March 10, 2020


Register Now to Attend the Live “Shark Tank” Style Pitch Event

Startup St. Bernard organizers, the Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, announced the three finalists selected to compete in the $100,000 business competition: CORE: Louisiana Counseling & Recovery Center, LLC, Green Street, and Jessie.  The 6th annual Startup St. Bernard competition is being held on Monday, March 23, 2020 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm (5128 E. St. Bernard Highway, Violet, La.).

The finalists will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges and a live audience for a chance to win a grand prize package of cash and in-kind services. The two runners up will each receive $5,000 in seed money to grow their businesses. Should the judges not reach consensus, an audience vote will determine the winner of the grand prize.

Startup St. Bernard is being held in conjunction with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week as a NOEW In Your Neighborhood event. Anyone interested in attending the free Shark Tank-style business pitch competition is asked to register at

The judges will be Andrea Chen, the executive director of Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation; Caitlin Cain, CEcD, the owner and president of Cain & Co.; Kimberley Singletary, the managing editor of Biz New Orleans; Alanna “Lani” Fast, the associate administrator of St. Bernard Parish Hospital; and Jason Waggenspack, the founder and ‘head of possibilities’ of The Ranch Film Studios and founder of Neutral Ground Films. Tom Gregory, the multiple Emmy-winning host, writer, producer, and reporter, will return to emcee the event. 

Startup St. Bernard was open to any business under five-years old that agreed to locate their base of operations in St. Bernard Parish and participate in its entrepreneurial ecosystem. An independent scoring committee from the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University chose the three finalists from a pool of entries based on the quality of their business plans.

CORE: Louisiana Counseling & Recovery Center, LLC (CORE) is a substance use and mental health practice in St. Bernard Parish. CORE offers specialized preventative, diagnostic, rehabilitative, and recovery-oriented services including counseling, assessments, anger management groups, domestic violence intervention programs, and psychoeducational classes. CORE’s licensed clinicians work diligently to provide accessible, reliable, and effective services, while promoting a shift towards the normalization of mental health and recovery services in the St. Bernard Parish community.

Green Street is a development division of Austin Construction LLC that will build highly-efficient, sustainable, smart neighborhoods. Green Street homes will utilize technology to enhance each home’s performance and functionality. The houses will be the new standard for the residential construction industry in Louisiana while showcasing the expanding real estate market of St. Bernard Parish. 

Jessie makes it easy to get answers and peace of mind—from anywhere and at any time. Jessie delivers the largest network of virtual care vendors, doctors, and services to provide advice, prescriptions, and labs around the clock—often for less than the cost of a copay or deductible. More at

Previous Startup St. Bernard winners have been 40 Arpent Brewing Company (2015); Christie’s Dreams Seafood (2016); Reactive Digital Systems, LLC (2017), which has seen sales revenue surpass $500,000 last year with no signs of slowing; Clean Course Meals (2018), which opened a storefront in Chalmette; and Schmelly’s Dirt Farm, which is close to opening a new composting facility in the parish (2019). Many of the the competion’s finalists have gone on to see success, too, including Coast Roast, The Coffee House, Girls Gone Vegan, and Kayak-iti-Yat, among others.

The $100,000 prize package is still being developed, but so far, it is made up of nearly $60,000 in cash and nearly $40,000 in in-kind professional services. Each of the two runners up will receive $5,000, and the remainder of the cash prize and all the professional services will be awarded to the grand prize winner selected by the judges. 

The Meraux Foundation is the presenting sponsor, and other cash sponsors include Park Investments, St. Bernard Parish Government, Associated Terminals, Valero Meraux Refinery, Palms Truck Stop, Chalmette Refining, Sidney Torres, III, St. Bernard Community Foundation, Sherman Strategies, Nunez Community College Foundation, The Ranch Studios, Fred Sigur, St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, Tulane University, Palmisano Contractors, Sheriff Jimmy Pohlman, State Senator Sharon Hewitt, Schmelly’s Dirt Farm, and Terry and Daryl Tedesco. 

In-kind sponsors include Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, Sherman Strategies, LLC, Ragusa Consulting, Bernard Franks- A Corporation of Certified Accountants, Biz New Orleans, evanSchmidt Design, Shine Productions, Park Investments, Outfront Media, Meraux Foundation, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, Crave, and Zack Smith Photography. 

“We are so grateful for each and every one of the sponsors,” said Gue. “Without their support, Startup St. Bernard would not be possible. It’s a testament to what we can achieve when the community comes together to advance an issue.” 

About the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation

The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Today, the Foundation’s board of directors is presided over by Arlene’s niece, Rita Gue, and consists of members Floyd Gue, Bill Haines, Chris Haines, and Sidney Torres, III. Guided by Arlene’s vision, the Board is implementing an innovative strategy to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard. The Meraux Foundation is a founding sponsor and organizer of Startup St. Bernard. More at

About St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation

St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to retain and create jobs, build prosperity, and improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish. The Board of Directors consists of 29 voting members and 8 non-voting honorary members and public officials, all of which serve as volunteers to the organization. SBEDF’s work is made possible through the general support of St. Bernard Parish Government and its donors the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation and Port of New Orleans at the Lead Investors Level,  St. Bernard Port, Harbor, and Terminal District, Cox Communications, Chalmette Refining, and Valero at the Impact Champion Level, the Law Offices of Sidney Torres, III, Associated Terminals, Ochsner Health Systems, Atmos Energy, and Gulf Coast Bank and Trust at the Pillars Level, and Palmisano Group, Boasso Global, Park Investments LLC, Adams and Reese LLP, and Capital One at the Community Leaders Level. More at

About New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

Presented by JP Morgan Chase & Co., the 12th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week is the premier event celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of our city, showcasing emerging trends and innovations, and connecting the New Orleans startup community to the cutting edge of global business. More at

December 14, 2020 Meraux Foundation Announces Year-End Grant Awards
November 4, 2020 Meraux Foundation Donates $50K to Family Violence Program of St. Bernard
October 6, 2020 Meraux Foundation, LSU AgCenter join for citrus research
September 21, 2020 Meraux Foundation Forges New Partnerships to Restore, Protect, and Celebrate Our Coast
September 1, 2020 Meraux Foundation Promotes Urban Gardening, Raises Awareness of Coastal Planting Projects
July 29, 2020 Meraux Foundation Provides Additional Funding to Feed Those in Need