Category Archives: Blog

Rep. Johnson introduces bill to alleviate burdens on farmers and ranchers

Today, Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04) introduced H.R. 6346, the Weigh Habitats Offsetting Locational Effects Act OF 2018 (WHOLE Act), to ease the difficulties farmers and ranchers face when bearing the brunt of undue burdens placed on agriculture. His bill modernizes the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by requiring the appropriate agency to consider the totality of conservation measures already in place when determining whether a potential federal action will jeopardize species or habitat loss.

Rep. Johnson released the following statement:

“The ESA has been exploited for decades placing unnecessary burdens on our nation’s hard-working farmers and ranchers. And while protecting wildlife and their habitats is of the utmost importance, the agriculture community is already proactively and heavily involved in conservation programs that implement critical protections for both. My bill helps modernize the ESA so we can continue to protect endangered species and let our farmers and ranchers get back to what they do best – providing a safe, sustainable food source for the American people.”

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) released the following statement:

“There is a growing consensus that the Endangered Species Act needs to be reformed. Farmers and ranchers have been one of the main victims of this antiquated law, and this bill takes the necessary steps towards finding a solution. I thank Rep. Johnson for his hard work on this issue.”

 

Caddo Parish educator appointed to national STEM advisory panel

Renae Pullen, the featured speaker for the Bossier Chamber’s inaugural Education & Innovation Luncheon, focusing on Women in STEM in 2016 will join the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Advisory Panel.

On Wednesday, the National Science Foundation—in consultation with the Department of Education (ED), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—announced the appointment of K. Renae Pullen, Caddo Public School K-6 science curriculum instructional specialist, to a new advisory panel created to encourage scientific and technological innovations in education.

Established in October 2017, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Advisory Panel is composed of individuals from nonprofit, business, academic and informal education organizations. The panel will advise the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education on matters related to the nation’s Federal STEM education efforts.

Rep. Johnson released the following statement on Pullen’s appointment:

“As a nation, we strive for global competitiveness in STEM fields, and those efforts start in the classroom. Thankfully, America is blessed with talented educators dedicated to growing these fields and shaping the minds of our young people. Ms. Pullen is no exception and has sparked an interest for the sciences for countless young people throughout Caddo Parish for more than 18 years. I am honored to represent her in Congress and more than confident she will bring valuable insights to this panel.”

Renae Pullen Bio:

According to the Caddo Science website, K. Renae Pullen has been an educator in Caddo Parish for more than 18 years. She has taught at Riverside Elementary School and Herndon Magnet School. Pullen also taught undergraduate and graduate students as an adjunct professor for Louisiana Tech University and Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Pullen has a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Northwestern State University and a Master of Education in educational leadership from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. She is also certified as a Teacher Leader by the State of Louisiana.

Pullen has served on several local, state and national committees, presented at numerous workshops and conferences, and currently serves as a member of the Teachers’ Advisory Council for the National Academies of Sciences. Pullen has received numerous awards including the Wal-Mart Local Teacher of the Year award in 2007, Caddo Parish Teacher of the Year in 2006, several grants, a Fund for Teachers fellowship to study creativity and STEM in Spain, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study the American Skyscraper in Chicago, Northwest Louisiana Young Professionals Initiative’s 40 Under 40 in 2015, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.

Second annual Upstate Rising Conference to be held at BPCC

Bossier Parish Community College’s Economic & Workforce Development Division is proud to host the second annual Upstate Rising: The North Louisiana Public-Private Partnership, Real Estate Development, and Land Use Planning Law Conference.

This year’s conference is scheduled for 8:30am – 4:45 pm on Thursday, August 23, in the gymnasium (Building I) on the BPCC campus, 6220 E Texas St., Bossier City, LA, and focuses on the topic: “Exploring Roads, Rivers, & Rails”.

The daylong economic development conference allows participants to learn “best practices” and strategies to improve their business opportunities and the economic well-being of Northwest Louisiana. It also provides access to networking opportunities with local, regional, and statewide industry professionals.

Featured speakers for this year’s conference include Mike Mullis, President/CEO, and Denise Mott, Managing Director, for J.M. Mullis, Inc., a site selection firm.  Mullis and Mott will give participants the trends in site selection and will summarize global, national, and regional corporate location and expansion trends. Having visited north Louisiana several times throughout the last few decades, they will also share their perspective on where the area was then, where it is now, and where it can go in the future to increase its competitive advantage.

