What many of you may not know is that our area of the United States has a thriving technology corridor and it’s only getting larger.
It’s easy to drive past CenturyLink and IBM to notice that things are different, but did you know about the other technology firms that have been growing in our area. Some of the firms you may not know are The Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) and National Cyber Research Park in Shreveport.
The CIC’s mission is to foster collaboration within its partners and develop a sustainable workforce for our area. These workers will have skills for cyber threats, manufacturing facilities, government and local schools and universities. The practical skills that students learn while attending CIC allows for graduates to hit the ground running once they are hired.
Louisiana Tech has now implemented a cyber engineering program aimed at producing thinkers who can problem solve and write code to prevent the latest attacks from getting into critical areas of our country and lives. Students who are involved with this program are immediately given hands on training within a team. The collaborative environment prepares them for what will be the reality of working within most companies today.
We also have in our area the Northeast Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) that has fostered a Techby20 peer group to help enhance a climate of technology growth within the region. The group hopes to broaden the sphere of what people know about our region. We have a strong manufacturing base with the collaboration of IBM, CenturyLink and other firms. We have incentive packages drawing firms to our area and we have ease of transporting goods and services with the local waterways and interstate.
Another group that has been meeting regularly to help train the next generation of cyber security experts is NELESEC. They meet every month to discuss various topics about cyber security and how it impacts our lives, how we can prevent further intrusions and the latest information on what students should be studying. These talks although somewhat technical are very fun and informative.
Recently CenturyLink hosted a Cyber Security forum that had special guests that included: Former Deputy Director Under Secretary for Cybersecurity Dr. Phyllis Schneck and Global Chair of Data, Privacy & Cyber Security for White & Case Steven Chabinsky. Each of these speakers had great things to say about our country’s abilities to thwart attacks. They did go on to discuss the need to grow our next generation of leaders within this industry.
NELA and the surrounding communities have the ability for a great future within the technology sector. Our students are being encouraged at a younger age through STEM programs; our young adults have more opportunities at the colleges and universities to learn as well. Where do you fit in? Understand that this is a great opportunity for our area to keep our kids here. Encourage kids and young adults that we do have opportunities for them. Reach out to any of the organizations mentioned in this article and they will help you.
Cyber Center: https://cyberinnovationcenter.org/
(Photo: Hannah Baldwin/News Star)
Flying Tiger Brewery, Bank of Ruston, Neighbors, LLC, Hixson Automotive of Monroe and Dr. Gary Jones were honored with Thomas H. Scott Awards of Excellence during a reception held Thursday evening at the University of Louisiana at Monroe Conference Center. In addition, four businesses received special judge’s awards.
The selections came from 44 nominations for the prestigious awards, which honor companies making significant contributions to the Ouachita Parish economy through capital improvements, expansion, job creation, and community involvement during 2016 and 2017. This year’s nominees collectively employ 4,967 people in Ouachita Parish and made capital investments of more than $105 million.
Flying Tiger Brewery won the award in the category for small businesses (less than 10 employees). James Simpson, Robert Brewer, David Johnson and Brooks Hamaker and a group of investors envisioned and opened Flying Tiger Brewery, a craft beer tap room, complete with a beer garden and brew house. The brewery’s design is the work of Brewer and his wife Sara. They envisioned a first class facility that was welcoming and encouraged customers to relax and enjoy tasting beer.
Simpson’s passion for beer making was shared by Johnson and Brewer, who was brought on board for his business and marketing expertise. Later, the group recruited Brooks Hamaker to serve as their brewmaster. Also assisting the four partners is Simpson’s sister Delia who is a Level One cicerone.
The name Flying Tiger Brewery is a tribute to the legendary Flying Tigers American Volunteer Group and General Claire Chennault, a Louisiana native. The Brewery supports the Chennault Museum and downtown Monroe revitalization efforts.
The winner of the medium business category (11-50 employees) was Bank of Ruston, which was first established in 1905 in Ruston. In 2016, Bank President and CEO Bill Hogan and his board opened a new location in Monroe. They located temporarily in Premier Plaza until the new $2.8 million facility was built on Tower Drive. The bank employs fifty people overall, with nine located in Monroe. Jeremy Harrell serves as Ouachita Market President. The bank actively supports and gets involved in a wide array of organizations to make a difference in the communities they serve. Among them are ULM, Louisiana Tech, The Monroe, West Monroe and Ruston/Lincoln Chambers of Commerce.
