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LABI Announces Honorees for Free Enterprise Awards

August 16, 2019

BATON ROUGE, LA (August 16, 2019) – After a statewide nominations and selection process, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) is pleased to recognize ten companies and individuals selected as the 2019 Free Enterprise Awards winners. Their unparalleled devotion to their employees, local communities and Louisiana’s future will be formally recognized during the Free Enterprise Awards Reception, presented by Dow Chemical Company, in Baton Rouge on September 5, 2019.

“From young entrepreneurs forging new pathways to established businesses that have helped to grow our economy for decades, this group of business leaders is truly impacting Louisiana’s business climate and expanding economic opportunity,” said Stephen Waguespack, LABI president and CEO. “We are proud to recognize these LABI members, and this group in particular showcases the wide-ranging and unique mix of our membership and advocacy partners. We look forward to honoring them and telling their story, and hope you’ll join us in celebrating their contributions on September 5.”

The 2019 Free Enterprise Awards reception will be held at the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette Street in Downtown Baton Rouge, at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 5, 2019.  For tickets or more information, click here or call 225-928-5388.

The 2019 LABI Free Enterprise Awards recipients are as follows:

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.

  • Art Favre, Performance Contractors, Inc.
  • Donna Saurage, Community Coffee Company, LLC

Free Enterprise Champions are individuals who demonstrate exemplary commitment and contributions to the state’s business climate and their local communities.

  • 2019 Businessperson Honoree: Scott, Steven and Paul Ballard, Ballard Brands
  • 2019 Young Businessperson Honoree: Friday Ellis, Governors Cigar & Pipe

Company of the Year Award recognizes outstanding achievement among Louisiana companies.

  • 2019 Company of the Year > 100 Employees: Community Coffee Company, LLC
  • 2019 Company of the Year < 100 Employees: Emergent Method

Manufacturer of the Year Award recognizes outstanding achievement among Louisiana manufacturers.

  • 2019 Company of the Year > 100 Employees: Crest Industries
  • 2019 Company of the Year < 100 Employees: Kennedy Rice Mill, LLC

Workforce Innovator of the Year Award honors individuals or organizations that have provided substantial innovations or contributions to workforce development in Louisiana. The award recognizes those who have excelled in creating, implementing, or supporting a high-caliber education or workforce development initiative aligned with closing the employment gap.

  • 2019 Workforce Innovator of the Year: Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.)

Economic Development Partner of the Year Award recognizes exceptional leadership by an economic development or business organization.

  • 2019 Economic Development Partner of the Year: American Sugar Cane League

In conjunction with the Free Enterprise Awards, LABI will also honor those legislators recognized as Term All-Stars and those receiving Term Honorable Mentions for their support of pro-business legislation during this current four-year term of office with a special recognition during the reception.

“The 44 legislators who stuck with us through the past four challenging years deserve special thanks,” Waguespack continued. “When called upon to make tough decisions, stand strong and support policy that impacts job-creation, economic opportunity and free enterprise in Louisiana, they came through. Many of these 44 are term-limited, and we’re grateful for their impactful service at the Capitol.”

Overall, 24 legislators were named term “All-Stars,” scoring 90 percent or higher on legislation important to LABI and the state’s employers during the past four-year term. Those term All-Stars are House Speaker Taylor Barras (R-New Iberia), Sens. Conrad Appel (R-Metairie), Jack Donahue (R-Mandeville), Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell), Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton), Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe), and Reps. Beryl Amedee (R-Houma), Tony Bacala (R-Prairieville), Raymond Crews (R-Bossier City), Paula Davis (R-Baton Rouge), Phillip DeVillier (R-Eunice), Rick Edmonds (R-Baton Rouge), Julie Emerson (R-Carencro), Raymond Garofalo (R-Chalmette), Dodie Horton (R-Haughton), Barry Ivey (R-Baton Rouge), Nancy Landry (R-Lafayette), Blake Miguez (R-Erath), Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport), John Stefanski (R-Crowley), Kirk Talbot (R-River Ridge), Polly Thomas (R-Metairie), Mark Wright (R-Covington) and Jerome Zeringue (R-Houma).

Legislators named as term “Honorable Mentions,” scoring 80 percent or higher on legislation important to LABI and its members during the past four years are Sens. Barrow Peacock (R-Shreveport), Neil Riser (R-Columbia), Bodi White (R-Baton Rouge), and Reps. Johnny Berthelot (R-Gonzales), Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette), Thomas Carmody (R-Shreveport), Steve Carter (R-Baton Rouge), Jean-Paul Coussan (R-Lafayette), Cameron Henry (R-Metairie), Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs), Mike Huval (R-Breaux Bridge), Chris Leopold (R-Belle Chasse), Sherman Mack (R- Albany), Tanner Magee (R-Houma), Jack McFarland (R-Jonesboro), Kevin Pearson (R-Slidell), Steve Pugh (R-Ponchatoula), Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales), Scott Simon (R-Abita Springs) and Julie Stokes (R-Kenner).

Those legislators named in the 2019 LABI Legislative Scorecard as Most Valuable Policymakers (MVPs), All-Stars and Honorable Mentions exclusively for the 2019 Session will have their awards delivered to them this fall.  To review a full list of those honorees, please visit


For press inquiries, contact:

Marie Centanni

(225) 270-5014

About the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry was organized in 1975 to represent Louisiana businesses, serving as both the state chamber of commerce and state manufacturers association. LABI’s primary goal is to foster a climate for economic growth by championing the principles of the free enterprise system and representing the general interest of the business community through active involvement in the political, legislative, judicial and regulatory processes. Find out more information at