Taylor Barras, president of the New Iberia and community markets of IberiaBank and manager of the company's Community Reinvestment Strategies, is the lead spokesman for the bank's Feb. 15 announcement of a massive $100 million investment in rebuilding rural Louisiana. "IberiaBank is committed to rebuilding a strong and prosperous Louisiana," Barras says of the pledge to Iberia Parish non-profit Southern Mutual Help Association Inc. The announcement came only one week after the banker confirmed his candidacy for state representative in District 48, which encompasses the city of New Iberia. "This can best be done when our hard-working families and our rural communities devastated by hurricanes know they can rebuild their lives," says Barras.
IberiaBank and Southern Mutual Help Association have a long history of working together to help end poverty. The first time they collaborated, in 1989, the bank pledged $50,000 in loans for housing to rural self-help organizations under SMHA's wing. The relationship was a good match: the low-interest loans guaranteed by SMHA rarely defaulted, and people without the funds to put a down payment on a house suddenly found themselves first-time homeowners. In 2000, SMHA created a partner nonprofit, Southern Mutual Financial Services Inc., as a community development financial institution. IberiaBank pledged $10 million to SMFS on Aug. 25, 2005, four days before Hurricane Katrina hit.
Thirty-seven years of experience in developing housing for the poor put SMHA in a unique position to move swiftly following the storms, and it immediately began helping Louisiana communities rebuild through private funding. That success led to IberiaBank's latest investment. "It is a blessing to have businesses that care, and IberiaBank is a shining example of the best," says SMHA Executive Director Lorna Bourg. "I believe theirs to be the largest investment by a bank in a not-for-profit community development corporation in Louisiana's history."
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.