Recognized as the large business winner (51 to 100 employees) was Neighbors, LLC. The company is a strategic group of investors, led by Meryl Kennedy Farr. They purchased the assets of Pine Valley Foods, Inc. in 2016 for $750,000. Pine Valley was a leader in the fundraising industry selling quality locally produced products throughout the nation. Farr and her team liked the straight forward business plan that helped organizations achieve their financial goals. The Neighbors team is already planning an expansion to increase co-manufacturing, food service and retail business opportunities to ensure stable employment year-round. Being involved and contributing to the community is important to Farr. She supports organizations like United Way, the area chambers and area educational institutions.
The corporate business of the year award (Over 100 employees) was presented to Dallas Hixson, General Manager, COO and SEC of Hixson Automotive Group of Monroe, LLC. The business was established in 1983 on Louisville Avenue by the Hixson family. In 2017, the business built a new state of the art facility on the Frontage Road in Monroe. The new Hixson Ford is in a 75,000 square foot facility that is double the size of the previous building. The company employs one hundred people at the Hixson Ford facility and another twenty-five at the BMW facility on Louisville. Hixson’s goal is not to just sell cars, but to develop life-long customers. The company sponsors the Golden Apple Award to recognize talented educators and Above and Beyond Award, that recognizes first responders that have gone over and above the call of duty.
For his vision, investment and job creation, the Thomas H. Scott Award was presented to Dr. Gary Jones, president and chief medical officer and one of the founders, of Vantage Health Plan, Inc. and Affinity Health Group. Over the past few years, these two companies have spent over $100 million in investments to restore and build new facilities, including the Vantage State Building and the Affinity Specialty Clinic. Vantage, founded in 1994, is a Louisiana-based Health Maintenance Organization headquartered in Monroe with a satellite office in Shreveport. Affinity Health Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vantage Health Plan, is a physician group medical practice with clinics and staff who provide care from a pediatric level to home health, and everything in between. Over the past 23 years, these two businesses have become leading employers in the region with over 1200 employees.
Dr. Jones and his wife Sissie have been committed and dedicated to the restoration of Downtown Monroe. Through their inspiration, Vantage has purchased and renovated the Ouachita Bank Building, the Central Bank Building and the Virginia Hotel among others. All of these facilities in the downtown area have inspired other investors to buy and renovate these historic buildings.
The Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award was presented to ChefTaxi a restaurant delivery service that delivers food throughout Ouachita Parish. Established in 2015 by Tommy and Amanda Neck with only a few employees, the business now employs forty people. The team keeps deliveries rolling from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Chef Taxi has thirty-five restaurant Partners. The service began in a small office on North 7th Street. Today the business is located in a $500,000 state of the art office located on White’s Ferry Road in West Monroe. The company believes in giving back. Each month they host a fundraiser for a different non-profit. In addition, they support youth sports teams, First West and the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter.
The Spirit of Resiliency Award was presented to Warehouse 1.The restaurant was established in 1980 by Frances Mason, who found an old tin warehouse located at One Olive Street on the Ouachita River. Serving as her own contractor, she restored the building for use as a restaurant. With hard work, she developed a profitable business until the great flood of 1991. The business was underwater for seven weeks. With no flood or business interruption insurance, the days ahead were tough.
Once back on their feet, the business grew and continued to thrive until 1996 when Ms. Francis died. Her daughter Jan and Duane Humphries became partners and took over the business. 2016 turned out to be another eventful year for the business. In late July a fire broke out and caused significant smoke damage. After an investment of $100,000 and a three month complete renovation project, the business reopened with a fresh new look.