Also on the agenda as keynote speaker is Shawn Wilson, Ph.D., Secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development. Dr. Wilson will discuss how public policy and Louisiana transportation infrastructure construction, expansion, and improvement support public-private partnerships, real estate development, and land use planning.

The conference’s other speakers include:

  • Kent Rogers, Executive Director of Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments
  • Bill Sanderson, Mayor, Village of Choudrant, and Building Official, City of Ruston
  • Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
  • Neil Erwin, Attorney, and Caroline E. Mladenka, MPA, Neil Erwin Law, LLC
  • Curtis A. Wright, Sr., Real Estate Professional

A “best practice” panel discussion from the perspective of local experts will also be on the agenda. The panel includes William “Bill” R. Altimus, Administrator, Bossier Parish Police Jury; Eric England, Executive Port Director, The Port of Caddo-Bossier;

Brian Crawford, Chief Administrative Officer, Office of the Mayor, City of Shreveport; and William “Bill” Cooksey, Deputy Director of Airports, Shreveport Airport Authority.  Liz Swaine, Executive Director of the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority, will facilitate the panel.

For this second year, BPCC is pleased to bring all these dynamic speakers and leaders to the table and plans to continue providing exceptional placemaking opportunities such as this conference for those in “upstate” Louisiana.

“BPCC is happy to provide a means for positive community collaboration to stimulate a growth mindset” said Dr. Gayle Flowers, Vice Chancellor for Economic & Workforce Development at Bossier Parish Community College. “Results of collaborations like Upstate Rising uniquely positions North Louisiana as a dynamic region for business success, family stability and satisfaction, and an enviable quality of life.”

Realtors, architects, civil engineers, attorneys, real estate developers, public officials, municipal planners, financial institution representatives, and private citizens are welcome to attend. Attendees can receive continuing education credits through participating organizations (go to: https://bit.ly/2GyuQKo or contact BPCC’s Workforce Development & Continuing Education Office, 318-678-6015 for a list of organizations and conference details).

Upstate Rising’s 2018 sponsors include:

Platinum: AEP SWEPCO

City of Bossier City

Diamond: Bossier Parish Police Jury

Gold:  Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation

Neil Erwin Law, LLC

Silver: Bossier Metropolitan Planning Commission

North Louisiana Economic Partnership

Bronze: American Institute of Architects-Shreveport Chapter

American Society of Civil Engineers-Shreveport Branch

Bossier Press Tribune

Coordinating & Development Corporation

Bossier Chamber of Commerce

Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce

Louisiana Engineering Society-Shreveport Chapter

Louisiana Municipal Association

Louisiana Police Jury Association

Upstate Rising conference fee is $249. To register for the conference or for additional information, go to: https://bit.ly/2GyuQKo or contact Bossier Parish Community College’s Division of Economic & Workforce Development, upstaterising@bpcc.edu or call 318-678-6015.

Hotel accommodations are provided through Margaritaville Resort Casino at a special group code. If members of a group are individually paying for rooms, reservations for the event will be made by calling 318-698-3920, or by emailing  bmcmickle@margaritaville-bc.com).  When making reservations, please state, Upstate Rising Conference.

Denny Rogers honored with 2018 Dealer of the Year Award

The Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association (LADA) honored Denny Rogers with the 2018 Louisiana Dealer of the Year Award.  He was recognized during the 80th Annual Convention Banquet held on June 16, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort Spa & Casino in Incline Village, Nevada.

Rogers is Managing Partner of Landers Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep Ram and Landers Alfa Romeo FIAT in Bossier City, Louisiana.  He began his career in 1982 in Lafayette, Louisiana as a salesman.  He has received many awards and distinctions including number one sales volume awards for the State of Louisiana amongst FCA Dealers along with coveted Customer Satisfaction Awards including Five Star, Elite Five Star, Gold Level Dealer Standards and most recently he has been validated for the JD Powers Customer First Award for Excellence.  In 2017 his team received the Mark of Distinction recognition for Customer First Award for Excellence.

“Denny is a well-respected and successful businessman,” says Mark A. Hebert, Sr., LADA Immediate Past Chairman.  “He has worked his way from the ground up, is a family man as well as an integral part of his community; a great example to all dealers in the state and very deserving of this prestigious award.”

