Fink elected VP of development Assn.
BATON ROUGE — Frank Fink, St. Mary Parish economic development director, has been elected vice president of the Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association’s board for 2014.
Other officers are Kristi Lumpkin, City of Ruston, president; Ed Jimenez, Entergy Louisiana, treasurer; Michael Tarantino, Iberia Industrial Development Foundation, secretary; and Ray Cornelius, Adams and Reese, past president.
LIDEA, an association of economic development professionals, is a non-profit trade organization whose mission is to increase the effectiveness of individuals involved in the practice of economic development in Louisiana through education, public policy advocacy, and collaboration. Visit www.lidea.org for more information.
Business leader talks of focus
on worker training
BATON ROUGE — The new leader of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry said Monday that since he took the job in September, he’s heard the same complaint from companies: the state has too few skilled workers to take available jobs.
Stephen Waguespack, LABI president, acknowledges the complaint isn’t new. But he said it will be amplified by a multibillion-dollar industrial boom headed to south Louisiana, with a slew of new energy sector plants planned.
“I think the beauty of this discussion is the jobs are coming. The vacancies are here,” Waguespack told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
He said the state needs to retool its education programs, to focus on matching student skills to available jobs and to do a better job of explaining to students why they need the training and what type of salaries they can achieve with the education.
“Go talk to an employer around the state. They can’t find workers. So, it should be very easy for us to plug in our existing kids to meet that demand and go out and market to other states” to attract more people to Louisiana for work, Waguespack said.
He said LABI supports toughened educational standards being rolled out in Louisiana’s public schools, called the Common Core. And he said LABI will be pushing for change to higher education policies, to offer incentives for meeting workforce needs.
Waguespack also said the organization wants to make sure that job training programs in prisons are aligned with workforce needs, so inmates have employment options when they are released.
Honeywell to build new plant in Geismar
GESISMAR— Honeywell says it will build a new auto-refrigerant manufacturing plant at its Geismar facility.
The plant, whose size has not been determined, is part of $300 million the company and key suppliers are investing to increase production of HFO-1234yf, a new refrigerant for automobiles with a global-warming potential of less than 1.
The company said Monday the new product’s global-warming potential is 99.9 percent lower than that of HFC-134a, the current refrigerant in use, and even lower than carbon dioxide.
Among these investments, Honeywell will construct a high-volume manufacturing plant using new process technology at the company’s existing Geismar refrigerants manufacturing site, which is expected to be fully operational in 2016. The exact size of the plant will depend on supply agreements that Honeywell is putting in place with major customers.
“Demand for HFO-1234yf is increasing around the world in response to concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and the need to comply with the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive in Europe and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations in the U.S.,” said Andreas Kramvis, president and chief executive officer of Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies. “After many years of analysis by the automotive industry, policymakers and environmental groups, it is clear that HFO-1234yf is a safe, effective and robust solution to address global warming and fuel efficiency. Honeywell’s investments will ensure adequate supply to meet growing demand.’
“A significant portion of European demand for the current automobile refrigerant, HFC-134a, is currently supplied from the U.S., so our new production plant in Louisiana will mirror this arrangement,” Kramvis said. “However, Honeywell is also looking at the possibility of building a plant in Europe, but this will be driven by demand and the requirements of that market.”
HFO-1234yf is being adopted by automakers in part to meet the EU MAC Directive, a landmark piece of legislation that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of airconditioning systems in passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.
NEW ORLEANS— Brennan’s Inc., former owner of the landmark Brennan’s restaurant, is bankrupt and must be liquidated, a federal bankruptcy judge has found.
Because Brennan’s never responded to a lawsuit creditors filed to force it into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy will move forward, Judge Jerry A. Brown said in an order signed Thursday.
There was nothing that company director Owen “Pip” Brennan could do to stop the bankruptcy, his attorney Vic Welsh, said. He said the creditors had good reason to file their lawsuit.
Brennan’s brother Ted Brennan, who lost his position as company president when Pip Brennan became a director, and Ted Brennan’s daughter both think Pip Brennan should have fought the petition, their attorney Todd Slack said.
Ted Brennan tried unsuccessfully to halt the bankruptcy proceedings.
Various branches of the Brennan family own numerous restaurants in New Orleans and other cities. The family has been squabbling for decades, in and out of court.
In the spring, cousin Ralph Brennan bought the building that used to house Brennan’s at foreclosure. He told The Associated Press in a previous interview that he tried unsuccessfully to reach a lease agreement with his cousins to keep the restaurant.
NEW ORLEANS — A state legislative committee has approved $350,000 in additional funding for the small-business incubator at Southern University at New Orleans.
Construction is expected to begin in 2014 for the two-story building that will house the incubator on the university’s Lakefront campus.
Total cost of the 10,000-square-foot structure is expected to be about $3 million. Two-thirds of that amount has been approved by the federal Education Department.
The incubator will operate in conjunction with the university’s business school. It will offer workshops and counseling services to aid the growth of small companies.
The building will have offices, conference rooms and a computer laboratory.
The incubator is operating on an interim basis at a site in eastern New Orleans.