March 2015
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March Calendar of Events
All Events held at HBA office unless otherwise noted 

4) Free Education: Preparing for a Workers Comp Audit, 10am-12pm 
4) Speed Networking Event, 4pm-6pm (REGISTRATION CLOSED)
     Southland Plumbing, Lighting, Appliances & Generators, 2328 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie 
5) Presentation on Adjudicated Property Sale, 8:30am-10am
11) MFC Education: OSHA Safety for Multifamily Staff (CLASS FULL)
11) Education Committee Meeting @ 2:30pm
11) NOEL Board Meeting @ 3pm
11) Executive Committee Meeting @ 4pm
13-15) New Orleans Home & Garden Show, Mercedes-Benz Superdome
17) HBA Board of Directors @ 4pm 
18) Professional Women in Building Luncheon, 11:15am-1pm
     Ralph's on the Park, 900 City Park Avenue
19) Crawfish Boil Committee Meeting @ 9:30am
      Ferguson, 901 S. Labarre Road
19) Advanced Building Practices Council @ 12pm
19) Parade of Homes Committee Meeting @ 1:30pm
23) Home & Garden Show Board Meeting @ 4pm
31) March General Membership Meeting, 11:30am-1pm
     Little Gem Saloon, 445 S. Rampart Street
Featured Events

New Orleans 
Home & Garden Show
March 13-15, 2015

Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Members' VIP Party 
@ the New Orleans Home & Garden Show
Friday, March 13, 5-7pm

HBA members will receive complimentary entry for 2 guests to the show and party on Friday. Pick up your VIP passes Friday 2-6pm at Will Call, inside the first set of doors at the show. Additional tickets $20 each

Professional Women in Building Council Luncheon
Wednesday, March 18

Ralph's on the Park
900 City Park Avenue, New Orleans
Guest Speaker: Lauren "Fleurty Girl" Thom, 
CEO of Fleurty Girl 

Registration & Networking @ 11:15am
 Lunch & Program, 11:45am-1pm

Contact Rita Bautista to Register
504.837.2700 or

General Membership Meeting
Tuesday, March 31

Little Gem Saloon
445 S. Rampart Street

Guest Speaker: Kurt Weigel, President & CEO 
of Downtown Development District

New Member Reception @ 11am
Registration & Networking @ 11:30
Lunch & Program, 12pm-1pm

Crawfish Boil & Jambalaya Dinner
Friday, April 17

Triton Stone Group of New Orleans
6131 River Road, Harahan


Early Admission for Sponsors @ 5pm
General Admission @ 5:30pm

Adults $35
Kids 6-13 $10
5 & Under Free
Kryptonite $750 (12 tix)
Platinum $400 (8 tix)
Gold $250 (4 tix)
Silver $125 (2 tix) 
New this year! Sponsor a liquor basket for $100, and your logo will go home with a lucky winner!

Legislative/Regulatory Policy Recap

Submitted by: Rita Bautista, 

Governmental Relations Representative

Contact: 504.837.2700 or


Over the past many weeks, HBAGNO's board and professional staff continue to build relationships with our local, state, and Federal policy makers (legislative & administrative) in an effort to ensure that the HBAGNO has active representation in all industry-related policy conversations.


For example, in our previous newsletter, we distributed this article (insert link here) written in regarding a proposed vinyl siding ban in Historic Gretna. This ban was pioneered by Council Member Marino of the Second District.  In a recent follow-up meeting, HBAGNO senior leadership and staff, armed with information provided by the Vinyl Institute, and a representative from HBAGNO-member Norandex Building Materials, met with Council Member Marino and the Mayor of Gretna Belinda C. Constant, to discuss adverse consequences that could result from an outright building material ban. Subsequently, the Mayor and Council Member Marino are requesting more time to visit the findings brought to them in our meeting. We will continue to bring updated information to our members on the status of this ordinance and we will continue to stand by the premise that banning quality materials, manufactured and distributed locally by our members, is not good public policy.