Rogers is a member of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the Bossier City Chamber of Commerce where he was awarded Business of the Year in 2010, the National Automobile Dealers Association, the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association, and the Shreveport/Bossier City New Car Dealers Association.  He is currently serving his second term as President of the Shreveport/Bossier City New Car Dealers Association and is currently serving as National Dealer Council Chairman for FCA Dealers. In 1999, Rogers formed a recognition program for student athletes that not only excelled in sports but showed academic and leadership qualities that included involvement in local community and/or church organizations.  Over the past 19 years he has recognized over 900 students through The Athlete of the Week program.  He is a member of Renee’s Run LLC, a nonprofit formed in memory of his late wife, Renee Rogers, that raises money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN) which has raised over $175,000 in the last 4 years.

The Louisiana Dealer of the year is the most prestigious award LADA bestows because nominations come directly from the dealer body and is based on the dealer’s business success and civic involvement in the community.  Rogers will represent Louisiana at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in spring of 2019 as LADA’s nomination for TIME Dealer of the Year.

 

About LADA

The Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association provides products and services to enhance the operations of its member dealers.  LADA’s mission is to promote the automotive trade in the State of Louisiana, advocate a high plane of business ethics for those engaged in the moto vehicle business in the state, and endorse and promote a spirit of cooperation among motor vehicle dealers and those engaged in associated and allied trades.  For more information, visit www.lada.org.

Louisiana Young Professionals Conference to be held in Natchitoches

The first Louisiana Young Professionals Conference will be taking place in Natchitoches. The event will kick off Friday, July 27th at 6pm with registration and networking at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum. Then on Saturday, July 28th the welcome session and keynote speaker will begin at 9:00 am at Chateau St. Denis Hotel.

The Keynote Speaker Jay Toups will present “The Keys to Becoming a High Performer”, the presentation will include the thought process behind high performance and action steps to take on the job and in your personal life. We will also have 12 breakout sessions and 9 speakers giving compelling presentations.

Our breakout sessions will include, but are not limited to:

*Jay Toups “Communication – The Leg You Must Stand On” – The presentation will include the four primary styles of communication and how to improve your communication with the varied styles.

*Carley McCord Ensminger “Radio & Broadcast Journalism” – This presentation will discuss the steps to be successful in broadcast media and the challenges and obstacles of being a woman in a male dominated field.

*Jet Ainsworth “How To Go Undefeated In Everything All The Time” – In this interactive presentation, young professionals will learn how perspective, attitude and “leading from the front” will immediately improve your life and career. Subjects covered include recruiting, teaching/training and how to get the best performance from yourself and your co-workers every day.

*Karlos Knott, owner of Bayou Teche, will discuss his journey of being in the military and starting his own brewery in Louisiana.

*Dr. Chris Maggio, 19th President of Northwestern State University – “Empowerment”

*Rev. Steve McAlister “Your Life Mission” The presentation will cover how your personal mission statement can define your career, your calling and your legacy.

The registration fee is $60 per person and you can register at http://www.natchitocheschamber.com/events. The goal of our conference is to motivate young minds of today’s generation and provide them a networking platform.

New state sales tax rate goes into effect July 1

Effective July 1, 2018, Louisiana’s overall state sales tax rate decreases from 5 percent to 4.45 percent. The new rate, enabled by House Bill 10 of the 2018 Third Extraordinary Session of the Louisiana Legislature, is to be levied upon the sale at retail, the use, the consumption, the distribution and the lease or rental of an item of tangible personal property; and upon the sale of services.

Any dealer that charges a 5 percent state sales tax rate on or after July 1, 2018, must remit the excess collected tax to the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

Also beginning July 1, 2018, a state sales tax rate of 2 percent is to be levied for the sale at retail, the use, the consumption, the distribution, and the storage to be used or consumed of steam, water, electric power or energy, natural gas, or other energy sources for non-residential use (“business utilities”).

The Louisiana Department of Revenue has issued Revenue Information Bulletin 18-016 to provide an explanation of the provisions of HB 10.

Bossier School fund hits 50-million mark

A unique savings account created three decades ago to improve classroom instruction in Bossier Parish Schools has grown to $50 million.  Its creator, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, is calling the Bossier Educational Excellence Fund an “educational and financial success” and “a model for public investment in the future of our state.”

“What started as $500,000 in tax revenue from Louisiana Downs has grown with the addition of casino revenues into a $50-million investment in the youth of Bossier Parish,” Campbell said.

Campbell and the Bossier Parish School Board are celebrating the BEEF milestone with a reception at 11 a.m. on June 26 at the Bossier Instructional Center, 2719 Airline Drive in Bossier City.  Campbell praised the board for its management of the fund and those who helped him create it as a state senator in 1985.

