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U.S. oil rig count drops 11; Louisiana reduced by 2

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. dropped by 11 this week to 420, again reaching an-time low amid depressed energy industry prices. A year ago, 905 rigs were active. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday 332 rigs sought oil and 87 explored… Continue reading →

Lemonade Day stands going into business Saturday around Louisiana

Lemonade Day stands will be popping up all around Louisiana Saturday. More than 20,000 youth in the state are expected to participate in the sixth annual Lemonade Day, designed to teach entrepreneurship and character development among Louisiana’s youth ages 4 to 18. Young entrepreneurs were provided with a free backpack, which contained detailed materials to… Continue reading →

Exxon’s profit plunges 63 percent, its weakest quarter in 16 years

Exxon Mobil produced its weakest quarter in more than 16 years as lower oil prices pushed its profit down by 63 percent but still beat asnalysts’ expectations. Revenue tumbled 28 percent, and the oil giant lost money in its vaunted exploration and production business despite a 2 percent increase in production. It made… Continue reading →

Initial unemployment claims in Louisiana fall

First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending April 23 decreased to 2,684 from the previous week’s total of 2,791. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,737, the state labor department said Friday. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, increased to 2,739 from… Continue reading →

Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry executive Scott Berg elected president of American Gem Society

Scott Berg of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry

Scott Berg, of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry in Baton Rouge, has been elected to a two-year term as president of the American Gem Society’s board of directors. “Scott is sure to be a dynamic and effective president,” said Ruth Batson, chief executive officer of the nonprofit trade association and AGS Laboratories. “He has been a wonderful asset… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge sports journalist becomes co-owner of digital volleyball magazine

Baton Rouge veteran sports journalist Lee Feinswog has become co-owner of Volleyball magazine, a 40-year-old publication that has gone completely digital. Ed Chan, a veteran volleyball journalist, is the other owner. The magazine, at VolleyballMag.com, offers daily coverage on volleyball at the collegiate, Olympic and professional level. Feinswog, also a TV show host… Continue reading →

Investar reports flat first-quarter profit

Baton Rouge-based Investar Holding Corp., the parent company of Investar Bank, reported first-quarter earnings were flat at $2 million, or 28 cents per share, compared with $2 million, or 27 cents per share, a year ago. Investar increased its total loans by 23.4 percent to $797.6 million and enjoyed an increase in total interest income of 17.9… Continue reading →

H&E profit dips but beat Wall Street forecast

H&E Equipment Services Inc., a Baton Rouge-based heavy equipment supplier, reported a first-quarter profit of $5.6 million, or 16 cents per share, down from $6.1 million, or 17 cents per share, a year ago. H&E still beat Wall Street’s expectations. Stock analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research had forecast earnings of 12 cents per share. Analysts surveyed… Continue reading →

IberiaBank quarterly profit rises

Lafayette-based IberiaBank Corp. reported its first-quarter earnings jumped to $40.2 million, or 97 cents per share, from $25.2 million, or 75 cents per share, a year ago. However, the 2016 results included non-operating expenses of $1.6 million, or 4 cents per share. Without those expenses, IberiaBank would have earned $1.01 per share, better than the 98 cents… Continue reading →

Lenders seek foreclosure against owners of 21-story Chase South Tower in downtown Baton Rouge

U.S. Bank National Association is trying to foreclose on the 21-story Chase South Tower in downtown Baton Rouge, claiming in a federal court lawsuit that the building’s owners haven’t made a loan payment since October. U.S. Bank said Florida Street Holdings LLC is in default on a $21.5 million loan it obtained to buy the high-rise office… Continue reading →

MidSouth Bancorp’s quarterly results beat Wall Street forecasts

Lafayette-based MidSouth Bancorp Inc. reported net income grew to $1.9 million, or 17 cents per share, from $1.3 million, or 12 cents per share, a year ago. President and Chief Executive Officer C.R. “Rusty” Cloutier said the company is encouraged by the recent upturn in oil prices and stabilization in MidSouth’s energy portfolio in early 2016.… Continue reading →

Praxair steps on the gas with $100 million carbon monoxide unit in Geismar

Industrial gas firm Praxair Inc. will spend more than $100 million to add a new carbon monoxide purification unit at its Geismar plant. The expansion will add 13 million cubic feet of carbon monoxide purification capacity to the facility. Praxair said the unit will help meet accelerating demand in the Mississippi River corridor. Carbon monoxide is… Continue reading →

GOING DOWN

Associated Press file photo -- Low oil prices helped cost Exxon its pristine AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor's, a label it held for over six decades, S&P announced Tuesday.

