BR power outage makes some dine by cellphone light

When Hello Sushi on Highland Road went dark Wednesday night, customers turned on the flashlights on their cellphones, propped them up on their tables or booths and continued their meals by artificial candle light. “Everybody just kind of rolled with it. Everyone was just super cool. Nobody freaked out or panicked,” manager Hera Gavin said. When … Continue reading →

Costco draws crowd to pre-opening preview

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Costco employee Lawrence McMullen serves salad to Costco members attending a sneak peek at the store Thursday. Free samples of the food were available all around the store, but purchases were not allowed.  The store opens Friday.

Vehicles spilled out of the Costco parking lot and into the lots of nearby businesses Thursday evening as members got a sneak peek at the retailer’s first store in Baton Rouge. “I’ve heard so many great things about Costco, I had to come tonight,” said Lisa Davis Bonton, who was snacking on a slice of red velvet … Continue reading →

Belle of BR bucks decline in riverboat casino winnings

The Belle of Baton Rouge bucked a statewide decline in riverboat gambling revenue in March, but not enough to offset a nearly 10 percent drop for the Baton Rouge market. Statewide, winnings from the state’s 14 riverboats, slots at four racetracks and the Harrah’s land-based casino totaled $224.1 million, a 3.5 percent decline from $232.2 million a … Continue reading →

Nucor touts St. James plant performance

Nucor Corp.’s St. James Parish plant produced 4.55 million tons of direct reduced iron, with peak operating rates exceeding 90 percent of capacity, the company reported Thursday. The St. James facility’s performance was included in the highlights of Nucor’s first-quarter earnings report. The company said the plant achieved that production while achieving “world-class metallization and carbon percentages.” … Continue reading →

Entergy issues earnings report

New Orleans-based Entergy Corporation reported first-quarter earnings of $410.1 million, or $2.29 per share, compared with $167.7 million, or 94 cents per share, a year ago. Entergy handily beat stock analysts’ forecasts, thanks in large part to the cold winter and limited space in natural gas pipelines in the Northeast. Analysts surveyed by Zach’s Investment Research … Continue reading →

American Freight Furniture to open BR store

American Freight Furniture and Mattress will open its first Louisiana store Thursday near the intersection of Airline Highway and Florida Boulevard. The warehouse-style store will be in the old Ethan Allen building. It will carry a variety of discount furniture and mattress sets. The store specializes in carrying unclaimed freight, cancelled orders, closeouts, overruns and special buyouts … Continue reading →

Marathon proposes La. refinery expansion

Advocate photo provided by Marathon Petroleum -- The Marathon refinery in Garyville, which completed a $3.9 billion expansion in 2009 that doubled its capacity, is being considered for another expansion of up to $2.5 billion.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. said it is taking the next step toward a potential $2.2 billion to $2.5 billion upgrade to the company’s Garyville refinery and expects to make a final decision on the project by early 2015. The St. John the Baptist Parish project would create 65 new direct jobs, with an average annual salary of $115,000 … Continue reading →

Amedisys’ $150 million settlement finalized

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Amedisys Inc., headquartered in Baton Rouge on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard, has finalized a $150 million settlement wityh the Justice Department. The settlement involves allegations of improper Medicare billing that took place between 2008 and 2010. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing.

The U.S. Department of Justice has finalized a $150 million settlement with Amedisys Inc. involving allegations that the Baton Rouge company submitted false home health care billings to the Medicare program. The total includes more than $26 million to settle six whistleblower lawsuits in Pennsylvania and one in Georgia. The whistleblowers were primarily former … Continue reading →

Dow Chemical quarterly income jumps 75%

Dow Chemical said Wednesday its first-quarter net income jumped 75 percent, helped by easy comparisons to a prior-year period weighed down by hefty one-time charges. Its earnings beat Wall Street estimates, while revenue was short. The Midland, Mich.-based chemical company posted a profit attributable to common shareholders of $964 million, or … Continue reading →

IRS approves Lamar Advertising for REIT conversion

Associated Press file photo -- A worker tightens bolts on a Lamar  Advertising billboard in Texas. The Baton Rouge outdoor advertising company has received Internal Revenue Service permission to convert to a real estate investment trust.

Lamar Advertising Co., the Baton Rouge billboard giant, has received permission from the Internal Revenue Service to convert to a real estate investment trust. The company’s conversion is expected to be effective as of Jan. 1, 2014. Part of that process involves merging Lamar into a new, wholly owned subsidiary. Shareholders must approve the merger. … Continue reading →

Houston Wire & Cable expands Exchequer facility

Houston Wire & Cable Co. has doubled the size of its Baton Rouge electrical wire and cable distribution center at 6735 Exchequer Drive, Suite 130. The expansion means the Houston-based company can increase its inventory, allowing Houston Wire to better serve the growth in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, Region Vice President Joe Ezekiel said. Houston … Continue reading →