We will continue to actively work on building relationships with local, state, and Federal policy makers in an effort to educate them on the value that residential and light commercial construction brings to a state, region, and local community.  We also promise to keep you, our members, informed.  You can help make our legislative and government relations efforts even stronger by helping to be our ears and eyes in your parish or local municipality.  Please don't hesitate to contact me (insert email link here) if you have any questions or need any additional information.


Let us not forget that the closer we work together, the stronger our voice is.


Help the New Orleans Education League win a share of $50,000 in Gulf Coast Bank's Community Rewards Program!



Gulf Coast Bank's Community Rewards Program will be giving away a total of $50,000 to 10 local non-profits to assist them in their missions in our community. This year, over 400 non-profits registered for our 3rd Annual Community Rewards Program.  Help NOEL finish in the money!

The voting period is from Wednesday, February 25th until Wednesday, March 25th at 8 p.m. Voting is limited to one vote per day per valid email address.

If this is your first time voting, or if you've forgotten your Access Code, enter your email address, then click Email my Access Code and your unique Access Code will be sent to your Email account. Otherwise, enter your information and click Vote. For further inquiries, please email

Elliot Eisenberg
Tax Reformless

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is President of GraphsandLaughs, LLC and can be reached at His daily 70 word economics and policy blog can be seen at 


The combination of ongoing weak GDP growth and a steep rise in corporate inversions designed to reduce US corporate tax liabilities has again brought the perennial idea of tax reform to the fore.  Done right tax reform is a winner.  By closing loopholes and lowering marginal rates the economy can better perform and GDP growth can be raised.  That said, despite the positive rhetoric coming out of Capitol Hill, don't count on it soon.  Moreover, the sharp, and short-lived seven day brawl about scaling back tax breaks for 529 college savings plans is painfully instructive and illustrative as to why.


In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed doing away with the tax-free treatment of capital gains in 529 college savings plans.  Instead, he proposed increasing the size of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, available only to families with pretax incomes of less than $180,000, from $1,000/year to $1,500/year and to allow it to be used for five years, up from four.   


Looked at in isolation, the economics behind this particular policy is pretty solid.  First, there is limited evidence that tax breaks designed to increase savings actually do so.  Rather, the evidence generally finds that tax breaks reward individuals who would have saved anyways.  Worse, the tax incentives don't seem to increase the total amount of savings either! 


Second, most of the tax shelter goes to higher income households.  According to the White House, 70% of the benefits from 529 plans go to households with incomes greater than $200,000, while a GAO study from 2010 found that 47% of families with a 529 plan had incomes above $150,000.  A recent College Savings Foundation study found that not quite 10% of 529 account holders have household income below $50,000.  In short, these plans give tax breaks to wealthier households who already send their kids to college and would have saved as much with or without the plan.  By contrast, giving all households with incomes below $180,000 slightly more money for college might raise the percentage of kids from middle- and lower-class households that attend college. 


More concerning is that be it via 529 plans, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, guaranteed student loans and now increasing student loan forgiveness, government, through the tax code and elsewhere, heavily subsidizes college costs, and in the process dramatically inflates the cost of college tuition.  Real tax reform would scrap these inflationary subsidies and implement a more coherent and more focused approach.                     


But here is the rub, taking away the advantageous tax status of 529 plans created an instant coalition of three powerful groups that rolled the administration.  The groups included parents with kids bound for college fearful they were about to lose a valuable tax break that they "deserved," higher education that was concerned it was losing a subsidy and the financial industry which feared losing the billions in fees associated with administering a huge $250 billion program.       


While everyone claims that they want a simpler tax code with lower rates and bereft of deductions, loopholes and credits, taking any of these away creates winners and losers.  And while the winners may be numerous, what they stand to gain is nebulous and distant.  By contrast, losers quickly organize themselves and make themselves heard.  If doing away with something as small as this was impossible, good luck with larger tax issues that touch deeper pockets.      


From last month... 
Randy Noel Elected NAHB Third Vice-Chair!

In resounding fashion, Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans' (HBAGNO) native son, Randy Noel, from Laplace, Louisiana, became the first Louisiana builder in the 70+ year history of the NAHB to win election to NAHB's senior officer chairs.  

