Sasol project 74% complete; 500 jobs

Sasol reported recently that its $11 billion ethane cracker and derivatives project in Calcasieu Parish is 74 percent complete as of June and that it will begin a phased commissioning of seven new units in 2018.

The company has hired 500 employees and expects to hire at least 200 more over the next two years. The jobs have an average salary of $80,000 and are in addition to the more than 450 full-time positions that support Sasol’s existing operations near Westlake.

By 2019 Sasol’s overall employment will top 1,150 in southwest Louisiana. An additional 1,000 contractors will also support Sasol’s East and West Plants once new units are operating.

“Of the 500 new employees hired to date, 93 percent are Louisiana residents, and of those, 85 percent are from Calcasieu Parish,” said Mike Thomas, senior vice president of Sasol North American Operations.

Captain Paul's partners with Sportsman Gear

Outdoor performance apparel brand Sportsman Gear in Boutte has partnered in a working agreement with GPS system provider Captain Paul's Fishing Edge in Slidell to share information and leverage their common interests.

"Sportsman inspires an outdoor lifestyle and encourages the practice of recreational hunting and fishing," said Tony Taylor, president of Sportsman Gear. "This partnership with Captain Paul and its GPS system allows two Louisiana outdoor-based companies synonymous with authentic outdoor performance to benefit from each other and therefore grow even more. The synergy between our companies is undeniable," he said.

Sportsman Gear's outdoor apparel designs include the Responder, Equinox and Cool Breeze lines. Captain Paul's GPS system helps fishermen find fishing areas.

Lafayette company acquires Houma firm  

Brown & Brown of Louisiana in Lafayette has acquired insurance consulting firm Staples, Lapeyre & Robichaux in Houma.

SLR specializes in employee benefit packages and employee benefit planning.

Brown & Brown of Louisiana is a subsidiary of Brown & Brown Inc., which Business Insurance magazine ranks as the nation's sixth-largest independent insurance intermediary. The company offers insurance and reinsurance products and services as well as risk management, third-party administration and managed health care programs.

SLR was founded in 1996 in Houma. The office now operates as part of Brown & Brown of Louisiana and under the leadership of Executive Vice President Mark E. Romero in the Lafayette office. SLR partners Ken Staples, Chris Lapeyre and Eldridge Robichaux will continue to serve as leaders for the Houma office and will be vice presidents in the employee benefits department for Brown & Brown of Louisiana.

“Joining Brown and Brown was a strategic decision driven by our desire to make a long-term investment in the value we bring to our clients," said Lapeyre.

Business seminar planned for veterans

A free seminar titled “Starting and Financing Your Veteran-Owned Business” is being held from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 31 by the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

The event is co-sponsored by Northshore SCORE at the LSBDC Southeastern main office at 1514 Martens Drive.

Topics include writing a business plan, sources of funds for startup and expansion, small business resources and required licenses.

Preregistration for limited seating is at www.lsbdc.org.

BRAC debuts Connect newcomer program

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber has launched Connect, a web-based program designed to acclimate newcomers to the Capital Region by matching them with longtime locals who volunteer to meet, swap stories and answer questions about making Baton Rouge home.

“As more and more people move to the Baton Rouge area, we have recognized the need for conversation starters other than questions like, 'Where’d you go to high school?’," said Adam Knapp, BRAC president and CEO. "The Connect program helps newcomers make contacts with longtime Baton Rougeans with similar interests, while at the same time helping to open up the region in a welcoming way.”

Connect allows for two types of participants: city guides and pathfinders, transitioning newcomers into new jobs, organizations and the community. Participants are matched through a questionnaire that identifies similarities between city guides and pathfinders.

Information for newcomers and volunteers is at brac.org/connect.

Pre-law program applicants sought

The nonprofit Urban Restoration Enhancement Corp. is accepting applications until Nov. 15 for the free College & Career Ready Initiative’s Pre-Law Institute for Baton Rouge high school students, scheduled for Nov. 28 through March 14.

