Medical marijuana theme of conference

A free conference with the theme “Medical Marijuana: Benefits, Opportunities and Risks” is being held by the Environment and Health Council of Louisiana from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 14 at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at 6400 Perkins Road in Baton Rouge.

Each year EHCL hosts an annual conference to provide factual discussions on environmental, health and economic development topics.

The 2019 conference will feature Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain providing a state overview of the legal use and growing arrangements of medical marijuana, a panel discussion of representatives of the growers from LSU and Southern University, and a lobbyist and executive director of the Louisiana Association of Therapeutic Alternatives, who led the effort to gain the legal use of medical marijuana. An additional panel will focus on the practical role of caregivers, pharmacists and medical marijuana patients in the use of the product.

Preregistration is urged at

La. gets grants to promote exports

The U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded Louisiana $200,000 for grants to small businesses seeking to market goods and services to foreign customers.

Grants in the State Trade Expansion Program, or STEP, are designed to help small businesses gain the information and tools they need to succeed in export-related activities.

Louisiana Economic Development will administer the grants with goals of increasing the number of new small business exporters and boosting the sales of established exporters in Louisiana. LED is one of 41 state and U.S. territory agencies participating in the federal program for the 2019-2021 program cycle.

The Louisiana program will reimburse allowable travel, registration and exhibit expenses on domestic or foreign trade shows; inbound or outbound trade missions; participation in export training workshops; U.S. Commercial Service user fees; and other activities. Grants can reimburse up to 75 percent for new-to-export companies and up to 50 percent for market expansion companies. The program will offer assistance of up to $6,333 per company.

Information and applications are on the STEP grant page LED’s website,

Zoeys Queso expands on store shelves

Zoeys Queso has rolled its local artisanal queso brand out to all Whole Foods and Rouses grocery locations in Louisiana.

The New Orleans-based brand will now be carried by Whole Foods in seven stores and by Rouses in 52 stores in its trek toward distribution nationally.

“We’ve seen a great deal of growth in Rouses to date, and hope that this retail expansion across Louisiana will pave the way for our national footprint," said Darren Walker, co-founder of Zoeys Queso.

"The timing also coincides with football season … ," said CEO and co-founder Steven Stumpf.

The queso dips are packaged in 12-ounce containers and are available in two varieties: Original All Natural Queso and Three Pepper Spicy Blend.

Brightway agency opens in Baton Rouge

Brightway, The Johnson-Rodriguez Agency, has opened at 16645 Highland Road, Suite G-2, in the Highland Place plaza in Baton Rouge.

The insurance agency offers customized home, condo, renters, auto, flood, recreational vehicle, motorcycle, boat, umbrella and business policies from brands including Acadian Managers, Anchor Insurance, Bankers, Burns and Wilcox, Foremost, GeoVera, Gulfstream, Hagerty, Progressive, SageSure.

Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The agency is operated by Ben Rodriguez, the owner of a Brightway insurance agency in New Orleans, along with new agency owner Charles Johnson. Rodriguez’s agency in New Orleans opened in 2015 and was the first Brightway Agency to open in Louisiana.

Brightway Insurance is a national property/casualty insurance distribution company with more than $625 million in annualized written premium. Founded in 2008, it has more than 900 people in 196 offices across 21 states, serving customers in all 50 states.

Regymen Fitness opens on Corporate

Regymen Fitness has opened a 2,980-square-foot fitness studio at 7580 Corporate Blvd. in Baton Rouge.

The studio offers over 90 workouts per month. It offers three calorie- and heart rate-monitored multiplatform group workouts. These include Burn, which focuses on an even mixture of weights and cardio; Box, concentrating on power punching, lifting and agility work; and Build, a workout focusing on building strength and increasing mobility.

Regymen Fitness, first launched in 2017, has grown to 13 studios with locations in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island, plus two scheduled to open in Huntsville, Alabama, and Clearwater, Florida.

The first Baton Rouge location opened in March 2018. The two other locations are Bluebonnet and Ascension.

“The opening of this location is part of our smart-growth plan for our company. We are also looking at the potential of expanding into Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee,” said Donnie Jarreau, co-founder.

Meet event venue opens in Port Allen

Meet, a boutique event venue, has opened at The Village of Huns Grove in Port Allen.

The indoor/outdoor facility is adaptable to specific needs of its guests with a diversity of setup options for wedding, holiday reception, board and committee meetings, workshops and seminars, bridal showers, gender reveals/baby showers and other events.

Amenities include tables/chairs, table linens, moderate table décor, full warming kitchen, commercial ice maker and courtyard area access. A speaker system with mic and projector with projector screen are also available for a fee.

Its email and website are and

InvestNOLA starts with 13 entrepreneurs

The New Orleans Business Alliance launched its inaugural cohort of the InvestNOLA program, an effort to grow small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color into enterprises with $10 million in annual revenue.

Thirteen local entrepreneurs joined the initiative. They are Charles West, of Square Button Consulting; Marseyas Fernandez Sr., of MSF Global; Michelle Gobert, of Image 360; Jasminne Navarre, of Rhodes Family of Businesses; Alfonso Gonzalez II, of Corporate Business Supplies; Gretchen Chase, of Chase Hospitality Group; Krista Pouncy-Dyson, of Performance First Digital; Nathanael Scales, of Garden Doctors; Vern Keeler Jr., of Vern Keeler & Associates; Bernard H. Robertson III, of Hackett Robertson Tobe Group; Iam Christian Tucker, of ILSI Engineering; Otis Tucker, of Trucking Innovation; and Hugh Blackwell, of Blackstar Diversified Enterprises.

The program is designed to accelerate expansion in high-growth potential businesses through public- and private-sector opportunities, innovative capital products and advanced business-management education developed by Tulane and Xavier Universities.

“The launch of this program and its inaugural cohort represents the first step in an overdue journey for the New Orleans business community and highlights incredible business owners who could further improve the trajectory of the city’s business climate. In a majority people of color city, growing the businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color is beneficial to all New Orleanians and reflects the rich diversity here. This is economic development re-imagined,” said Quentin L. Messer Jr., president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance.

InvestNOLA is the local version of the national small business growth program, Ascend, funded by a $500,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The initiative will offer flexible credit and equity investments through financial partners New Corp Inc., TruFund Financial Services Inc. and LiftFund. The New Orleans Start-up Fund and the NO/LA Angel Network will provide investment capital to eligible participants.