02 Feb CityBusiness Guest Perspective: To Win More Projects, New Orleans Needs ‘Single Team’

Quentin Messer economic development

New Orleans Business Alliance President & CEO Quentin Messer writes in the February edition of CityBusiness that economic development, government and destination marketing must work as a unit to ensure a city’s economic prosperity:

As we begin our immersion in that distinctly New Orleans tradition of Carnival season (sorry, Mobile) it occurs to me that only in the highly inventive and creative place that is New Orleans can time be bent and additional seasons created. We now have an “entrepreneurship season” thanks to Idea Village’s launch of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week nearly a decade ago. Leaders like Mayor Landrieu, Stephen Perry, Mark Romig and Jay Cicero among others have been powerful advocates and educators about the economic benefits of tourism and hospitality.

Now that we know who will compete in the Super Bowl (can we really root for the Dirty Birds?), achieving success on the gridiron provides a helpful framework for discussing the interplay between destination marketing and economic development. Football championships are won by excellence in all three elements of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Similarly, enhancing the economic competitiveness of a city, especially one that is as culturally iconic as New Orleans, only happens when government, destination marketing and economic development perform as a single team.

Destination marketing’s goal is to increase the number of visitors. Our city is blessed with star players at every position who promote New Orleans, whether at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tourism Marketing Corporation, Morial Convention Center or Audubon Nature Institute. Their plays ensure record levels of visitors, enabling New Orleans to continue to leave an outsized, positive impression on the psyche of business decision-makers internationally.

But amid this success, we cannot lose sight of the intentionally big dreams and strategic bets that transformed New Orleans into the tourist mecca that it is today. Building the Superdome and Convention Center were seminal decisions that benefit residents daily. Today, there is a greater awareness that these beneficial decisions not only transformed our ability to attract visitors but laid the groundwork to accelerate economic development.

Economic developers focus on making a city more competitive to attract new capital investments, retain and grow resident businesses and develop the human capital of all residents. Like destination marketing, economic development is about increasing the viability and visibility of New Orleans within the minds of decision makers – in this case, those allocating capital. The arrival of Collision, the nation’s fastest growing tech conference, last year exemplifies the unprecedented level of complementary playmaking between destination marketing and economic development the city now enjoys. We at New Orleans Business Alliance are deepening our engagement with the tourism and hospitality industry and our destination marketing partners. NOTMC is developing new content to enhance and grow the #WhyNOLA campaign.

As we again open our arms to the world during Carnival, each of us has the chance to be an ambassador. As the Saints will attest, fan support makes a difference in a team’s performance. We who take the field daily for the city – whether tourism marketers or economic developers – need you to scream your lungs out for New Orleans. We’re a city worthy of human, financial and reputation capital investment.

There are multiple paths our city’s economy can take in the future playing more cohesively as a collective unit. Significant work remains, but together we will win for each other!

Quentin L. Messer Jr. is president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance.

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City Business GP