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Out To Lunch
Thursdays at 1pm; Sundays at 5pm

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.

Find episodes of Out to Lunch here.

  • It’s no secret that Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes are home to some of the largest petrochemical plants in the world. We’re also a hub of activity when it comes to climate and resilience because of our sinking coastline and rising seas in an era of climate change. The intersection of these vast and important fields create some interesting opportunities for companies that also are based here and training young people to work in those companies in the future. Mark Fallon is CEO of APTIM, a Baton Rouge-based company that provides engineering, program management, environmental services, disaster recovery, complex facility maintenance, and construction services to clients in in the energy sector, as well as governments and the military. APTIM was spun off several years ago from CB&I, which, many in Baton Rouge may remember, bought The Shaw Group in 2013. Mark has been at the helm of the company since April 2020, which was, no doubt, an interesting time to start a new big challenge. But he came armed with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Prior to joining APTIM, Mark was president and CEO of sister companies – Envirocon, a national remediation and deocmmisioning contractor, and Modern Machinery, a distributor of heavy construction and minig equipment. He also worked at CH2M and started his career in the US Department of Energy under President Bill Clinton. Fran Harvey is Director of the Global Geospatial Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Innovation Park at LSU that teaches students to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and display all kinds of spatial or geographical data using the only GIS Industry based certification program in the country. Are you wondering, "What exactly is GIS?" Well, you're not alone. Most people - and that certainly includes most highschool students - don't realize they are using GIS data every time they pick up their smart phone and open the map app or check the location of the Uber they’re waiting on to pick them up or the Door Dash guy who is delivering their order. But GIS is everywhere and the Global Geospatial Institute believes that if young people can learn the skills that go into GIS they will be better prepared to enter today’s workforce. Fran was introduced to GIS technology while working as an environmental scientist. She spent several years in disaster response and recovery as a senior GIS analyst and decided to go back to school for an advanced degree in the technology. She spent more than a decade at the La Dept of Environmental Quality as an environmental scientist and GIS analyst and went on to use her expertise in as a GIS specialist in the aftermaths of several gulf coast hurricanes. In 2014, Fran and her husband founded the Global Geospatial Institute. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can photos from this show by Brian Pavlich at See for privacy information.
  • Louisiana continues to rank behind almost every other state in the country in terms of its educational outcomes across the board – from Pre-K through post secondary. But buried under those bad stats, are some bright spots – success stories of programs and schools that are finding ways to prepare students and train them for the jobs of the future. On this episode of Out to Lunch, meet two of the leading lights of the Baton Rouge education system. Tina Holland is President and CEO of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in Baton Rouge, better known as Fran U. Tina came to Fran U in 2014 from Notre Dame, Indiana, where she had served as Executive Vice President and Provost of Holy Cross College. In the years since, she has overseen an aggressive and successful expansion of Fran U. Tina Holland, whose combination of military and education experience and vision has elevated Fran U to an accredited college Fran U started out nearly a century ago as Our Lady of the Lake, a nursing school. Today it is a fully accredited university with new undergraduate and graduate degree programs that Tina has created. Tina is overseeing the development of Fran U’s first freestanding building which will give the university a new level of autonomy. Tina is a native of Los Angeles and a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps., who brings an extraordinary knowledge and skillset to a position that requires navigating the turbulent waters of not only higher ed and Catholic Church but local politics as well. Christine Merchant is World Language Coordinator with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. If you’re thinking, “I didn’t know East Baton Rouge Schools had a world language coordinator,” you’re not alone but you might be surprised to learn that not only is the school system’s immersive language program highly successful, but also that Christine has been running it for 42 years! In fact, Christine is the first and only person to hold this position. Christine Merchant, the depth of her French accent is matched by the depth of her 42 years of dedication to foreign language education in Baton Rouge The most visible flagship of the East Baton Rouge School System’s foreign language track is FLAIM, or more formally, the Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet, but world languages are offered at a large number of EBR public schools. Stephanie Riegel hosts a mostly English language edition of Out to Lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos by Erik Otts at baton rouge business podcast christine merchant east baton rouge parish schools flaim fran u mansurs on the boulevard out to lunch stephanie riegel tina hollandSee for privacy information.
