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U.S. rig count drops 30; Louisiana gains 1

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 30 this week to 541. The Houston company said Friday 439 rigs sought oil and 102 explored for natural gas amid depressed energy prices. A year ago, 1,358 rigs were active.… Continue reading →

Nashville firm opens R&D facility at LSU business and technology center

Nashville-based S-RAM Dynamics has opened a prototype research and development facility at the Louisiana Business and Technology Center at LSU. The company plans to hire more than 20 engineers and machinists over the next two years to develop and commercialize its next-generation energy systems. Jason Hugenroth, a graduate of LSU and Purdue University, will lead the new… Continue reading →

LA Fitness sells property on Siegen Lane

LA Fitness, which operates more than 500 health clubs across the U.S. and Canada, has sold its Siegen Lane location to a California-based investment group for $10.25 million. Ardell Investment Co. of Newport Beach, California, bought the 5.7-acre site at 6474 Siegen Lane in a deal that was filed Wednesday with the East Baton… Continue reading →

Amedisys buys Massachusetts home nursing firm for $28 million

Baton Rouge-based home nursing firm Amedisys Inc. will buy Associated Home Care, a Boston-area private-duty home health agency, for $28 million under a deal announced Thursday. Typically, private-duty nursing firms’ services don’t accept Medicare. In the third quarter, 75 percent of Amedisys’ home nursing revenue came from Medicare and 94 percent of hospice revenue. Associated Home… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge-area plant managers worry economic slump will halt major petrochemical investments

Plant managers in the Baton Rouge area are growing more concerned about the continued slump in oil prices, new taxes and regulations, and a slowing of both the petrochemical industry and global economy, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance. The industry group’s members worry that these issues may reduce industry leaders’ incentives to continue large… Continue reading →

Cox pulls plug on New Orleans subscribers using analog service; some say move is money grab

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Corey Jones, an employee of Baton Rouge's Jago Tech Communications, which does subcontracting work for Cox Communications, moves around cables hanging over Government Street at Glenmore Avenue in July 2015.

First, a few channels disappeared. Then, a few more. Finally, there were none left in New Orleans. Next up are Baton Rouge and Lafayette. After issuing warnings for months, Cox Communications pulled the plug late last month on its New Orleans subscribers still using analog cable service, a transition that requires them now to rent… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge businessman attends White House briefing

Calvin Mills Jr., chief executive officer of Baton Rouge-based information technology consultants CMC Technology, is among 50 business leaders invited to the Wednesday, Feb. 10, White House Business Council and Business Forward Briefing. The meeting’s topics are the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Obama Administration’s international trade agenda. Mills is a past winner of the U.S. Department… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge General, LHC Group form joint venture

Home nursing company LHC Group will serve as Baton Rouge General’s preferred home health partner for its patients under a joint venture announced Wednesday. As part of the agreement, Lafayette-based LHC Group will open an office on Baton Rouge General’s Mid City campus. The partners said the deal will help the General’s patients seamlessly transition from… Continue reading →

River Bend nuclear station to undergo special inspection

ST. FRANCISVILLE — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans a special inspection at Entergy’s River Bend nuclear station in St. Francisville, after an unplanned reactor shutdown on Jan. 9. The commission made its announcement Monday. The NRC said the plant was operating at full power when a lightning strike caused a momentary surge in… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge, New Orleans compete for $40 million transportation prize in Smart City Challenge

Baton Rouge and New Orleans are among 77 cities nationwide competing for up to $40 million in federal funds to make transportation safer, easier and more reliable. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge asked midsize cities to submit plans for using data, technology and creativity to shape the way people and goods move.… Continue reading →

Crown Crafts’ profit inches upward

Gonzales-based baby products company Crown Crafts Inc. reported a profit of $2.1 million, or 21 cents per share, for the fiscal third quarter, which ended Dec. 27. The results were slightly better than the $2 million, or 20 cents per share, reported for the same period a year ago. However, Crown’s sales dropped by $3 million to… Continue reading →

Rise selected as developer for Nicholson Gateway project on old Alex Box Stadium site

Rise Real Estate has been selected to redevelop the old Alex Box Stadium site on the LSU campus. The LSU Property Foundation said Monday it had selected Rise as the project’s master developer to design, build, finance, operate and maintain student residence halls and other amenities at the property on Nicholson Drive. Negotiations with Rise will continue… Continue reading →

Level Homes plans Prairieville housing development

Baton Rouge-based Level Homes has closed on 112 acres in Prairieville, where the company plans to develop the Bell Savagne community. The company paid $4.9 million for the property, said Jennifer Waguespack of Level Homes. “It’s a fabulous site,” she said. The land is near Dutchtown High school and accessible to Interstate 10… Continue reading →

