TEDA SEEKING COMPANIES SEVERELY IMPACTED BY HURRICANE BARRY

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TEDA, in conjunction with Louisiana Economic Development, has begun assessing the impact of Hurricane Barry. These efforts will inform the decisions of any local, state, or federal programs in place to assist businesses with recovery.

Please contact TEDA at 873-6890 or message us with contact information if any of the below issues are affecting your business:

 ·     Commercial or industrial property damage due to rain, wind, or flooding;

·     Continued loss of utility services such as electricity, internet or phone;

·     Long-term interruption of operations; or

·     Unresolved issues with access to workforce related to the storm.

 We wish to help heighten awareness of your company's situation with service providers and potentially help restore your business to full functionality.

Also, please share with us an estimate of the financial damage caused to your company. This information is vitally important for garnering potential business assistance funds that may come available, as well as allowing TEDA to lend its aid at this time.

Emails can be sent to info@tpeda.org or ktheriot@tpeda.org. Staff will follow up with you as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Position Available: Business Outreach Assistant (Part-time)

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JOB DESCRIPTION

POSITION TITLE………….…: Business Outreach Assistant (Part-time)

WAGES………………………...: to be determined

SUMMARY:

The Business Outreach Assistant is a supervised position supporting business outreach and economic development efforts. Primary functions focus on general clerical and outreach duties, including telephoning companies, copying and scanning, typing, database entry, filing of correspondence and reports in support of the functions of economic development functions.

BASIC FUNCTIONS:

1. Administrative tasks – answering phone calls, sorting mail, etc.

2. Scanning and organizing files

3. Conducting business retention outreach to schedule meetings and compile data

4. Making copies and preparing direct mailings

5. Assist with physical execution of special events as needed, including meetings outside of offices which may require travel within the parish

6. Perform related duties as assigned.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS:

1. Familiarity with modern office equipment and computer equipment.

2. Familiarity with common word processing and spreadsheet software used on personal computers such as Word and Excel

3. Telephone etiquette and calling skills.

4. Resident of Terrebonne, Lafourche or Assumption Parish.

5. Must be age 18 or older.

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE:

1. A high school diploma or equivalent is required.

2. Enrollment in higher-education in business, economics or other relevant field of study.

3. Little to no formal employment experience preferred.

CONTACT:

Katherine Gilbert-Theriot, Director of Business Retention & Expansion

Terrebonne Economic Development Authority

985-873-6890

U.S. Commerce Department Funds Grant for Unmanned Aircraft Center at Houma Airport

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HOUMA – Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Assistant Secretary John Fleming of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove and Houma-Terrebonne Airport officials to announce a $1.35 million airport infrastructure grant from the EDA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The grant will fund taxiway, access road, ramp and utility improvements for an undeveloped 10-acre parcel at the Houma-Terrebonne Airport, which will establish a Gulf of Mexico Center of Excellence for Large-Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or L-UAS. Gov. Edwards signed an executive order at the event designating the airport as Louisiana’s L-UAS site with the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. Future improvements will include a new 40,000-square-foot hangar that will house automated navigation systems for unmanned aircraft flying the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas, hurricane reconnaissance, coastal protection, homeland security, research and military missions.

“We are most excited by this announcement for its potential to provide new value for our oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico and along our coast,” Gov. Edwards said. “Louisiana has long been a leader in subsea technology in the offshore energy industry. Now, we will be at the cutting-edge of aerial technology. By joining our education, government and private-sector partners, we can make Louisiana a true leader in unmanned aircraft technology to tackle many of our biggest challenges in the energy, security and military sectors.”

At full development, the L-UAS Center of Excellence will create 150 new jobs, retain 70 jobs and generate $50 million in new private investment, according to EDA estimates. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 191 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 340 jobs in the Bayou Region.

Wednesday’s event took place at the super-base hangar of helicopter transport company, ERA Group Inc., which will additionally provide nearby temporary space for the new unmanned aircraft center. Fueled by the energy sector, the Houma-Terrebonne Airport ranks No. 1 in the world for the total number of helicopter flights per year.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said, “The Trump Administration is working diligently to empower innovators who fuel job creation in communities across the nation. Having UAS operations on airport facilities in the Gulf Coast will help attract new businesses to the area and generate significant economic activity for the state of Louisiana.”

Also at the event, Louisiana Tech University’s Dr. Sumeet Dua, who oversees research and partnerships for the Ruston school, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with airport commission Secretary-Treasurer Joshua Alford to establish Louisiana Tech’s Department of Professional Aviation as a formal flight training and operations partner at the L-UAS Center of Excellence.

Similar MOUs are in place with Fletcher Technical Community College to train avionics, sensor and logistics technicians, along with airframe, powerplant and ground equipment mechanics; and with Nicholls State University to provide Big Data analytics, integration of high-speed, real-time sensors, and development of automated platforms for unmanned aircraft.

