Category Archives: Blog

U.S. Chamber Recognizes 297 Members of Congress for Pro-Business Votes

Spirit of Enterprise Award Recognizes Records of Support for Business Community

>> How members of Louisiana’s U.S. delegation voted on key positions of the U.S. Chamber.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today honored 249 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 48 members of the U.S. Senate with its annual Spirit of Enterprise Award, given in recognition of their support for pro-growth policies in the first session of the 115th Congress.

All but one of Louisiana’s U.S. Congressional delegation made the cut, supporting the Chamber’s position on at least 70 percent of those votes on the Chamber’s How They Voted scorecared qualify to receive the award. The votes were tallied based on votes on issues established as priorities by the Chamber’s board of directors, positions the Chamber communicates prior to votes.

“It’s a good time to be doing business in America, thanks to a slate of legislative accomplishments that laid the groundwork for more job creation and economic growth,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The efforts of these elected leaders to advance commonsense, growth-oriented legislation will help Main Street American businesses thrive. We commend these members of Congress for their commitment to promoting and protecting American free enterprise and economic prosperity.”

The Chamber’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Award is given annually to members of Congress based on their votes on critical business legislation as outlined in the Chamber’s How They Voted scorecard.

This is the 30th year that the U.S. Chamber has formally honored the accomplishments of this select group of members of Congress.

During the first session of the 115th Congress, the Chamber scored members on seven Senate votes, including those on tax reform legislation and the confirmation of Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch; and 14 House votes, including votes on tax reform legislation, access to Medicare, and lawsuit abuse. Various votes in support of small businesses were also scored.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.


Get your business connected with local sports opportunities

The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission is teaming up with the business community to help bring sporting events to Shreveport, Bossier City, Caddo and Bossier parishes through its annual networking event on April 5.
Designed to bring together the business and sports communities, this event aims to create new and stronger working relationships that result in cooperation towards promoting the area’s ability to attract and host sports events. The third annual Shreveport-Bossier Sports Biz Connect is April 5 from 4-6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites in Bossier City.
Exhibitor space is available to the business community. Tables will be provided and all other materials must be provided by exhibitors.
If you are interested in having a booth with information available, email Ronald Oswalt at

Senate committee approves gaming legislation changes

By Paul Braun, LSU Manship News Service

BATON ROUGE — A Senate committee approved bills that would loosen regulation of the state’s 15 riverboat casinos, allowing them to expand 1,200 feet onto the shore and add more gaming tables and slot machines.

The main bill, sponsored by Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, also would drop requirements that the riverboats keep their distinctive paddlewheels.

The bills were approved by the Senate Judiciary B Committee, which Johns chairs, and will move to the Senate floor.

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D- New Orleans, took gaming industry representatives to task for their failure to meet self-imposed minority procurement goals.

Peterson challenged Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, about the racial makeup of its board of directors and the upper management of the casinos.

“If you don’t have a diverse group of people at the highest levels of those organizations, it is very difficult to get there in the second, third and fourth tier of the organization, if there is no conversation at the top,” Peterson said. “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Duty said 11.6 percent of the casinos’ procurements come from minority-owned businesses, a 12 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. He said casino procurement officers have struggled to find minority vendors.

Peterson was not convinced. She asked why the officers had not reached out to the African-American chambers of commerce in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

“This is further evidence that the people at the top aren’t getting it,” Peterson said.

Peterson’s criticism came two months after Ronnie Jones, the chairman of the Gaming Control Board, questioned why riverboat casinos in Northwest Louisiana had consistently failed to meet voluntary minority procurement goals.

Johns’ bill would allow the riverboats to expand their operations onto the shore and expand the areas they devote to gaming. His bill would define the limit as 2,365 gaming positions, or seats at blackjack tables, roulette wheels or slot machines.

The state’s 15 riverboat licenses are spread across four main markets: Shreveport/Bossier City, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Under state law, all 15 boats are required to have an operating paddlewheel, but Johns’ bill would drop that rule.

Mississippi already permits riverboats to conduct gaming within 800 feet of the coast. By stretching approve 1,200 feet, Johns’ bill would enable Louisiana’s riverboats to be larger than the ones in Mississippi and bring in more revenue

Given the budget crisis, Johns said, the state needs the $900 million in taxes that come from the gaming industry.

Looking for volunteer opportunities?

Volunteer Opportunities

  1. Haughton High School needs volunteers to judge Senior Projects on May 3. Presentations begin at 8:30 a.m. and end around noon. If you are able to help, please email


  1. STARBASE 2.0 needs volunteers to judge end of year projects for their sixth and seventh grade students looking to show off their engineering skills with building and racing their own designs.

Tentatively, the competition dates are:

  • April 17, Cope Middle School, 2:45-4:15 p.m.
  • April 18, Elm Grove Middle School, 2:45-4:15 p.m.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Mary Beth Irvine at or (318) 529-3521.