“There were times when I feared that BEEF would be carved up and spent,” he said.  “There were times I had to fight to prevent raids on the fund to balance the State budget.

“Instead, school board members and superintendents through the years have helped me to protect BEEF and ensure that interest earnings only are spent, and only in the classroom.”

A former schoolteacher, Campbell told how he persuaded then-Governor Edwin Edwards in 1985 to set aside $500,000 in yearly state tax revenue from Louisiana Downs to create a perpetual endowment for Bossier Schools.

“The Legislature had set aside racetrack funding for the City of Bossier City and the Bossier Parish Police Jury, but nobody was talking about our schools,” Campbell said.

“I persuaded Governor Edwards to invest in the schools, and he even gave the fund its name: BEEF, for Bossier Educational Excellence Fund.”  At that time the Wendy’s hamburger chain had popularized the slogan, “Where’s the beef?”

Campbell, who served as District 36 state senator from 1976 to 2002, later amended the BEEF legislation to draw in state revenues from Bossier City casinos.  The Bossier Parish School Board reports it has approved $7 million in projects since BEEF started, including 100,000 hours of after-school tutoring, 1,500 computers, 40 digital “Smart” boards for teachers, a music laboratory and television production studio, and expanded art instruction.

The School Board has budgeted $2.75 million in new revenues for BEEF this fiscal year, plus an additional $500,000 in interest earnings.

“Public school systems have so many needs, yet lack the resources to fund them,” said Billie Jo Brotherton, Bossier Parish School Board President and District 1 representative.  “Thanks to BEEF, our district is able to fill many of those gaps without going to taxpayers for additional monies.”

District 10 School Board member Sandra “Samm” Darby chairs the board’s BEEF Committee.  She cited a recent use of BEEF funding to help high school students pursue Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment courses, acquire Industry Based Certification or take the College Level Entrance Program.

“That amounts to a huge savings for our families, not to mention it better prepares our students for college and the workforce,” Darby said.

Bossier School Superintendent Scott Smith said BEEF has benefited all Bossier Parish students through the years.

“We remain so grateful to Foster Campbell for having the vision to establish this perpetual fund for the children of our parish.” Smith said.

In 1999 Campbell used BEEF as the model for a statewide endowment for education funded with a portion of the state’s $4-billion Tobacco Settlement.  Now the “Educational Excellence Fund” provides dollars for classroom instruction in public and private schools throughout Louisiana.  Its current balance is $476 million.

“The same principle applies to EEF as to BEEF: Only the interest earned on the fund is spent, and only on approved classroom instruction,” Campbell said.

The state Education Department reported that $58 million in interest earnings from EEF was available at the beginning of the 2017-18 fiscal year for spending by public, private and charter schools.  EEF grants can go toward early childhood education, remedial instruction, instructional technology, career and technical programs, and other needs.

“BEEF and its statewide equivalent, the EEF, are two areas of public finance in Louisiana where fiscal discipline is applied and works,” Campbell said.  “I am proud that we have managed these funds wisely to benefit our schools and our children throughout Louisiana, now and into the future.”

Montgomery Agency celebrates employees of 40 years

On June 19, Bossier Chamber Charter Member Montgomery Agency recognized two employees who each have given 40 years of dedication to the agency. David Montgomery Jr. awarded Kerry Edwards and Theresa Harmon, who have both worked through three generations of Montgomery men and have shown

their commitment to everything Montgomery Agency strives for.

Over the course of four decades Montgomery Agency has had the privilege of having multiple employees remain faithful and dedicated. Montgomery said, “One is something, but two is unheard of.” During the course of the years, the Montgomery employees have become a family.

“It has been a growing up together,” Kathy Edward said. “They have been through a lot with me and I could not have asked for more support.”

We at the Bossier Chamber are proud to have the support of Charter Members like Montgomery Agency for all they have done in support of the Chamber. It is the dedication of employees like Kerry and Theresa that make small businesses successful. Congratulations, and here’s to many years to come.

LCTCS Board votes to not increase tuition and fees in 18-19 school year

Today, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Board of Supervisors unanimously voted not to increase the cost of attending a 2-year college in the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year. The vote occurred during the Board’s meeting in Baton Rouge.  Given the concerns of affordability, the Board continued a 2-year practice of not increasing tuition and mandatory fees at LCTCS colleges.

