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Gym Doctor keeps fitness clubs running by taking care of cardio equipment at facilities along Gulf Coast

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Norman Bonck, owner of Gym Doctor, performs routine maintenance on Cybex treadmills at Snap Fitness on Lee Drive in Baton Rouge. He maintains equipment at about 50 fitness centers across southeast Louisiana and into Mississippi.

One recent morning found Norman Bonck, the Gym Doctor, up to his elbows in the intestines of an elliptical trainer. Bonck, 29, an Archbishop Rummel High graduate and former nursing student at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond now living in Tickfaw, left New Orleans with his mother after Hurricane Katrina flooded their house on Geneva Street… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Aug. 30, 2015

Kimberly Chopin, Louisiana Lottery Corp.

Kimberly Chopin, director of communications for the Louisiana Lottery Corp., won the Powers Award from the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries for exceptional public relations work in the lottery industry for the past 10 years. Most recently, Chopin spearheaded communications and media relations changes within the Louisiana Lottery, from… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Aug. 30, 2015

BASF Corp. donated $25,000 to Southern University’s Career Services Center to sponsor a professional media center for students. BASF’s donation funded a multipurpose technology, computer-based resource center and virtual interviewing equipment for SU’s engineering and business majors. “The Multi-Purpose Technology Center supports and… Continue reading →

Downtown office building sold

Rendering provided by 210 Laurel Street LLC -- An office building at 210 Laurel St. has been sold to a Baton Rouge developer who plans to expand the property. Plans are to take a one story downtown office building and add two floors. The building will be a combination of office/retail space and a condominium.

An office building at 210 Laurel St. has been sold for $432,000 to a Baton Rouge developer who plans to add floors to it and turn it into a mixed-use property. 210 Laurel Street LLC bought the one-story building from the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police in a deal that was filed earlier this week with the… Continue reading →

Giggles toy store opens Saturday

Giggles, a toy and candy store, will open its Baton Rouge store, at 8201 Village Plaza Court, Suite 1-B, on Saturday. The 1,400-foot-square store is in the Village at Willow Grove on Perkins Road and will carry more than 100 different toy brands. Giggles’ features include a candy wall with 30 different kinds of candy, a candelier… Continue reading →

First NBC extends merger deadline with State Investors

New Orleans-based First NBC Bank Holding Co.’s $51 million acquisition of Metairie-based State Investors Bancorp Inc. will take longer to complete than originally expected. The companies have extended their merger agreement’s expiration date from Aug. 30 to Dec. 31. Under the extension, First NBC will pay State Investors’ shareholders an additional fee over the original $21.25 per… Continue reading →

Remodeling begins on new City Pork Kitchen and Pie; target date for opening ID'd

Remodeling has started on the old Exchequer Restaurant building with plans for it to open in late summer or early fall as a third version of the popular local chain, City Pork. City Pork Kitchen and Pie at 6721 Exchequer Drive will be a restaurant and a catering/commissary kitchen for City Pork and City… Continue reading →

Louisiana contractor licensing board continues 84 Lumber investigation

Last week, 84 Lumber avoided losing its Louisiana contractor’s license, but the Pennsylvania company’s problems with state regulators aren’t over. The State Licensing Board for Contractors is now investigating whether 84 Lumber has lost lawsuits to any Louisiana construction firms and hasn’t paid those judgments, said Michael McDuff, the board’s executive director. The board… Continue reading →

Research Park ponders nonprofit filing to allow more lobbying

The nonprofit that oversees the Louisiana Technology Park in Baton Rouge appears headed for a change in its tax-exempt status that will allow “substantial” lobbying efforts under Internal Revenue Service rules. Research Park Corp.’s executive committee voted Thursday to bring the idea before the full board. So far this year, the nonprofit has paid Courson… Continue reading →

New Orleans restaurant owners plan new eatery in old Brew-Bacher’s Grill space in Baton Rouge

A pair of New Orleans restaurant owners plan to open the Canefield Tavern, which bills itself as a Southern kitchen and bar, in the old Brew-Bacher’s Grill space on Nicholson Drive in Baton Rouge. The Canefield Tavern is set to open by the first or second week of October at 5251 Nicholson. It will be open seven… Continue reading →

283 being laid off with barge maker Trinity Marine Products’ Port Allen yard closure

Barge maker Trinity Marine Products Inc. plans to permanently close its Port Allen/Brusly plant and will lay off all 283 workers. The layoffs are to begin on Oct. 23 and be completed by Nov. 30, according to a notice the company filed with the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Trinity Marine Products makes dry-cargo and tank barges used on… Continue reading →

