Celebrating the Job Creators and Innovators

Each year at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, we recognize some of the outstanding work by businesses, policymakers and other partners making progress in our state. Time and time again, Louisiana businesses large and small step up to make local investments in our communities and create quality jobs for our people.  We award the honor of Free Enterprise Champions to individuals who demonstrate exemplary commitment and contributions to the state’s business climate and their local communities.

I’m particularly proud of our 2018 Young Businessperson Honorees: The Students of Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School. The school opened in 2016 as part of a network of Catholic schools nationwide that educate young people of limited economic means to become men and women of faith, purpose and service. Cristo Rey students earn a majority of their education cost through the Corporate Work Study Program. They collectively earn approximately $1.2 million towards their tuition and work in over 16 different industries here in Baton Rouge.

LABI’s 2018 Company of the Year with more than 100 employees is ExxonMobil. As a charter member of LABI, we have had the honor of standing shoulder to shoulder with our partners at ExxonMobil for many years. The ExxonMobil refinery is the largest manufacturing employer in the state and the chemical plant is the second largest. ExxonMobil provides more than 3,000 long-term jobs and employs thousands of contractor workers across the state.

Golfballs.com is the 2018 Company of the Year with fewer than 100 employees. As Louisiana’s first online retailer back in 1995, Golfballs.com initially sold used golf balls but has transitioned over the years into one of the leading golf Internet retailers. Golfballs.com employs nearly 100 Louisianans and has sold more than 5 million golf balls in all 50 states and 40 countries.

Entergy Louisiana is our 2018 Manufacturer of the Year with more than 100 employees. This Fortune 500 company has helped create 23,000 new jobs in Louisiana since 2005.

Our 2018 Manufacturer of the Year with fewer than 100 employees is Eastman Chemical Co. Eastman’s commitment to the community and to creating a safe work environment for their employees is where this company truly shines.

The Workforce Innovator of the Year Award goes to SOWELA Technical Community College, an institution educating the region’s workforce since 1940 when it first opened its doors to students. SOWELA’s workforce development programs and partnerships with major LABI members like CITGO, Shell and Sasol represents vision and leadership, seizing a rare opportunity for Louisiana’s talented workforce.

Economic Development Partner of the Year Award recognizes exceptional leadership by an economic development or business organization. Todd Murphy and his team at the Jefferson Chamber has been one of our strongest local partners going back two decades.

Finally, The Ed Steimel Achievement Award honors long-standing membership and service to LABI and recognizes individuals who have committed extraordinary time and effort to improve the quality of life in Louisiana. This year we posthumously honor Stephen “Steve” Stumpf, our former Chairman of the Board at LABI. Like Steimel, Steve was a respected business leader and beloved philanthropist – and his passing was an incredible loss to Louisiana. Steve owned and operated a variety of companies in the New Orleans Region, most recently serving as the former CEO and Chairman of Durr Heavy Construction. But his impact was felt far beyond the construction industry. Known for having a strong moral compass and big heart, he was deeply committed to his family, his faith, his friends, his employees and the community.

In conjunction with the Free Enterprise Awards, LABI will also honor those legislators recognized in the 2018 LABI Legislative Scorecard as “Most Valuable Policymakers” (MVPs), All-Stars and Honorable Mentions.


About Stephen Waguespack 26 Articles
Stephen Waguespack is the President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). As the state’s chamber of commerce and manufacturer’s association, LABI is the largest business advocacy group, representing more than 2,200 business members and 324,000 employees.

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