The Top 10 in Business in 2012

LSU baseball ranked No. 4 in preseason
January 3, 2013
LA. 1 toll increases OK’d
January 3, 2013
LSU baseball ranked No. 4 in preseason
January 3, 2013
LA. 1 toll increases OK’d
January 3, 2013

10. Houma-Terrebonne Chamber President resigns

Houma-Terrebonne President Drake Pothier resigned from his post in October. He held the position since 2008. The 33-year-old head of the business-boosting bureau made the move because he wanted to start an Allstate Insurance Agency in his native Lafayette. Pothier’s resignation came as a shock to Chamber Chairman Billy Foster, but Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce officials lauded Pothier for the work he did for the chamber during his four-year tenure. Under Pothier’s watch, the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce accomplished accreditation – an honor it will hold until 2015. The chamber also earned a five-star ranking from the national Chamber of Commerce under Pothier. Prior to his work in Houma, Pothier worked for the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce from 2002-06. He then worked for the Fort Smith, Ark., Chamber of Commerce until arriving in Houma during 2008. The chamber has yet to name a replacement for Pothier. His successor is expected to be named in the early portion of 2013.

9. Standard Crane opens state of the art facility

A total of 50 combined direct and indirect jobs headed into Terrebonne Parish this year thanks to Standard Crane Hoist’s construction of a $1.1 million manufacturing facility in Gray. The facility allowed Standard Crane to construct any overhead crane that could be used in Louisiana. Prior to the facility’s construction, Louisiana businesses that needed specific types of cranes had to take their business out of state. The company, which has been in business for more than 103 years, needed to build the Gray facility because demand had outpaced the sales capacity of a facility in Destrehan. Gov. Bobby Jindal attended a ribbon cutting for the facility in early December – one of a slew of local lawmakers to show support for Standard Crane. While there, Jindal lauded the business for their decision to invest in Louisiana. He said that the facility’s creation was another example of how Louisiana businesses have overcame the hardships associated with the country’s recession.

8. K&B Machine announces 200,000-square-foot plant

K&B Machine announced in early March that it would construct a 200,000-square-foot headquarters center, pipe threading and assembly plant in Houma. The structure will be created at 208 Rebecca’s Pond Road – walking distance from Fletcher Technical Campus on La. Highway 311 in Schriever. The pipe threading and assembly company received a 10-year tax exemption to help with the project. Groundbreaking for the project started in the fall. Once operating, the facility will create 80 jobs and a $4 million payroll will be managed at the facility. Gov. Bobby Jindal attended the announcement ceremony. He lauded K&B Machine for investing in Louisiana’s future. He said the new facility would allow jobs to be retained and grown in our state. Terrebonne Parish President also attended the event and said that he was proud of K&B Machine for being a “home-grown company that has excelled.”

7. Bollinger creates Coast Guard cutters; receives funding for more

It was a beautiful scene in Lockport this March when more than 500 family members, friends, employees and U.S. Coast Guard members turned out for a brunch at Bollinger Shipyards. The ceremony was to honor the local shipbuilding company’s creation of four cutters that were to be used by the military. The first of the cutters were delivered to the Coast Guard on Feb. 10. The second and third ships were proudly sailing on Bayou Lafourche’s waters the day of the ceremony. Dignitaries from across the state showed up at the ceremony to laud Bollinger for the work – a contract that is valued at $1.5 billion and that gives job security to more than 500 people who are assigned to the project. Gov. Bobby Jindal attended the event and said Bollinger was creating vessels that save lives. State Rep. Gordon Dove agreed with the governor’s assessment and said the ceremony marked a great day for both Louisiana and the United States. Since the ceremony this past spring, Bollinger has received federal funds for the construction of more vessels. The company announced in October that they had been given $250 million to construct six Fast Response Cutters.

6. Oceaneering adds 200 jobs to Morgan City

St. Mary Parish’s economy got a boost in April when Oceaneering International announced that it would invest $5 million into a major expansion project at its Morgan City headquarters. The investment would spark the creation of 200 direct jobs in Morgan City by the end of 2012. The decision by Oceaneering marked one of the biggest economic gains in the area for the 2012 year. Gov. Bobby Jindal said the 200 jobs created by Oceaneering would average salaries of more than $60,000. The governor also said that 400 indirect jobs would be created because of Oceaneering’s investment – a number that would allow 600 families to stay in Louisiana to work. The $5 million investment was for a 30,000 square foot addition to Oceaneering’s 100,000 square foot manufacturing and maintenance building already in place in Morgan City. A ceremony was held to announce the expansion. At it, Oceaneering officials said that the project would not be aided by government funding in any way. “We put all of the money into this ourselves,” Vice President Pat Mannina said.

