The Morehouse Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) held their annual luncheon on Tuesday at the Bastrop Visitors Center. Dr. Nick Bruno, President of the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) was the guest speaker for the event.

MEDCO titled the luncheon "Celebrating our Community" and as they normally do awarded several of their yearly awards at the lunch. At the beginning of the luncheon, a moment of silence was observed in honor of former MEDCO member and former Mayor of Bonita, Michael J. Lytle, who passed away in April.

The 2017 Small Business Award was presented to C & K Nursery of Bastrop. Cynthia and Keith Nellams, with help from their daughter, Angie Foster and Cynthia's sister Carol Kinnaird, are the owners of C & K.

"Their commitment and dedication to their business have made them a success," said Kathy Lenard, Secretary-Treasurer of MEDCO. "Anyone who drives past this business is surely going to notice the various bursts of color at the peak of seasonal change. They are committed to providing their customers with the highest quality trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, mulches, and landscape products." C & K Nursery is located at 10691 Crossett Road. Carol Kinnard accepted the award on behalf of C & K Nursery.

The MEDCO 2017 Economic Development Award was presented by MEDCO Immediate Past-Chairman Bob Green to Goodwin Gladney, President of Delta Healthcare Management, LLC. Delta Healthcare operates several nursing homes in Morehouse Parish.

A plaque was also presented to Bob Green as the Immediate Past-Chairman of MEDCO to thank him for his service.

Dr. Nick Bruno, President of ULM gave the keynote address at the luncheon.

"As small business goes," Bruno began. "So does our state."

Bruno spoke primarily about ULM, describing it as a "special place".

Bruno said that ULM has students from 60 countries, 40 states, an all of Louisiana's parishes.

He spoke of the pride in the workforce at ULM. He congratulated the schools' grounds crews who keep the campus looking beautiful, which in turn helps the University present at welcoming place to encourage students to attend.

"We have to have our best foot forward," Bruno said, "And we have to have our shoes polished when receiving visitors."

"Our focus has been health sciences," Bruno continued. " There are three reasons for that. One, we are good at it. Two, there is a high demand for those occupations. And number three, the graduates can come out and contribute to our communities."

Bruno said that ULM produces the second largest number of health science graduates in the state, second only to LSU. The school offers 16 bachelors level programs in health science, 11 graduate programs, and a Doctorate program in Pharmacy.

With so many health science programs the school operates a number of clinics to allow students to gain clinical experience in their area of expertise. Last year, 44,000 northeast Louisiana residents visited these clinics and received care at little or no cost.

"I am very proud of health sciences at ULM," Bruno said.

During a brief question and answer session after he spoke Bruno addressed a question about the Schools efforts to start a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program. In June, the Board of Regents approved a school to be operated on the ULM campus by  New York Institute of Technology. However, in August  New York Institute of Technology withdrew from the program. Bruno said that the school is in talks with four potential operators of a medical school.

"We continue to seek partners and as late as yesterday we had a group from Colorado on campus to investigate the possibility of becoming a partner. We know the need and we know the benefits of a medical school," Bruno added.

Kay King, CEO of MEDCO, closed out the luncheon and tanked all those attending for their help in moving Economic Development in Morehouse Parish forward.