“The Houma-Terrebonne Airport looks forward to participating in the development of this new dimension in air service for the local area and the Gulf of Mexico,” said Secretary-Treasurer Joshua Alford of the Houma-Terrebonne Airport Commission. “There are many missions that can be served by highly automated, optionally piloted, and fully autonomous unmanned aircraft, and the Houma-Terrebonne Airport is excited to be in the forefront of this technological advancement.”

The South Central Planning and Development Commission, based in Gray, Louisiana, guided regional efforts to secure the EDA grant, along with the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority and Terrebonne Parish officials.

“It is imperative for Terrebonne Parish and Louisiana to move to the future of unmanned aircraft,” Parish President Gordon Dove said. “This will be a major economic tool for offshore and onshore transportation of goods and services to meet the ever-increasing demands of delivery at an economic price.”

Along with other utilities and infrastructure work, the grant will fund the installation of high-performance data lines connected to LONI, the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative for supercomputing applications. Unmanned helicopters and unmanned fixed-wing aircraft will be monitored and controlled from the new 40,000-square-foot hangar, which will be equipped with highly automated, artificial intelligence systems.

The $1.35 million EDA grant will be matched by $337,500 in local funds, chiefly from the Houma-Terrebonne Airport Commission, and the airport is pursuing additional funding solutions with the State of Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development; with the FAA; and with private-sector partners. In addition to Era Helicopters, private partners include Aurora Flight Sciences LLC, 2SF LLC, COTS Technology LLC and The Advocacy Partners LLC.

Airport officials estimate the L-UAS Center of Excellence hangar could be in place within two years.

KADN.com

Houma airport receives $1.3M federal grant for unmanned aircraft

The Houma-Terrebonne Airport received a $1.3 million grant from the federal government

today to advance its unmanned aviation system.

The airport commission has been working for over a year to develop the modern aircraft

system through public-private partnerships as a way to diversify and support the local

economy. The $2.3 million project includes building a new 40,000-square-foot hangar, access

road and taxiway.

The unmanned aircraft are expected to provide new services to the oil and gas industry before

developing into new fields. The airport’s close proximity to the Intracoastal Waterway and

access to the Gulf of Mexico has been billed as one of its strongest advantages to develop the

new technology.

“We are most excited by this announcement for its potential to provide new value for our oil

and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico and along our coast,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a

news release.“Louisiana has long been a leader in subsea technology in the offshore energy

industry. Now, we will be at the cutting-edge of aerial technology. By joining our education,

government and private-sector partners, we can make Louisiana a true leader in unmanned

aircraft technology to tackle many of our biggest challenges in the energy, security and military

sectors.”

The program is in conjunction with Terrebonne Economic Development Authority, Nicholls

State University, Fletcher Technical Community College and private companies and is being

called the Gulf of Mexico UAS Center of Excellence, or UGC.

The governor also signed an executive order commissioning the Center of Excellence at a

ceremony held at the airport today.

Houma airport receives $1.3M federal grant for

unmanned aircraft

“This really is what the future should look like,” Edwards said, noting the aircraft’s capabilities

for coastal safety and protection, including the ability to detect oil spills and weather events.

“What a unique opportunity for Terrebonne Parish,” Parish President Gordy Dove said. “This

is really the wave of the future.”

“It’s so good for Terrebonne Parish to be a step up on technology. It’s a testimony to

Terrebonne Parish’s willingness to go into other industries and be the first one out there,”

Dove said.

The grant was awarded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development

Administration through efforts by the South Central Planning and Development Commission.

It also requires a $337,500 local match. The airport commission previously set aside $200,000

for the project.

The project is expected to create and retain a total of 220 jobs and generate $50 million in

private investments, according to the Commerce Department.

“Having UAS operations on airport facilities in the Gulf Coast will help attract new businesses

to the area and generate significant economic activity for the state of Louisiana,” Secretary of

Commerce Wilbur Ross said.

The new Airport Commission Director Mert Pellegrin announced the pending grant upon his

arrival in May.

The unmanned aircraft program plans to begin remotely operating cargo operations by 2020,

with fully autonomous aircraft coming to the region by 2025.

Fletcher also announced last week that its first drone workshop is expected to begin in July or

August.

“A UAS facility at the Houma-Terrebonne Airport will facilitate the deployment of drones in

the region, a valuable resource for oil and gas development and other industries, and support

drone research at Nicholls State University,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

“This is a huge win for Terrebonne Parish after a tough downturn in the oil industry,” said

U.S. Sen John Kennedy, R-La. “Investments like this encourage technological developments

and create jobs.”

“With the addition of an Unmanned Aviation System facility, the Houma-Terrebonne Airport

will soon be at the forefront of this new transportation technology and capability,” said

Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who represents southern Terrebonne and Lafourche

parishes.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her

on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.

