DA Phil Haney, left, state Sen. Mike Michot, John Tolson, Mike Becnel and Gene Rodrigue of Ideal Steel, Fran Gladden of LED, Parish President Guy Cormier, the Rev. Ed Down of First Baptist Church in New Iberia, and state Reps. Joel Robideaux and Troy Hebert

Jeanette Alcon and Jesse Guidry

Courtney Reynolds and Michael LeBlanc

Damon Redfield and Mandi Mitchell
Good business involves customer and community service. That was evident following hurricanes Gustav and Ike when businesses from far and near helped with recovery. CPS Energy of San Antonio, a municipally owned utility similar to LUS, dispatched a crew and equipment to help restore power in Lafayette following Gustav. Utility linemen repaired downed power lines and replaced fallen utility poles, helping the city get back up and running. CPS Energy serves 685,000 electrical customers and 320,000 natural gas customers in San Antonio. Community outreach has its rewards. Ideal Steel recently celebrated winning a Lantern Award from Louisiana Economic Development for excellence in community involvement and manufacturing. Founded in 2002, the Broussard-based manufacturer was the Acadiana winner, one of eight representing each region of the state. Ideal Steel was recognized for its contribution to the community, employee growth and facility expansion. "We felt this win and all of Ideal Steel's successes come from the sincere relationships that are built with our employees, customers and suppliers," says John Tolson IV, company president. The company attributes its growth to service-oriented employees and smart use of state and federal programs like the Louisiana State Enterprise Zone Program, exemption of ad valorem taxes by the state and the Federal Gulf Opportunity Zone Act tax incentive. With just more than 100 employees, Ideal Steel designs and creates custom buildings and steel components using mass customization techniques for commercial, industrial, retail and agricultural markets in 32 states. LED is providing more assistance to help businesses adversely affected by the recent hurricanes. A Business Recovery Call Center is open 24-7 to provide resources and contacts for businesses affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Call 877.610.3LED (3533) or visit www.LouisianaForward.com/BizHelp/ where you can sign up for e-mail alerts about assistance as it becomes available. If you prefer one-on-one help, a Business Counseling Center is now open in Carencro, one of five in the state offering free consultations and services that include assessing economic damage, assistance with the SBA Disaster Loan program and cash flow projections, and a review of financial options. Call the Enterprise Center of Louisiana, 3419 N.W. Evangeline Thruway, 896-9115. Business networking is a key part of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours. The August event was sponsored by AT&T Real Yellow Pages and held at Keith's The Ballroom in downtown Lafayette with its distinctive black and white checkered floor and delicious catered food. It was lights, cameras and action last month at the chamber's Eggs 'N' Issues event as the Lafayette Entertainment Initiative took center stage. The focus was on the growing entertainment industry in Acadiana with an exciting introduction to the Entertainment Vendor Incentive program. Writer/Actor Andy Dick brought star power to the event, which included leaders in the local film industry. In partnership with the chamber, LEI initiated eVIP to ramp up incentives and entice more entertainment production in Acadiana. Membership in eVIP has its privileges. Members receive 25 percent off with participating vendors, while vendors become an incremental part of one of the fastest growing industries in the state and get their business listed in the eVIP guide, a Hollywood style "red book” that provides a handy reference for businesses that can provide goods and services to those in the entertainment business. It's just one more step to consolidate efforts to make Acadiana more visible as an entertainment-friendly business community, which in turn will foster more economic development. For more information and/or to sign up to participate, visit www.lafchamber.org/. Eggs 'N' Issues was sponsored by Holbrook Multi-Media. Presentations and comments were made by Bob Holbrook; Marcus Brown of LEI; Rob Guidry of the chamber; Henry Florsheim of LITE; Gregg Gothreaux of LEDA; Brian Garland of Bullet Films; Blaine McManus of Maxim; C-P President Joey Durel; and Sherri McConnell of the Louisiana Economic Development's entertainment industry division.

Henry Florsheim, Rob Guidry and Bob Holbrook

Gregg Gothreaux of LEDA, UL's Dr. Magdy Bayoumi and Chris Allain of Vidox

Marcus Brown of LEI, City-Parish President Joey Durel, Brian Garland of Bullet Films and Blaine McManus of Maxim Entertainment

Writer/Director Marshall Cook, Lauren Thomas, writer/actor Andy Dick, Joan Broussard, Kenny Steinocher, Stacey Fabre and Blaine McManus of Maxim Entertainment

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