$770,000 collected in March mineral lease sale
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Louisiana Mineral and Energy Board collected nearly $770,000 during its March sale of mineral rights on state and local lands.
The March sale drew $769,753 in total bids, down from $1.1 million in February. The state awarded nine leases covering 2,500 acres out of 40 nominated tracts stretching over more than 57,000 acres.
According to lease sale records, the state rejected a $46,323 offer from Houston-based Surfside for the rights to drill more than 1,000 acres offshore Vermillion Parish saying the bid amount was too low.
Several nominated tracts were withdrawn from the sale and did not receive bids, also contributing to the lower turnout in March.
Recreation company Pool Corp. declares dividend
COVINGTON (AP) — Recreational supplies distributor Pool Corp. has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 19 cents a share.
The dividend is payable March 27 to shareholders of record on March 13.
Covington-based Pool distributes swimming pool and related backyard products.
LWCC distributing $69.1 million dividend
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The board of directors of Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corp. has declared a 2013 dividend of $69.1 million that will be paid to qualifying policyholders in April.
More than 16,000 policyholders will receive a portion of this dividend. Individual dividend awards are based on a calculation that takes into account policyholders’ premium and longevity with LWCC over the past five years.
The 2013 dividend is the result of several contributing factors. LWCC policyholders’ employees experienced fewer than expected work-related accidents during the year. The number of catastrophic injuries was also lower than typically experienced in a calendar year. Additionally, the company’s investment portfolio continued to outperform when compared to industry peers.
LWCC’s cumulative total dividend over the past 11 years adds up to more than $300 million.
Business pitch contests to focus on minorities
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A series of business pitch competitions in July will focus on minority entrepreneurs.
New Orleans CityBusiness reports PowerMoves.NOLA, an initiative of the New Orleans Startup Fund, is launching July 4 weekend during Essence Fest to connect minority entrepreneurs to a national network of investors and business mentors.
“By spurring innovation, building wealth and creating jobs in our city, this new initiative will become a national model and a catalyst to accelerating economic opportunity and growth for minority businesses,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release.
There will be three pitch sessions throughout the competition, which is sponsored by Entergy and Chevron.
The first component of the program is the Chevron PowerMoves Pitch on July 5. The session will feature four minority women entrepreneurs. The winning pitch will receive a $25,000 cash prize. Attendees will also select an “audience favorite,” who will be awarded a $5,000 prize.
Two additional pitch sessions, sponsored by Entergy and the New Orleans Startup Fund, will be held July 4 at Mannings Restaurant. The winners of each event will also each receive a $25,000 prize and access to early-stage investors, mentors and advisers.
To participate, eligible businesses must be at least 25 percent owned by an under-represented minority and a minority team member must do the pitch. Winners also will get a relocation subsidy if necessary, technical assistance and office space.
Economy growing jobs in southeast Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans region needs to prepare itself for economic growing pains.
That’s the message delivered Thursday by Michael Hecht, who leads the economic development group Greater New Orleans Inc.
Hecht spoke to business leaders at the organization’s annual meeting.
He told them the region’s economy is growing for the first time in decades, and skilled workers will be in demand for such industries as petrochemical, biomedical, software and other fields.
If the region can’t produce those workers, he said, its recovery will stall.
According to the organization’s regional economic growth Index, the local economy has been growing by about 3 percent a year since 2009.
GNO Inc. is the regional economic development agency for 10 southeast Louisiana parishes.
Several parishes, including Plaquemines, St. James, St. Charles and St. John, each recorded $1 billion in business investment last year, Hecht said.
“Folks, in past years if we had $1 billion worth of projects in the entire state, it was a decent year,” he said. “Now we have a billion dollars in each parish.”
But as the region grows, it is encountering challenges. Chief among them, he said, is a workforce shortage.
“Building a skilled workforce is our biggest challenge,” said Patricia LeBlanc, who was installed Thursday as the 2014 chairwoman of the GNO Inc. board of directors.
“We can’t miss the opportunities that are on our doorstep by failing to prepare young men and young women in our community to meet those opportunities and capitalize on all that is great in our community.”
Hecht said the region needs blue collar and white collar workers to meet the coming demand from industries.
GNO Inc. is trying to find ways to train and recruit workers to fill the gap, he said.
Other issues are a shortage of development-ready sites in the 10-parish region and a lack of equitable participation in the region’s recovery by all races, classes and genders, he said.
There needs to be a dedicated effort, for instance, to support and nurture minority entrepreneurs, Hecht said, referring to a program launched for that population this week.
“If everybody is not participating in the recovery, it’s going to be hollow in the middle and it’s not going to be stable,” he said.