Terrebonne Coastal Day to showcase progress

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Updates on coastal restoration and flood protection projects in Terrebonne Parish will be featured at Wednesday’s Coastal Day in Houma.

Local, state and federal officials as well as industry leaders will congregate at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center to participate in panel discussions about the progress being made in the parish.

“If anyone’s interested in getting an up-close and personal look at our structures, our levees and meet some of the people who helped make it happen, I think it would be a great opportunity to do that,” said Angela Hidalgo, administrative manager for the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District.

The levee district and parish government are putting on the event. The first interactive showcase in 2017 drew about 750 people, including people from neighboring parishes, said Hidalgo.

“The first time we did it, we had no idea it was going to be such a success,” she said, adding the event may be unique in the state.

While Coastal Day will run from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the first panel discussion taking place around 5 p.m., a few other events are planned earlier in the day.

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority plans to have its monthly meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the civic center, which is open to the public.

Then, the new $35 million floodgate at Falgout Canal will be dedicated to the late Jimmy Dagate at a public ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Dagate served as the attorney for the Terrebonne Parish Economic Development Authority, Terrebonne Parish Housing Authority and levee district. Gov. John Bel Edwards will speak at the dedication.

The event will include drone video footage recorded in the last two weeks, showcasing the different projects. People will have the chance to look at more in-depth closeups and stand next to a life-size model of a levee.

For information, visit www.tpcg.org.

Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at hparker@houmatoday.com or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.

Governor signs ride-sharing bill at Nicholls

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Local residents and visitors will soon be able to hail an Uber or Lyft ride.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 575 into law at Nicholls State University today, setting statewide regulations for ride-sharing services. The law will take effect Aug. 1.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, and successfully cleared three years of hurdles in the state Senate last month.

While Uber and Lyft services are available in the state’s larger cities — like Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport — smaller cities like Houma and Thibodaux have waited years for the service.

“We are probably the largest population base that did not have it, so we were really the next step. It’s huge,” Magee said. “Now we get to have our restaurants and our places compete with everybody else and have part-time jobs for students at Nicholls.”

Edwards and Magee said opening up the service will modernize Louisiana, promote tourism and local spending and reduce instances of drunk driving.

“When people come to Louisiana to visit they expect it,” Edwards said.

Magee said the strong constituent outcry was another motivating factor in his continuing push to get the legislation past the Senate.

“People think state government is not responsive. They’re wrong,” Magee said.

With the governor’s signature today, the bill will go into effect Aug. 1, when ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft will be able to take down their geographic fencing, opening up rides across the state. Local parishes do not have to take any extra steps to prepare for the services, Magee said.

In Thibodaux, not only will year-round residents benefit from the new service, so will Nicholls State students, university President Jay Clune said.

“We have a lot of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and we’d like to recruit more international students. One drawback of Nicholls has always been transportation off campus, so this is a big win for us,” Clune said.

It’s also a chance to reinvigorate downtown Thibodaux, with both students and entrepreneurs looking to invest in the city, he said.

The majority of local uses for the apps will be on the weekends and after hours when residents are more likely to be drinking, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said.

“This takes the risk off the table,” he said, pointing to his own successful use of the service in other cities. “It’s a win-win in every respect.”

The legislation gives the state Department of Transportation and Development the authority to regulate the industry on a statewide level without disturbing the existing rules set by other cities.

It also requires background screening for drivers and consumer protection provisions such as fare transparency.

“This is is a win for the state, a win for the city and a win for all us drivers,” said Gwendolyn Wallace, an Uber driver in New Orleans.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.

Fletcher to start a drone pilot program

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Fletcher Technical Community College is creating its first drone program to teach students about the technology inside an unmanned aircraft system.

The 40-hour program, enabled by a $95,000 state grant, will start out as a multi-day workshop that will fulfill students’ hour requirements on their way to becoming certified drone pilots. Aside from the basics of flying a drone, the workshop will teach participants about the inner workings of different drones, their sensors and data analysis programs.

Fletcher Dean of STEM Clint Coleman said the college is still building the program but plans to have its first workshop in July or August.

The program came about after discussions with local industry leaders and Houma-Terrebonne Airport officials.

“This was something that was being asked for,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in the area for drone operators that know what they’re doing.”

He said flying is the simple part of the program, and businesses will be looking for people who can understand the data that the drones gather.

Drones are being used across a wide range of industries and uses, from analyzing nutrients in fields in agriculture to inspecting pipelines in the energy industry.

“This is the next wave of technology that’s going to be in almost every single industry,” said Coleman.

The grant will be used to purchase around a dozen drones to use in the workshop.

“These efforts are supported by the diligent and progressive work of our team at Fletcher and the generosity of those who continue to help us provide the best training possible in the latest technological advancements,” Fletcher Chancellor Kristine Strickland said in a May news release.

After taking the workshop, students will have to drive to New Orleans or Lafayette to take the Federal Aviation Administration ground school exam at a certified testing center. Coleman hopes Fletcher will eventually become a testing site as the program grows.