LABI gives our members the legislative 4-1-1

Camille Conaway from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry hosted a stellar Government Relations Seminar last Thursday to tell our members what we should expect to see in the current regular session and possible seciond special session of the Louisiana Legislature.
>> Did you miss it? Check out the story here!

BPCC nursing program is a leader in NWLA, U.S.

Bossier Parish Community College is proud to announce its nursing program’s fall 2017 numbers.

The BPCC Nursing Program has a 100 percent employment rate for fall 2017 graduates and a National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-RN pass rate of 95.89 percent for fall 2017 graduates. The program is also second place in the United States for 2017 in NCLEX-RN education programs with a score of 92.93 percent, which is 5.08 percent above the national average of 87.85 percent.

BPCC Nursing Program Director Sharon Turley gives credit for these high marks to the hard-working nursing faculty. “These figures speak volumes about the nursing faculty at BPCC. They are the smartest, most dedicated, and most supportive group of people I have had the honor of working with in all my years in nursing.”

The NCLEX is an examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States. NCLEX examinations are developed and owned by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN). NCSBN administers these examinations on behalf of its member boards which consist of the boards of nursing in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories. NCLEX examinations are designed to test the knowledge, skills and abilities essential to the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry-level.

Turley adds, “The test is extremely important. If students do not pass this national exam, they do not get a license and they cannot practice nursing.”

In 2010, Bossier Parish Community College received approval from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing and the Board of Regents to offer the Associate of Science Degree in Nursing. Since that time, many students have declared nursing as their major course of study.  There were 24 nursing graduates in the fall 2017 class.

“The talent of our graduates, the quality of our nursing program, and the dedication to excellence of our faculty and program administrators is what has allowed BPCC to attain these benchmarks,” says Dr. Rick Bateman, Jr., Chancellor. “The Division of Science, Nursing, and Allied Health is home to a number of world class programs, providing opportunities for our students and giving our employers the human capital they need to compete and grow.”

For more information on the BPCC Nursing Program, contact the Division of Science, Nursing, and Allied Health at (318) 678-6080.

For more information on NCLEX, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing at


What’s on tap for the Legislature in 2018?

A large crowd of Bossier Chamber members gathered on Thursday morning for the first Government Relations Seminar of 2018, featuring Camille Conaway of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, and sponsored by Citizens National Bank and Red River Bank as well as Cook, Yancey, King & Galloway, Mosley Title Company and Roberts and Murphy.

Conaway, the Senior Vice President of Policy and Research, told the engaged crowd at Margaritaville Resort Casino all about this year in the Louisiana Legislature, and even about years to come.

First – Why is Louisiana in a perpetual deficit?

  1. Dysfunctional tax code
  2. Economic Recession
  3. Spending growth
  4. Broken budget

Conaway stressed that tax exemptions are NOT causing the deficit as businesses pay nearly half of the sales tax in the state. Business and individuals share the burden, she said.

Since this is a nonfiscal year in the Legislature, here are a few topics Conaway said will be on the agenda for the regular session, including some of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ agenda items: the deregulation of occupational licenses, employer mandates such as minimum wage and equal pay and changes to K-12 education.

Other hot topics for the regular session include: state budget, budget reforms, Constitutional Convention, legal climate, employer mandates, pension reform, gas tax, early childhood education, criminal justice and deregulation.

And what about that Constitutional Convention?

“It’s going to take some time to do it right,” Conaway said. Even if a bill does pass through the session, the convention most likely would take place in 2020. LABI supports three things in relation to a Constitutional Convention for it to be done right:

  1. Delegates need to be elected.

“We need new, fresh faces that are coming in there for one purpose, getting it done, and then going home,” Conaway said.

  1. Public input is important and should happen over a long period of time.
  2. The Convention should take place throughout the state, as it did in 1974 when this was last done in Louisiana, not just in Baton Rouge.

So, what’s ahead?

2018 – Potentially a second special session and the fiscal cliff

2019 – TURNOVER and ELECTIONS: 64 seats will be open in the Louisiana Legislature

2020 – Possible Constitutional Convention

Cultivating Success: How State Programs Are Giving A Big Boost To Louisiana Small Businesses

Source: Louisiana Economic Quarterly

With an eye on the future, Louisiana Economic Development sees great potential in small businesses seeking sustainability and aggressive growth. LED’s Small Business Services team supports these entrepreneurs through a range of initiatives that assist with procurement, one-on-one business support, peer-to-peer learning, marketing, research, accounting, legal and more. The programs are designed to work together as a continuum—providing the right resources at the right time whenever a small business owner needs them.

