23 Jan “Project Alpha” with Amritha Appaswami: NOLABA Case Study

Amritha_Appaswami project alphaEconomic development matters to New Orleans because more businesses lead to greater economic security for more people. NOLABA kicked off 2017 by putting together a proposal for a major Bio & Health Services Innovation business development prospect on an extremely tight deadline.

NOLABA’s Amritha Appaswami, Louisiana’s only economic developer solely focused on building a robust Bio & Health Services Innovation industry, led the team’s rapid response.

What spurred this rapid response?
AA: Louisiana Economic Development (LED) invited NOLABA to respond to a blind, confidential Request for Proposals for a project dubbed “Project Alpha.” When we receive these, we must anticipate what will make investing in New Orleans attractive to the specific prospect. That ability to anticipate is part of NOLABA’s combined industry and on-the-ground expertise. For Project Alpha, we determined which of the city’s advantages could suit their needs, including New Orleans’ existing bio-related assets (i.e. medical schools and health centers), how New Orleans’ tourism and transportation resources could benefit them, and which sites were appropriate. Having that knowledge at our fingertips ensures an accurate and timely response. We also must navigate how to compete against and collaborate with other cities in Louisiana and nationally.

Who is involved in the work?
AA: Internally, it’s a multi-step team effort. Our research team included Director of Business Development and Strategy Louis David, whose expertise ensured a strong list of site recommendations, and Katy Dupre, our Manager, Economic Competitiveness, whose research acumen enabled us to mine similar projects elsewhere to benchmark. Our staff’s in-depth knowledge of tax and labor incentives is a particular benefit we bring as New Orleans’ economic development champion. Our relationship with LED, starting with our President & CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr. (LED’s former Assistant Secretary), ensured we could turn around the response within a week. We also worked externally with our partners at the City of New Orleans – specifically Senior Advisor for Economic Development Rebecca Conwell and Business Services Director Ernest Gethers – and coordinated with GNO, Inc.

What do we include to make New Orleans the best option for this prospect?
AA: NOLABA’s staff members are domain experts on the value of New Orleans for prospects. For Project Alpha, we emphasized New Orleans’ unique advantages (i.e. 1 of 15 cities nationally with two medical schools). In short, we answer “Why New Orleans” offers the ideal intersection of commerce and culture and why it’s a great place to grow their business.