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Morial Convention Center Names 2023 Morial Award Winners

NEW ORLEANSThe New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority and the Urban League of Louisiana recently announced the 2023 Morial Award winners at a banquet inside the Convention Center’s Great Hall. The Morial Awards recognize a small business and a corporation that have demonstrated innovative growth and economic impact, as well as exceptional contributions to increasing diversity and creating equal opportunities for local communities and small businesses across the state of Louisiana.

Selected by committee, the 2023 Morial Award for Corporation of the Year went to VPG Enterprise, and Obatala Sciences was awarded Small Business of the Year. The two winning companies were chosen from an esteemed group of finalists, including Thomas Consulting, The Bernard Group and New Orleans East Hospital.

“On behalf of the Convention Center, I want to congratulate the winners of this year’s Morial Awards – Obatala Sciences and VPG Enterprise,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President and CEO. “As a major economic driver for the region, the Convention Center is committed to expanding opportunities for local and diverse businesses. Obatala Sciences and VPG Enterprise’s outstanding work and contributions to the small business community are a great source of inspiration and bring immense value to our region. Congratulations again, and we wish you well in your future successes.”

The Morial Awards were established in 2020 to celebrate Mayor Ernest N. Morial’s legacy as a civil rights activist and political pioneer. Becoming New Orleans’ first Black mayor in 1977, a position he held for two terms through 1986, Morial championed the Convention Center’s construction and positioned it to promote economic development, especially for local and diverse small businesses.

Small Business of the Year winner Obatala Sciences is a woman-owned, minority-owned small business based in New Orleans. Founded in 2017, Obatala is a biotechnology firm focused on increasing diversity in clinical research and expediting the development of therapies for diseases like obesity, diabetes and cancer while advancing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.”The Honorable Ernest Morial and the entire Morial family have been pillars to our community in New Orleans and have invested countless hours to selfless giving through their leadership,” said Dr. Trivia Frazier, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Obatala Sciences. “Obatala Sciences hopes to continue to carry this legacy forward as the first biotechnology company to receive this prestigious award and as an entity committed to promoting diversity in research, with a mission of supporting the development of therapies that are accessible to every person in need, regardless of their age, sex, or racial/ethnic background.”

Corporation of the Year recipient VPG Enterprise provides real estate and project management services along with residential and commercial construction services from its headquarters office in Harvey, Louisiana. Founded in 2011 by partners Michael Meredith and Andre Lewis, and joined by Vincent Weaver as President, VPG has continued to grow over the years and offers services in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.“This award is a true testament to our team’s relentless dedication to our mission of building a better tomorrow with P.R.I.D.E (passion, resourcefulness, integrity, dependability, excellence),” said Michael Merideth, CEO of VPG Enterprise. “We owe this achievement to each and every one of our team members, who are the driving force behind our success. Without their dedication and hard work, there would be no VPG. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to the esteemed Morial family, the Convention Center, and the Urban League for honoring us with this prestigious award,” Merideth concluded.

The Convention Center works year-round to create opportunities to help Louisiana’s small and emerging businesses (SEB) and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) succeed. Through the Small and Emerging Business Program, the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority encourages the hiring of local vendors to provide goods and services at the Convention Center and is making it easier for these vendors to access new business opportunities through the SEBConnect app. Since the program launched in 2019, 1,621 certified vendors have registered, and area SEBs and DBEs have been awarded more than $43 million in contracts.


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