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Landry shakes up Louisiana Economic Development agency • Louisiana Illuminator

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Landry shakes up Louisiana Economic Development agency • Louisiana Illuminator


Gov. Jeff Landry signed a bill into law Tuesday that restructures the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) agency, eliminates labor union representation from its board, and exempts the agency from certain state purchasing laws that have caused bureaucratic delays. 

Senate Bill 494, sponsored by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, attracted scant attention during a recent legislative session with a number of more controversial measures. Nevertheless, the governor held a news conference to commemorate his signing of the bill.

It gives the LED secretary discretion to reverse the denial of any LED incentives for businesses that lose them by missing a filing deadline or failing to meet a requirement as the result of an event beyond their control. LED offers billions worth of corporate incentives with generous tax breaks, such as the Quality Jobs tax credit, film tax credit, Industrial Tax Exemption Program, Restoration Tax Abatement, Angel Investor Tax Credit, and many others. 

Mizell’s bill also eliminates several of the agency’s executive positions, including the undersecretary and assistant secretaries, giving the secretary more autonomy to tailor LED’s leadership roster.  

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The bill changes some of the qualification requirements that were in place for appointees to the LED board of directors. Notably, it removes a requirement that one of the board seats be chosen from a list of private sector individuals submitted by the Louisiana chapter of the AFL-CIO, which is the largest labor union federation in the country. The new qualification for that seat is a private sector individual with experience as a startup founder. 

Mizell’s bill establishes a new 11-member advisory committee called the Louisiana Economic Development Partnership. It is charged with advising LED on project opportunities, strategies and incentive programs to promote growth in the state. 

New Orleans Pelicans get millions in incentives for creating ‘quality jobs’ for NBA players

The governor has authority to appoint nine of the committee members — one from within each of the state’s eight economic regions, and one at-large member. The Louisiana Legislature gets to appoint the remaining two committee members.

Lastly, the new law exempts LED from state procurement laws related to the purchasing of information technology (IT) equipment, software and services. LED no longer has to go through the state Office of Technology Services for those kinds of purchases, though it will still be subject to state bid laws and legislative oversight.  

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“It’s taking them ridiculous amounts of time to get simple services and get programs mobilized … It’s time-intensive, and it’s cost-intensive,” Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, said on the Senate floor last month. 

The Senate Finance Committee had heard testimony during a May 6 hearing that the procurement process for basic IT services was taking between nine and 12 months, Cloud said. 

At Tuesday’s press conference, LED Secretary Susan Bourgeois praised the legislation, which takes effect immediately, though the changes to the procurement process will occur through a transition that will be final by June 30, 2025.

“Senate Bill 494 is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation ever passed as it relates to economic development in Louisiana,” Bourgeois said. “It completely reimagines the visioning, planning and oversight of our economic development efforts. It creates a private-sector-focused advisory board. It gives LED the freedom to streamline procurement, leverage new technology and compete at the speed of business.”

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Video Shows Truck Engulfed in Flames at Popular I-10 Travel Center in Louisiana

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Video Shows Truck Engulfed in Flames at Popular I-10 Travel Center in Louisiana


A dramatic incident unfolded at a popular travel center off I-10 in Duson, Louisiana, on Sunday (June 23) when a truck caught fire. Numerous photos and a wild video surfaced online, showing the vehicle completely engulfed in flames.

The fire occurred at the I-10 Travel Center Chevron near Miss Mamie’s Casino, a well-known stop for travelers along I-10. According to a Facebook post from the Duson Fire Department, the blaze was reported at 10:52 AM. Firefighters arrived swiftly at 10:54 AM to find a 2016 Ford F-150 pickup truck fully engulfed in flames.

The truck was parked under a metal covering near the fuel pumps, causing heat and smoke damage to the structure. Despite the dangerous proximity to the fuel pumps, the firefighters successfully extinguished the fire with assistance from the Lafayette Fire Hazardous Materials unit, preventing what could have easily been a catastrophic explosion.

Duson Fire Chief Coby Duhon praised his team’s quick response and effective actions, saying, “With the proper personnel and response time, only a vehicle was lost today. No injuries were recorded, and there was minimal structure damage.”

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A video from Jamie Stutes Fontenot on Facebook showed just how dramatic the blaze was.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. Chief Duhon also thanked the Scott and Mire Fire Departments for their assistance in managing the situation.

We will update this story if any more new developments are confirmed.

