22 Jun Building The City’s Retail Portfolio by Putting People First

At the New Orleans Business Alliance, we work hard every day to achieve equitable and inclusive economic growth for all New Orleanians by working to attract new businesses, grow our local workforce and small business ecosystem, and most importantly to connect people to opportunity.

To achieve this, NOLABA takes on the national stage every year at industry-specific conferences, gaining high visibility with business leaders, decision makers and networking with peers across the country.

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New Orleans representatives attend the International Council of Shopping Centers conference to attract more retailers to the City.

A good example of this is our annual presence at the RECon Conference produced by the International Council of Shopping Centers. With more than 37,000 industry professionals and 1,200 exhibitors, it’s world’s largest gathering of retail professionals. And, our local delegation attended with one goal in mind: convincing retailers to open new stores in New Orleans.

A strong and diverse retail sector is important for any city, especially in such a unique city like New Orleans. A diverse and modern retail environment attracts more visitors, provides more jobs, adds to our already incredible quality of life and creates opportunities for place-based investment to fit all of our neighborhoods.

NOLABA staff promote New Orleans neighborhoods at the ICSC conference.

With those thoughts in mind, retail attraction is a priority for NOLABA.

Key aspects of the delegation’s mission were to market the city’s assets and convince retail prospects to conduct site visits in New Orleans while we gained insight into best retail and mixed-used development practices used by other cities. The result: in just a couple of days, the New Orleans delegation held more than 75 meetings that generated 65 credible leads with retailers or their representatives interested in investing in the Crescent City.

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NOLABA staff and New Orleans East City Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen (2nd from left) prepare for their next meeting.

In addition, the delegation took advantage of available industry insight and best practices. It is clear from our meetings and professional development sessions that retail continues to be a key element driving economic development, economic opportunity and quality of life.

From an economic development perspective, retailers and businesses create economic opportunities, promote job growth in the community and generate a critical revenue source for communities through generation of sales tax and payment of property taxes. This revenue funds important services provided by our municipalities such as infrastructure and police officers. In addition to being fiscal engines, developed right, retailers and businesses are an integral part of our communities by providing products, services and centers of congregation that add to our quality of life.

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New Orleans representatives conducted more than 65 recruitment meetings with retail decision makers.

When we launched our retail attraction strategy in 2010, RECon became a key component to our partnerships with the City and City Council. As a result, we have secured 50+ new retailers opening throughout the city. These new retail openings have resulted in an additional $65 million in retail sales tax collection.

For those in the industry, as technology continues to disrupt the traditional retail model, change appears to come from many different angles including the need to rethink retail concepts and how people will shop and live in the future. The imperative however seems to be a focus on creating better experiences centered around people.

We couldn’t agree more.

RECon keynote Jennifer Fleiss, co-founder and former CEO of online retailer Rent the Runways, did not think about opening a physical store when she started the company in 2009. Now the company has launched a pilot store in New York City. During her speech, Fleiss shared with the audience that a number of brands are realizing the power of enforcing their community and the experiential elements of what they are doing with a physical presence.

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In addition to meetings with retail leaders, representatives learned about the current retail business environment. Industry insight offers a competitive edge that helps New Orleans recruit retailers to the City’s various neighborhoods.

From an equity and economic opportunity standpoint, a relevant piece of information that was exposed during the RECon conference is that 2.5 million retail enterprises in the United States are minority and women owned businesses.  This tied up with the fiscal relevance of the industry is an indicator that NOLABA is on the right track by having a specialized program focused on New Orleans minority and women owned businesses.

Learn more about our efforts by visiting nolaba.org.

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