He said the college plans to keep the noncredit workshop affordable, but pricing hasn’t been released.

By Halle Parker / Staff Writer; houmatoday.com

Unique new event runs the levees April 7

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HT Sports launches Louisiana Run for the Wetlands

HOUMA – While South Louisiana is known for marshes and wetlands, opportunities to experience the environment can be limited… until now! On Sunday, April 7, Terrebonne Economic Development Authority (TEDA) is opening the levee and wildlife-preserve gates in Montegut to runners and walkers who want to take in the scenic wetlands. The Louisiana Run for the Wetlands is the first event in TEDA’s HT Sports initiative and features a semi-guided 5K, 10K, half-marathon and bird-watching walk.

Winding through wetlands that comprise one of the most-rapidly eroding estuaries/ecosystems on the earth, participants can learn about the initiatives being undertaken to manage water, preserve and restore the wetlands, and protect the species residing therein. After finishing the route, enjoy the sights, sounds and cultural tastes associated with life in Bayou Country.

The trail route, edging along the 35,000-acre Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area, runs along drainage levees and part of the 72-mile Morganza-to-the-Gulf Hurricane Protection levee system. It offers stunning views of marsh stretches, wetlands terracing projects, coastal vegetation, water-management tools like sluice gates and pump stations, and beautiful waterfowl and animals that call one of the rapidly-eroding estuaries home.

This family-friendly event will feature informational booths on local wildlife and cultures, coastal preservation and restoration projects, and water management strategies. Cultural vendors (those showcasing local culture or culturally-tied arts and crafts) are welcome; interested parties should visit www.tpeda.org for a vendor registration form or email ktheriot@tpeda.org.

The Louisiana Run for the Wetlands kicks off at 8 a.m. Sunday, April 7, at Recreation District 6, 104 Dolphin St. in Montegut, after a blessing from nearby Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Come prepared – insect repellent, binoculars, cameras, hats and sunscreen are encouraged.

Funds raised will benefit Restore the Earth, which has a restoration project in Pointe-Aux-Chenes.

For registration and information, visit http://www.louisianarunforthewetlands.com or https://www.facebook.com/LouisianaRunForTheWetlands/.

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Contact: Matthew Rookard, TEDA CEO; 985-873-6890

LOUISIANA RUN FOR THE WETLANDS

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The Louisiana Race for the Wetlands is a new experiential run designed to get a broader group of people to experience and understand more about the coastal wetlands in south Louisiana. The route offers an off-road perspective through some of the most beautiful scenery you will find. With food and drinks included, it is sure to be a good time. Come join our inaugural event and help make it like no other.

SUN, APRIL 7, 2019

Louisiana Run 4 the Wetlands

Montegut Recreation Center in Montegut, LA

Check out our facebook page and website to register today!

U. S. Small Business Administration: NEWS RELEASE

Disaster Field Operations Center West

Release Date: Feb. 25, 2019 Contact: Richard A. Jenkins, (916) 735-1500, Richard.Jenkins@sba.gov

Release Number: LA 15879-01 Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs & Instagram

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to Louisiana Small Businesses

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Small nonfarm businesses in 36 Louisiana parishes and neighboring counties in Texas are now eligible to apply for low interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced Director Tanya N. Garfield of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West. These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by rain and flooding in the following primary parishes that occurred Aug. 25 - Nov. 16, 2018.

Primary Louisiana parishes: Acadia, Allen, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Catahoula, Jefferson Davis, LaFourche, St. Charles, St. James, St. John The Baptist, St. Landry, Terrebonne, and Vermilion;

Neighboring Louisiana parishes: Caldwell, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, Evangeline, Franklin, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, LaSalle, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Martin, St. Mary, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Vernon and West Feliciana;

Neighboring Texas counties: Jefferson, Newton and Orange.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Garfield said.

Small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 3.675 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Garfield said.

By law, SBA makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. The Secretary declared this disaster on Feb. 19, 2019.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for economic injury is Oct. 21, 2019.

###

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

Sales tax collections rise in Terrebonne, Lafourche

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Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes saw a combined increase of more than $11.5 million in sales tax revenues last year, a sign that the local economy may be improving.

Local sales taxes are divided between parish government, law enforcement and levee, road and school districts.

According to totals from the Terrebonne Sales and Use Tax Department, Terrebonne Parish collected about $120 million last year. That’s a $3.7 million increase from 2017.

This is the second year in a row of increased sales tax revenue for Terrebonne.

Lafourche’s gains were even stronger. According to monthly collection totals reported by the Lafourche School Board’s Sales Tax Department, the parish collected about $80.2 million in 2018, a $7.8 million increase.

This is the first increase the parish has seen in at least four years and brings collections back up to the level seen in 2015.

