Business briefs

From The Associated Press.

Fund proposed to train workers
LAFAYETTE (AP) — College leaders say a proposed fund to reward colleges and universities that produce graduates who fill high-demand jobs could help attract faculty to train the needed workers in the Acadiana area.
The proposed $40 million fund would be used by colleges and universities in programs that supply workers in high-growth fields such as engineering, finance and accounting, computer science, data analysis, industrial production and construction crafts.
The $40 million fund has been dubbed the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy plan.
The plan received the support of Gov. Bobby Jindal last month when he announced it as part of a $142 million funding increase proposed for higher education next year. If approved by lawmakers, it would be the first increase for colleges and universities in the past six years, though $88 million of the boosted funding is from increased student tuition costs.

LHC to acquire N.O. hospice firm
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Lafayette-based home nursing giant LHC Group Inc. said Monday it will has signed a deal to acquire a New Orleans hospice company and has bought home health companies in Tompkinsville, Ky., and Valley, Ala.
The names of the firms and the acquisition prices were not released.
However, LHC said the three providers’ annual revenue was around $1.5 million. The Kentucky and Alabama deals closed on Feb. 1 and the New Orleans acquisition is expected to close on March 1.
LHC will operate the hospice under the name Louisiana Hospice and Palliative Care of New Orleans. The hospice service area covers Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and St. Tammany parishes.

N.O. port set cruise record
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Port of New Orleans officials say the port set a record in 2013 for the number of cruise ship passengers passing through its terminal.
The terminal handled 987,860 boardings and departures during the year, an increase of more than 1 percent over 2012.
Officials say the increase can be partly attributed to the addition of several new cruise ships at the port during the past year, including Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel.

Lubrication Technologies Inc. to expand to La.
SHREVEPORT (AP) — A $16 million upgrade of a manufacturing facility in Shreveport means new jobs in north Louisiana.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and Lubrication Technologies Inc. CEO Chris Bame announced the project Monday. They say the project will create 75 new jobs with an average annual salary of more than $41,400 per year.
The North Golden Valley, Minn.-based company, also known as Lube-Tech, will make lubricants and related fluids for power sports, marine and outdoor power equipment markets. The Shreveport site is Lube-Tech’s first major investment in the South.
The operations will be located in a 226,000-square-foot facility that once housed an automotive supplier for the former General Motors assembly plant. Officials say the Louisiana operations will enable the company to better serve key domestic customers in the South and to be closer to its supply sources.

St. Tammany creates economic districts
COVINGTON (AP) — The St. Tammany Parish Council voted Thursday night to establish economic development districts at two Interstate 12 interchanges and an area near the Slidell Airport.
Consideration of proposals to create two other districts was postponed.
The council approved ordinances that create and set the boundaries for economic development districts near the airport and at the I-12 interchanges at Louisiana 59 north of Mandeville and Louisiana 1077 north of Madisonville.
The size and configuration of the districts vary.
In March, the council will consider establishing districts at I-12 interchanges at Louisiana Highway 1088 near Mandeville and at Louisiana 434 north of Lacombe.
Parish economic development director Don Shea told the council that such districts will give St. Tammany more tools to guide development at and near major interchanges along I-12, which he has described as the parish’s “Main Street.”
Creation of the districts would allow St. Tammany to establish design and land-use standards in those areas and levy special sales taxes.
The districts would help draw high-quality developments and make St. Tammany competitive with other areas, Shea said.

Director named for business lobbying group
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Veteran lobbyist Dawn Starns has been named Louisiana director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
The group has an estimated 4,300 members in Louisiana.
Starns, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Louisiana State University, most recently was executive director of the Capitol Region Legislative Delegation and CAP PAC LLC.
She also managed the Legislators’ Charity Fund, which raised money to help the homeless as well as children’s programs and a local food bank.

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