5. Weatherford plans to leave Terrebonne

Sources told the Tri-Parish Times this summer that Weatherford had plans to move more than 100 jobs out of Terrebonne Parish by 2013. According to the sources, the company made the decision because they wanted to transfer their rentals, fishing and tubular divisions from Houma to Broussard – a move that was done in an effort to consolidate business into the Lafayette region. The sources in the story sought anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on Weatherford’s behalf. But according to the source, the move could begin as early as Feb. 2013. If executed, the source said that Weatherford’s Grand Caillou Road location would likely be shuttered. The company’s East Main Street and South Hollywood Road offices would also be in jeopardy, according to the source. The good news in the story is that the employees who hold the roughly 125 jobs affected by the move would be offered positions at Weatherford’s new location. When informed of the source’s information, both Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet and TEDA CEO Steve Vassallo said the move would be bad news for the area. Claudet said his office would “have done whatever we could have to keep them in our area.”

4. TEDA agrees to sister city deal in China

Months of pondering ended in a signed sister city agreement between the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority and the city of Weihai, China. The five-year industrial development letter of intent set the groundwork for the two entities to make deals to boost existing local industry through the international partnership. TEDA CEO Steve Vassallo spearheaded the deal that was agreed upon after a lot of debate from local lawmakers. Members of the community and the Terrebonne Parish Council expressed concerns with the agreement initially. A lot of those business owners had their concerns eased after they joined TEDA on a trip to Weihai. Vassallo said with the deal in place, TEDA could become the gateway for the rest of Louisiana in terms of doing business with China. Officials said Weihai is similar to Dallas, Texas in terms of technological advancement. Weihai also has sister city arrangements with Santa Barbara, Calif., and Akron, Ohio.

3. Businesses endure Hurricane Isaac

The Tri-parish area was not storm-free in 2012 as Hurricane Isaac battered the entire area with torrential rains and hurricane-force winds. The slow-moving storm was more a nuisance than a source of devastation. But a handful of local businesses did sustain damage in the Category 1 storm. In Thibodaux, Norm’s Daiquiri’s and Grill was temporarily shut down after a wall fell. A Golden Meadow car wash was also blown apart while the storm stalled in the area. In Terrebonne Parish, Carsmiths Automotive and Dillard’s Department Store reported damage. Carsmiths suffered roof damage and a collapsed wall – damage the business’s owner cited to a tornado in the area. Dillard’s temporarily closed because of the damages. They quickly reopened and roped off areas where customers could not enter because of construction. All in all, Isaac was more a menace than anything else. The business community handled his best punch and got back cranking as evacuees headed back into the Tri-parish area.

2. Hundreds of jobs spared in Chabert deal

Christmas came early for Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center and its employees. Ochsner Health System and Terrebonne General Medical Center announced a $12 million arrangement that would give the local hospital a jolt of life during a troubling time that had previously left the facility’s future uncertain. Details of the deal are still fuzzy. But the need for the agreement stemmed after Chabert’s budget was further slashed this year – a gash that, if executed, would have caused the hospital to lose 245 jobs and $14.3 million. This deal, combined with donations from both the Lafourche Parish and Terrebonne Parish governments will save the hospital’s workers for another year as lawmakers scramble to find a long-term solution that will allow the hospital to stay afloat. State Sen. Norby Chabert said the deal shows the perseverance of the Louisiana people. “Since day one, this hospital has has to fight for its existence,” Chabert said. “And down here, that’s what we do. Charlotte (Randolph) and Michel (Claudet) exemplify what we do down here. When you are in trouble, you don’t ask for help – you help yourself. Without their immediate intervention, had they not stepped up, we would not be here today.”

1. Fletcher continues growth

This year was a big one for Fletcher Technical Community College. The local educational facility opened doors this year on its new, state-of-the-art facility on La. Highway 311 this fall. The two-story, 99,000-square-foot structure build on 70 acres of land, is next door to BP’s Operations Learning Center and Weatherford International’s plant. The opening of the facility marked another chapter in the quickly growing educational center – movement that has accelerated since the school announced a partnership with Nicholls State.Construction on the facility started in Jan. 2011. Ribbon-cutting for the facility’s opening was held 18 months later. Fletcher Chancellor Travis Lavigne lauded the institution’s growth and said the new facility mirrors that of L.E. Fletcher. “This was L.E. Fletcher’s vision,” Lavigne said. “He would be so proud.”

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