Chennault Airport is trying to expand by changing the very nature of the business it attracts. In particular, they’re hoping to — eventually — attract the big cargo planes that move around all the online orders from such internet giants as Amazon and Walmart.
Problem is, Amazon needs more than just a big runway. If that were all it needed, Chennault would do fine. But those huge cargo planes are jammed full of packages. And Amazon wants to start sorting those just as soon as the plane lands.
To that end, Chennault is building a $4-million, 10,000-square-food cargo storage area. That would be probably be a little small for the likes of Amazon and FedEx. But Chennault says the cargo area could be expanded to 40,000 square feet, which would be fine.
Additional land would be acquired for more sorting locations. The final cost would be many millions. But if Chennault can find the money, the transformation could mean 16,000 jobs over the next 20 years. And these would be real jobs — not those “jobs” that are said to results from workers’ trips to local restaurants and what not.
In the Lafayette-based podcast Missing Magnolias, Scarlett Davis and Michelle Jeanis aim to create a Cajun-flavored true crime podcast. But they also want to make shows in which the focus is on the victims rather than the perpetrator.
There’s nothing wrong with that. But I’m going to play the devil’s advocate for a little minute and suggest that most of the true crime shows are already pretty heavily oriented toward the victims. It’s usually easy to find surviving relatives of the victim who will talk at length, and often with impassioned emotion, to reporters. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to interview someone who’s in jail for perpetrating the sort of extremely violent crime people want to watch shows about. As for the relatives of the ultraviolent criminal, what family he has is often scattered to the wind. If he has any relatives, they may be hard to find and they certainly don’t want to talk about the perp.
The creators of Missing Magnolias have another big objective. “We want to counter people’s need for violence,” says Davis. “At their core, these are human interest stories.” The programs are designed to reveal the human element in the story. That strikes me as a more novel cause than representation of the victim. When a crime show’s creators are focusing on the gruesome details, they may well overlook potentially powerful human interest features.
Davis, who is a true-crime buff, says she thought of the idea for the podcast, and recruited Jeanis, a UL-Lafayette professor with a doctorate in criminology, as co-host.
It’s little surprise that one of the subjects of Jeanis’ research at UL-L is the effect of media attention on crime. She also devotes university work time to researching missing persons cases and teaching courses about sex offenders and serial killers.
The two have scheduled 25 episodes for their first season. The second season is set to focus on Louisiana serial killers. Recent episodes of Missing Magnolias featured a Lafayette hate crime survivor who was assaulted after a Grindr date, and a woman who spent more than 50 years tracking down the man who killed her mother.
“There are so many people who are so desperate to tell their stories,” Jeanis says. Some of the stories involve such intense emotions that the hosts have a visceral reaction to them. “We call it the crying podcast,” says Davis — a reference to the number of times they’ve wept while filming or editing the show.
“We’re baby podcasters,” says Davis. “We’re learning as we go.”
Jeanis says that people don’t have to go as far as putting together a podcast to advocate for victims of crime. She says anyone can get involved in solving missing persons or cold cases through such organizations as Adventures with Purpose.
Missing Magnolias releases new episodes every week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. If you want to share the story of a victim, email email@example.com.
Brew Up A New Business
Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week will be held in March. It’s anticipated that everything will be back out in public. During Entrepreneurship Week, the Brew 11 competition for Louisiana entrepreneurs who want to start a business will be held March 8 through 10 at the Bon Carré Business Center in Baton Rouge. Registration is already underway. The Bon Carre Business Center is located at 7173 Florida Blvd.; call (225) 248-9625.
Promoters of Brew 11 say it is “more like a cocktail party than a conference networking event.” Sounds casual, friendly and social. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll be able to talk about your business idea with potential investors.
Keynote speakers at Brew 11 will include entrepreneurs who have built tech-related companies in Louisiana. Brew 11 is intended to “accelerate the development of … technology-driven companies by connecting them to the people and resources they need to grow their businesses,” says Nexus Louisiana CEO Genevieve Silverman.
The highlight of Brew 11 will be the High-Stakes Pitch Competition, which will give the most promising startups a prize of $100,000.
Startups must meet these baseline qualifications to compete; they must:
• Be a Louisiana-based business or be willing to relocate to the state.
• Have less than $250,000 in 2020 revenue.
• Be incorporated as a limited liability company, an S corporation or a C corporation.
• Have a scalable, high-growth business model with a strong management team. (You can download a flyer on the application process at celebratebrew.com.)
Representatives of NexusLA, Innovation Catalyst and the Red Stick Angel Network choose the top applicants to participate in the semi-final pitches (held at the Nexus Louisiana Technology Park, 7117 Florida Blvd., (225) 218-1100). Those making the presentations get coaching from the company representatives. A recent talk by business communication expert Michael Roth to the Nexus Louisiana Tech Park Academy is also recommended for preparation.
The judges’ criteria for picking the three finalists and the ultimate winner are largely based on which startup seems to be the most “investable company,” says Bill Ellison, the CEO of Innovation Catalyst and the Red Stick Angel Network. (Ellison is quoted as saying that the three most important criteria in deciding whether to invest in a startup are “team, team and team.”) Startups will benefit from having an innovative offering with a “scalable” business model that addresses the needs of a large and growing market.
All entrepreneurs can participate in Brew 11, even if they don’t make presentations for a startup. In addition to networking with fellow entrepreneurs, they can attend keynote sessions and communal activities; be sponsors; work as a volunteer; donate to Brew or buy Brew gear.
Could Entergy customers see an $11 a month increase on their bills and keep seeing it for the next 15 years? There’s a good chance they could.
Entergy says this would be “a storm recovery charge” that would cover the expenses the company has had due to the storms of the last two years.
Apparently the $11 is just an estimate. But I get the feeling it’s pretty close. The numbers will eventually have to be approved by the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
Entergy announced these numbers at a recent meeting of the commission at which the company also requested that the commission approve its plans to get a $1 billion loan. Entergy CEO Phillip May stated that this loan and others are being sought “so we can pay … the folks that show up to help put the lines up and so forth … We are still woefully short of where we need to be in terms of recovering these costs.”
Entergy VP Mark Kleehammer elaborated by saying, “what we saw in the last two storm seasons … there is no precedent for that in the entire history of this industry.” He said the storms of 2020 and 2021 have cost Entergy as much as $4.4 billion. The storms include Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta and Ida and Winter Storm Uri.
The total increase to bills could go up to $15 a month. But Entergy hopes to get enough loans to keep it down to $11.
Some aid may come from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Right now, Louisiana is expected to get $7 billion of that.
District 4 Commissioner Mike Francis, who represents Southwest Louisiana, seemed to speak well of Entergy at the committee meeting, saying, “Just let’s keep staying informed … I appreciate the work y’all are doing. It’s … really been a tough job to keep the lights on …”
Not everyone at the recent meeting was as sympathetic as Francis toward Entergy. Commissioner Foster Campbell, whose District 5 is in northern Louisiana, said, “it troubles me how all the hell we’re in and you can’t get these guys [other than Bill Cassidy and Troy Carter] to help you get this money down here to get these peoples’ houses back straight and their lives back straight.” He suggested Entergy might have lobbied these federal politicians from Louisiana more intensely.
Also expressing something that was a good bit less than enthusiastic was Jessica Hendricks, state policy director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, who said, “We have a lot of concerns about how people are going to pay these bills.”