“The single most important measure that Louisiana’s Community and Technical Colleges can take to improve access, retention, and completion is to ensure that current and potential students can afford to attend our institutions, said Board Chairman, Tim Hardy. The greatest challenge facing students is affordability and our action today, keeps tuition flat, which will help provide access to academic and workforce training for thousands of Louisianans.”

The Board also addressed other affordability and access issues by approving the Go Grant Non-credit Pilot Proposal and the Implementation Plan for “Tops Tech for Adults”, as authorized in the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature.

Recognizing the value of short-term, high-value workforce training, and working in coordination with the Louisiana Board of Regents and the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, theLCTCS leadership proposed an expansion of the Go Grant program for the 2018-2019 academic year. The proposal seeks to fund scholarships for adult students enrolled in certain non-credit, workforce training programs specifically those programs that lead to a high-value Industry Based Credential. LCTCS colleges will use up to 25% of their approximately $2.5 million Go Grant allocation for the pilot.

Nearly one half of Louisiana’s working age adults hold a high school diploma or less, as such, they are unable to fully participate in the state’s economy and are more likely to be dependent on state resources. The “Tops Tech for Adults” program calls for the development of a pilot program to establish scholarships for use in programs aligned with high-demand, high-wage occupations by Louisiana’s working-age citizens who have earned an alternative high school diploma. To fund the scholarships, colleges will raise funds by working with community and industry partners.

“I am extremely proud of the action taken by our Board today which will most certainly increase access to people all over the state of Louisiana,” said Monty Sullivan, LCTCS president. The solution to Louisiana’s fiscal challenges and the most effective means of reducing government spending lies in our ability to educate and skill more of Louisiana’s adults, ensuring they are fully able to participate in the economy, take care of their families, and contribute to the tax base. More people educated and skilled, more people working, and more people contributing to the economy is good for Louisiana.”

In other Board business, today’s meeting was Hardy’s last as Board Chairman. He served as chairman for the past two years. “It has been an absolute pleasure to work along side Chairman Hardy”, said Supervisor Mickey Murphy. “He has led this Board during very difficult financial times and worked tirelessly to advocate on behalf of the students, communities we serve, and our faculty and staff.”

Stephen Toups of Baton Rouge was elected Chairman, Paul Price, Jr., of Winnsboro was elected first Vice-Chair, and Willie Mount of Lake Charles was elected second Vice-Chair. Each will serve a two-year term.

Minority Business Development Agency announces federal funding opportunity

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) launching a nationwide competitive grant solicitation for innovative projects and initiatives from prospective organizations that assist minority-owned businesses to address their most pressing needs and those of the communities they serve. This announcement is a mechanism to encourage new activities, education, outreach, innovative projects or sponsorships that are not addressed through other MBDA programs. A total of $11.65 million will be available annually to fund the financial assistance awards under this announcement utilizing FY2018 appropriated funds.

Funding Opportunity Description

MBDA, a bureau of the U.S.. Department of Commerce, leads Federal Government efforts to promote the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises (MBEs). MBDA has established key priorities designed to overcome the unique challenges faced by minority business enterprises (MBEs).  MBDA is now initiating new approaches to serve MBEs that compliment Presidential priorities and U.S.. Department of Commerce goals. These program priorities are as follows:

  • Access to Capital
  • American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Project
  • Aquaculture
  • Disaster Readiness
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Entrepreneurship for Formerly Incarcerated Persons
  • Global Minority Women Economic Empowerment Initiative
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative
  • Inclusive Infrastructure Initiative
  • Research
  • Space Commerce
  • Sustainable Business Model
  • Technology Transfer and Commercialization
  • Virtual Business Center

Submission Requirements

Eligible applicants may be for-profit entities (including but not limited to sole-proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations), non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, commercial organizations, individuals, state and local government entities, quasi-government entities, Indian Tribal governments, Tribal entities, and Native Hawaiian entities.

The deadline to submit completed applications for the broad agency announcement is 11:59 pm EST on July 11, 2018. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible to receive funding for Fiscal Year 2018.For more information and to register for a pre-application teleconference visit our website.

Pre-Application Conference Call

MBDA will conduct two pre-application conference calls on June 18 and 21, 2018 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST.  The goal of the conference call is to provide a background and summary of the BAA, as well as provide potential applicants with the opportunity to ask questions about the program and the application process. The times, locations and registration instructions for the pre-application conferences will be posted on MBDA’s website.

Applicants should visit MBDA for more information.