“An increase is sales tax revenue means a better, stronger and more viable Lafourche. We continue to promote #buylocal and are grateful to wait for a table to dine in our restaurants,” Lafourche Chamber of Commerce CEO Lin Kiger said.

Numbers at a glance

Terrebonne:

$120 million in total collections.

Monthly collections average $10 million.

Up $3.7 million from 2017.

Continuing two-year upward trend.

Parishwide sales tax rate is 5.5 percent.

Lafourche:

$80.2 million in total collections.

Monthly collections average $6.7 million.

Up $7.8 milllion from 2017.

First increase since 2014.

First time breaking $80 million since 2014.

Parish sales tax rates vary from 4.65 to 5.4 percent.

“We have continued to witness an increase in trucks on our highways and are hopeful that this activity only adds to the sales tax collection in 2019 and beyond,” Kiger said. “We look forward to more jobs and opportunities and growth on the horizon.”

The last time the parish broke $80 million was in 2014 when it collected about $83.2 million. Since the economic downturn, Lafourche sales tax collections reached a low of $72.4 million in 2017.

“As always, it is our hope to see collections continue to grow — allowing additional dollars for infrastructure, education and tourism throughout our parish,” Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce CEO Tammy Ledet said.

Terrebonne’s lowest point in recent years was $98.5 million in 2010.

The sales tax numbers are starting to match up with other economic indicators, said Matt Rookard, Terrebonne Economic Development Authority CEO.

Local unemployment numbers started to stabilize at the end of 2018, signaling the beginning of the slow recovery cycle, he said.

“The increased sales tax revenue is a good sign that our economy is going in a positive direction,” said Nicol Blanchard, Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce CEO. “Consumers are enjoying the low gas prices allowing them to have more spendable income while the oil and gas industry becomes more efficient and optimistic when planning for the future. The chamber is encouraged by this growth and hopes that it continues.”

In the future, 2017 will probably be known as one of the toughest economic years as the area stayed at the bottom of the down cycle, Rookard said.

“We were at the bottom and stayed there for a significant time,” Rookard said. “I do think there’s a recovery coming.”

As the job market stabilizes, consumer confidence will increase, and that drives sales taxes, he said.

As TEDA continues to look for new development opportunities, companies are pivoting from getting by to planning for growth.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com.

Companies sought for free 2019 CEO program

Local businessman touts efficiencies learned

Applications are being accepted through March 30 in the Bayou Region for the CEO Roundtable program. It brings together key decision makers 10 times a year to collaborate in a trusted environment to grow their businesses.

The free program, presented by Louisiana Economic Development, will begin meeting in July at Fletcher Technical Community College on La. 311. It offers peer-to-peer learning through discussion, interaction and sharing of experiences with qualified facilitators, expert guest speakers and connections to various small business resources.

“I highly recommend it, especially for those who think they don’t have time to do it,” said Jason Bergeron, partner of Technology Professionals in Houma. “The efficiencies and information you pick up in peer-to-peer conversations pay for time invested. You’re able to take information from each session and apply it to increased earning potential of your company immediately.”

To qualify, applicants must be a CEO, business owner or key decision maker in a company that has between 5 and 100 employees, approximate annual revenue between $600,000-$50,000,000 and the potential to serve customers outside the local area. High-growth potential companies will be given additional consideration.

For more information or to apply, visit OpportunityLouisiana.com/CEO-Roundtables or contact Darrell Johnson at 225-342-4680 or Darrell.johnson2@la.gov. Questions can also be directed to Katherine Theriot at Terrebonne Economic Development at 985-873-6890.

PORT OF TERREBONNE - ROAD EXTENSION RIBBON CUTTING

From Left to Right: Stephanie Brüning (SCPDC); Philip Chauvin (T.B. Smith); Amber Plessala (T. B. Smith), David Rabalais (Port Executive Director), Al Marmande (Parish Councilman), Eddie Rome (Port Commissioner), Andrew Blanchard (Port Commissioner), Dan Davis (Port Commissioner), Gordy Dove (Parish President), Pat Gordon (SCPDC)

From Left to Right: Stephanie Brüning (SCPDC); Philip Chauvin (T.B. Smith); Amber Plessala (T. B. Smith), David Rabalais (Port Executive Director), Al Marmande (Parish Councilman), Eddie Rome (Port Commissioner), Andrew Blanchard (Port Commissioner), Dan Davis (Port Commissioner), Gordy Dove (Parish President), Pat Gordon (SCPDC)

The Terrebonne Port Commission officially opened the Rome Woodward Street improvements with Parish President Gordy Dove, Councilman Al Marmande and Executive Director David Rabelais. The project is located on Main Port Court off of Industrial Boulevard.  

Port Commission members, Parish Council, representatives from T. Baker Smith (Engineering) and South Central Planning and Development Commission (Grant Administration) were present for the official dedication. The $425,706.00 project was a funding partnership between U.S Economic Development Agency (EDA) and the Port with $312,320 from EDA and $113,386.00 in port funds. 

