Program creates new options for some crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program is available for some crops that traditionally have been ineligible for federal crop insurance.

The new options, created by the 2014 farm bill, provide greater coverage for losses when natural disasters affect specialty crops such as vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, honey, syrup and energy crops.

Previously, the program offered coverage at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production. Producers can now choose higher levels of coverage, up to 65 percent of their expected production at 100 percent of the average market price.

More information is available online at

Organization holding winter LNG workshop

Louisiana Clean Fuels will hold its Winter Stakeholder Luncheon and LNG Workshop from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. in Baton Rouge.

Speakers will discuss the use of liquefied natural gas in fleets. Topics include Clean Cities projects and initiatives for 2015; LNG case studies; LNG basics from the well to tank; the Tenaska Bayou LNG project in the Port of Greater Baton Rouge; a Department of Environmental Quality update and ozone overview; and the Greenride Project.

Sponsorships are available.

Starwood unveils Le Méridien New Orleans

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. unveiled its $29 million renovation of the Le Méridien New Orleans, 333 Poydras St.

The hotel features 410 redesigned guestrooms, including 22 suites; three new food and beverage outlets, including a new destination restaurant; and the addition of 1,600 square feet of flexible meeting and event space.

“Watching our hotel go through such a significant transition over the past few months has been an exciting journey,” said John Thompson, general manager of Le Méridien New Orleans.

The final phase of the hotel renovation will include a redesigned front desk and porte-cochere valet entrance, the enhancement of existing meeting space and a landscaped palm garden that incorporates an art component and outdoor seating for guests and private events.

The hotel design incorporates lines and grids inspired by the cartography and geography of New Orleans, as seen from an aerial perspective. The design also features patterns and textures influenced by cultural and architectural elements.

A grand opening celebration is scheduled for March 2015.

SBA training program offered in New Orleans

The U.S. Small Business Administration has launched its 2015 Emerging Leaders executive-level training series in New Orleans and 47 other cities.

The initiative has trained more than 2,400 small-business owners nationally in underserved communities.

The seven-month executive entrepreneurship education series includes about 100 hours of classroom time per participant and provides the opportunity for small-business owners to work with experienced mentors, attend workshops and develop connections with their peers, city leaders and financial communities.

Local recruitment for the 2015 training cycle is underway at SBA district offices, and classes are scheduled to begin in April.

Information on eligibility and applications can be found online at emergingleaders.

Compiled from Advocate business staff reports