Students must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher. The institute meets Monday through Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Southern University Law Center.

Participants will meet a variety of law professionals; participate in mock criminal trials; gain experience with preparing an opening statement, writing a closing argument, introducing evidence and examining witnesses; and develop an understanding of the legal and criminal justice system.

Information and registration are at urecbr.com/apply-for-the-college-career-ready-pre-law-institute/. The contact is Kathryn Robinson, program director, at (225) 356-8871, ext. 204, or krobinson@urecbr.com.

College and Career Ready is a 21st Century Community Learning Center providing after-school and summer learning programs through Urban Restoration Enhancement Corp. and its sponsors. Future institutes for the 2017-2018 academic year will include the Emergency Medical Responder Institute and IGNITE Fellowship & Entrepreneurship Institute with a paid internship.

International Spine Institute opens

International Spine Institute in Baton Rouge has opened at 18161 E. Petroleum Drive in Baton Rouge.

Dr. Marco A. Rodriguez, an orthopedic spine surgeon, treats a variety of degenerative spinal conditions including herniated disc, sciatica, low back pain, spinal stenosis, neck pain, spondyolisthesis and failed back surgery, focusing on nonfusion options.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone is (225) 412-9668.

The Elegant Needle at new location

The Elegant Needle has moved to 6641 Government St.

Owner Catherine Hedges, who acquired the business in 2014, purchased the building in October 2016 and remodeled it. The new location provides more storefront and the ability to provide needlepoint classes, and is all on one level, she said.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and by appointment only on Monday. The phone is (225) 925-8920, and the website is theelegantneedle.com.

STEP-In clinic opens in Prairieville

St. Elizabeth Physicians has opened a STEP-In clinic in Suite A at the Prairieville Medical Plaza at 17609 Old Jefferson Highway.

The clinic accepts walk-ins for the treatment of sprains and strains, allergies, colds, coughs, flu, strep, sore throats and other minor illnesses and injuries.

The clinic is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

St. Elizabeth Physicians also operates a STEP-In Clinic in Medical Plaza I on the campus of St. Elizabeth Hospital at 2647 S. St. Elizabeth Blvd. in Gonzales. St. Elizabeth Physicians is a subsidiary of St. Elizabeth Hospital and part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System since 2007.

Coursey Walmart remodeling complete

A remodeling of the Walmart Neighborhood Market at 14241 Coursey Blvd. in Baton Rouge has been completed.

The store revised product locations to better reflect how customers shop and includes features such as a refreshed deli, new coolers in produce, an improved pharmacy, additional self-checkouts and an expanded customer service desk.

Cambria Hotel opens in Warehouse District

The Cambria Hotel New Orleans Warehouse District has opened at 632 Tchoupitoulas St.

The 162-room upscale Choice Hotels International Inc. hotel is a collaboration with Fillmore Capital Partners and Fillmore Hospitality.

The hotel features contemporary on-site dining, with local specialties, signature cocktails and area craft beers, as well as grab-and-go gourmet salads and sandwiches. The property also includes 1,200 square feet of meeting space and a fitness center.

Cambria has 32 hotels across the United States, with nearly 100 hotels open or in the pipeline in the U.S. and Canada.

'State of Jefferson' luncheon scheduled

The Jefferson Chamber will host a "State of Jefferson" luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 7 at the Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport at 2829 Williams Blvd. in Kenner.

Guests include Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni and Jefferson Parish Councilman-at-Large Chris Roberts.

The luncheon will be televised live on Jefferson Parish Television. JPTV is available in Jefferson Parish on Cox Communications Channel 6 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 and will be streaming on jeffparish.net.

Tickets are $75 for chamber members and $125 for nonmembers at www.jeffersonchamber.org or by calling (504) 835-3880. Sponsorship opportunities range from $850 to $1,000.