Baton Rouge, New Orleans area Business Briefs for Sept. 27, 2020 – The Advocate

LED names 2020 La. Growth Leaders

Louisiana Economic Development honored 10 companies as 2020 Louisiana Growth Leaders from among top-performing small businesses in LED Growth Network, citing their community involvement and business success.

They are Ballard Brands of Covington, Peter Boylan III, president; Engineering & Inspection Services LLC of Metairie, Joseph Brinz, co-founder and CEO; ISOMAG Corp. of Baton Rouge, Stephen Dawson, president and CEO; ITinspired of Baton Rouge, Robert Wise, owner and CEO; LogoJET Inc. of Lafayette, Susan Cox, CEO, president and founder; MasteryPrep of Baton Rouge, Craig Gehring, founder and CEO; Neighbors of West Monroe, Meryl Kennedy Farr, CEO and owner; Pod Pack International of Baton Rouge, Tom Martin, president and CEO; ThreeSixtyEight of Baton Rouge, Kenny Nguyen, CEO and co-founder; and Westport Linen Services of Baton Rouge, Eddie Lefeaux, CEO.

Louisiana Growth Leaders are selected by economic development professionals from across the state. A panel evaluates applications on growth, strategy, innovation, leadership, culture, philanthropy and intangibles. Another 21 finalists were recognized at a Spotlight Louisiana 2020 event.

Created in 2017, the LED Growth Network consists of more than 425 companies from all eight Louisiana regions. Members are second-stage businesses — those that are beyond the startup stage, poised for growth, but not yet mature — and they collectively account for over $3.3 billion in annual sales and employ 15,600 people.

Applications will be accepted for the 2021 Louisiana Growth Leaders class from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30. All LED Growth Network companies are eligible to apply.

The 2020 winners and information on 2021 applications and the program are at

FranU signs credit transfer agreement

Louisiana Community and Technical College System and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University have signed a credit transfer agreement allowing students from across the state to earn certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees and follow other educational pathways to health care careers.

The agreement ensures acceptance of college coursework between institutions.

“Through this partnership, FranU is identifying itself as a continuing education destination for two-year college students from across Louisiana,” said Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

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Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University is a private, Catholic University founded by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady with an enrollment of about 1,300 students. It is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and grants associate, baccalaureate, master and doctoral degrees primarily in the health care professions.

“Together we can establish what I envision to be a system of well-defined on-ramps and offramps for folks to enter and exit subsequent levels of education in preparation for the next work experience,” said FranU President and CEO Tina Holland.

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System colleges collectively serve over 145,000 students in traditional credit instruction, workforce training and adult education. Each year, over 15,000 students transfer from an LCTCS institution to a four-year university.

Urban League plans virtual career expo

Urban League of Louisiana’s Office of Workforce Development is hosting a Virtual Career & Resource Expo 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 30 to connect job seekers to job openings in essential industries.

The virtual career fair will feature employers that represent in various industries such as retail, food service, transportation, health care, hospitality, construction, technology, and oil and gas.

Employer and job seeker registration are at

Lab relocates to Pennington Center

The Respiratory Immunology & Toxicology Laboratory operated by respiratory immunologist Stephania Cormier has moved to LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center campus in Baton Rouge.

The lab researches how early life exposures to respiratory viruses, airborne pollutants, and/or allergens results in long-term respiratory dysfunction, such as asthma. However, during the pandemic, the lab has pivoted to focus on filling gaps in COVID-19 testing and analysis.

Cormier’s lab has developed a saliva test to help track COVID-19 in K-12 schoolchildren and teachers. The saliva test follows Cormier’s earlier success setting up a lab at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine to analyze COVID-19 test kits.

Prior to the pandemic, Cormier’s lab was focused on showing that the rates of type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity are much higher in Louisiana and other states where particulate air pollution levels exceed federal regulations. The rates of asthma and heart attack deaths are also much higher than the national average in those states.

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“Her recent COVID-19-related work — developing a saliva test for the virus and setting up the River Road Testing Lab — demonstrates both her vast abilities and a desire to address some of the most pressing health issues facing our society,” said Pennington Executive Director John Kirwan.

Cormier will have a joint appointment with Pennington as professor and director of the Respiratory Immunology & Toxicology Laboratory and LSU. In addition to overseeing the LSU Superfund Research Program, Cormier serves as associate vice president of research and economic development with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics at LSU, where she is also a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

ReLeaf Therapy opens in Central

ReLeaf Therapy has opened at 14790 Wax Road, Suite 105, in Central.

The store offers a range of CBD and hemp products, including bath bombs, soft gel capsules and oils. Owners are husband and wife William and Kimberly Marine.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is (225) 284-1936 and website is

Plastics research project awarded $300,000

A two-year research project involving two LSU chemical engineering professors is being funded by a nearly $300,000 award from the National Science Foundation’s chemistry division to study plastics in the environment.

Micro/nanoplastics have become increasingly common in the environment over the years because of the gradual aging and weathering of discarded plastic waste. The waste is not just present in the ground and bodies of water. In the past five years, it has also been detected in the atmosphere.

Sunlight-induced oxidation and aging of the plastic waste increases its ability to disperse in water. From there, it has the potential to be transported into the atmosphere by aerosol droplets such as fog, smog and mist.

LSU chemical engineering professors Bhuvnesh Bharti and Kalliat T. Valsaraj are working to address the issue. 

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“The most immediate impact of these microplastics would be on the air quality and their corresponding effect on the respiratory tract,” Bharti said. “While our project does not look into these human health aspects, it may provide a model lab-based experimental system for investigating such detrimental effects.”

Real estate outlook symposium scheduled

The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors and its Commercial Investment Division are hosting the Tenth Annual Economic and Real Estate Forecast Symposium virtually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13-14.

The theme is “New Orleans Economy: Pivoting to the New Normal.”

Speakers and panels will discuss real estate and forecasts for the country, New Orleans and south Louisiana; the changing climate of business and politics in Louisiana; the oil and gas industry view from the nation’s capital; the future of New Orleans and evolution of its economy; the demographics of the metro area; banking in the post-COVID environment; the new normal in development, focused in innovation and best practices; and the new shape of hospitality.

Information, registration and fees are at

OffenderWatch joins Caribbean registry effort

Covington-based OffenderWatch, a sex offender registry management company, announced a joint effort to deliver a network of sex offender registries across the 15 nations of the Caribbean Community.

The effort is in conjunction with the Caribbean Committee Against Sex Crimes, which is an initiative of nonprofit Zandoli USA, that seeks to track sex offenders throughout the Caribbean and eventually across the world.

“With this partnership, we hope to deliver a comprehensive network of shared sex offender registries in all the countries of the Caribbean so that offenders are accounted for and children are saved,” said Jonathan Bhagan, of CCASC.

Collaborating sex offender registries in CARICOM nations will help law enforcement worldwide as they track sex offender movement, investigate sex crimes and prevent human trafficking.

All 15 CARICOM nations are at varying stages of implementing sex offender registration, with Jamaica, Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago already having laws on the books.



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