The 800-foot infrastructure project, completed by Byron E. Talbot Contractor, Inc., included a 10-inch 24-foot-wide industrial class concrete pavement with 10-foot-wide aggregate shoulders and the addition of associated drainage pipe and catch basins.  The extension finished the work started in January 2014 and provides improved access to the Port property allowing for an additional 52 acres of the property to be developed with Port related tenants.

Aligning with many of EDA’s funding priorities, the Rome Woodward Street extension embodies public/private partnerships, national strategic priorities and global competitiveness. Terrebonne Port Commission’s 680-acre site located near LA Highway 57, the Houma-Terrebonne Airport, the Houma Navigation Canal and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway puts it in a strategic position for future economic growth and benefits to the region. For more information about the Terrebonne Port Commission please go to www.terrebonneport.com.

Report forecasts uptick in Gulf oilfield

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The Gulf of Mexico will see an increase in drilling this year for the first time since an oil bust began in mid-2014, a new forecast says.

“We expect 2019 to be a strong year for the Gulf of Mexico,” William Turner, senior research analyst at the global energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, said in a news release. “In addition to exciting new project sanctions, which could usher in more than $10 billion of investment into the region, a couple of historic firsts set to occur next year could set the stage for years to come.”

Whether that translates into new jobs for Houma-Thibodaux, and how many, remains uncertain. But the report from the prominent consulting firm is among the most optimistic since a global crude glut sent oil prices plunging, stripping more than 16,000 jobs from the area’s offshore-oil-based economy.

Shell and Chevron will lead the way, but the actual growth in exploration will come from new entrants, Wood Mckenzie says in its report, “US Gulf of Mexico: 5 things to look for in 2019.” They include companies such as Kosmos Energy, Equinor, Total, Murphy and Fieldwood.

Two major projects serve as bellwethers for the Gulf overall, according to the report, released in mid-December.

-- Chevron’s Anchor project, about 140 miles south of the Gulf oilfield service hub at Port Fourchon, is poised for a final investment decision this year. If approved, it would be the first project using new ultra-high-pressure technology to reach that stage, the result of more than two decades of industry research and development.

“Anchor will be an important one to watch,” Turner said. “The sanction of Anchor will be a significant milestone for Chevron, Total and Venari but also marks a crucial point for the offshore industry as it enters the final frontier in deepwater development.”

Success at Anchor will lead to the next wave of mega-investment in the Gulf, as several other projects using the same technology are waiting to follow its lead. Wood Mackenzie predicts that if Anchor moves forward, more than $10 billion of investment could flow into the region.

-- Shell’s Appomattox development, about 200 miles southeast of Port Fourchon, is set to begin producing oil and gas this year. It will be the Gulf’s first production from a Jurassic reservoir, high-quality oil in sediments that date back about 150 million years. It also required new technology to reach greater depths at higher pressures.

“If the Jurassic roars to life in 2019, it could give operators greater confidence in the play’s potential,” Turner said. “However, if Appomattox disappoints, the Jurassic could continue to lie dormant. The wider region would also be missing an expected strong production growth contributor.”

The report is one of several that predict an uptick this year in the Gulf oilfield. All hinge, in large part, on what happens to oil prices, which are notoriously volatile and difficult to predict, with analysts’ estimates varying widely.

Louisiana economist Loren Scott’s annual economic forecast, released in late September, projects the Houma-Thibodaux metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, will gain 700 jobs, 0.8 percent, this year. It will add another 2,100 jobs, 2.4 percent, in 2020, driven largely by gains in oil and gas. Scott’s forecast is based on oil rising from an average of $65 a barrel in 2018 to $80 a barrel by 2020.

U.S. crude ended 2018 at about $45 a barrel, down 25 percent, the first annual loss since 2015. The trend was similar for Brent, which ended the year at $54 a barrel, down 20 percent. Both ended last week about $3 higher.

In its annual forecast, the LSU Center for Energy Studies predicts increased activity this year but says in the short term the Gulf rig count will remain around 20, where it has been for months.

The Gulf Coast Energy Outlook, released in November, tempers its forecast for offshore job growth by noting what other economists and analysts have said for years. Specifically, it says companies have cut costs through innovation and efficiency, including increased automation and the use of tiebacks that run pipelines from sub-sea wells to existing platforms rather than building new ones.

“This is great news in terms of making the Gulf of Mexico more competitive for future production by lowering costs per barrel of production,” the report says. “However, these productivity gains also mean that fewer workers are needed for a given level of production.”

-- Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or keith.magill@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @CourierEditor.

Local oilfield service company adds 150 workers

Two major contracts in the Gulf of Mexico have prompted a local oilfield-service company to hire 150 new workers, officials said today.

Danos, based in Gray, says it has secured a contract to provide production workers to Equinor’s Titan platform, which operates in nearly 4,000 feet of water about 60 miles southeast of the offshore service hub at Port Fourchon.

