Business briefs

From The Associated Press.

Bollinger ruling to be appealed
HOUMA (AP) — A federal lawsuit that claims Lockport-based Bollinger Shipyards made false statements about the structural strength of the U.S. Coast Guard cutters it was hired to modify is bound for court again.
The claim was initially dismissed by U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance of New Orleans, but that order has been appealed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Though an appeal notice was filed, attorneys for the U.S. government have not elaborated on their grounds for appeal.
Bollinger officials declined to comment on the appeal.
The complaint stems from a government contract awarded to Bollinger to renovate 49 patrol boats extending their length from 110 feet to 123 feet.
The lawsuit alleges Bollinger misrepresented hull strength calculations before the boats were converted, according to the original suit filed in 2011.
Eight of the boats were taken out of service when repairs failed, prompting a Coast Guard investigation.

IberiaBank posts higher earnings
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Lafayette-based IberiaBank Corp. reported fourth-quarter earnings rose to $25.6 million, or 86 cents per share, compared to $23.2 million, or 78 cents per share, a year ago.
IberiaBank said its results were helped by loan growth and a cost-reduction program.
For the year, IberiaBank’s earnings slipped to $65.1 million, or $2.20 per share, compared to $76.4 million, or $2.54 per share. Stock analysts expected earnings of $2.16 per share for the year.
IberiaBank reported earnings after the markets closed. The company’s stock closed Tuesday at $62.63, up 13 cents.

Chamber to make education a priority
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce has created a substantial list of goals for 2014 aimed at improving the community and sustaining a thriving atmosphere for businesses.
Public education is near the top.
Chamber Chief Executive Officer Jason El Koubi said the chamber, its policy divisions and membership will soon turn a focus toward generating support for the Lafayette Parish School System’s “100 Percent In, 100 Percent Out” plan, researching ways the school system and Lafayette Parish School Board can better move forward.

Lafayette’s LHC gains 33 locations in 5 states
LAFAYETTE (AP) — LHC Group Inc., a home health and hospice company in Lafayette is adding 33 locations in five states with a $60 million acquisition of two subsidiaries of BioScrip Inc.
LHC signed a stock purchase agreement with BioScrip, of Minnesota, to acquire subsidiaries Deaconess HomeCare and Elk Valley Health Services.
The combined service area of Deaconess, in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Elk Valley, in Nashville, Tenn., includes 121 counties for home health, 30 counties for hospice and 95 counties for community-based services spread across Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Nebraska. Annual revenues are about $72.6 million for those operations.
The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter and will expand LHC’s geographic area to 342 locations across 27 states.

Fibrebond expansion means 225 new jobs
MINDEN (AP) — A Minden-based manufacturer is expanding its precast concrete shelter business, creating 225 new direct jobs.
Fibrebond Corp. President and CEO Todd Walker joined Monday with Gov. Bobby Jindal to announce the company is making a $2.5 million capital investment to renovate a dormant container mill next to the company’s existing manufacturing site.
In addition to the new jobs, with an average salary of $36,000 per year, the company estimates another 25 construction jobs will be created during the renovation that will significantly increase Fibrebond’s capacity for producing the multipurpose concrete shelters.
The company also will retain 470 existing employees at its Minden headquarters and manufacturing operations.

Companies to build St. Gabriel plant
ST. GRABRIEL (AP) — Taminco Corp. and Balchem Corp. will build and operate a choline chloride facility in St. Gabriel, where both companies operate existing production facilities.
Balchem will contribute its current St. Gabriel choline chloride production assets to the joint venture. Both companies will invest an undisclosed amount to expand the facility into a world-scale production unit. The facility is expected to begin operating in 2015. Choline chloride is commonly used in food products, as well as clay stabilizer in oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Taminco has seven production plants in the United States, Europe and Asia. The company has about 850 employees.
Balchem provides specialty-packaged chemicals used in health care, animal nutrition and other industries. The company has seven production facilities in the United States.

Sheraton exec named to N.O. tourism board
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Sheraton New Orleans Hotel general manager Jim Cook has been appointed to the board of directors of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp.
Cook became general manager at the Sheraton New Orleans in 2012.
He also serves on the boards of the New Orleans Convention Visitors Bureau, the Greater New Orleans Hotel Lodging Association, the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation and the Greater New Orleans Business Council.
Cook’s appointment was approved by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans City Council. He was nominated by the hospitality industry.

LSU exceeds goal for engineering complex
BATON ROUGE (AP) — LSU has exceeded its goal of raising $50 million in private donations needed to renovate Patrick F. Taylor Hall. The plan is to turn it into a high-tech engineering complex that can compete with any other engineering school in the country.
Monday’s announcement means LSU has held up its end in the $100 million public-private partnership first announced in October 2012. The partnership calls for the state to match every dollar LSU raises as part of the Breaking New Ground campaign.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission estimates Louisiana will need to increase the number of engineers and construction management graduates by 30 percent over the next several years.

Delhi company
to hire up to 75
MONROE (AP) — Sapa Extrusions of Delhi, the largest private employer in the northeastern Louisiana Delta, is looking to expand its payroll.
Sapa will hire up to 75 people in February.
The aluminum manufacturer and its contract hauler, Knight Transportation, have scheduled a job fair for Feb. 15 at the Delhi Civic Center.
As many of 40 of the jobs will be new, while the rest are existing open positions.
“Things are looking great for our operations in Delhi,” said Ron Ballman, Sapa’s Delhi general manager.
The company has doubled its workforce since bringing in Ballman more than three years ago to turn around what had been a floundering plant.
“It’s an exciting time for the company, the employees and the community,” Ballman said.
Sapa, which operates two facilities in Delhi, already employs 332 workers in Delhi with an annual local payroll exceeding $13 million.
Ballman said about 15 of the new jobs will be drivers for Knight Transportation, while the rest Sapa employees.
“It’s a tough, competitive market, but our company is projecting modest growth in 2014,” Ballman said.
The Delhi plants recycle aluminum into aluminum logs, finishes products like window and door frames with an oxidized shine and extrudes and fabricates products for the auto industry, stadium seats and oil and gas platforms.
“It’s a wonderful success story for the Delta,” said state Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, who helped recruit the original plant owners to the site more than two decades ago. “Sapa is generating an economic infusion that is being felt throughout northeastern Louisiana.”
Delhi Mayor Lynn Lewis has called Sapa “a tremendous corporate partner that is a major contributor both economically and through its community service outreach programs.”
Ballman said Sapa and Knight Transportation are seeking workers with skills that include: aluminum welding; material handling with strong math aptitudes; machinist and equipment; industrial maintenance with electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic and mechanical familiarity; and over-the-road driving expertise.
He said military veterans will be given priority.

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