Homebuilder buys lots for nearly $2 million

DSLD, a Denham Springs-based homebuilder, has bought the 41-lot Myrtle Bluff subdivision for nearly $2 million. According to documents filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s office Monday, the homebuilder bought the lots from developer Anselmo RBC, represented by Ross Bruce. Myrtle Bluff is located on the north side of Perkins Road east of … Continue reading →

Venture Challenge finalists to make business pitches

Four finalists will make business pitches at the third annual Venture Challenge being held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in the Atchafalaya room at the LSU Student Union. The finalists were selected by the LSU Student Incubator program the Louisiana Business & Technology Center from among 14 student teams that submitted business plans. The … Continue reading →

Engineers group sets development seminar

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Baton Rouge Section is holding a one-day, multi-topic seminar that earns up to seven Professional Development Hours in continuing education. The seminar will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 2 in the Holiday Inn South, 9940 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge. The cost is $75 per person for tech/prof … Continue reading →

BR metro area home sales drop in March

Home sales in metro Baton Rouge dropped 14.6 percent in March, with harsh winter weather playing a role in breaking a streak of 18 consecutive months of year-to-year increases. There were 647 home sales that closed in March in the nine-parish area, according to figures released Monday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors. … Continue reading →

Perkins Rowe hires Bill Pietri as general manager

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Perkins Rowe is a mixed use development including retail, restaurants and residential spaces at Perkins Road and Bluebonnet Boulevard.

Perkins Rowe, a mixed-use development combining retail, office, residential and entertainment space off Bluebonnet Boulevard, has hired Bill Pietri as general manager. A 30-year veteran of the industry and a Louisiana, Pietri previously served as regional operations director and market leader in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi for ABM Industries, one of the country’s largest facility management services … Continue reading →

Insurer finds success picking up hurricane policies

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Blue tarps covering wind damage were a common sight in Batoin Rouge after 2008's Hurricane Gustav. 1347 Property Insurance Holdings in Baton Rouge, which recently went public, is among four companies that have picked up wind-and-hail only policies from the state’s insurer of last resort, a line of business Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. would be only too happy to shed.

Baton Rouge’s 1347 Property Insurance Holdings sold 2.1 million shares and generated $17.4 million in going public the first week of April. Drawn by the company’s high-risk, high-reward business plan, investors pushed share prices from $8 in the initial public offering to more than $10 before settling to the mid-$9s. The company drew its name … Continue reading →

Business Briefs for April 20

A speed mentoring event targeted at entrepreneurs over the age of 50 is being held from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Main Library at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. in Baton Rouge. The event is being held by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Louisiana … Continue reading →

People in Business for April 20

Nicholas Knight, Knight Oil Tools U.S.A.

Nicholas Knight was named vice president of operations at Knight Oil Tools U.S.A. Knight’s previous positions include senior vice president of global resources and corporate manager. Donna Kasmiersky was named executive vice president and director of treasury management services at IberiaBank. Kasmiersky was the treasury management champion, executive … Continue reading →

Prosecutor alleges more investors enticed with tax credits

Former Baton Rouge businessman Gregory M. Walker, who has admitted defrauding buyers of $1.4 million in Louisiana film tax credits that he did not own, allegedly enticed $325,000 from other investors in July. At the time, Walker, 47, and his attorneys already were in plea negotiations with federal prosecutors in the larger case. As a result … Continue reading →

EBR building permits rise 16% in first quarter

Rendering provided by 440 on Third -- The former Capital One Bank building in downtown Baton Rouge is shown with an additional floor as part of a remodeling that will convert the building into apartments, commercial and office space and house a Matherne's Supermarket. It was among the largest commercial building permits issued in the first quarter.

Several big-ticket commercial building projects and an increase in homebuilding activity lifted the value of building permits issued in East Baton Rouge Parish by 16.4 percent for the first quarter over 2013. The value of building permits issued by the city-parish Department of Public Works Inspection Division through the end of March was $151.1 million, compared with … Continue reading →

Calpine sells St. Gabriel power plant

Calpine Corp. has agreed to sell six power plants, including a 501-megawatt plant in St. Gabriel, to LS Power for $1.57 billion in cash. The St. Gabriel plant, known as the Carville Energy Center, sells all of its power to Entergy. Calpine spokesman Brett Kerr said he does not have exact employment figures for the St. … Continue reading →

Louisianians with jobs top 2 million

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Construction at the Methanex methanol plant site in Geismar in 2013 reflects the industrial expansion that's helping drive job growth in Louisiana and has lifted totla civiliam employment above 2 million.

