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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 →

First NBC profit inches upward

New Orleans-based First NBC Bank Holding Co. reported its fourth-quarter profit rose to $15.7 million, or 82 cents per share, compared to $15.3 million, or 80 cents per share, a year ago. However, costs related to the acquisition of State Investors Bancorp Inc. lowered the fourth-quarter results by 687,000, or 4 cents per share. For… Continue reading →

Statewide economic development summit set

Gov. John Bel Edwards and the state economic development department secretary head the list of speakers for the Statewide Economic Development Summit set for April 18 at L’Auberge Baton Rouge. The event is the first of its kind in 10 years, according to organizers. The summit’s goal is to strengthen the economy through shared ideas and business… Continue reading →

La. Blue Cross Quality Blue program recognized by national association

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s Quality Blue program will be featured at a Capitol Hill briefing Tuesday as a best practice for getting better-quality health care at a more affordable price. The program will be included in the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association briefing at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The… Continue reading →

Albemarle completes flame retardants sale

Albemarle Corp. has completed the previously announced sale of its minerals business, which includes mineral flame retardants and specialty chemicals, to Huber Engineered Materials. The deal for Albemarle’s Martinswerk mineral flame retardants and specialty chemicals businesses included a manufacturing facility in Bergheim, Germany and Albemarle’s half of Magnifin, a joint-venture with RHI AG at Breitenau, Austria, that… Continue reading →

Taylor Opportunity Program for Students helps fuel LSU apartment boom, real estate market

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Residents relax near the lazy river at the Sterling Burbank apartment complex in August.

The neighborhoods around LSU are in the middle of an unprecedented apartment construction boom that developers and real estate experts say is being fueled, in part, by the TOPS scholarship program. Since 2007, more than 2,400 apartment units have been completed in the areas around LSU, said Wesley Moore, of Cook, Moore and Associates, a longtime tracker… Continue reading →

Five stations in Baton Rouge, Lafayette drop off Cox cable over rate dispute

A rate dispute between Cox Communications and Nexstar Broadcasting has resulted in five local broadcast stations being blocked to the majority of cable TV viewers in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. The five South Louisiana stations owned by Nexstar that are blocking their signals from being aired over Cox are: WGMB-Fox 44, the Baton Rouge Fox affiliate; WBRL, the… Continue reading →

People in Business for Jan. 31, 2016

Dr. Steven Gremillion, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center has named Dr. Steven Gremillion as chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs, Nicole Telhiard as vice president of patient care services and Frank Canova Jr. as vice president of finance. Gremillion was associate chief medical officer and chief of… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Jan. 31, 2016

Terrence Lockett, Axis Strategies

BATON ROUGE AREA Terrence Lockett, president of Axis Strategies, a public and governmental affairs firm, has been named a fellow by the Louisiana Chapter of New Leaders Council. The leadership development program for young professionals admits up to 22 members. The Greater Baton Rouge Society of Human… Continue reading →

Initial unemployment claims in Louisiana fall

First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 23 decreased to 2,658 from the previous week’s total of 3,485. The state labor department said there were 2,531claims for the comparable week a year earlier. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, increased to 3,201 from the previous week’s… Continue reading →

U.S. rig count down 18; Louisiana drops 3

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 18 this week to 619. The Houston firm said Friday 498 rigs sought oil and 121 explored for natural gas amid depressed energy prices. A year ago, 1,543 rigs were active.… Continue reading →

Former Zee Zee Gardens undergoing renovations

Zee Zee Gardens, the longtime neighborhood bar at the Perkins Road Overpass, is undergoing extensive renovations and may get a new name. Christopher Sitton, a project manager with Arkel Constructors, said work should be complete by the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade weekend, which is March 12. “More than likely, the bar will change names,” Sitton… Continue reading →

Business services is fastest growing segment for young La., U.S. mid-sized firms

Eleven percent of Louisiana’s “middle-market” companies have been in business less than 10 years, and the fastest-growing segment among those firms is business services. The findings are part of American Express and Dun & Bradstreet’s Middle Market Power Index: Exploring Generational Changes in Middle Market Industries. The report defines middle-market companies as those with annual… Continue reading →

Tulane alum launches venture funds targeting La. startups

A New York investment firm is launching two venture capital funds that will target Louisiana startups. An associate dean at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business will head the funds. Valmiki Capital Management LP said Peggy A. Babin will be president and chief executive officer of Valmiki 504 LLC. Valmiki’s goal is to bring investment expertise… Continue reading →

Former dairy executive finds new life in pool business

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Jeff Kleinpeter cleans the pool of one of his clients. Kleinpeter launched the pool cleaning and maintenance business about eight months ago and already has 140 customers.

Until a year ago, working for Kleinpeter Farms Dairy had been a major part of Jeff Kleinpeter’s life. As a boy, Kleinpeter started out milking cows and driving tractors at the family-owned dairy before joining the Baton Rouge-based business as a full-time employee in the late 1980s. He eventually took over as president and chief executive… Continue reading →

Mathews steps down as president of Times-Picayune, firm; continues regional duties for company tied to paper’s N.Y. owner

Ricky Mathews, who guided The Times-Picayune and through three waves of layoffs and reduced the paper’s home delivery schedule to three days a week, is stepping down as president of NOLA Media Group and The Times-Picayune, but will continue in his separate position as president of a company tied to the newspaper’s New York-based owner, Advance Publications.… Continue reading →

Nucor takes $84.1 million hit, reassesses planned $1 billion St. James blast furnace project

Nucor Corp. has written off $84.1 million worth of engineering and equipment for a proposed $1 billion blast furnace in St. James Parish, but the company may still build one. The blast furnace was part of a massive, multiphase $3.4 billion steel complex Nucor hoped to build in St. James. The state had promised the company $160… Continue reading →

Higher taxes dampen Investar’s fourth quarter

Higher taxes contributed to a drop in Baton Rouge-based Investar Holding Corp.’s fourth-quarter profit to $1.5 million, or 20 cents per share. A year ago, the parent company of Investar Bank turned a profit of $2 million, or 27 cents per share. Investar Holding’s results were also affected by $145,000 in costs connected to its exit from… Continue reading →

MidSouth Bancorp’s quarterly profit decreases

MidSouth Bancorp Inc. in Lafayette posted a drop in fourth-quarter profit to $1.7 million, or 15 cents per share, from $3.5 million, or 30 cents per share, a year earlier. Annual net earnings decreased to $10.3 million last year from $18.4 million in 2014, primarily from an $8.3 million increase in the bank’s provision for loan losses.… Continue reading →

IberiaBank earnings up

Lafayette-based IberiaBank Corp.’s fourth-quarter earnings jumped to $44.4 million, or $1.08 per share, compared with $35.9 million, or $1.07 per share, a year earlier. The company’s fourth-quarter profit was lowered slightly by non-operating expenses, which reduced earnings by 3 cents per share after taxes. Daryl G. Byrd, president and chief executive officer, said… Continue reading →

Construction starts on $27 million West Feliciana Parish Hospital

Construction has started on the $27.7 million West Feliciana Parish Hospital in St. Francisville, with completion expected in spring 2017. The 19-acre medical campus will feature the 53,000-square-foot facility as its centerpiece. “It’s designed to expand the hospital’s current offerings of quality patient services that are closer to home for comfort and convenience and it will… Continue reading →