TEDA banquet offers business advancements

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Business leaders were offered a public view of how the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority invests its time and efforts during that organization’s inaugural banquet last Tuesday.

“Many people do not know what TEDA does,” TEDA Board of Commissioners Chairman Don Hingle said. “One of the things we tried to do with this banquet is help people understand what we are about.”

During his opening comments Hingle credited TEDA CEO Steve Vassallo and the organization’s staff for increasing economic development visibility and outreach in Terrebonne Parish.

A mixture of TEDA accomplishments for 2012 was listed. That list included restructuring of staff and operations to increase efficiency and save the organization $114,000 per year.

Vassallo was credited with leading Terrebonne Parish into establishing a five year economic relationship with the city of Weihai, China. “[This] created an economic model for the rest of the country,” Hingle said.

The organization made business recruitment trips during the year and introduced initiatives that include business sponsoring and mentoring projects.

“We overhauled the TEDA website to make it more user friendly,” Hingle said, [and] we created the website called Terrebonne is Hiring Now to help assist existing employers fulfill their hiring needs. There were 771 positions reflected in that website.”

Comprehensive efforts were given to helping 272 new small businesses become establish while helping existing business expand.

TEDA has established contractor training during 2012 and sponsored multiple business education programs.

Highlighted among the 240 sponsors and guests were 11 businesses that have benefited from $50,000 in Foundation for Louisiana small business grants distributed through TEDA. More than 200 applications had been received for those funds.

“[TEDA] helped me tremendously,” Serenty-Tranquilty of Peace Salon owner Kendra Morgan said. “I had gone in for surgery when I first started the business [17 years ago] and I couldn’t work for eight weeks. I had to put a lot of things on hold then TEDA came along and helped me survive.”

Morgan received a $5,000 grant in August through TEDA for equipment and expansion of her business. “This helped me get the equipment and things I needed and had not been able to get.”

“We received a $5,000 grant,” Big Mike’s BBQ owner Mike Lewis said. “With that we were able to purchase an automatic potato peeler which really equated to about $100 a week in savings. I think we have already paid for the potato peeler in terms of man hours saved.”

Other businesses that have benefited from financial assistance and personal instruction through TEDA include the 531 Liberty Café, AHA Massage Clinic and Salon, Charisma Creations, Drapery & Design, Funktion Station, La Hoya y El Cantino, Rise-n-Shine Daycare, uGam3 and Workout 360.

“TEDA got the message loud and clear back in January, when the [Terrebonne] Parish Council told us that 2012 would be our year to focus on small business development,” Vassallo said. “We took that very, very seriously.”

Vassallo offered a special presentation to former temporary TEDA employee Daphne Domino who helped regional businesses complete their loss claims following the BP oil spill of April 2010. The award was accepted on behalf of Domino by TEDA office manager Donna Washington.

“Daphne Domino logged 817 claims, served 118 businesses and conducted five outreach events throughout the program.” Vassallo said.

Service awards were also presented to outgoing TEDA Commissioners Darrin Guidry, Morris Hebert and Colin Seifert.

The evening’s keynote speaker was New Orleans Saints announcer Jim Henderson. Following a six minute film of Saints highlights, including the team’s road to a 2009 Super Bowl title, Henderson offered more than 33 minutes of stories from his career that poked fun at multiple Saints coaches and fellow broadcasters.

“I think TEDA did a great job putting this event together,” CPA Pernell Pellegrin said. “To recognize businesses of the area like this is going to help.”

“I’ve been working with TEDA for approximately two years and it has really skyrocketed with [Vassallo] and his staff,” Morgan said. “TEDA has taught me a lot about business and has gone to a whole new level that I have never seen before.”

Saints fans listen as keynote speaker Jim Henderson tells tales of coaches and fellow sportscasters during the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority inaugural awards banquet. The event recognizes outgoing board members and grant recipients while reviewing accomplishments made by the business development organization during the year.