The project, which began late last year, is Danos’ second with Equinor after it was awarded a contract for coatings maintenance on the Titan platform in the fall.

“Danos is excited for the opportunity to work with a high-performing company like Equinor,” owner Paul Danos said in a news release. “Securing and executing the details of the contract has been a true team effort, and we look forward to continuing our commitment to customer service and excellence.”

The company has also been awarded a multi-year contract for production operations with another major oil and gas producer in the Gulf, though company officials would not discuss specifics.

Danos has increased its production workforce by about 150 new employees as a result of the contracts. Most of the new positions are production operators who will be working on the Gulf Coast, with projects spanning from Galveston, Texas, to Venice, La.

“Danos’ ability to provide a recruiting and retention model for competent and skilled workers heavily influenced both contracts,” Danos said. “I commend Danos’ operations team, as well as our human resources team who worked closely with our customers’ operations and procurement teams to make both projects possible.”

Danos, which employs about 2,200 people, is the largest private employer in Terrebonne Parish.

Equinor, based in Norway with U.S. headquarters in Houston, owns 100 percent of the Titan operation and part of 10 others in the Gulf. Its operations there produce about 100,000 barrels of oil per day, and the company says planned growth will make it the fifth-largest producer in the Gulf by 2020.

-- Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or keith.magill@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierEditor.

Fletcher to build new career center

Fletcher SCIA.PNG

Fletcher Technical Community College is taking steps to build a $5 million career center building on its main campus in Schriever with the help of a local organization.

The South Central Industrial Association announced last month it was donating $60,000 to the school to build the ACT 360 Career Center.

“The SCIA donation was the last piece of the puzzle in raising the 12 percent of the matching funds to proceed with certifying the match for bond sales at the state level,” Fletcher Chancellor Kristine Strickland said.

The $5.1 million complex will be paid for through bond sales and a $600,0000 match.

“The Career Center will provide career assessment, whether you are age 18 or 55. It will be a site for industry interviews and job placement. It will also house many community agencies, including workforce commission, to learn about training opportunities and job opportunities,” Strickland said.

Depending on the date of a bond sale, Strickland said, she hopes construction on the center will begin in the near future.

SCIA’s donation is part of the organization’s mission to provide resources for local industry, including a focus on education of the workforce and job training, the organization said.

“This falls very much in line with our mission of proactively developing solutions focused on improving the business climate and quality of life in our region,” said Chett Chiasson, SCIA executive vice president and Lafourche Port Commission executive director.

SCIA also made other donations last year, including those to the Morganza Action Coalition, the La. 1 Coalition, Restore or Retreat and Nicholls State University.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.

Program can help train workers in farm and seafood industries - - Workers' dependents may also qualify for assistance

HOUMA – Those who work on farms or harvesting seafood – even if seasonal workers -- may qualify for a program to increase their skill sets to benefit their current or future employers. These workers can also potentially receive vouchers to help meet daily living expenses such as gasoline, groceries, supplies and uniforms.

The program aims to aid those in lower-income agriculture and aquaculture jobs reach their goals to earn higher wages. Half of a person’s income must be earned through farm or seafood work to qualify for the Motivation Education & Training (MET), Inc., program, funded through the National Farmworker Jobs Program and U.S. Department of Labor; income limits do apply.

Therefore, a company can identify the training workers need and if workers meet income requirements, they may receive up to 10 weeks of training in those areas. Training may include industry-specific equipment or processing skills; or classes in English as a second language or computer technology, toward a GED, CDL or other certification.

Those workers wishing to change careers may receive medical or dental training, or classes to become a service technician or business-office worker.

Individuals wishing to supplement their farm income or change careers could train in other areas as well, and a stipend may be available to aid with living expenses during training. A qualifying worker’s dependent could also be eligible for career training and other benefits. Career counseling, job-placement and other services are also available.

For more information or to apply, call Nash Pitre at 985-858-2894 or email houma@metinc.org.

Ochsner ups its lowest hourly wage to $12

Ochsner says its recent decision to raise its lowest wage from $8.10 to $12 per hour on Jan. 20 is based on its recent growth and wanting to “make a meaningful impact on a broad employee population.”

What remains to be seen is how other businesses in the economy will respond in the increasing competition for lower-wage workers.

Ochsner’s announced increase follows a 2017 human resources assessment that led to recommendations on programs and changes to “improve the overall financial well-being of our employees,” said Tracy Shiro, Ochsner’s senior vice president for human resources.

“Although Ochsner was already well above the current minimum wage, we wanted to do more. People are our most important asset. All jobs across the system — no matter how big or small — play a role in patient care and it is important to recognize that,” Shiro said.

Among more than 1,200 part- and full-time employees statewide to earn more next year are medical assistants, environmental service aides, patient care technicians and patient escorts. Among its sites, the company operates Ochsner St. Anne Hospital in Raceland and Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma.

