New Orleans area business briefs for Dec. 23, 2015 _lowres

Graham Ralston

Regions Bank names Ralston city president

Regions Bank has named Graham Ralston as city president for the greater New Orleans area.

He succeeds Scott Howard, who was in charge for 10 years and is retiring Jan. 29. Howard will join Regions Bank’s south Louisiana advisory board.

Ralston joined Regions in 2013 and will continue to serve as commercial banking executive for south Louisiana. He has 18 years of experience.

“His success in working with business clients throughout greater New Orleans makes him ideally suited for this leadership role,” said Danny Montelaro, south Louisiana area president for Regions Bank.

Ralston received his bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Texas at Austin and a master of business administration from Tulane University.

Applicants sought for startup competition

The Startup St. Bernard Competition is accepting applications until Jan. 17 from entrepreneurs looking to compete in a pitch competition for an estimated $110,000 prize package to help launch a business in the parish.

The competition, presented by the Meraux Foundation and the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, will be held during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm in St. Bernard.

The contest is open to entrepreneurs interested in locating a business in St. Bernard for at least two years. The prize package includes cash and donated services such as accounting, legal and marketing help.

To enter, applicants must have been in business for no more than five years or have an existing business that’s creating a new division or entity; have less than $1 million in annual revenue; a maximum of five workers; and be a for-profit operation.

Entries will be scored on factors that include job growth, local capital investment and improving the parish’s image.

Five finalists will pitch their business to the panel during a live event. For more information, visit

Hillshire Brands to settle federal claims

Hillshire Brands will pay $4 million to settle federal claims that black employees at a north Texas food plant were exposed to dangerous work conditions and subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment.

Sara Lee ended its Paris operations in 2011, and part of the company later became Hillshire Brands, which in turn was bought by Tyson Foods.