State director named at ULM business center
MONROE — Rande Kessler has been named state director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
The appointment was made by ULM President Nick Bruno.
Kessler will succeed Mary Lynn Wilkerson, who plans to retire on Sept. 30.
Kessler previously served as director of the small business center LSBDC at Louisiana State University-Shreveport.
Kessler has more than 30 years of experience in engineering and operations management, The News-Star reports.
Bankruptcy rate low in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE — Baton Rouge had the nation’s third-lowest business bankruptcy rate among metropolitan areas during the second quarter of the year, according to a report by credit reporting agency Experian.
The business bankruptcy rate for the quarter ending in June was 0.34 percent in Baton Rouge.
The Experian report said New York at 0.28 percent and Nassau, N.Y., at 0.31 percent, were the only other cities with lower business bankruptcy rates.
Sacramento, Calif., had the highest business bankruptcy rate at 2.41 percent.
Company spokeswoman Roslyn Whitehurst says Experian based its report on information from its own databases.
for alleged air pollution in Ill., La.
CHICAGO — The Department of Justice says Houston-based CITGO Petroleum Corp. has agreed pay a $737,000 fine and install air pollution controls at refineries in Illinois and Louisiana to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations.
The agency said Thursday that fuel produced at the Lake Charles, La., refinery exceeded the facility’s annual average emissions limit for air toxins. It says the company also failed to sample and test reformulated gasoline at its Lemont, Ill., refinery.
Federal law requires that fuel meet certain emissions limits for harmful pollutants.
The company also will install pollution controls at the two refineries, reducing emissions by more than 100 tons over five years.
The settlement was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
A CITGO spokesman didn’t immediately have a comment on Thursday.
Dairy Fresh consolidating Baker plant
BAKER — Dairy Fresh, which has operated a milk bottling plant in Baker since 1985, plans to close the facility in mid-November.
Officials said the move will affect about 40 employees as the company consolidates its operations into its Lafayette bottling facility.
Fred Stern, a spokesman for Borden Dairy, which bought Dairy Fresh in about 2009, said the decision to consolidate operations in Lafayette was made to improve operating efficiencies and enhance competitiveness.
No decision has been made yet as to what will happen to the Baker facility.
IBM to begin construction
on B.R. offices
BATON ROUGE — Groundbreaking for an IBM Service Center will be held Sept. 26 in downtown Baton Rouge.
The ceremonies will be held at 2 p.m. at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center on Lafayette Street, a few blocks down the street from where the IBM office will be built.
The groundbreaking was moved to the Capitol Center to accommodate the expected turnout, says Lauren Hatcher, a spokeswoman for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
IBM is expected to open the office in spring 2015.
About 800 people are expected to work in the building, which will be on the former site of The Advocate on Lafayette Street, bordered by North and Main streets.
An 11-story residential tower, with 95 apartments and nine luxury town homes, also will be part of the development. The residential units will be completed by fall 2015.
The Lemoine Co. is the contractor for the $55 million project.
Demolition begins in $22M project
BATON ROUGE — Interior demolition for the $22 million conversion of the Commerce Building in downtown Baton Rouge is expected to begin within 60 days.
Michael Lang, who is managing the redevelopment of the building at Third and Laurel streets, said the entire interior — except columns and slab — will be ripped out.
Plans are to turn the 175,000-square-foot building into a mix of loft apartments, retail and a restaurant, with interior parking.
Milton J. Womack Inc. has been selected as the contractor for the project, Lang says.
Wingspan to bring 532 new jobs
to northeast La.
MONROE — Wingspan Portfolio Advisors has acquired customer service operations at the JPMorgan Chase home mortgage finance center in Monroe in a move that will create 532 new jobs over the next decade.
Wingspan CEO Steven Horne joined Gov. Bobby Jindal for Thursday’s announcement.
Horne said the Dallas-based company will retain 400 Chase employees and make a $2 million investment to renovate the majority of the seven-floor building and ultimately occupy 71,000-square-feet. Chase will retain space on two of the center’s floors and continue to employ 109 people in legal affairs and support services for U.S. military service members.
Energy Saving Trees program helps homeowners
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A new online tool could help Texas homeowners save money and energy based on where they plant trees.
Texas A&M Forest Service officials in College Station on Tuesday announced the Energy Saving Trees program. The free program has a web-based mapping tool that lets homeowners compare energy savings based on amount of shade from different trees.
Coordinator Gretchen Riley says trees are a simple and simple and effective way to reduce heat in and around homes.
Oncor and CenterPoint Energy have joined the Arbor Day Foundation in support of the Energy Saving Trees program. Partner companies will offer up to three trees per homeowner in the program for planting in certain areas to provide optimal energy savings.
Fort Calhoun plant closer to restarting
OMAHA, Neb. — Regulators say the idle Fort Calhoun nuclear plant is making good progress toward restarting for the first time in more than two years, but some significant issues remain unresolved.
The nuclear plant sits across from Iowa on the Missouri River about 20 miles north of Omaha.
Fort Calhoun initially shut down for routine maintenance, but significant flooding in 2011, a small fire and a series of safety violations forced it to remain closed.
The NRC says Fort Calhoun has resolved about 70 percent of the items that must be dealt with before the plant will be allowed to restart. And about 25 percent of the items are being reviewed.
From The Associated Press.