Meraux Foundation and SBEDF Announce 5th Annual Startup St. Bernard Finalists

St. Bernard Parish, La. (March 12, 2019) – Startup St. Bernard organizers, The Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation have announced the three finalists selected to compete for nearly $90,000 in prizes in the yearly competition: Breathing Waters, Da Parish Kayaks, and Schmelly’s.  The 5thAnnual Startup St. Bernard competition is being held in conjunction with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week on Thursday, March 28, 2019 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“We are thrilled to be hosting Startup St. Bernard for the 5thyear,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation, which helped create Startup St. Bernard to attract and grow businesses in the parish. “I look forward to seeing the finalists pitch their businesses at the live event, and encourage everyone to attend.

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. An independent scoring committee from the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University chose the three finalists based on business viability criteria and the quality of their business plans.

Breathing Waters has been operating for the past two years as an urban farm and shared studio. The startup’s goal is to revitalize its facilities to include larger studio and workspaces, a new event space, a small commissary kitchen, and a small store front to be able to sell goods made by the artists, farmers and craftspeople who work there.

Da Parish Kayaks is loosely based on the shared economy business model.  The startup intends to use high-end fishing kayaks and a web-based system to promote health, community, and opportunity.

Schmelly’s is a compost collection and processing company that is offering Greater New Orleans another option than the landfill.  According to the startup, going green is in their nature, but the real work takes place with values-based job creation.  Schmelly’s mission is to transform food and organic waste into healthy soil and natural fertilizer while generating meaningful work opportunities and removing barriers of workplace marginalization.

“We are eager to see this diverse group of finalists make their pitch on March 28th,” said Andrew Jacques, Executive Director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation.  “I am especially excited that our new format will allow all finalists to leave with seed money to help establish or grow their business.”  

The finalists will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges and a live audience at the Arlene Meraux River Observation Center at Docville Farm (5128 E. St. Bernard Highway, Violet, LA.) for a chance to win a grand prize package of cash and in-kind services.  All finalists will receive at least $5,000 in seed money to grow their business.  Should a tie occur between the four judges, an audience vote will determine the winner of the grand prize.

The event is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in attending the “Shark Tank-style” business competition is asked to register at



About the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation

The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Today, the Foundation’s board of directors is presided over by Arlene’s niece, Rita Gue, and consists of members Floyd Gue, Bill Haines, Chris Haines, and Sidney Torres, III. Guided by Arlene’s vision, the Board is implementing an innovative strategy to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard. The Meraux Foundation is a founding sponsor and organizer of Startup St. Bernard.


About St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation

St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to retain and create jobs, build prosperity, and improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish. The Board of Directors consists of 29 voting members and 8 non-voting honorary members and public officials, all of which serve as volunteers to the organization. SBEDF's work is made possible through the general support of St. Bernard Parish Government and its donors the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation and Port of New Orleans at the Lead Investors Level,  St. Bernard Port, Harbor, and Terminal District, Cox Communications, Chalmette Refining, and Valero at the Impact Champion Level, the Law Offices of Sidney Torres, III, Associated Terminals, Ochsner Health Systems, Atmos Energy, and Gulf Coast Bank and Trust at the Pillars Level, and Palmisano Group, Boasso Global, Park Investments LLC, Adams and Reese LLP, and Capital One at the Community Leaders Level.