Danos wins Shell Appomatox contract

GRAY – Danos has been selected by Shell Offshore Inc. to fabricate three boarding valve skid assemblies for its deep-water Appomattox project. The value of the contract was not disclosed. Five Danos divisions – coatings, fabrication, instrumentation and electrical, project management and procurement – will immediately begin work on the project, which and is expected… Continue reading →

Legislative Auditor: Louisiana missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars from oil and gas incentive

Louisiana has forgone hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes every year recently to spur the use of an oil and gas drilling technique that was being improved when the subsidy was created two decades ago but is commonplace now, a legislative audit says. The largesse may have been unnecessary, the report acknowledges, noting that… Continue reading →

Lamar Advertising commemorating Katrina anniversary on 541 digital billboards

Photo provided by Lamar Advertising Co. -- Lamar Advertising billboards in 107 markets across the country feature photos of New Orleans and the message 10 Years Stronger to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Baton Rouge-based Lamar Advertising Co. is commemorating the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina using 541 digital billboards in 107 markets across the country. The billboards feature photos of New Orleans and the message “10 Years Stronger” to remember those lost in the hurricane and honor those who’ve rebuilt the city. “Katrina was one of the largest… Continue reading →

Albemarle cites Charlotte, N.C.'s 'big-city feel,' other advantages to moving headquarters from Baton Rouge

Specialty chemical maker Albemarle Corp. is moving its headquarters and some operations from Baton Rouge to Charlotte, North Carolina, because that city is easier to fly to and is closer to other facilities the company has acquired. In addition to its headquarters, Albemarle is moving its performance chemicals business to Charlotte and will shift the Baton Rouge… Continue reading →

Investors file class action lawsuit alleging Amedisys agreements block major board changes, takeovers

Two Amedisys shareholders have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Baton Rouge-based home health giant, claiming it has illegal agreements with lenders that give them the power to decide whether there will be changes in Amedisys’ board of directors. Amedisys spokeswoman Kendra Kimmons said the company does not comment on any pending legal matters. The lawsuit,… Continue reading →

Encana sells Haynesville properties in $850 million deal

Encana Corp., one of the major players in north Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale, is selling all of those assets to a joint venture for $850 million. GEP Haynesville, a joint venture of GeoSouthern Haynesville LP and GSO Capital Partners LP, will be the owner. The deal includes leases on about 112,000 acres and 300 operated wells, located primarily… Continue reading →

South Harrells Ferry building sold for conversion to small offices

A 13,666-square-foot building on South Harrells Ferry Road has been sold to a pair of developers that plan to remodel it into a space with 27 small offices. Mark Estep and Greg Howell, doing business as The Highlander Executive Suites LLC, bought the building at 12090 South Harrells Ferry for $500,000 in a deal that was… Continue reading →

Report finds little competition in Medicare Advantage markets

There is little or no competition in Medicare Advantage insurance markets in 97 percent of U.S. counties, including East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. The report, “Competition Among Medicare’s Private Health Plans: Does It Really Exist?,” suggests that lack of competition could create challenges for reforms that rely on competition… Continue reading →

Refinery maintenance could raise gasoline prices

U.S. motorists could see higher gas prices in the coming months as major refineries shut down for repairs, according to The Wall Street Journal. Cheap gasoline has spurred more driving and more demand for fuel. Last week, U.S. refineries processed around 17 million barrels of crude a day, according to the federal Energy Information… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge cancer drug developer partners with MD Anderson

A Baton Rouge cancer treatment startup has drawn the attention of MD Anderson Cancer Center and a deal to accelerate development of the company’s lead anti-cancer drug. Under the agreement with Esperance Pharmaceuticals Inc., Houston-based MD Anderson will conduct additional studies to help prepare for a Phase III trial of EP-100 in ovarian cancer. EP-100 is… Continue reading →

Businesses brace for next big health care fight

The next big battle in the ongoing Affordable Care Act war is underway over the “Cadillac tax.” It’s a hefty fee to be imposed on the most generous employer-sponsored health plans and one that may affect thousands of Louisianians. The tax could hit the employers of 5,000 or more petrochemical and refinery workers in Louisiana, said W.E.… Continue reading →

People in Business for Aug. 16, 2015

Monty Sullivan, Louisiana Community and Technical System

Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, has been elected to the board of directors of the National Student Clearinghouse and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The nonprofit handles the collection and exchange of enrollment, degree and certificate records for more than 3,600 higher education institutions,… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Aug. 23, 2015

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has won two national awards from the Governmental Research Association. PAR received the Most Distinguished Research Award for “Innovation in Louisiana: Maximizing Investments in University Research to Promote a Knowledge-Based Economy” and the Outstanding Policy Achievement Award for “Public Records Law: Louisiana Needs a Champion… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Aug. 23, 2015

A compressed natural gas fueling station has been upgraded at 8968 S. Choctaw Drive in Baton Rouge, making it the first heavy-duty accessible CNG station in south Louisiana. Louisiana Clean Fuels members, Sparq Natural Gas and Entergy, along with Lavigne Oil Co., completed the upgrade.… Continue reading →

Low oil prices hitting jobs at oil giants in New Orleans area

Photo provided by Chevron --  Chevron Corp., which operates the Jack/St. Malo project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, is reducing its workforce, including from its Covington office that is part of the company’s Gulf of Mexico business unit.

