Contractor seminar registration underway

Registration is available until Feb. 25 for construction industry professionals to sign up for the General Contractors Seminar by the Louisiana Contractors Accreditation Institute, offered in interactive, distance-learning sessions broadcast live to multiple locations throughout Louisiana.

The 10-week course will be offered March 11 through May 15 and provides technical knowledge essential for a general contractor working in the construction industry in Louisiana. Sessions will be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Topics include blueprint reading; building calculations; site work, demolition and construction; foundations, formwork and retaining walls; finishes; roof structures; structural loads; steel construction; related trades; special construction and equipment; and safety codes.

Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors and Louisiana Community and Technical College System developed the institute. Since 2016, 749 participants have graduated from the seminars.

The distance-learning locations in the area are River Parishes Community College, Gonzales campus; Delgado Community College, New Orleans City Park campus; Fletcher Technical Community College, Schriever campus; SOWELA Technical Community College, Lake Charles campus; LSU at Eunice; Northshore Technical Community College, Lacombe campus; Baton Rouge Community College; and Nunez Community College, Chalmette.

Registration is at and click the “Apply Now” link. Enrollment is offered online on a first-come, first-served basis. A $350 fee covers the cost of the course and materials.

La. START K12 Program operational

The Louisiana START K12 Program created by the Legislature last year is now in operation, allowing funds to be used for tuition expenses related to a beneficiary’s enrollment in kindergarten through 12th grade.

"If you have a child that attends a private school or a school that charges tuition, you can use the money to pay for tuition and can receive tax benefits for putting money into that plan," said state Rep. Franklin Foil, who helped pass the legislation.

Both federal and state tax law benefits are available for an account owner who opens a START K12 account, including federal tax deferral for earnings on deposits; a limited federal tax deduction for the payment of tuition and related expenses; and earnings are state and federal tax-free when used toward Qualified Education Expenses.

START K12 withdrawals are limited to a maximum of $10,000 per year and may be used for K-12 tuition expenses only.

"We’ve seen tremendous success with participation in the START college savings program and look forward to parents taking advantage of the new K-12 option," said state Treasurer John Schroder.

An account owner can choose among five START K12 Program investment options. Money deposited is invested by the state treasurer in one or more funds managed by The Vanguard Group.

Funds from a START Saving Program account cannot be rolled over into a START K12 Program account; however, any funds remaining in a START K12 Program account when the designated beneficiary completes high school can be rolled over to a START Saving Program account to be used for qualified higher education expenses.

Information is at

Waste Management partners with auto center

Waste Management has partnered with Baton Rouge Community College and its McKay Automotive Training Center at the school’s Ardendale site.

Waste Management donated a decommissioned truck chassis and parts, and will also offer its professional training and technical assistance to the training center to help student technicians acquire the skills needed for automotive technical careers.

“This partnership provides another great opportunity for our students to acquire cutting-edge training techniques and skills from a leading industry provide,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib.

Applications sought for pitch competition

Propeller is accepting applications until Feb. 18 for PitchNOLA, a three-part series of pitch competitions that will award $30,000 in total prizes to entrepreneurs tackling inequities in the greater New Orleans area.

The series is open to all entrepreneurs with nonprofit and for-profit ventures to address racial disparities in food, water, health and education. Selected entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

Each competition in the PitchNOLA series will take on a key issue, beginning with the Water Challenge on April 3. The Education Challenge will be on April 17. The series will close with the Health & Food Challenge on May 1.

Details about eligibility, informational sessions and the competition are Propeller is a New Orleans-based 501(c)3 nonprofit that grows and supports entrepreneurs to tackle social and environmental disparities.

BioScrip opens pharmacy, infusion suite

BioScrip Infusion Services Inc., formerly CarePoint Partners, has opened a sterile compounding pharmacy and ambulatory infusion suite at 5401 Jefferson Highway, Suite B, in New Orleans.

The 15,000-square-foot facility will have 44 full-time employees. The location adds to the nine BioScrip locations already present throughout Louisiana, including New Orleans, Covington, Hammond, Lafayette, Houma, Lake Charles and Baton Rouge.

Treatments include the recent introduction of Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter line placement in the New Orleans market. BioScrip provides anti-infective therapy, cardiac care, nutrition support, immunoglobulin therapy, transplant care and hemophilia care.

Fidelity opens South Market bank branch

Fidelity has opened a bank branch at 1001 Julia St., Suite 112A, in the South Market district in downtown New Orleans.

The 1,600-square-foot Fidelity South Market Branch replaces the bank’s downtown St. Charles location.

The branch includes computer upgrades and other automated technological improvements for customer convenience, including the new service known as touch down banking for clients who prefer a total digital experience.

Customers can make online transfers from other financial institutions, research products and services, and communicate live with a Fidelity representative electronically. Included in the new technology is the Integrated Teller Machine, which allows customers to make deposits and conduct their banking affairs on a touchscreen television monitor.

Fidelity also has full-service banking associates at the new South Market facility to assist customers.

Founded in 1908, Fidelity Bank is an $800 million in assets mutual financial institution chartered by the state of Louisiana.

New Orleans women's boutique opening

New Orleans women's apparel shop Swoon Boutique will open a Lafayette location this spring to go with the return home to Acadiana for one of its owners.

The shop will open March 30 in a 1,400-square-foot space at 1700 Kaliste Saloom Road, Suite 100A, across the street from Plantation Park. Natalie DeCourt Guillory and Alyssa Mansfield, both graduates of Catholic High School in New Iberia, launched a Swoon Boutique three years ago in the Lakeview area of New Orleans. Guillory got married last year and moved back to Lafayette.

"We're definitely filling a gap that's in Lafayette," Guillory said. "We're looking to cater to that middle-range woman from her 20s to 50s at a moderate price point. That's currently missing in Lafayette, and I think the area will really like the clothes, shoes, handbags and other accessories we sell."