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.

Gallery Credit: KATELYN LEBOFF





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Former OSU Wreslter Inducted Into Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame

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Former OSU Wreslter Inducted Into Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame


One of Oklahoma State’s most memorable wrestlers was honored by his home state over the weekend.

On Saturday, former OSU wrestler Daniel Cormier was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, Cormier was a dominant wrestler in high school.

At Northside High School, Cormier won three state wrestling championships. After his success in high school, he attended Colby Community College in Kansas.
He also dominated there, winning two NJCAA national championships while going 61-0 in two years. Following his undefeated career at Colby Community College, Cormier made his way to Stillwater, where he would be a force for the Cowboys.

READ MORE: Analyzing Oklahoma State’s Toughest Opponents in the New-Look Big 12

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At OSU, Cormier went 52-10 across the 2000 and 2001 seasons. With 36 bonus-point wins, Cormier was good enough to qualify for the NCAA Championships in both years.

In 2001, he earned All-America honors for his performance as he finished national runner-up at 184 pounds. In both seasons, Cormier played a significant role in OSU winning Big 12 championships.

After wrestling for two years under John Smith, Cormier went into freestyle wrestling and represented the United States on a few occasions. Cormier won gold medals at the Pan American Championships in 2002 and the Pan American Games in 2003.

Following his wrestling career, Cormier took up mixed martial arts and eventually joined the UFC in 2013.  Cormier would end his MMA career with 22 wins in 26 fights. He now works with ESPN as part of its mixed martial arts coverage.

As Cormier is in another Hall of Fame, he recognized the importance of his home state in his career.

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Boy, it’s good to be a kid from Louisiana,” Cormier said.

READ MORE: Why Oklahoma State’s Defensive Line will Outperform Expectations in 2024

Want to join the discussion? Like AllPokes on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest Cowboys news. You can also meet the team behind the coverage.





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Louisiana’s bookstores are vital community hubs

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Louisiana’s bookstores are vital community hubs


Louisiana got some positive media coverage in The New York Times this month, scoring a nice publicity coup in part because of the lively bookstore scene in New Orleans. The Times article, written by Crescent City native Maurice Carlos Ruffin, was a timely reminder that in a region known for great food and music, bookstores are an important part of Louisiana’s civic life, too.

Ruffin, a novelist and professor of creative writing at LSU, wrote the June 5 Times story, “Read Your Way Through New Orleans.” He suggested books that help explain the local culture and pointed travelers to a few literary landmarks, including neighborhood bookstores. Among the New Orleans stores getting a shout-out were Baldwin & Co. near Jackson Square, along with Community Book Center and the recently renovated Octavia Books.

Ruffin’s story pointed to a reality worth keeping in mind as another summer reading season unfolds. Our local bookstores, whether they be in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport or other communities around the state, are more than venues to buy books. They’re places where people from all walks of life can gather. In a divided world, these sources of connection are needed more than ever.

That thought’s been very much with me these days as I join many others in mourning the recent death of longtime Baton Rouge bookseller Danny Plaisance. Plaisance, who died June 4, ran Cottonwood Books for many years until ill health forced him to close it in 2022.

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Cottonwood’s mix of new and old books was a perfect classroom for me after I took my first newspaper job in Baton Rouge in 1986, becoming a store regular. The eclectic selection nudged me to explore cheap editions of the classics when I stopped by to catch up on just-published titles. Plaisance’s store was a draw for out-of-towners, too. Actor Tom Hanks combed the shelves a few years ago when he was in Louisiana to film a movie. It’s easy to see why Hanks, a history buff, would have been charmed. With its wealth of vintage volumes, Cottonwood smelled of must and dust, old paper and glue, a scent that seemed like inhaling the past.

While dealers in old books can be known as a crotchety bunch, there was nothing gruff about Danny. We were more likely to discuss family than reading when I saw him at his counter, underscoring Danny’s idea that books are a part of, not apart from, the rest of life.

Peering through Cottonwood’s vacant storefront some weeks ago, I was wistful when I spotted the empty shelves, but the quiet aisles seemed like the deeper absence. People, more than books, make a bookstore a community — a truth made clear when I joined other mourners at Danny’s bereavement service.

The family had printed prayer cards with a picture of Danny at his bookstore counter. I took one home, and I’m using it for a bookmark.

Email Danny Heitman at danny@dannyheitman.com.

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