Friday, June 21, 2024

Leaderboard for February 2024

by BIZ Magazine


Business First Bancshares, Inc. (Nasdaq: BFST), the holding company for b1BANK, has announced a significant move to enhance its service offerings with the acquisition of Waterstone LSP, LLC (Waterstone). The definitive agreement, signed today, marks a strategic step for Business First in reinforcing its commitment to small businesses and community banks.

Waterstone, founded in 2012 by Mark Danford and Anthony Parrino, specializes in collaborating with community banks and small business owners to implement and manage the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) loan programs. The acquisition is expected to bring synergies and a more robust set of financial solutions for b1BANK’s clientele.

“We have worked closely, for a number of years, with Waterstone and have been impressed with their deep understanding of both small businesses and the community banks that serve them,” stated Jude Melville, President, and CEO of b1BANK. “With the integration of Waterstone, we look forward to more seamlessly providing SBA-focused alternatives to our core bank clients while also equipping our community bank partners around the country to more comprehensively serve their clients.”

Headquartered in Katy, Texas, Waterstone offers a comprehensive suite of SBA lending services, covering planning, pre-qualification, packaging, closing and disbursements, servicing, and liquidations. This strategic move is poised to enhance b1BANK’s ability to provide tailored financial solutions to its clients.

“From inception, we have been dedicated to building partnerships with our clients because they are not just another number to us. After working with the bank, it was clear to us that b1BANK has the same relationship-based approach to serving clients,” said Mark Danford, President, and CEO of Waterstone. “This merger will provide both teams with opportunities to expand into new markets and provide our clients with additional finance options,” added Anthony Parrino, Chief Financial Officer of Waterstone.

Following the acquisition, Waterstone will operate as a subsidiary of b1BANK and will report through Chief Administrative Officer, Jerry Vascocu. “We are thrilled to welcome the Waterstone team and expand the line of products and services we offer through our Financial Institutions Group (FIG),” commented Vascocu.

The legal aspects of the transaction were handled by Alston & Bird, LLP, representing b1BANK, and Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC, advising Waterstone.

About Business First Bancshares, Inc.: As of December 31, 2023, Business First Bancshares, Inc., through its banking subsidiary b1BANK, boasts $6.6 billion in assets. Operating in markets across Louisiana and the Dallas and Houston, Texas areas, b1BANK provides a range of commercial and personal banking products and services. The bank has garnered recognition, being awarded #1 Best-In-State Bank, Louisiana, by Forbes and Statista, and earning multiple years of recognition in American Banker’s “Best Banks to Work For.”

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Kean Miller, a prominent law firm in the Gulf South region, has secured a coveted spot on the “2024 Best Companies to Work For: Law Firms” list, as revealed by U.S. News and World Report. The distinction underscores the firm’s unwavering commitment to fostering a positive and supportive workplace environment for its attorneys and staff.

Companies featured on this prestigious list are evaluated based on their ability to meet and exceed the needs and expectations of employees when compared to industry competitors. Criteria encompass a range of factors including the quality of pay and benefits, work-life balance, job stability, physical and psychological comfort, a sense of belongingness, and opportunities for professional development.

Kean Miller has been a legal trailblazer for over four decades, consistently setting new standards for excellence in client service. The firm’s innovative approach and dedication to providing thoughtful and creative legal representation have garnered numerous awards, establishing it as one of the largest and most distinguished law firms in the Gulf South.

Recognition on the National Law Journal’s NLJ 500 and Law 360 Top 400 lists attests to Kean Miller’s continued success. The firm is also proud to hold Mansfield 6.0 certification, a testament to its genuine commitment to promoting diversity in the legal profession. Kean Miller’s collaborative culture, people-first philosophy, and unwavering commitment to quality are foundational to its continued market leadership.

With eight strategically located offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Shreveport, Lake Charles, Houston, and The Woodlands, and boasting a team of 210 attorneys, Kean Miller delivers sophisticated and meaningful legal counsel. The firm’s clientele includes Fortune 500 leaders, national businesses, and local companies who benefit from Kean Miller’s reputation for excellence in legal representation


In a heartfelt ceremony at CHRISTUS Highland Medical Center on January 31, Casey Robertson, the newly appointed President and CEO of the CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System, was formally commissioned and blessed by the Rev. Monsignor Rothell Price of the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport.

Monsignor Price expressed the solemnity of the occasion, acknowledging the gravity and responsibility that come with leading a health system. “I know that you and those who have asked you to serve in this role do not take this challenge lightly or without careful consideration,” Price remarked. He emphasized the significance of the commissioning, recognizing the healthcare profession as God’s work, deserving of divine grace and guidance.

“The challenges you face will be eased through a faithful following of the mission, which has served as a light for our sponsoring congregations since the original call of Bishop Dupuis,” Price added.

Casey Robertson, who assumed the role of President and CEO on December 4, brings nearly two decades of healthcare administration experience, including over 10 years at the CEO level. Prior to his current position, he served as the Chief Operating Officer at the CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Health System in Longview, Texas, for 18 months.

Reflecting on the future of healthcare in Shreveport, Robertson expressed admiration for the dedicated work of healthcare professionals. “I see the work the nurses do, I see the work the clinicians do, I see the work our doctors and our nurse practitioners and our PAs do, and it truly is the Lord’s work,” he shared. Robertson highlighted the significance of faith at CHRISTUS, expressing excitement about being part of a community where faith is lived out every day.

Chris Glenney, Senior Vice President of Group Operations for CHRISTUS Health Northeast Texas and North Louisiana, acknowledged the importance and challenges of running a health system. “The president’s job is very important and it’s a challenging job. That’s why it’s so appropriate to take the time this afternoon to take a breath, to celebrate and to really commission Casey for the significant work he has representing each one of you, representing this community and representing CHRISTUS Health,” said Glenney.

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