On January 22, 2015, in a greatly anticipated and highly-attended election in Las Vegas, Nevada, Randy convincingly defeated a very prominent fellow builder-developer candidate, with several hundred national directors voting.  Randy ran on a strong platform of more closely involving the nation's HBA grassroots members in the affairs of NAHB, and emphasized the role that advocacy must play to protect the housing industry from onerous government regulation, and for housing construction to continue to be recognized as one of the nation's most prominent economic drivers. 

Randy's candidacy received strong support from all regions of the country and, of course, from his friends and colleagues throughout Louisiana.  "The encouragement and support from HBA of Greater New Orleans and all of the members of the Louisiana Home Builders Association made the difference in this election.  I'm both honored and humbled to be the first Louisianan to serve as an NAHB chairman," Noel commented.  Upon his election as Third Vice Chairman, Randy will rotate through the chairs to be the National Association of Home Builders' Chairman in 2018 - a proud moment indeed for Randy, his family, and for home construction professionals in Louisiana and beyond.  

Congratulations, Randy. Louisiana is very proud of you!
Delgado Community College Takes 2nd Place at IBS
The NAHB Student Chapter at Delgado Student Chapter won second place inthe Two-Year College Category of the NAHB Residential Construction Management Competition (RCMC) held at the 2015 NHAB International Builders Show in Las Vegas in January. 

A word from P. Victor Mirzai, Delgado Community College: 

"This is the toughest national competition with over 50 NAHB Colleges and Universities in the nation participating every year. Many hours of preparation were spent beyond the class work doing a real Residential Design/Build project in the Las Vegas environment. (A complete set of Architectural/Structural/Mechanical/Electrical, Working Drawings, Construction Product Specifications research and cost estimates, Daily Building Construction Schedule and Bid along with an the oral 30 min. defense presentation in front of a panel 5 expert construction judges who already had reviewed the teams project before the presentation and were ready to ask questions.

Having won the outstanding National Educator Award, the Outstanding National Student Chapter Awards (6) times in the past 10 years since 2004, there was one last NAHB Award ( RCMC) that I was waiting for and it did happen at the 2015 International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The HBA/GNO, NAHB, IBS Show and Home and Garden Show events all have been great experiences for Delgado's Architectural/Design Construction Technology Students every year to get real life experiences out of the box and into the real world of practice.

I am very glad to have been able to bring these national recognitions not only to Delgado and its students, but also to the professional community in our city and the state of Louisiana who will be employing our Delgado graduates."

P. Victor Mirzai
Professor/Meritorious Commendation
Architectural/Design Construction Tech.
DCC Excellence in Teaching
NAHB Outstanding Educator
CSI Education Commendation
Faculty Advisor/Industry
Delgado Architecture Student Organization
Delgado Community College
Local Legislative Victory for Builders
HBAGNO Executive Vice President, Jon Luther, testified at a Gretna City Council meeting in January, urging the council to defer actions that would limit options and increase pricing for builders and homeowners in Gretna. 

Read the artcle here: 

The Gretna City Council deferred action Wednesday (Jan. 14) on a measure that would ban exterior vinyl siding on new construction and renovation projects. In a 4-1 vote, Councilman Joe Marino III, who sponsored the legislation, opposed the 60-day deferral.

But other councilmembers expressed concern about the financial impact on constituents and the need to study how other historic districts....

Jeff Parish Seal
A Word from Jefferson Parish
Submitted by Tiffany Scot Wilken, Director

Inspection and Code Enforcement


Your Jefferson Parish Department of Inspection and Code Enforcement continues its progress in maximizing the benefits of what the My Permit Now system has to offer. You may now visit our homepage at, Department of Inspection and Code Enforcement, and access real-time reporting of building permits issued within unincorporated Jefferson Parish. The technology allows you to filter your search using various requirements including your date range and the type of permit.

It is you, the Homebuilders of Greater New Orleans, who asked Jefferson Parish to acquire this technology. As full implementation of My Permit Now proceeds, Jefferson Parish better serves our customers who now save time and money by handling their business from the convenience of their home, office or Smart Phone.