Venture Global signs LNG agreement with Shell

Shell NA LNG LLC has agreed to buy up to 1.1 million tons of liquefied natural gas a year from Venture Global LNG Inc.’s planned Cameron Parish export facility. The deal with Venture subsidiary Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LLC is for 20 years, beginning from the date the Cameron Parish facility begins operations. The final investment decision… Continue reading →

LSU’s Cook Hotel ranks No. 40 among campus hotels

The Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU ranked No. 40 on College Rank’s listing of the Top 50 College Campus Hotels. The ranking service describes the Cook Hotel as Baton Rouge’s only independently owned boutique hotel. Amenities include complimentary buffet breakfast, free parking and Wi-Fi and wired Internet. The hotel rankings were based on ratings… Continue reading →

H-2B guest-worker program under fire over salary discrepancies

Advocate file photo -- The LSU AgCenter says about 60 Louisiana seafood processing facilities hire more than 2,000 guest workers each year to peel crawfish and shrimp, shuck oysters and filet fish.

With crawfish season just around the corner, Congress’ decision to quadruple the size of a guest-worker program might be described as a gift to Louisiana’s seafood processing industry, which struggles to fill the seasonal jobs each year. But a recent report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute says the H-2B program amounts to little more… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Feb. 7, 2016

Student teams from LSU and from Southern University placed third and seventh, respectively, in their division nationally among 34 universities competing in the School of Business National Diversity Case Competition hosted by the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. The NDCC is an annual two-day event celebrating the legacy… Continue reading →

People in Business for Feb. 7, 2016

Amy Varnado, of Hannis T. Bourgeois LLP

Hannis T. Bourgeois LLP Certified Public Accountants has named Amy N. Varnado a partner in the tax division, and promoted Amy C. Huck to senior manager in the tax division and Robert C. Varnau to senior manager in the audit division, all in the firm’s Baton Rouge office. Varnado was… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Feb. 7, 2016

Kevin Macaluso, a professor in the LSU Department of Pathobiological Sciences, received a five-year, $1.85 million research grant for his work investigating the emerging flea-borne Rickettsial disease. The disease is caused by Rickettsia felis, which was originally identified in the U.S. as a human pathogen in… Continue reading →

U.S. rig count drops 48; Louisiana down 5

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 48 this week to 571. The Houston firm said Friday 467 rigs sought oil and 104 explored for natural gas amid depressed energy prices. A year ago, 1,456 rigs were active.… Continue reading →

Atlanta firm buys 136 units at Jefferson Place

Atlanta-based Songy Highroads has acquired 136 rental units at Jefferson Place, a 234-unit apartment and townhome community at 7975 N. Jefferson Place Circle off Jefferson Highway. The sellers were local developers John Fetzer and Hardy Swyers. The price was not disclosed. “The Baton Rouge market has come a long way in the past few years,… Continue reading →

Chevron may layoff 385 workers in Covington, Lafayette and offshore

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK --  The Chevron North America Lafayette office could see job cuts. The oil giant says layoffs are possible for up 385 of the 1,800 workers in its Gulf of Mexico business unit's offices in Lafayette and Covington and from offshore operations.

American oil giant Chevron has reaffirmed forecasts that it may cut as many as 385 jobs in the Gulf of Mexico this year — 45 of them working offshore and the remainder in offices in Covington and Lafayette. The cuts could equal up to about one-fifth of Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico business unit’s 1,800 workers. The… Continue reading →

Relief Windows buys new building

Relief Windows, which provides windows and vinyl siding, has purchased a building in the Cloverland Industrial Park to accommodate its growth. The company paid $600,000 for the 7,300-square-foot office-warehouse at 11236 Pennywood Ave., said Grey Hammett III, a broker with Mike Falgoust and Associates, who represented Relief Windows. Mathew Laborde… Continue reading →

Uber drivers plan strike in Baton Rouge to protest rate cut

Some Baton Rouge Uber drivers plan on striking Friday night to protest the lower rates the popular ride-sharing service is charging. Drivers plan to go offline from Uber beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and ending at 8 a.m. Saturday. Some drivers also will protest in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart Supercenter on College Drive on Friday… Continue reading →

Rezoning sought for Entergy site, Goodwood Plantation, Highland Road site

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The former Entergy site at 1509 Government St. will go before the city-parish Planning Commission for rezoning as the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority seeks proposals for its redevelopment.