The healthcare industry and its hospitals and clinics depend on a large pool of people to operate efficiently, said LSU economist James Richardson.

“Obviously, they felt that $12 was good number for them in terms of recruiting and maintaining people in those jobs that are very critical in a hospital setting, because hospitals are very labor dominated,” he said.

But what Richardson describes as “an internal decision” by Louisiana’s largest private employer could add wage pressure on companies and businesses in other service-oriented industries, such as hospitality and leisure, as competition and compensation for lower-wage workers has increased.

“The big, interesting part of it is that because they are such a big employer, particularly in the New Orleans area, it will seep over and have an impact on other industries. It will probably make hotels reconsider a little bit, and restaurants and maybe retail places. It will perhaps nudge them to ask themselves whether they are going to be competitive,” Richardson said.

The main benefit to Ochsner will be in retaining lower-wage workers, a problem facing large and small businesses across the economy, said Walter Lane, a healthcare economist at the University of New Orleans.

“These workers can work at any company. The problem is holding on to them. This should reduce some turnover,” Lane said.

In the last couple of years, several hospital systems across the country have announced similar wage floor increases. And Lane thinks Ochsner views itself as not just in competition locally, but nationally as well.

“They want to be one of the big guys. They are still far from that in terms of revenue, but I think when they see other hospital systems do it, that may be some small pressure on them,” Lane said, adding that Ochsner has been “very successful” and that he believes it genuinely wanted to share that with its employees.

Still, the current economic environment and expectations for that environment are always primary factors in any business decision, economists say.

Ochsner’s move comes amid historically low unemployment nationwide and a flattening labor force participation rate, which refers to the total number of people employed or in search of a job.

While Louisiana’s 5 percent unemployment rate is among the highest in the nation, labor economists consider it low by historical standards. And the state’s labor force participation rate has consistently trailed the national rate, which stood at 62.9 percent in November.

The participation rate is important to overall economic productivity, and since peaking in early 2000 has declined primarily due to an aging population. But other factors include more young adults in school and more people wanting to be stay-at-home parents, researchers say.

The unemployment rate for less-skilled and less-educated workers has also fallen significantly.

The national jobless rate for workers 25 years old or older without a high school diploma dropped from 7.7 percent in November 2016 to 5.4 percent in November 2018, while the rate dropped from 4.7 percent to 3.3 percent for workers with a high school diploma but no college over the same period.

The tight labor market has placed pressure on companies and businesses to raise wages. But, generally speaking, they have been reluctant to do so.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s summary of regional economic activity, known as the beige book, said in September that its business contacts were continuing to see hiring challenges, “especially for low-skilled and hourly positions.” But firms were focused on other ways to recruit, retain and reward workers — offering flexible schedules, bonuses, profit-sharing and other incentive pay programs that could be discontinued in a downturn.

“Once you make a wage increase, it is hard to pull that back,” Richardson said. “Maybe you can reduce the number of people you employ, but you can’t really pull that wage back down very easily at all. So, I think companies are very cautious in doing this. We have low unemployment now, but how long is it going to last?”

The recent uptick in wages has also been attributed to states and cities setting minimum wage increases and some large private companies raising pay for their lowest paid workers, adding to inflationary pressures.

In 2018, 18 states increased their minimum wages under previously enacted legislation or ballot initiatives and now 29 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal rate.

And recent announcements by large national firms such as Amazon increasing starting wages at the lower end of the pay scale “have created broad pressure to raise pay ... across the region,” particularly among hospitality and retail employers, according to the Atlanta Fed’s December beige book.

Yet despite the pressure, industries vary in their capacity to raise wages. While Louisiana’s healthcare and hospitality industries are relatively strong, “other industries in the state are not quite as robust as they are in other parts of the country,” Richardson said.

And the fact that workers typically do not relocate for lower-wage jobs could also dampen any ripple effect from Ochsner’s decision. “If you are merely trying to increase jobs at a hotel, you are going to have a hard time trying to move people in from outside the area at that lower wage,” Richardson said.

Louisiana has not adopted a state minimum wage. It follows the $7.25 federal minimum set in 2009. Many businesses pay more to their lowest wage workers. The median hourly wage in the state is $15.62.

About 3.6 percent of hourly workers in Louisiana -- 39,000 workers, including exempt, tipped employees -- earned an hourly wage at or below the federal minimum in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

By Michael Joe / New Orleans City Business

SUNO SURVEY

Researchers from Southern University of New Orleans are seeking local businesses’ input about what programs or assistance have helped business recover quickly in prior flooding events, or what ideas you have that could help your business (or others) return to productivity quickly in future floods. They plan to compile the suggestions to help shape future policies and programs.

Please fill out the questionnaire, scan and email to ktheriot@tpeda.org for submission to SUNO. You are encouraged to add a page for further suggestions.