Baton Rouge, New Orleans area Business Briefs for Feb. 3, 2019 | Business

Initiative targets event, production professions

An initiative designed to increase the pool of Louisiana women and black professionals pursuing careers and business opportunities in live events and technical production is being launched by media, technology and commerce company Essence in partnership with New Orleans and the Urban League of Louisiana.

“The Pipeline: An Economic Inclusion Initiative” will start with information briefings targeting potential bidders across the state for request for proposal and other training to be held in New Orleans, Feb. 5 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Urban League of Louisiana; in Baton Rouge, Feb. 6 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Main Goodwood Library; and in Shreveport on Feb. 7 and Monroe on Feb. 8.

The initiative’s organizers also plan to partner with other community and business organizations, including New Orleans Video Access Center, Louisiana Economic Development and the New Voices Fund, and in 2020 and beyond with Louisiana academic institutions to launch the Essence Live Production Academy. The academy will feature e-training and live training modules for small businesses, focusing on technical production, such as audio, lighting, staging and live event management.

The initiative also will create opportunities to connect existing production entrepreneurs to service contracts in the industry at the corporate and governmental levels and give them access to networking, raising capital and opportunities for training and skills development. It also will include an internship program for youth seeking careers in media and live production.

“Our Pipeline Initiative is so meaningful because we are establishing it in direct response to a critical void that we have identified while successfully building the Essence Festival and other live experiential and content platforms for 25 years — the need for more black professionals prepared to bid on large-scale live events and technical production,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence. In 2018, Essence Communications was acquired by Essence Ventures, an independent African-American-owned company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.

More information and event registration are at

Cyber security workshops scheduled 

The National Cyber Security Alliance, a nonprofit, public-private partnership focused on helping citizens stay safer and more secure online, is partnering with the New Orleans Business Alliance to present a “CyberSecure My Business” workshop on Feb. 7.

New Orleans is the first of six stops for the alliance’s national tour focused on teaching cybersecurity best practices to small-business owners, employees and advisers. The event features national, state and local resources available to help the small-business community.

The free event at the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center will be broken into two separate workshops:

The first session, from 8 a.m. to noon, targets small business/entrepreneurial support staff and advisers with information and resources they can use with the small businesses. The workshop covers common cyber misconceptions and how advisers can help, cyber basics advisers need to know, strategies for talking to small businesses about cyber security and free available resources for small businesses. Registration is at

The second session, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., provides small-business owners and employees with practical tips and advice they can put into action at the office and at home. Registration is at

Super Tax Day, tax prep sessions set

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, through Capital Area United Way, is hosting a free Super Tax Day at the Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Feb. 9.

No registration is necessary. If spouses are filing jointly, both must be present. Tax preparation will require photo identification; Social Security card or ITIN, individual taxpayer identification numbers, for each family member; W-2 forms for all jobs, all 1099 or 1098 forms and information on other income received; child care provider information; checking and savings account information for direct deposit; and other relevant information about income and expenses. Details are at

VITA also released its schedule and locations for tax preparation:

BAKER BRANCH LIBRARY: 3501 Groom Road, (225) 778-5950; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays (Feb. 7-28; March 7, 14 and 28; and April 4 and 11); 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays (Feb. 2, 16 and 23; March 2, 16, 23 and 30; and April 13); and 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays (Feb. 3, 17 and 24; and March 3, 17, 24 and 31).

CARVER BRANCH LIBRARY: 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450; 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays (Feb. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26 and 28; March 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26 and 28; and April 2, 4, 9 and 11); 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays (Feb. 2 and 16; March 2, 16 and 30; and April 13).

FAIRWOOD BRANCH LIBRARY: 12910 Old Hammond Highway, (225) 924-9385; 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays (Feb. 7, 14 and 28; March 7, 14 and 28; and April 4 and 11); 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays (Feb. 16 and 23, March 2 and 23, and April 6 and 13).

GREENWELL SPRINGS ROAD LIBRARY: 11300 Greenwell Springs Road, (225) 274-4450; 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays (Feb, 7, 14, 21 and 28; March 21 and 28; and April 4 and 11); 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays (Feb. 9 and 16; March 2, 9 and 16; and April 6 and 13).

JONES CREEK LIBRARY: 6222 Jones Creek Road, (225) 756-1150; 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays (Feb. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26 and 28; March 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26 and 28; and April 2, 4, 9 and 11); 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays (Feb. 16; and March 2, 16 and 30), and 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 13, an additional Super Tax Day.

Herbal retail store opens in Walker

Andi Lynn’s Pure & Custom Formulary has opened at 9949 Florida Blvd., Suite B, in Walker.

The herbal retail store said it will carry naturally-made products such as essential oils, CBD oils, specialty herbal teas, jams, jellies and other products. The merchandise will include a full line of Andi Lynn’s products as well as locally handmade items from Louisiana and across the country, said herbalist and Andi Lynn’s CEO Andrea Leyerle. The store also will host classes and workshops.

Leyerle began selling her elderberry syrup at the Livingston Parish Farmer’s Market in the spring of 2011, later creating Andi Lynn’s Pure & Custom Formulary, a homemade herbal remedy store online. Andi Lynn’s is now sold at more than 150 stores across eight states.

Agencies partner to form Emerald Digital

New Orleans-based digital marketing agency Ember Networks and New York City-based public relations firm HeraldPR announced a collaborative partnership known as Emerald Digital.

The union will home in on each agency’s skills to create a full-service digital marketing agency catering to a variety of client needs. Emerald Digital, with offices in New York City and New Orleans, will develop digital solutions and service clients across the globe.

HeraldPR founder Warren H. Cohn will serve as chief executive officer of Emerald Digital and Matthew Berman, CEO of Ember Networks, will serve as president.

Jefferson chamber plans annual meeting

The Jefferson Chamber of Commerce will host its annual meeting on Feb. 7 at the Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport Hotel.

Networking begins at 8 a.m. followed by the program and breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m.

The chamber will celebrate accomplishments from the past year and announce plans for initiatives, events and advocacy in 2019.

The 2019 annual meeting panel will focus on how strengthening a public school system can transform a community for a bright future. John White, Louisiana state superintendent, and Cade Brumley, Jefferson Parish superintendent, will address more than 400 business, community and civic leaders at the event. 

The chamber also will present the Ambassador of the Year Award, Board Member of the Year Award, President’s Award and Chairman’s Award, and recognize its change in leadership.

Individual member tickets are $85, and nonmember tickets are $125. Information is at or (504) 835-3880.

Furniture Mart opening store in Lafayette

New Orleans-based Furniture Mart is opening a 10th store, located in Lafayette in the old Brown’s Furniture, 3330 Johnston St., on Feb. 23.

The furniture store, which sells bedroom and living room sets, mattresses and home decor, started over 20 years ago on the west bank in New Orleans and has been expanding over the years. The company has locations in Houma, Biloxi, Mississippi, and Baton Rouge, along with its stores spread around New Orleans, and recently opened a store in Beaumont, Texas.

“Lafayette is part of our expansion to the west and has always been on our radar as a great market for us to move into,” said Tiffany Browne, director of marketing for Furniture Mart. “When the Brown’s Furniture location opened up, we jumped at the opportunity as it was a great location with a legacy of being a furniture store. So we knew it was the right time to come into the Lafayette market.”

The 40,000-square-foot store will include a warehouse, out-of-store delivery, a full showroom and a clearance center.

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