John Georges will be the keynote speaker for the 2013 ABiz Acadiana Top 50 Business Luncheon Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the Cajundome Convention Center at noon. The mega-successful New Orleans businessman stunned Louisiana newsmakers and political observers with his recent purchase of The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s respected daily newspaper, and swift moves to accelerate the battle for market share in New Orleans against the Pulitzer Prize-winning Times-Picayune. Observers from across the country are watching the story unfold against the backdrop of an industry experiencing major disruption.
The stage was set a year ago when publishers of the T-P (Advance Publications, owned by New York’s Newhouse family and ranked 46th largest private U.S. company by Forbes) announced plans to cut frequency, leaving New Orleans the only major U.S. city without a daily newspaper. Civic leaders and loyal readers united in a widely publicized protest that made national news. Georges himself even offered to buy the T-P to keep it daily. Meanwhile, Advocate Publisher David Manship expanded into New Orleans and quickly built a daily subscription base of 22,000, providing the enterprising, civic-minded Georges an attractive acquisition option. Since the purchase was announced in early May, Louisiana’s newest publisher has hired some of the top journalists in the state, including some former T-P headliners, and on June 25 announced a content partnership with WWL-TV in New Orleans that will increase the scope of content on air, online and in print for the two entities, particularly in the areas of investigative reporting and sports. The businessman-turned-publisher is clearly advancing an aggressive strategy.
Georges, a second generation Greek American and Tulane grad, worked his way up through the family business founded by his immigrant grandfather. Under his leadership, Imperial Trading grew from a small local operation into an industry leader that operates in a dozen states and employs 750. Georges now serves as CEO of Georges Enterprises, a billion-dollar Louisiana conglomerate that also includes Harrison Company of Bossier City and Galatoire’s of New Orleans. Georges, who has a distinguished record of public service, was a candidate for governor in 2007 and for mayor of New Orleans in 2010.
The luncheon is produced annually by ABiz to honor the CEOs of the region’s top 50 privately held businesses as determined by reported gross revenues and eight publicly traded, locally domiciled companies.
The law firm of Allen & Gooch returns as a presenting cosponsor for this event. “Through the years, we at Allen & Gooch have had the privilege of working directly with many of Acadiana’s top businesses,” says managing partner Clay Allen. “This puts us in a front row seat to observe the innovation, work ethic and the bold vision that is the hallmark of our region’s economic leadership. We congratulate the Acadiana Top 50 businesses, along with their publicly traded counterparts, for their corporate citizenship and theirrole in our region’s economic vitality.”
Whitney Bank is also a legacy sponsor for this event. “On behalf of our directors, officers and employees, I would like to congratulate all the top 50 recipients. Their contributions to our local economy are greatly appreciated,” says market President Duayne Richard.
“Throughout the Whitney/Hancock footprint, from Texas to Florida, it is my observation that Lafayette and the Acadiana region are by far the most entrepreneurial area, contributing to our amazing growth and prosperity. For us at Whitney Bank, that growth is evidenced in part by the construction now under way on our new regional office in River Ranch, which will open next year. We look forward to expanding our ability to service the community’s financial needs.”
Additional sponsors include Frank’s International, Pinnacle Group and Vidox Motion Imagery. The Acadiana Economic Development Council will also announce the winner of the 2013 Acadiana Honors Award, as is custom at this event every year. Alford, Staples, Lapeyre & Robichaux Insurance rounds out the group as a table sponsor.