  • It can be threatening if not downright scary sometimes to consider the extent to which apps and Artificial Intelligence now run our lives. But it’s also exciting to think about all the ways that this technology can be used to cure diseases or build sophisticated satellite systems or even do simple things - like helping us do the laundry! Or training a new employee on how to do their job. AI Laundry Chris Hilliard is co-founder of Suds Laundry Service, a traditional laundry service with a distinctly 21st century twist: Suds has created a custom app that customers can use to schedule laundry pickup and delivery from their home, dorm or office along with any special instructions. Suds will launder or dry clean the clothes and return them within 24 hours. Chris and his partners created the company in 2019, while they were still college students at Southern University in Baton Rouge, looking for a solution to the piles of laundry building up in their dorm rooms. In the years since, they have graduated and grown their startup with help from the Southern University Law Centers’ Technology and Entrepreneur Clinic. Chris grew up in Lafayette and now calls Baton Rouge home. AI Hires & Trains David DeCuir is a partner in iCan Technologies, which provides software tools to help companies effectively train and track the competency of their employees and contractors, which is no small thing for the industrial and energy companies that David’s company works with. iCan also recently developed an AI technology that helps companies create scripts for job interviews, offering an interviewer specific real-time questions and prompts based on how an applicant is responding. Think about that for a moment! David co-founded the company in early 2020 – literally weeks before COVID changed everything, in his case for the better. He didn’t start out looking to create a tech startup but had spent years working in the oil and gas industry and realized there was an opportunity to do things better. David also is a native of Lafayette. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Brian Pavlich at for privacy information.
  • Real estate is something that touches all of us. Even if we don’t own our own home, we have to rent which means the economic forces that impact buyers, sellers and investors impact all of us. COVID was a major disrupter of all segments of the real estate market. And the post-COVID era is no less unprecedented. Which makes every day at the office an interesting one for those who work in the real estate business. Dave Lakvold is a commercial real estate appraiser and owner of The Lakvold Group, which has been appraising apartment complexes, office buildings, warehouses and retail centers in the Baton Rouge area since Dave started the company in 1995. That was around the same time he married his wife, Angie Lakvold, also an appraiser who, at the time, was working for First Commerce Corp, a bank holding company. Four years later, Angie left the bank and joined Dave at the Lakvold Group. They’ve been working together ever since. Dave focuses on commercial bank and litigation appraisals, and Angie specializes in infrastructure and litigation appraisals. Over the years, their clients have included some of the area’s highest profile businesses and investors. Andy St. Romain is a partner in the Baton Rouge office of the law firm Jones Walker, who specializes in real estate. Jones Walker is a sponsor of Out to Lunch so we thought we’d take advantage of that relationship and invite Andy to join us to talk about real estate with Dave today. Andy has been with Jones Walker since 2004. In the years since, he has advised clients on the full range of residential, commercial, and industrial real estate issues, representing developers and lenders. Andy is also a CPA and an adjunct professor at the Southern University Law Center. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can photos from this show by Brian Pavlich at for privacy information.
  • We focus a lot in our society today on those who make their living in front of the camera, whether acting or influencing or prognosticating on important things. But those who shoot those images and videos have equally interesting stories to tell, and businesses they have built doing it. They also have a unique perspective that comes from looking into that two-dimension view-finder that informs their work, and in some instances inspires them to do bigger things with far-reaching impact. John Jackson is co-founder of Launch Media, a full service multimedia production company that offers video production and creative services from brand development to scripting, casting, post production and corporate communications. The company's suite of services has evolved from their origins back in 2005, when it was called Green Screen TV and focused on making short videos. Over the years, as the company has grown, John has become active in historic preservation the redevelopment of downtown Baton Rouge. In 2014, he bought a historic building in the heart of downtown, renovated it and opened it as a co-working space for creative companies called the Creative Bloc. Marie Constantin is one of the region’s most accomplished photographers and photo journalists. Marie became internationally known for her photographic works of the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta when the Vatican chose one of her photos to hang in St. Peters Square for Mother Teresa's 2003 Beatification Ceremony. A native of Hartford CT, Marie came to Baton rouge to attend LSU where she studied journalism and in the decades since her work has taken her around the world – including to the slums of Calcutta, where she documented the work of nuns there who serve the poor. In 2018 Marie became alarmed at the buildup of litter and trash around Baton Rouge, particularly in the Baton Rouge Lakes, one of the city’s most prized assets and natural resources. She used her photography to capture images of some of the most extreme examples of the trash – which catalyzed the community and helped her grow a grass roots cleanup effort into a nonprofit, the Louisiana Stormwater Coalition. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find out more and see photos from this show at for privacy information.