More than 2 million Louisianians say they have a job, an all-time high. Civilian employment hit a new peak for the sixth month in a row in March, as the state’s unemployment rate held steady from February at 4.5 percent. That tied for the seventh-lowest jobless rate in the nation. “Because of all we have done … Continue reading →

Airline Highway Deluxe Inn sold for $1 million

The Deluxe Inn, an extended stay hotel on Airline Highway across from Celtic Media Centre, has been sold for $1 million to a California company that plans to extensively renovate the 225-room property in order to attract business travelers. ELF Hotels bought the nearly 40-year-old hotel from BMR Funding, a Connecticut real estate investment trust, in … Continue reading →

Pool Corp. sees first quarter profits rise

Covington-based Pool Corp. reported its first-quarter profit rose to $4.2 million, or 9 cents per share, compared to $3.4 million, or 7 cents per share, a year ago. The wholesale distributor of pool supplies and equipment boosted sales by 10 percent to a record $406.3 million, thanks to customers replacing or remodeling their swimming pools, the company … Continue reading →

Jamestown land sold for $2.3 million

A 4-acre tract of land at the corner of Perkins Road and Pecue Lane has been sold for $2.3 million. Coastal Investment Enterprises LLC bought the land in a deal that was filed Tuesday with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s Office. Paul Pepitone, who is listed as a registered agent with Coastal Investment, would … Continue reading →

Two BR Valero stations up for sale

Two Valero gas stations in Baton Rouge are for sale as part of a company’s attempt to prune its network of gas and service stations. The station at 7515 Perkins Road, in front of Albertsons, and a stand-alone convenience store at 15138 Airline Highway, between Barringer Foreman and Highland roads, are two of 100 properties CST Brands … Continue reading →

Land acquired for Comite River canal project

A 66-acre tract along U.S. 61 has been acquired for the long-awaited Comite River Diversion Canal project. The Amite River Basin Commission, which was set up to maintain and operate the canal, bought the land from three property owners for nearly $1.45 million in a deal that was filed Wednesday with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk … Continue reading →

Albemarle selling three business sectors

Baton Rouge specialty chemicals maker Albemarle Corp. is selling its antioxidants, Ibuprofen and propofol businesses and assets to privately held SI Group, of New York. The deal includes manufacturing sites in Orangeburg, S.C., and Jinshan, China, and Albemarle’s antioxidant product lines. Certain applications and technical support capabilities in Baton Rouge and Shanghai, China, … Continue reading →

AMA: La. doctors make big impact on state economy

Louisiana doctors had an outsized impact on the state’s economy, accounting for $7.7 billion in economic activity and supporting 93,974 jobs statewide, according to a new report from the American Medical Association. On average, each patient physician in Louisiana supported close to 10 jobs, including his or her own, the report says. The study includes only the … Continue reading →

Tire office-warehouse sold for $9.3 million

The American Tire Distributors facility at Airline Highway and Manchac Park Road has been sold for $9.3 million. Cole Corporate Income Trust, a Phoenix-based real estate investment trust, bought the 125,000-square-foot building at 17200 Manchac Park. The seller was Scannell Properties of Indianapolis, which built and developed the office-warehouse in the 5000 block of Airline. John … Continue reading →

Chouest investing $425 million in Brazil facility

Galliano shipbuilder and oilfield service provider Edison Chouest will invest about $425 million in deepwater port facilities in Brazil. Prumo Logistica, who is leasing the property, said the investment will give Chouest a leasing area to maintain its own vessels and a base to serve its offshore customers at Brazil’s Acu Port at … Continue reading →

Lafayette’s Summit Financial joins Focus

Summit Financial, a Lafayette investment and wealth management firm with $600 million in client assets, has joined New York-based Focus Financial Partners. Focus is a partnership of independent wealth management firms with more than $70 billion in client assets. Summit Financial was founded in 2003 by Fred Werner and David Daniel, both former Legg Mason advisors. … Continue reading →

EBR spending up 6 percent in February

Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish increased by 6.2 percent in February compared with a year ago, possibly as a result of pent-up demand from the severe winter storms that kept shoppers away from stores during the last few days of January. Sales tax collection figures released by the city-parish Finance … Continue reading →

Entergy expects to see large first quarter earnings increase

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. expects first-quarter earnings of around $2.28 per share, well above the 94 cents recorded in a year ago and stock analysts’ $1.15 forecast. The increase was driven by higher results at Entergy Wholesale Commodities and Utility. The commodities segment benefitted from “significantly” higher wholesale electricity prices, thanks to cold winter weather and the … Continue reading →

Carnival Dream sets sail from Erato Street Cruise Terminal

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, the largest-capacity year-round cruise ship to homeport at the Port of New Orleans, left Monday afternoon on its inaugural six-day cruise from the Erato Street Cruise Terminal. The vessel will travel to Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, and Roatan, Honduras, on its introductory trip. Beginning Sunday, the Carnival Dream will operate year-round, offering three different itineraries to the western Caribbean. The ports of call include Montego Bay, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and Key West, Fla. Before the Carnival Dream, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas was the largest cruise ship to call New Orleans home. The Erato Street Terminal underwent a $2.3 million renovation to accommodate ships as large as the Carnival Dream. Carnival is the Port of New Orleans’ largest cruise ship operator, also sailing the Carnival Elation on four- and five-day cruises year-round to Mexico.

The 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, the largest-capacity year-round cruise ship to homeport at the Port of New Orleans, left Monday afternoon on its first six-day cruise from the Erato Street Cruise Terminal. The vessel will travel to Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, and Roatan, Honduras, on its introductory trip. Beginning Sunday, the Carnival Dream will operate … Continue reading →