A rezoning for the old Entergy site on Government Street, a subdivision plan for Goodwood Plantation and the site plan for a luxury senior apartment complex on Highland Road have been submitted to the city-parish Planning Commission. The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority is asking that property at 1509 Government St. be rezoned from light industrial… Continue reading →

Five Baton Rouge, Lafayette-area stations return to Cox lineup after end to rate dispute

Cox Communications has reached an agreement with Nexstar that allows it to again broadcast Baton Rouge television stations WGMB-Fox 44 and WBRL-The CW and Lafayette stations KLAF-NBC, KADN-Fox and My Network TV Acadiana. The five channels went off Cox at 11:59 p.m. Friday because of a battle over how much Nexstar wanted Cox to pay for including… Continue reading →

Louisiana’s ‘Obamacare’ enrollment passes 214,000; New Orleans leads state

The number of Louisiana residents who got coverage through the federal insurance marketplace jumped to 214,148 for the entire open enrollment period, roughly 28,000 more than in 2015. The New Orleans area had the greatest number of people, at 88,052, who bought Affordable Care Act coverage, known as “Obamacare,” or were automatically re-enrolled in marketplace… Continue reading →

Business group leader outlines budget suggestions for Louisiana

The head of Louisiana’s main business association on Wednesday offered a grim take on the state’s current financial outlook: “a limping, fragile economy.” With Louisiana facing a $1.9 billion budget shortfall, Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, suggested lawmakers rework what’s considered discretionary spending within the state’s annual $25 billion budget. The… Continue reading →

ChemChina offers $43 billion for Syngenta, which has plant in St. Gabriel and warehouses in Baton Rouge

A Chinese state-owned chemical maker has offered $43 billion to buy Swiss pesticide giant Syngenta, which has a plant in St. Gabriel and three leased warehouses in Baton Rouge. Under various names, Syngenta has operated its 300-acre St. Gabriel site since 1970. The company has about 975 local employees. Officials have said it makes and packages locally… Continue reading →

La. fares poorly in controlling tobacco use

Louisiana fared poorly in the American Lung Association’s 14th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, with failing grades in three of the four tobacco control categories. Louisiana scored a “B” in Smokefree Air Laws. The state prohibits smoking in most areas aside from bars and restricts smoking in casinos, except for tribal establishments. Louisiana received Fs… Continue reading →

Airline land sold for future development

A 9.9-acre site on Airline Highway near the Barringer Foreman Industrial Park has been sold for $2.65 million to a subsidiary of the Newtron Group, an industrial contractor. Newtron Development LLC of Baton Rouge bought the property at 13820 Airline in a deal that was filed Monday with the East Baton Rouge clerk of court’s… Continue reading →

Dow Chemical’s 4Q profit surges on sales gain, lower costs

Dow Chemical on Tuesday reported a surge in its fourth-quarter profit on gains from the sale of its chlorine operations and lower costs from sinking oil prices. The profit boost comes as the Midland, Michigan-based company moves toward closing a merger with DuPont Co. in the second half of the year that… Continue reading →

Exxon’s 4Q and annual profit plunge with oil prices

FILE - This April 29, 2014, file photo, shows an Exxon sign at a Exxon gas station in Carnegie, Pa. Exxon Mobil Corp. reports quarterly financial results on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

The big plunge in crude prices is taking a toll on Big Oil. Exxon Mobil Corp. said Tuesday that fourth-quarter profit fell 58 percent to $2.78 billion. It was the oil giant’s smallest profit since the third quarter of 2002. Exxon’s core exploration and production business lost money in the U.S. and… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge adds jobs; New Orleans, Lafayette suffer losses for 2015

Advocate staff file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK --  Stacks of oil field pipes are stacked near idle liftboats in the Port of Iberia in December. Plunging oil prices have hit oil patch areas of Louisiana, resulting in the loss of 10,000 oil indusrtry jobs during 2015.

The Baton Rouge metro area gained jobs, while New Orleans and Lafayette lost jobs in 2015, the latest labor figures show. Baton Rouge added 8,800 nonfarm jobs for the year ended Dec. 31; New Orleans dropped 900 and Lafayette, 5,500. Statewide the number of nonfarm jobs fell by 17,900, or 0.9 percent, to 1,992,300. Louisiana’s mining and logging… Continue reading →

La. moves up in innovation rankings

Louisiana improved its innovation ranking in the Consumer Technology Association’s annual Innovation Scorecard, but the state remained in the bottom half of the rankings. The scorecard ranks states in 10 categories, including granting STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — degrees; entrepreneurial activity; attracting investment; fast Internet; tax friendliness; and welcoming new business models.… Continue reading →