OUT TO LUNCH finds Baton Rouge Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel combining her hard news journalist skills and food background: conducting business over lunch. Baton Rouge has long had a storied history of politics being conducted over meals, now the Capital Region has an equivalent culinary home for business: Mansur’s. Each week Stephanie holds court over lunch at Mansur’s and invites members of the Baton Rouge business community to join her. You can also hear the show on WRKF 89.3FM.
Whether you’re starting a business or growing a business, one of the biggest challenges you face is access to capital. Where do you find investors? How do you get a loan? It’s a problem that is not at all unique to Baton Rouge, but in a mid-sized city like ours it can be particularly challenging for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Rob Powell is in the business of helping find solutions to the access-to-capital dilemma. He owns Cardinal Capital, a commercial loan and equity brokerage house. It’s a relatively new venture for Rob, who has more than two decades experience with some successful companies, including Grand Casinos and Rain Forest Café, both of which he helped take public in the 1990s. Rob has extensive experience in marketing and branding and his career has taken him around the world. Now he’s back in his hometown of Baton Rouge helping connect business ventures to sources of capital across the country.
When Rob is helping clients identify sources of financing, among the places he looks is the bank.
Jude Melville is the bank. Jude is President and CEO of Business First Bank, a rapidly growing full-service bank with a particular emphasis – as its name suggests – on being a commercial lending institution with a focus on business clientele. In 2015 Business First completed a merger with American Gateway Bank in Baton Rouge, giving the new Business First Bank assets of more than $1.1 billion and 16 branches around the state.
Bradley Sanchez is a young entrepreneur, a Baton Rouge native and LSU graduate, who went off to work for a Broadway production company in New York before returning to his hometown to work in marketing with Pinnacle Entertainment. In 2013, Bradley opened The Salad Shop on Perkins Road and in 2015 opened a second location on Coursey. Bradley's looking to expand in and beyond Baton Rouge. Jude and Rob kick around some growth options with him.
By all accounts there's money for business in Baton Rouge. If you want to find out where exactly and how to get your hands on it, this conversation over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard is a good place to start.