Glass Half Full officials show off their Startup St. Bernard prize.
Photo Courtesy of the Meraux Foundation
By Todd Ragusa
Glass Half Full — a glass recycling company that collects glass and converts it into beach-like sand and glass cullet for disaster relief, eco-construction, new glass products, and more — was selected as the winner of the 7th annual Startup St. Bernard presented by the Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation last Thursday. The startup took home the grand prize of nearly $100,000 in cash and in-kind services.
“This is one of the most impressive groups of businesses we’ve ever had compete in Startup St. Bernard, and I’d like to congratulate Glass Half Full for taking home the grand prize,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation. “Startup St. Bernard is all about showcasing our parish as a great place in which to do business, and all three of these companies are shining examples of the innovative and creative businesses that will thrive here.”
Three finalists pitched their businesses in a “Shark Tank” style competition. The other two finalists, which each won $5,000, were Nice Plants Good Pots, a commercial plant nursery headquartered in Arabi, and St. Bernard EcoTourism, a local eco-tourism destination in St. Bernard for both tourists and locals alike.
“Startup St. Bernard is one of our best tools in promoting business attraction and growth in the parish. We cannot wait to see the services, jobs, and impacts Glass Half Full brings to our community in the coming years,” said Meaghan McCormack, the Executive Director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation.
Startup St. Bernard was open to any business under five years old that agreed to locate their base of operations in St. Bernard Parish and participate in its entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Glass Half Full laid out its plans for St. Bernard Parish during the pitch, sharing that the company would provide opportunities for parish residents to recycle their glass, diverting waste from landfills and putting it to good use, such as for coastal restoration and even making Mardi Gras beads. The entrepreneurs highlighted that they would create a number of high-wage, high-skilled “green” jobs in the parish.
The finalists were selected by an independent scoring committee with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Delgado Community College. The grand prize winner was selected by an independent panel of judges, including Andrea Chen, the co-founder and executive director of Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation; Della Rucker, AICP, CEcD, the principal of Wise Economy Workshop; Allen Square, the founder and CEO of Square Button Group; Kevin Wilkins, the founder and managing director of Trepwise; and Desiree Young, the founder and CEO of VentureWalk Business Partners, LLC. The event was emceed by Multiple Emmy-winning host, writer, producer, and reporter Tom Gregory.
Startup St. Bernard is made possible with the generous support of sponsors who contribute cash and in-kind services to help the winners take their businesses to the next level. This years sponsors are the Meraux Foundation, Associated Terminals, Bernard Franks — A Corporation of Certified Accountants, Biz New Orleans, CORE: Louisiana Counseling & Recovery Center, Ditto’s Printing & Copy Center, evanschmidt design, the Frederick J. Sigur Investment Company, the Ganon Group, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Mr. Floyd Gue, Mrs. Rita Gue, Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, Mr. Joey Nieto, Leadership St. Bernard, the Nunez Community College Foundation, Outfront Media, Park Investments Ltd., Ragusa Consulting, Senator Sharon Hewitt, Sherman Strategies, Shine Productions, Sidney Torres Law Firm, Southern Insurance Agency, the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, the St. Bernard Parish Assessor, St. Bernard Parish Government, the St. Bernard Tourist Commission, The Palms too, The Ranch Studios, and Valero Meraux Refinery.