Chemin Metairie Parkway, near Rouses Supermarket. The… Continue reading →