The St. Tammany West Chamber has an aspect of their operation that is unlike any other Chamber I’ve ever seen.
Not only do they provide the expected support for local businesses through a host of seminars, networking opportunities and more, but they offer local businessmen and women the chance to join other business folks on some incredible trips around the world.
The trips are absolutely pure fun and usually have no more than 30 people, and they also provide a chance to get to know other business people from the area, all while traveling to some exotic places around the world.
Last year they made a trip to Cuba and this year they have two trips planned—one to Peru and the other to Europe on the Danube River that will take in several countries on its stops.
The Peru trip is coming up in a couple of months, set for March 2-10 and will take in the capital city of Lima, along with Cusco and Aguas Calientes. The nine day trip includes hotels, meals, day trips and airfare from New Orleans for $3,299.
My father is actually from Peru so I used to hear lots of stories about that area of South America, especially talking about a spectacular place called Machu Picchu, an Incan built city that still stands in pretty amazing condition although it is hundreds of years old.
The Andes mountains are known worldwide and the trip will also take you by train along the Urubamba River to the foothills of the Andes mountains and finally to Machu Picchu.
Later this fall there is a cruise excursion on the Danube River that goes from Budapest to Passau on a 5-Star cruise line. The trip takes place from Oct. 20-28 and costs $4,199 for the all-inclusion venture.
The cruise starts in Budapest and makes stops in other European countries such as Slovakia, Austria and Germany.
Both of these trips include experienced tour guides who will obviously ensure you go to the most interesting places and experience the most unique locations along the way. Either trip looks like a unique opportunity to take a great adventure, network with other business people, and have the assistance of experts who will guide you every step of the way.
You can get more details or reserve a spot by contacting Michelle Biggs at the Chamber office by calling 985-273-3006 or e-mailing her at email@example.com.
I recently covered the swearing in ceremony for St. Tammany Assessor Louis Fitzmorris, who enjoyed listening to his share of accolades about the job he has done so far in taking over that office five years ago.
While I believe Fitzmorris is doing a good job making the assessor’s office a place parish residents can be proud of, I couldn’t help but find it interesting to see the attendance that day.
You have to realize that the state law calls for the assessor to actually be sworn in a year after winning election. Has to do with transition time from the previous office holder. So when he held his inauguration there were no other people being sworn in.
That still didn’t mean almost every public official around had to attend, but guess what? The room was packed with an entire section of public officials. From our parish president to sheriff to city councilmen to school board members to parish councilmen—you name it and they were all there with a smile to congratulate Mr. Fitzmorris on his second term.
Now I’m not suggesting that anyone there was wondering about property assessments for their buildings or land, but let’s face it, you are a lot smarter to make friends with people in high places than not. And the parish assessor is a very important position for reasons we all understand.
I’m sure Mr. Fitzmorris was very appreciative of all those important people making the effort to attend his inauguration. Obviously the assessor has made a lot of friends.
Speaking of the Chamber, they hosted a very interesting event recently with their annual health care forum that brought together CEO’s from the western parish hospitals. With our new president about to take over there was a lot to talk about in light of the fact Obamacare is now under attack and could be changed.
The information I get every time I hear from local hospital CEO’s is always insightful to say the least and they didn’t disappoint this time either. While most of us hear plenty of talk from the public believing hospitals are making money hand over fist, I honestly believe that is not the case.
Scott Boudreaux with the Louisiana Heart Hospital said the national margins for hospitals are barely around 2 to 3 percent and when we listened to him break down the costs for a patient it seems clear that is a true statement.
Boudreaux was joined by Bret Kolman from Lakeview Regional, Patti Ellish from St. Tammany Hospital and Brad Goodson from Ochsner at the gathering. When it was all over I walked away having compassion on the CEO’s since they are about to face major upheaval in their industry again.
Even if I am personally not in favor of the Obamacare plan that forces us to purchase insurance the way they want, it was clear listening to these folks that the burden for all this always seems to end up on local hospitals, and that’s got to be a tough situation to face.
(Kevin Chiri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)