Business Briefs for March 31

Affordable Care Act being discussed

“The Affordable Healthcare Act: Its Impact on Employers and Group Health Plan Compliance” will be the topic for LSU Executive Education’s Breakfast to Business at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in Room 1420 of the Business Education Complex at LSU.

Karleen Green, partner at Phelps Dunbar LLP, will address challenges employers face in navigating the new legal requirements.

Registration online is at executive.lsu.edu.

The cost is $25 per participant and includes breakfast, but is $20 for LSU students, staff and faculty and members of SCORE, Louisiana Tech Park, Louisiana Business & Technology Center and the Center for Emerging Technology.

LSU AgCenter researcher gets grant

Dan Hayes, an assistant professor in the LSU AgCenter Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, has been awarded a five-year, $400,000 Career Award grant from the National Science Foundation.

The grant project involves using a microRNA delivery technique to improve the control of wound healing and tissue repair processes.

Traditionally, scientists used either chemicals or a virus to deliver short-strand RNA to cells, Hayes said.

“We use nanoparticles. There’s no chemical toxicity, and we can provide more selective delivery in terms of space and time compared with a virus,” he said.

“We can deliver this gene therapy to an area where tissue or bone is damaged and then use light to ‘turn on’ the genes to repair wounds,” Hayes said.

“We’ve demonstrated that it works,” he added. “We can send cells down a bone pathway, for example, to begin repairing a trauma.”

Because the light source is a small laser beam, the therapy can be used anywhere in a body that can receive light.

In addition to providing research opportunities to university graduate and undergraduate students, Hayes will be using grant funds to produce lessons for high-achieving students beginning at the kindergarten level.

“We want to present basic concepts and engage them in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and math,” he said.

To help design the materials for pre-college students, Hayes has partnered with Jennifer Jolly, an associate professor in the LSU School of Education.

Career center plans AT&T job fair

A recruiting job fair will be held for AT&T from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Baton Rouge Business and Career Solutions Center at 1991 Wooddale Blvd. in Baton Rouge.

AT&T is hiring more than 30 wire technicians.

Applicants must have a valid driver’s license, a non-negligent driving record and be able to work a flexible schedule including evenings and weekends. Potential job seekers must not weigh more than 275 pounds due to safety restrictions, and must be able to lift and move up to 80 pounds.

Applicants will be required to pass a background check, employment history investigation and drug screening. Applicants should be able to perceive differences in wire and cable colors and complete on-the-job and/or classroom training as required to remain on the job.

To apply, go to http://connect.att.jobs and enter Baton Rouge, or 1307816. AT&T requires testing for this position, and study guides are available on the company’s website.

JHS Capital opens branch on Perkins

JHS Capital Advisors, a Tampa, Fla.-based securities broker and investment advisor, has opened a branch at 10935 Perkins Road, Suite D, in Baton Rouge.

The branch is led by financial adviser Emily K. Domingue.

Domingue was with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. She specializes in 401(k) plan guidance for small and mid-sized companies and assistance with 529 education savings plans for families.

She previously founded Business Solutions by Cote LLC to help entrepreneurs launch their own companies.

Agriculture labor seminar scheduled

The 2013 Mid-South Agricultural Labor Seminar will be held April 9 in the West Baton Rouge Conference Center at 2750 North Westport Drive in Port Allen.

Registration begins at 7 a.m. and the program starts at 8.

Topics include employer obligations under the the affordable care act and an update on H-2B rule lawsuits; 2012 taxation of H-2A worker wages and how not filing could stop workers from entering the U.S. in 2014; agriculture’s 2013 immigration reform proposal; findings from H-2A employer audits and recommendations; and pursuit of new non-domicile CDL for H-2A/H-2B workers.

Registration is $45 per person, which includes a banquet lunch. Register at www.lnla.org no later than April 7 or contact Jessica at (225) 922-6243 to register at the seminar.

Charter school board members sought

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools and New Schools for Baton Rouge are sponsoring an initiative to identify, recruit and train professionals to serve on the boards of charter schools.

An informational breakfast for the so-called Top Shelf initiative will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation at 402 N. Fourth St. in Baton Rouge.

Admission is free. Register at http://thetopshelf040213.eventbrite.com/

Wetlands curriculum funded by grant

The LSU AgCenter’s 4-H youth development program has received a $1.5 million, three-year grant to continue a wetlands-based curriculum aimed at students and teachers in grades fourth through 12th.

The grant is the third time that the AgCenter has received a grant for the program, which has been in operation since 2007.

More than 300,000 students and 5,000 teachers from all 64 parishes have participated in the program.

Funded by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana, the grant allows teachers across the state to receive wetlands-based lessons free.

“The curriculum includes 35 lessons that are cross-curricula and include all of the major core subjects such as math, science, social studies and language arts. This allows the lessons some flexibility in that they are not confined to just science classes,” said Youth Wetlands Program manager Ashley Mullens.

The grant will also fund wetland activities outside of the classroom.

Mullens said that she is planning and hosting field trips for schools. Several 4-H camping programs will benefit from the grant.

Housing conference scheduled April 23-24

A two-day State Housing Conference will be held April 23-24 in Baton Rouge

The Louisiana Housing Alliance said the theme is “Unintended Consequences: the Impact of Tax & Fiscal Policies on Affordable Housing.”

Speakers include Barry Irwin, Council for a Better Louisiana; Jan Moller, Louisiana Budget Project; Monika Gerhart, Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center; Steve Bradberry, The Alliance Institute; Brad Sweazy, Louisiana Housing Corp.; Nancy Montoya, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Brian Lawlor, City of New Orleans; and Chris Estes, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference.

Workshops include development finance; rural development; innovations in affordable housing; community engagement and organizing; homeless continuum; affordable housing development; and fair housing and consumer protection.

For information on the conference, sponsorship or exhibition information, contact Ashley C. Lewis at alewis@lahousingalliance.org or (225) 381-0041.

Bird repellent for rice receives approval

Federal approval has been obtained for a repellent that prevents birds from eating rice seed after it is planted.

EPA approval was given for 40,000 acres of seed planted in dry fields and 15,000 acres of water-planted rice.

AV-1011 was been developed by the LSU AgCenter with support from Louisiana rice farmers’ checkoff funds.

Without this research, the repellent would not have gotten approval by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.

Linscombe said birds quickly learn not to use planted rice fields for a quick meal because “it doesn’t taste good, so they don’t eat the rice,” adding that the chemical used doesn’t hurt the birds.

Linscombe said use of the material was granted by EPA under a Section 18 permit that has been obtained annually through application by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Efforts are under way to obtain permanent EPA approval, Linscombe said.

The biggest need for the repellent is in the areas of Vermilion, Jefferson Davis and Cameron parishes, which are near marshy blackbird roosting areas.

Economic loss in 2008 was estimated at $38.1 million based on the 2008 value of the crop in the rice-growing states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Missouri and California.