NLEP Top Award Winners
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    February 17, 2016

    NLEP Top Award Winners

    SHREVEPORT-MONROE, La. — North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) tonight announced the winners of its first ever TOP Awards during the NLEP 2016 Annual Meeting at Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino in Shreveport, LA. The awards honor projects or persons that have made a tremendous impact in economic development throughout North Louisiana during the previous year.

    The TOP Project Award recognizes a project that illustrates North Louisiana as thriving region- a destination for high quality talent, innovative companies and global investment. This year’s TOP Project goes to IBM. IBM is establishing a 400-job Client Innovation Center in Monroe, from which the company will provide software technology services to clients across the United States. IBM also will partner with CenturyLink on research, development and product innovation initiatives. This project combines two of the leading technology companies in the world in a partnership that will pay great dividends for the community and the economic future of Monroe and North Louisiana.

    The TOP of Mind Award recognizes programs and partnerships that ensure a strong pipeline of talent to support current and future employers. This year’s Top of Mind Winner is Red Ball Oxygen. Red Ball Oxygen was instrumental in the development of a new Advanced Welding program and the high tech facility where it will be taught, the Advanced Welding Classroom and Learning Lab at Bossier Parish Community College. 

    Responding to the needs of their regional manufacturing customers, who were struggling to find welders trained in the appropriate welding technologies to meet their needs, Red Ball Oxygen was proactive in identifying a training institution that had experience with advanced manufacturing training.  The program will include courses in new welding technology, supervision and management, among others.  It is a first of its kind in this region. Red Ball Oxygen’s dynamic leader, Gary Kennedy, passed away last year. However, his son Alex, who shares his father’s passion in supporting his customers and this community, accepted the award in his father’s honor.

    The next award, TOP Advocate recognizes an elected official serving in NLEP’s 14 parish region that has shown outstanding leadership in economic development. This year’s TOP Advocate is Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker. Mayor Walker provided “outside the box” leadership that brought Monster Moto to Ruston.  Monster Moto is expected to create nearly 300 jobs. This unique collaboration of the city of Ruston and the Ruston business community involves business leaders developing a 100,000 SF facility at the former site of the Ruston municipal airport owned by the city of Ruston. Mayor Walker was the catalyst in making this project a reality.

    Last but not least, the TOP Person Award recognizes an individual who has played a key leadership role in economic development. The TOP Person has demonstrated effective leadership in mobilizing the development of programs and projects and has been an advocate for economic development. This award is selected by NLEP’s Chairman. This Year, NLEP Board Chair Ayres Bradford chose two individuals to receive this honor: NLEP Capital Development Co-chairs, John Peak and Chap Breard. These two honorees were charged with increasing the number of NLEP investors and investor revenue in what was called a mini capital campaign. John and Chap’s leadership and dedication to NLEP brought in 27 new investors and increased investor revenue by $261,500.

    Both Peak and Breard have served on the NLEP Board since the very beginning in various roles. John is retired from JPMorgan Chase as the former president of the North Louisiana Market. Chap is the President of the Monroe Office Equipment, a family-owned business which provides total office solutions.

    “We want to honor and thank all our TOP Award winners for their contributions that have advanced economic growth for North Louisiana.  Our region and our organization are much stronger because of the tireless work and dedication of these individuals and companies,” said Ayres Bradford, NLEP Board Chair.

    The NLEP Annual Meeting also featured Rebecca Ryan, respected futurist and author, who discussed how communities should prepare for the future. Ryan focused on the importance of communities preparing for future trends and how to recruit and retain a millennial workforce.  Her presentation was entitled “The Next Big Things: North Louisiana’s Next Generation.” Ryan is the Resident Futurist for the Alliance for Innovation. A futurist is a person who studies the future and makes predictions about it based on current trends. She is also a Senior Fellow at CEOs for Cities, and the founder and owner of NEXT Generation Consulting.

    “Regions that thrive in the new economy are those communities that can attract and retain a skilled and qualified workforce.  With Baby Boomers retiring, Millennials represent the future workforce.  It is important that North Louisiana is a place that appeals to young families and workers,” said Scott Martinez, CEcD, NLEP President.

    Ryan’s work in the areas of strategy and innovation has earned her national acclaim, including being named “Top 100 Most Influential People” by Accounting Today; “Communicator of the Year” by Women in Communications; “Entrepreneur of the Year” by U.S. Association for Small Businesses; and “Thought Leader” by CPA Practice Advisor among many other honors. Best-selling author Richard Florida calls Rebecca Ryan, “One of the most reliable sources for leaders who want to attract and retain the next generation of creative workers.”  Ryan is the author of two books  ̶  ReGENERATION: A Manifesto for America’s Future Leaders (2013) and Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Head of the Next Generation (2007).
    About North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    North Louisiana Economic Partnership, an Accredited Economic Development Organization, provides professional economic development services to the 14 parish region of North Louisiana, including lead generation and prospect management. The organization also represents the interests of North Louisiana with a unified voice and as a single point of contact. It acts as a catalyst, a convener, and a connector in the region to ensure that North Louisiana’s economic development potential is realized. Its vision is for North Louisiana to be a thriving region-a destination for high quality talent, innovative companies, and global investment.

    Special Thanks to our Annual Meeting Sponsors
    Gold Level:
    Franks Management Company, LLC

    Bronze Level:
    Biomedical Research Foundation
    Brown Builders, Inc.
    Carter Federal Credit Union
    Chase Bank
    Citizens National Bank
    Cross Keys Bank
    Harbuck & Ridley, LLC
    Heard, McElroy & Vestal, LLC
    Kean Miller, LLP
    Neil Erwin Law, LLC
    Parish of Caddo
    Progressive Bank
    Red Ball Oxygen Company, Inc.
    The Community Foundation of North Louisiana
    The Port of Caddo-Bossier
    Vantage Health Plan
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