(Kenner, LA) – The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) celebrated a successful year of economic development wins and initiatives at its annual year-end meeting Tuesday. The 2018 JEDCO Annual Luncheon sponsored by Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company is JEDCO’s largest event of the year, offering opportunities to highlight the organization’s successes in front of hundreds of regional business and community leaders. This year’s event touched on major projects, such as the Avondale acquisition, attraction of Fuji Vegetable Oil, retention of U.S. Foods, the expansion of the Ochsner Health System in Jefferson Parish, and the reimagining of the Elmwood Shopping Center. The organization also announced the recipients of its 2018 business awards at the event.
Fabricari LLC received the 2018 Small Business of the Year Award. The custom metal fabricator, based out of the City of Kenner, has been in business in Jefferson Parish for five years. Since 2015, Fabricari has hired 10 new employees and grown its sales each year; in 2018, the company’s sales revenues were up 34% from the previous year. Fabricari has worked on a number of major projects around the state and across the country, including the fabrication of the new Louisiana Children’s Museum in City Park and the Highway 11 Bridge Repair across Lake Pontchartrain. Additionally, they were one of 14 metal fabricators selected to support the construction of the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. In addition to their great work across the country, Fabricari is engaged in several civic and business organizations, including the American Welding Society, the American Institute for Steel Construction and Jason’s House.
JEDCO awarded Judge Scott U. Schlegel, of the 24th Judicial District, with the 2018 Business Retention & Expansion Award, a recognition bestowed upon an organization, individual or company that has been instrumental in the retention of Jefferson Parish jobs and businesses. Judge Schlegel pioneered the development of the Reentry Court program in Jefferson Parish. The program provides inmates convicted of non-violent crimes with moral rehabilitation and vocational training, so they can reintegrate into society with a skill, a job, and a plan. Reentry Court supports workforce development and recruitment efforts for targeted industries and reduces recidivism in the community. Since the program launched in 2010, re-entry offenders have earned more than 250 certifications in skilled trades such as welding, masonry, automotive, HVAC and horticulture. Judge Schlegel brought the program to Jefferson Parish in 2013 where JEDCO was an early supporter. He continues to refine the program to this day. In 2018, he and his colleagues adopted the “Smart on Crime” initiative to reinforce the criminal justice model they have been building upon for years to ensure the best possible outcomes for Jefferson Parish residents and businesses.
JEDCO’s 2018 Chairman of the Board, Jimmy Baum, presented Adams & Reese Special Counsel David Wolf with the Chairman’s Champion Award. In 2018, JEDCO was involved in multiple projects that required complex incentive offerings. David and the team at Adams & Reese provided guidance to create a payment in lieu of taxes for Avondale Marine, the joint venture that acquired the Avondale Shipyard site in October. The PILOT agreement was essential to finalizing the acquisition, which will create over 2,000 direct jobs in the community. David also offered direction on efforts that retained US Foods and attracted 40 new jobs, and supported Ochsner Health System’s beautification efforts along the Jefferson Highway Healthcare Corridor. He delivered counsel in JEDCO’s issuance of taxable revenue bonds to finance the construction of the Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy, a high-performing type 1 charter school in Kenner. The new facility will be able to serve 2,000 students from Pre-K to 12th grade. David is a bond lawyer with more than 35 years of experience.
“This event allowed us an opportunity to formally showcase a banner year of milestone wins for JEDCO, and to recognize the many partners that supported our efforts along the way,” said JEDCO President & CEO Jerry Bologna. “This year’s award winners are integral to the continued prosperity of the Jefferson Parish economy. Their work moves us forward, builds momentum, and allows for innovation, helping us to create the future we all want. We are so grateful for their contributions to Jefferson Parish.”
JEDCO recognized multiple key project partners at the Annual Luncheon as well, including Louisiana Economic Development, Greater New Orleans, Inc., Port of New Orleans and the Public Belt, the Jefferson Parish Council and Administration, and multiple business organizations such as the Jefferson Business Council and the Jefferson Chamber. The 2018 JEDCO Annual Luncheon took place at the Hilton New Orleans Airport on Airline Drive.