Low oil prices helped cost Exxon its pristine AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, a label it held for more than six decades. The top AAA credit rating from S&P means a company’s debt is the safest possible investment. Now, only two other U.S. corporations are rated triple-A by S&P: consumer… Continue reading →

Union Tank Car laying off 224 workers at Alexandria plant

Houston-based Union Tank Car Co. plans to lay off 224 workers at its Alexandria plant beginning in late June because of a drop in demand for railcars. The Alexandria facility will remain open and employ about 359 people, the company said Tuesday in a notification to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The $100 million plant opened in… Continue reading →

Home Bancorp profit climbs

Lafayette-based Home Bancorp Inc. reported its first-quarter profit jumped to $3.3 million, or 47 cents per share, from to $2.8 million, or 41 cents per share, a year ago. The 2016 results included $398,000 in expenses related to the acquisition of Louisiana Bancorp Inc. Without those expenses, the parent company of Home Bank N.A. turned a profit… Continue reading →

Mild weather hurts Entergy profit

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.’s first-quarter earnings dropped to $230 million, or $1.28 per share, from $298.1 million, or $1.65 per share, a year ago partly because of milder weather. Entergy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Leo Denault said a challenging first-quarter also included several key accomplishments, including the acquisition of Union Power Station and an increase in… Continue reading →

1 Million Cups event speakers set Wednesday at Goodwood Library

The capital city’s first free monthly 1 Million Cups event will feature two speakers from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Main Library at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Ben Nguyen will discuss the launch of his software development company at the LSU Student Incubator. Gaye Sandoz, a food marketing expert, will discuss her success on QVC… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge promotional materials company expands with Chicago distribution center

The AST Marketing Group, a Baton Rouge-based company that makes promotional material for local and national brands, is expanding through a packing and distribution center in suburban Chicago. Carey J. Guglielmo Jr. , president and owner of AST Marketing, said the 110,000-square-foot facility will be the company’s fulfillment center for merchandise ordered through its… Continue reading →

Tech sector thriving with economic development

Technology companies giving Louisiana a try are boosting its stature as a hub of tech activity supported by the talent they need. “What’s happening in software and digital in Louisiana, I think is one of the most extraordinary economic development stories in the recent history of this country,” Michael Hecht, president and CEO of GNO Inc. said… Continue reading →

Lure

Photo provided by Collision -- Speakers address participants at a Collision conference. Now in its third year, the technology conference was lured from Las Vegas to New Orleans and is expected to attract more than 10,000 investors, entrepreneurs and writers.

Louisiana’s growing technology sector and New Orleans’ lure as a festive, yet tech-oriented, destination landed the Collision conference, which bills itself as the fastest-growing tech conference in the United States. New Orleans is expected this week to host more than 10,000 investors, entrepreneurs and writers to the conference that was lured from Las Vegas… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for April 24, 2016

A seminar titled “Starting and Managing Your Business” will be held by the Baton Rouge Area SCORE chapter from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Bon Carré Executive Conference Center, 7249 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge. Topics include introduction to the business plan; business taxes; legal aspects… Continue reading →

Business Honors for April 24, 2016

BATON ROUGE AREA Sarah Cortell Vandersypen, associate director of development at the LSU Foundation, has received the Certified Fund Raising Executive designation from CFRE International. Certification is based on tenure in the profession, education, fundraising achievements, a commitment to service to not-for-profit organizations and passing a written exam.… Continue reading →

People in Business for April 24, 2016

Ron Crum, CSRS Inc.

