The organization also announced the recipients of its 2016 business awards at the event. Mr. Mudbug & 12 Seasons Catering received the 2016 Small Business of the Year Award. The catering company has been in business for 30 years. It began with a small pot and a rig for hosting mobile crawfish boils and has grown into a high-end business with a wide variety of clients. The company hosts 500 events a year, catering everything from weddings and corporate events to NBA All-Star parties. Alicia Maenza took over the company in 2011. Since then, she has grown her employee base from 25 to 75 in just five short years. Additionally, the company has experienced exponential sales growth. In 2015, sales grew 50% from the previous year. Mr. Mudbug & 12 Seasons Catering is heavily involved in local businesses and charitable organizations, working with groups like CASA Jefferson, the MS Society of Louisiana, and Magnolia Community Services.
Jay Lapeyre, President of Laitram, LLC, was awarded the 2016 Business Retention and Expansion Award, a recognition bestowed upon an organization, individual or company that has been instrumental in the retention of Jefferson Parish jobs and businesses. Founded in the 1950’s with the invention of the world’s first automated shrimp peeling machine, Laitram’s philosophy of continuous improvement through innovation, investment in its employees, and industry-building partnerships has kept it at the forefront of the manufacturing industry in Louisiana and on a global scale.
Today, the company boasts over 2,200 employees (1,200 of them in Jefferson Parish) and over 1,000 active patents. Laitram focuses on constant advancements in technology and elevating the individual strengths of its employees through the sharing of ideas and teamwork. Employees at Laitram can further benefit from on-site health & wellness and fitness centers, which further promote productivity. Laitram has built partnerships with area colleges and schools, including Cullier Career Center, Delgado Community College and the University of New Orleans. These partnerships align education and training with the needs of the manufacturing and technology sectors to play a significant role in addressing the region’s workforce needs.
JEDCO’s 2016 Chairman of the Board, Mark Madderra, presented Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO,Inc.) President Michael Hecht with the Chairman’s Champion Award. Michael has been a fixture in the economic development community for many years. Through GNO, Inc.’s efforts, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport announced a partnership with British Airways to bring non-stop flights to London from New Orleans in 2017. GNO, Inc. played a supporting role in major economic development announcements made in Jefferson Parish this year, including the attraction of Dyno Nobel to Cornerstone Chemical Company. The ammonia plant was commissioned in Waggaman in September 2016, bringing in over $1 billion in foreign direct investment to Jefferson Parish. It is the largest project in JEDCO history.
Under Michael’s leadership, GNO, Inc. has dedicated many resources to workforce development. The organization developed World of Work, an outreach program designed to connect high school guidance counselors and administration to businesses in order to educate them on possible technical careers that are available to students across the state. The organization also oversees WorkNOLA, a local job search engine to connect businesses to job seekers. JEDCO and Greater New Orleans Inc. work hand-in-hand to strengthen workforce development regionally through partnerships with local schools and colleges. JEDCO also works closely with GNO, Inc. on a variety of projects and initiatives, including plans to update the region’s medical infrastructure and to bring the former Avondale Shipyard site back into commerce.
“This group of award winners is indicative of the true talent, innovation and dedication to business found in Jefferson Parish,” says JEDCO President and CEO Jerry Bologna. “These individuals and businesses play a crucial role in the continued prosperity of our community. Not only do they work to increase the economic vitality of our region, but they continue to give back and change our community for the better. We are so grateful for their contributions to Jefferson Parish.”