Services for small businesses continue to evolve to meet additional needs, as evidenced by two new programs in 2017. Developed through a partnership of LED, the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisiana National Guard, the Louisiana Business & Technology Center and LSU Executive Education, the Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program enables service members leaving the military to gain intensive training in topics that outline the critical steps to start, operate, fund and launch a business. LVEP also gives veterans the tools needed to develop their business ideas. The first group successfully completed the program in 2017 and the second began in January 2018.

Former U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer and recent LVEP participant Caroline Kenelly Herschbach is in the midst of planning a family-oriented food truck park.

“Before LVEP, I had no idea on how to start my own business. LED helped me with financing, brought in investors and provided insight into laws, taxes and essentially how to create a business here in Louisiana.” – Caroline Kenelly Hershbach, Former U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer and recent LVEP participant.

U.S. Coast Guard vet Stephen Nutting founded The Warehouse in 2016—a co-working space with over 70 members. Nutting joined the LVEP last year when he decided to open a restaurant inside the space.

“While I was successful with The Warehouse, opening a restaurant was a bit more complex and there were definitely a few blind spots,” said Nutting. “LVEP brought in some talented people and subject matter experts who have been extremely helpful.”

Louisiana’s Small Business Services team strives to assist growing businesses as they evolve. With that goal in sight, the LED Growth Network was born in 2017 to bolster existing programs, such as Economic Gardening and CEO Roundtables, with additional support. The LED Growth Network Alumni Group enables graduates of these programs to continue accessing resources and networking with one another.

By nurturing these companies and providing CEOs with the tools they need to reach the next level, the programs cover such topics as cybersecurity, regulatory changes and growth into new markets. The Alumni Group continues adding members, creating new jobs and positioning itself as a vital part of Louisiana’s economic engine.

Proof of Louisiana’s success came in late 2017 when two prominent organizations recognized LED’s small business efforts. The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies presented the Louisiana Contractors Accreditation Institute with a national Innovation in Regulation Award, highlighting the institute’s achievements in supporting the success of small construction companies in Louisiana and the collaboration between the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, and LED.

In addition, Thumbtack awarded Louisiana a grade of A+ in its 2017 report card on small business friendliness, ranking the state No. 4 in the U.S. for its supportive small business environment. This ranking represents a 13-point gain from Louisiana’s No. 17 ranking in 2016. Louisiana earned an A in eight specific categories of the state’s small business climate and a grade of B in four other categories. The grades are part of an annual survey of small businesses throughout the United States conducted by Thumbtack.

Public comment open for tax program that brings investment to low-income areas

Source: BIZ

Today, Louisiana Economic Development opened the public comment period for the designation of federal Opportunity Zones in Louisiana. Part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Opportunity Zones program will establish lower-income communities across the nation as tax-advantaged areas for new long-term private investment.

LED is supporting Gov. John Bel Edwards, who ultimately will nominate Opportunity Zones in Louisiana to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. With public input, Gov. Edwards will nominate up to 25 percent of Louisiana’s low-income census tracts for inclusion in the Opportunity Zones program.

Beginning today, the public may visit to identify census tracts they would like to nominate using the online form provided. A link to the interactive map of all qualifying low-income census tracts is available on this site. Anyone who already has submitted nominations to LED does not need to repeat the process online.

The public comment period will run from March 9 through March 16, with the State of Louisiana submitting census tract nominations to the Treasury Department by April 20. Opportunity Zones seek to bolster federal, state and local partnerships in bringing more income and prosperity to the nation’s lower-income communities. The primary goal of the program is putting private capital to work for lasting economic development in distressed communities.

With that goal in mind, Congress has advised governors to consider lower-income areas where existing state, local and private economic development initiatives are underway to attract new investment and to foster startup activity. These zones can include previously designated Empowerment Zones, Renewal Communities or New Markets Tax Credits project areas.

Other prime targets for Opportunity Zones are census tracts that have experienced recent significant job layoffs, due to business closures or relocations. States are encouraged to establish Opportunity Zones on the edge of university campuses so that spin-offs of university research and technology transfer may be mobilized. Other Opportunity Zones may be designated to ensure the success of transit-oriented development projects in low-income urban neighborhoods, or to redevelop brownfield sites in rural, urban or suburban areas.

The federal government will attract private investment to the designated Opportunity Zones by providing federal tax incentives on capital gains invested in those zones. For more federal information on the Opportunity Zone program, visit

Prefiled bills for the Louisiana Legislature’s regular session

The 2018 Regular Legislative Session will convene at noon on Monday, March 12, 2018. Final Adjournment no later than 6:00 pm on Monday, June 4, 2018.

Prefiled bills

as of March 9 at 3 p.m.


Click the links below to see all of the bills prefiled before the start of the regular session on Monday.

Senate Prefiled Bills for the 2018 Regular Legislative Session

House Prefiled Bills for the 2018 Regular Legislative Session