BATON ROUGE AREA Architectural and engineering design and management firm CSRS Inc. has named Ron Crum to its economic development services team to help lead the its industrial site selection and analysis efforts and related economic development projects and services. Crum was vice president at global engineering firm AECOM.… Continue reading →

UnitedHealth, Ochsner cutting ties mid-May on ‘Compass’ coverage, affecting 3,000 in south Louisiana

With UnitedHealth already set to end its “Obamacare” health coverage in Louisiana next year, the insurance giant is now pulling the plug early with Ochsner Health System, apparently forcing close to 3,000 patients in south Louisiana to find another health care provider or pay more to use Ochsner as an out-of-network provider. Taking Ochsner — Louisiana’s largest… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge area adds 10,300 jobs in past 12 months; oil and gas toll helps strip state of 15,500 jobs

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Construction at the Juban Crossing Shopping Center in Denham Springsand other commercial and mostly industrial projects are helping drive job growth in the Baton Rouge area. Construction employment is up 5,000 jobs since March 2015, a gain of 10.2 percent.

The Baton Rouge metro area added 10,300 jobs during the 12-month period ending in March, but that wasn’t enough to keep Louisiana’s nonfarm job count from dropping by 15,500 during the past year. Four of the state’s nine metro areas posted job losses. Metro areas heavily dependent upon the struggling oil and gas industry, such as… Continue reading →

Jarreau merges commercial real estates operations into Latter & Blum

Donnie Jarreau Real Estate is merging its commercial operations with NAI/Latter & Blum Inc. in a move that reunites Jarreau with the company where he got his start in 1989. “It’s a homecoming,” said Karl Landreneau, NAI Latter & Blum director. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company will operate under the name NAI/Latter… Continue reading →

Officials: Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion among health priorities; benefits lower-wage hotel, restaurant, hospitality workers

Louisiana’s push to expand Medicaid coverage to more uninsured people this summer presents “the major opportunity of this generation,” the head of the state’s health department said Wednesday. Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, discussed the impact of the looming Medicaid expansion during a panel discussion at Propeller, a business… Continue reading →

Representatives invite businesses to Mexico

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Sherri McConnell, assistant to the Louisiana Economic Development Secretary for Special Projects and Public Policy, speaks during the Mexico Trade Mission to Gulf States Wednesday at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise Center in Lafayette.

Mexican business representatives on Wednesday invited southern U.S. companies, including those in Louisiana’s oil and gas sector, to check out reforms the country has made to its energy and other sectors. “We have enacted significant structural changes in Mexico,” said Edmundo Gonzáles Herrera, who is head of the Houston office of the country’s trade and investment recruiter… Continue reading →

Mobile railcar repair, cleaning operation setting up in Port Allen

Mobile railcar repair and cleaning company Freedom Railcar Solutions LLC plans to set up shop at USA Rail Terminals LLC’s 200-acre Port Allen facility. Freedom’s mobile units will serve customers within a 250­‐mile radius of USA Rail’s terminal in Port Allen, where USA has transloading, staging and railcar storage operations. Freedom expects to begin mobile cleaning… Continue reading →

UnitedHealth to pull out Obamacare coverage in Louisiana, affect nearly 29,000 customers

UnitedHealth is pulling out of “Obamacare” health coverage in Louisiana next year, forcing about 29,000 people to find a new insurance provider under the federal health care law. The nation’s biggest health insurer notified Louisiana Insurance Department officials last week that in January it will end its participation in most of its public health insurance exchanges created… Continue reading →

Consumer, business spending rises 1.3 percent in East Baton Rouge Parish in February

Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish increased 1.3 percent in February when compared with the year before. Businesses and consumers spent nearly $666.6 million in February, according to figures released Tuesday by the city-parish Finance Department. That compares with $658 million in February 2015. The figures do not include vehicle sales, which… Continue reading →

Shreveport firm takes over Acadian Village management

Vintage Realty Co. of Shreveport is now handling leasing and property management for the Acadian Village Shopping Center. The nearly 80,000-square-foot center, which is fully leased, has more than 20 tenants, including Trader Joe’s, Acme Oyster House, Petco and Galatoire’s. Officials with Dallas-based Crow Holdings Capital, which bought Acadian Village in December 2014 for $32.1… Continue reading →

Summit seeks to improve economic development ties in Louisiana

While Louisiana faces challenges with state budget shortfalls and low oil prices, the basic strengths of the economy remain constant, the head of Louisiana’s economic development department said Monday. The state still has an abundance of natural resources, access to the Mississippi River and a network of ports and rail lines, said Don Pierson, LED secretary.… Continue reading →