The Cooperative Spirit and Perseverance Award was presented to BancorpSouth and Ouachita Independent Bank. The announced merger between Ouachita Independent Bank and BancorpSouth, Inc, has been delayed for several years while BancorpSouth, Inc. works through the merger process with regulators. In the meantime, it has been challenging for each bank to retain and attract new talent not knowing when the merger will be complete. In spite of the challenges, L.J. Holland and his staff and Kevin Koh and his staff have worked together in outstanding cooperation. While the wait must be frustrating, neither Holland nor Koh show any sign of impatience or fatigue. They attend each other’s ribbon cuttings and support so many of the same organizations. The gracious and considerate demeanor displayed by both Kevin and L.J. is refreshing.
The twenty-four finalists in the small business (less than 10 employees) category are: Bestz Donuts, Curtis Tax Service, LLC, Corner Vet of Sterlington, Downs Law Firm APC, Dusty and Company, Eden Mediterranean Indian Bar and Grill, LLC, Flying Tiger Brewery, Holton Flooring and Interiors, Infit Gym, InterMountain Renovation Consultants, LLC, J and M Properties, LAC Range and The Woodshed Grill, Mel’s Cajun Fried Chicken and Catfish, Monroe Auto Tag and Title, LLC, Patrick L. McGee, DDS, Noble Promise, North Louisiana Land and Title, LLC, Pelican State Credit Union, Phirst Impression Menswear, Pleasant’s Compounding Pharmacy, Poise and Purpose Boutique, Relee Properties, LLC, Sprig Designs, and Terri’s Tax Service, LLC.
The seven finalists in the medium business (between 11-50 employees) category are: Ascend Hospice Care, LLC, BancorpSouth Bank, Bank of Ruston, ChefTaxi, Kilpatrick Funeral Home, MOEbiz, and Southern Escape Room.
In the large business (51-100 employees) category, the four nominees are: Copelands of New Orleans, Neighbors, LLC, Bayou Media Group dba SQ’s on the Ouachita, and Warehouse 1 Restaurant.
The nine nominees for the Corporate category (over 100 employees) are: Affinity Health Group, Coast Professional, Inc., Glenwood Regional Medical Center, Hixson Automotive of Monroe, Inc., North Louisiana orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic, Ouachita Independent Bank, Paramount Healthcare Consultants, St. Francis Medical Center, and Vantage Health Plan.
The Thomas H. Scott Awards of Excellence Reception is hosted by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s College of Business and The News-Star. Presenting sponsor for the event is Scott Powerline and Utility Equipment, LLC. Additional sponsors for the reception are: Allen Green and Williamson, ANGUS Chemical, Car Town, Cross Keys Bank, Heard, McElroy & Vestal, LLC, IberiaBank, KTVE/KARD, Lagniappe Media, Patty Stewart Photography, Progressive Bank, P & S Surgical Hospital, Strauss Interests, The News-Star, The ULM College of Business, the City of Monroe and the Radio People.
Take a moment and ask yourself, should I be on this wireless network?
There are some scary truths to being connected to an unsecured wireless network. Since you are probably wondering the answer, we should begin with what is the difference between secured and unsecured? Secured wireless networks would be considered your home or workplace – areas that you know have the proper web intrusion hardware and software operating that will block unwanted requests and protect your data. Unsecured wireless networks are everywhere. They are in restaurants, airports, hotels – basically most of the places that we travel. These unsecured networks will allow your device to be probed. Unsecured wireless networks are the most likely place that people are trolling for quick information about your passwords, emails, chat information, twitter data, Facebook posts, anything you use the device to access. The statistics for 2016 are: 95.6% of Americans have used public access wireless and 62% of those people have been targeted for attack. The attackers are after anything that would either be used to access accounts or as we have witnessed over the past several months, data that could become harmful to your life. Secure pictures, email data, banking information, anything that would make the intruders money.
Another large part of the problem is that the attackers know only 20% of mobile devices have any level of security on the device. This is a reality check for everyone, including those of us who live in the technology world. The cellular carriers have little or no security and hold themselves harmless of any intrusion, thus it falls in your lap and it’s your problem to clean up.
Here are a few suggestions that may help you avoid being the next cybercrime victim:
- When using unsecured wireless networks avoid company data usage, banking, social media and personal email accounts.
- Purchase and install a mobile malware/antivirus product (keep it up to date). Here are a few to consider: SOTI MobiControl, Citrix XenMobile, or VMware AirWatch.
- Add a minimum level of encryption to your mobile device, a password or required access code.