As oil prices continued sliding this week, there were more signs that the metro New Orleans area won’t be immune to the pains of the latest boom-or-bust cycle. A global oil glut has led to an industrywide belt-tightening that’s prompted layoffs at many of the world’s largest energy producers. That roster includes giants like Royal Dutch… Continue reading →

Louisiana sees drop in government, oil jobs, but growth in health, hospitality jobs overcomes losses

Louisiana added 13,400 nonfarm jobs over the 12 months ending July 31, lifting the state’s total to 1,978,800, with gains in each sector except government, oil and gas, and construction. Health and education was the biggest gainer, with 10,500 jobs, while leisure and hospitality added 3,700 positions over the 12-month period, according to preliminary figures from the… Continue reading →

84 Lumber avoids revocation of commercial construction license in Louisiana

Pennsylvania-based 84 Lumber avoided having its Louisiana contractor’s license revoked Thursday after agreeing not to use bonding and insurance practices that two minority firms claim destroyed their companies. The owners of the minority businesses expressed frustration with the decision. Maurice Hurst, owner of The Olympic Group in Metairie, and Addie Mills, former owner of J&A Construction… Continue reading →

Aetna adds Baton Rouge General to provider network

Baton Rouge General and its affiliated physicians will be part of Aetna’s provider network for the first time since 2011. Members of Aetna plans and Coventry-branded plans will be able to receive covered benefits, at in-network rates, from Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Bluebonnet and Mid City locations. The agreement also adds 33 physicians to Aetna’s… Continue reading →

Construction starts on new Walker apartments

Construction has started on Creekside Crossing, a $20 million apartment complex in Walker. The complex, which is located near the intersection of Walker North Road and Florida Boulevard, will have 168 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Rents will be comparable to market rates in Denham Springs, said developer John Buzzell of Bearing Point Properties. Buzzell and Deane… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge riverboat winnings rise; L’Auberge Baton Rouge leads market

Combined winnings for Baton Rouge’s three riverboat casinos increased by 3.3 percent in July over the year before. The riverboats brought in $24.9 million during the month, according to figures released Thursday by Louisiana State Police. That compares to $24.1 million in winnings during July 2014. L’Auberge Baton Rouge led the market, with $13.7 million in… Continue reading →

Stage -- with locations in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette -- plans to close 90 nationwide stores

Retailer Stage Stores Inc. said Thursday it will close around 90 of its stores nationwide during a “multi-year” period, partly as a result of poor sales and downturns in the economies of oilpatch states. Stage didn’t disclose the locations of the department stores. The underperforming stores represent 4 percent of Stage’s total sales, which were $380.9 million… Continue reading →

Software company rebrands as Lucid

New Orleans-based software company Federated Sample has changed its name to Lucid, which the company said reflects the clarity its products provide to customers. “Our products clarify business issues and processes that have been obscured. We make the unknown known with “lucid moments” of insights, whether those are insights into a programmatic marketplace of research sample or… Continue reading →

Zachary CVS building sells for $4.9 million

A building occupied by CVS Pharmacy at 20501 Old Scenic Highway in Zachary has been sold for nearly $4.9 million to a New York-based company. LA SVC LLC, based in Staten Island, bought the drugstore building in a deal that was filed Wednesday with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s Office. The seller was LL Zachary… Continue reading →

WBRZ-TV says talks with Dish satellite company at an impasse

WBRZ-TV said Wednesday that an agreement that allows satellite company Dish to air the local ABC affiliate station will expire Friday, with negotiations for a new contract hitting an impasse after several extensions. WBRZ General Manager Rocky Davobal said the station and Dish have been in talks since a June 30 contract expiration.… Continue reading →

Western Gulf’s smallest oil lease sale draws $22.7M

Associated Press file photo -- Low oil prices resulted Wednesday in the smallest oil lease sale ever in the western Gulf of Mexico and one of the smallest in the entire Gulf.

The smallest oil lease sale ever in the western Gulf of Mexico and one of the smallest in the entire Gulf brought only five bidders Wednesday, with low oil prices limiting interest in the prospects. Most seats in a Mercedes-Benz Superdome meeting room were empty as a federal energy official read the 33 bids for tracts off… Continue reading →