Talent is increasingly being recognized as a driver of economic development because of its contribution to business recruiting, innovation and entrepreneurship. Our goal is to develop a holistic approach that will help us attract highly skilled workers, retain talent across the board and connect hard-to-hire populations with job opportunities through the following collaborations and initiatives.

Attracting Highly Skilled Workers

Venture For America (VFA)

VFA is a fellowship program that places highly talented recent college graduates in organizations in cities with emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems. NOLABA is hosting two VFA Fellows from 2017-19, Thomas Krumins and Sally Lindsay, who are dedicated to supporting NOLABA’s business development activities, specifically, the New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge and Project Re-Start. Currently New Orleans hosts 24 fellows at 15 companies, and nearly 30 alumni have chosen to stay in New Orleans after their fellowships.

Economic Development Ambassadorship Program

This Ambassadorship Program launched in Spring 2017 and is the singular program in New Orleans that provides in-depth insight into the work of growing and diversifying the New Orleans economy. NOLABA staff equips experienced professionals from a variety of sectors with information to become better-informed ambassadors for New Orleans’ economy and assist in our mission to attract and retain talent.

Retaining Talent Across the Board


504ward is a collaborative initiative housed at NOLABA designed to retain the influx of young talent in the New Orleans region. Focused on both new and native New Orleanians, 504ward was founded in 2008 to connect the 21 to 35 year-old demographic to key events, people, organizations and opportunities. It has an email subscriber list of more than 12,000 members and has reached more than 20,000 members through its programs during the past nine years.


WorkNOLA is powered by 504ward and Greater New Orleans, Inc., the economic development alliance serving our 10-parish region. It is the leading website for professional employment listings in New Orleans. The platform is free to use and strives to increase the region’s economic strength by connecting a talented workforce with the needs of area companies.

Career Connections

Monthly Career Connections was launched by NOLABA in October 2017 with the objective to retain local talent by facilitating connections with career advancement professionals, other talent, and hiring organizations, and create strong cultural ties to New Orleans. NOLABA will work with recruiting experts and special guests to lead these career & cultural discussions and provide a high level overview of the economic assets and resources New Orleans offers to families and professionals.

Connecting the Local Community

Project Re-Start

Project Re-Start is a partnership initiative between the City of New Orleans and NOLABA. It endeavors to create a viable business model that provides formerly incarcerated individuals, or returning citizens, with a clear job-based pipeline to dependable employment through work opportunities, career training and development, and partnerships with local re-entry programs. Project Re-Start employees are able to complete crucial services for the City of New Orleans’ Code Enforcement and SWB Departments while establishing a proven track record of accountability and performance. As they complete 3 to 6 months of stable employment, Re-Start employees are connected to various longer-term job opportunities and ongoing support networks so they can successfully continue to restart their lives.

The Network for Economic Opportunity

The Network for Economic Opportunity is a NOLABA partner that provides New Orleanians with the education and training required to help them achieve their goals and connect with jobs. Its initiatives are aimed at spurring small business growth, hiring, and neighborhood revitalization. More than 700 job seekers have been employed through the Network, including 444 African American men.

Anchor Collaborative

The Anchor Collaborative is an initiative launched from the close partnership between NOLABA and the Network for Economic Opportunity. By engaging leadership within anchor industries – notably the local universities, hospitals and other large employers – to localize their hiring and purchasing commitments, we aim to ensure all New Orleanians have equitable access to sustainable wages and career pathways.