- The best formula is to stay off unsecured wireless networks if at all possible.
If you think, “this won’t happen to me”, here is the reality of the situation. In 2016 over one billion devices were susceptible to the Stagefright malware outbreak. In terms of how we think, this would be considered a pandemic in the IT world. The threat is very real and can affect your entire household since most of our homes are becoming increasingly connected through mobile APPS and connected smart devices (i.e. TV, thermostat, etc.)
Today would be a good day to change your habits. If you have any questions or would like more information, give us a call!
MOEbiz was recently recognized as a 2016 Elite Dealer by ENX Magazine. Our company made approximately $5 million in revenue this y ear while growing our managed network services by 32 percent. ENX Magazine considered the following characteristics during the selection process:
- Our innovative marketing
- Our “do it right” mentality
- Partner recognition
- Open communication with employees
- Giving back to the community
Ricki Sullivan, Cecilia Costanza, Nichole Wallace and Nicole Morgan were among the 1,200 attendees at the Convergence 2016 conference held last month at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Ricoh dealer meeting consisted of two general sessions and a Technology Expo designed to provide a customized experience into Ricoh’s latest products. This picture was taken atop Drai’s Nightclub with a beautiful view of the city.
Largest acquisition in HP’s history
HP, the world leader in printing, recently confirmed they have reached an agreement with Samsung Electronics to purchase its printer business. This acquisition gives the company a stronger existence in the A3 copier market. HP will gain 6,500 printing patents and about 6,000 employees. The company intends to keep Samsung’s presence in South Korea as is.
HP plans to continue the Samsung brand for about two years before being integrated under the HP branding. Some of Samsung technologies will be integrated with HP’s existing product lines to create a new portfolio of products. There is also an opportunity for some HP technology to migrate to Samsung models.
Contact one of our experienced sales consultants today to learn more about the Samsung products that we offer!
The healthcare industry is under great pressure to reduce costs that doesn’t impact frontline services. Less than a decade ago, nine out of ten doctors in the United States updated their patients’ records by hand and stored them in color-coded files. Adopting managed print services (MPS) can help ease this burden.
Not only will MPS identify areas to be more efficient, it will also put processes in place to ensure the transition to digital is as smooth as possible. Unnecessary printing wastes time and resources that could be spent treating patients and puts confidential information at risk.
Here are four positive ways MPS can have an impact on the healthcare industry.
- MPS is often the most cost-effective solution to streamlining costs of internal communication.
- Administrative tasks can be reduced and more time spent with patients.
- To avoid confidential information left on printers, MPS can provide increased security.
- MPS will provide ongoing awareness into the maintenance, consumption and costs of your organization’s printing.
Contact MOEbiz to learn more about our Managed Print Services!
Innovation with technology can and will change the way people and organizations will work and function. IT services are now a critical component of business processes that build revenue and create competitive advantages. Successful companies are managing technology by a “plan vs a reactive approach.”
Here are some key steps to help aid the technology planning process.
- First start with a business conversation on strategy, structure, skills and systems.
- Then conduct a strategy session to highlight any specific risks found in current key areas of your organization as it relates to people, process, or technology, and begin to associate costs with both the risks and the solutions.
- Finally, establish company benchmarks and objectives and align hardware and services to business strategy.
With the rate at which data and technology is changing, organizations should look at their plan in these three phases instead of years – New, Supported, and Retiring. The following items should be considered:
- Server Hardware
- Server Software
- MFP / Document Management
Call MOEbiz to learn how we can get you started with our Managed Network Services!
Employees are encouraged to manage a growing collection of online accounts. They create weak passwords and reuse these passwords across multiple sites. Consumers are careless about password creation, management and safety. The defenses around personal and corporate data inevitably start to deteriorate.
According to CSIdentity, here are some key findings.
- 61% of consumers reuse passwords among multiple websites
- 54% of consumers have only five passwords or less
- 44% of consumers change their password only once a year or less
- 89% of consumers feel secure with their current password management and use habits
- 21% of consumers have had an online account compromised
The average consumer takes minimal action to secure online accounts. To mitigate the effect of weak passwords, businesses should consider ongoing education, monitoring and authentication techniques.