Elliot Eisenberg

Economic Forecast for 2015: Sunny Days with Occasional Cloudy Periods 

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is President of GraphsandLaughs, LLC and can be reached at His daily 70 word economics and policy blog can be seen at 


Looking at 2015, the domestic economic landscape finally looks solid if unspectacular.  Unemployment rates should keep falling, house prices are likely to rise by 5%, and despite poor global economic conditions, the American economy will strengthen.  Moreover, despite a deep partisan divide in Washington, the government will not close down nor will it fail to pay its bills.  In addition, the ongoing improvement in household balance sheets, the improving fiscal health of state and local governments, and the likely rise in capital expenditures by firms, albeit not very large, all but insures better economic growth.  The only serious domestic problems are weak wage growth and inflation that is a bit low. 


With this in mind, I expect full-year 2015 GDP to come in at no less than 2.85%, a healthy rise from the expected 2.4% GDP growth experienced in 2014, and the strongest since 2005.  As for new housing starts, they should rise by about 14%, with total starts coming in at 1.14 million.  For all of 2015, single-family starts should total 750,000 up from 640,000, while multifamily starts should hit 390,000, up from 350,000.  Housing sales should rise by about 5% and end the year at 5.6 million.  Housing inventories should rise by about 200,000 units, to 5.5 months of inventory up from 5.0 months now.        

Given the improving labor market, expect net new monthly job growth to average roughly 220,000/month, which while down from 240,000/month in 2014, is excellent given the shrinking size of the working age population.  As a result, the unemployment rate should steadily fall from 5.8% today to 5.2% by year end and possibly lower, depending upon the behavior of the labor force participation rate (LFPR).  If the LFPR rises, and that would be a good thing, unemployment may end at 5.3%, but if the LFPR falls, an unemployment rate of 5% would not be out of the question.     


Inflation will remain completely benign, with overall inflation possibly drifting lower, while core inflation (which excludes food and energy) shows modest upward drift.  The combination of anemic growth in Europe and Japan and declining oil, gas and commodity prices will keep the CPI essentially where it is now, slightly below 2%.  Add to this declining import prices due to the rising US dollar and slow wage growth,  and core personal consumption expenditure inflation, the Feds preferred inflation measure, will not exceed 1.7%, well below their 2% target.  This will give the Federal Reserve ample time to slowly raise the federal funds rate from where it is now, between 0% and 0.25%, to 1% by year end, with the first rate rise probably occurring in June.  The thing to keep in mind is that this rate rise, the first in a decade, is likely to be accompanied by some stock and bond market volatility.          


As a result of faster GDP growth in 2015, 10-year Treasuries will end the year at 2.7% and 30-year mortgage rates will probably hover around 4.5% as the yield curve flattens due to faster rising short-term rates.  But a combination of slightly easing credit market conditions and increasing consumer spending due to increased employment and rising wages will keep the economy and the housing market on track despite mildly rising interest rates.  Finally, I put the chances of a recession in 2015 at 5%.  So look forward to steady economic activity in 2015 and fear not rising interest rates.

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In This Issue:
Calendar of Events
Featured Events
Legislative Recap
NOEL Fundraiser
Editorial: Tax Reformless
From Last Month
Economic Forecast for 2015

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2015 Senior Officers of the Board

President, Roy Olsen
Vice President, Floyd Simeon
Treasurer, Mike LeCorgne
Secretary, Frank Morse
Immediate Past President, Brian Mills

2015 Board of Directors

Steve Albert
John Arms
Fernando Arriola
Lori Barker
Nick Castjohn
Ric Darling
Nicole Dupre
Charlie Fontenelle
Eddie Gandolfi
Phil Hoffman
Kevin Katner
Jo Ann Kostik
Michael Kraft
Peter Lanaux
Ben Laws
Bruce Layburn
Harold LeBlanc
Scott Morse
Helmut Mundt
Randy Noel
Lynda Nugent Smith
Rolf Parelius
Zach Tyson
Kirk Williamson
Steve Wobbema
Wes Wyman
Peter Young
HBA Staff Contacts

Jon Luther, Executive Vice President
Lauren Galliano, Director of Membership & Industry Relations
Rita Bautista, Governmental Affairs Representative
Shane Gray, Accountant
Philip Thomas, Education Director & NOEL Program Director

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