July 22, 2020

Startup St. Bernard Goes Virtual

The Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation are presenting the 6th annual Startup St. Bernard Competition as a livestream event. Anyone can watch the live “Shark Tank” style competition online at startupstbernard.com or here on Thursday, August 6 at 3 p.m. CST.

“We’re encouraging everyone to ‘tune in’ to enjoy what is one of our signature programs to promote St. Bernard Parish as an ideal place from which to start and grow a business,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation. “Every year, I’m so impressed with the quality of the businesses vying for the prize. And while we’re not in person this year, it’s sure to be as entertaining as always!”

Three finalists, CORE: Louisiana Counseling & Recovery Center, LLC, Green Street, and Jessie, will pitch their businesses to a virtual panel of judges for a chance to win part of the $100,000 prize package.

Judging the pitches will be Emily Egan with the Tulane University’s Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Kimberley Singletary with Biz New Orleans, Allen Square with Square Button, Jason Waggenspack with The Ranch Film Studios, and Desiree Young with VentureWalk Partners. 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 hellojessie.com.

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 competition’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 prize package 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, Associated Terminals, Valero Meraux Refinery, Palms Truck Stop, Chalmette Refining, Sidney Torres, III, Sherman Strategies, St. Bernard Tourism Commission, Southern Insurance Agency, The Ranch Studios, St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, Palmisano Contractors, BERG Services, Reactive Digital Systems, Sheriff Jimmy Pohlman, State Senator Sharon Hewitt, Deborah Keller, 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 merauxfoundation.org.

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. More at sbedf.org

June 29, 2021 Meraux Foundation Commissions Murals in Old Arabi Cultural District
April 7, 2021 Meraux Foundation Commits $250K to Community Center of St. Bernard
January 29, 2021 Meraux Foundation Dedicates “Lena Randazzo Torres Farmhouse” on Namesake’s 100th Birthday
December 20, 2020 Meraux Foundation Celebrates Collaboration on Coast, Reggio Marsh Project Approval
December 14, 2020 Meraux Foundation Announces Year-End Grant Awards
November 4, 2020 Meraux Foundation Donates $50K to Family Violence Program of St. Bernard