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2016 Year in Review: Small Businesses, New Initiatives, Business Retention Dominate NOLABA’s Achievements

2016The New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) announced its economic development achievements for 2016 with highlights including launching new efforts to develop the Bio & Health Services Innovation industry cluster, creating more opportunities for small businesses and assisting entrepreneurs and young ventures already on the ground in Orleans Parish.

NOLABA attracted new retailers to New Orleans which opened in key locations including along Canal Street, in the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East. Additionally, NOLABA helped welcome Collision Conference for its inaugural year in New Orleans, which attracted approximately 11,000 tech entrepreneurs, and assisted nearly 60 local tech companies help ensure their success in New Orleans. NOLABA also launched a major communications campaign, WhyNOLA, aimed at potential business prospects and the local community to tell the story of why New Orleans is a great place to build a business and a career.

“The partnership between the City of New Orleans and NOLABA has been a crucial element in creating a thriving economic climate for our city,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “NOLABA has worked diligently with us to ensure that every New Orleanian has the opportunity to prosper and build a great life for themselves and their family.”

“The New Orleans Business Alliance Board and staff continue working to build a diverse, sustainable economy for the city, an economy that offers opportunity for all,” said NOLABA Board Chairman Henry L. Coaxum, Jr. “Our Board members are extremely proud of the organization’s accomplishments, particularly in launching more intensive business attraction efforts in Bio and a new initiative to assist our small businesses. NOLABA’s support for and outreach to entrepreneurs who have already invested in our city continues to promote their growth and success.”

Building a Bio & Health Services Innovation Industry Cluster
NOLABA fulfilled its intent to lead development of a robust Bio & Health Services Innovation industry cluster in 2016 with the following accomplishments:

  • NOLABA hired the state’s only economic developer solely focused on building a robust Bio & Health Services Innovation industry cluster, Amritha Appaswami, who now leads these efforts.
  • Select Laboratory Software, a cloud-based medical laboratory software company, expanded to New Orleans from North Carolina.
  • Opening of the new Cobalt Medical Center in Mid-City, a $24 million state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility to treat traumatic brain injuries, concussions, Parkinson’s Disease and other conditions.
  • Innovation Louisiana – co-sponsored with New Orleans BioInnovation Center to improve bioinnovation entrepreneurs’ access to services and capital necessary to growth.

Developing New Orleans’ Small Business Ecosystem
To ensure a landscape equipped to support and encourage small business success, NOLABA undertook a number of initiatives designed to open doors to new opportunity, enhance business owners’ knowledge, and foster greater collaboration among economic developers:

  • Anchor Institutions Initiative – strategic effort to connect local small businesses with procurement and contracting opportunities with organizations so deeply rooted in New Orleans that they are unlikely to move, such as hospitals, universities and the Sewerage & Water Board.
  • Launched a dedicated small business workstream supported by a $375,000 grant from Surdna Foundation and a $125,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase.
  • Hired new Small Business Ecosystem Development Director Lynnette White-Colin, highly respected in the small business community, to lead the new initiative.
  • Gathered local economic development professionals to enhance collaboration and overall effectiveness across the city – first event attended by nearly 40 economic development professionals from multiple organizations and agencies.
  • Co-hosted educational sessions for entrepreneurs and small businesses with local experts on the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rule change and Louisiana Benefit Corporation opportunities.
  • Serving as expert advisors in the community – staff members sit on numerous local and national boards, working groups and advisory councils on topics ranging from workforce  to capital accessibility to transportation, along with industry-specific advancement in digital media, retail and Bio.

Telling the New Orleans Story
In 2016, NOLABA told the story of New Orleans as the ideal intersection of commerce and culture more aggressively than ever:

  • Launched two new websitesNOLABIO.org and a revamped NOLABA.org, both designed to align businesses’ perceptions about the New Orleans economy and NOLABA with reality on the ground, achieving significant increases in website traffic, click-throughs, impressions and reach.
  • Accelerated social media and email communications efforts to keep the New Orleans business community and others well-informed about NOLABA’s efforts and business success stories. More than doubled audience-specific email communications and quadrupled social media engagement.
  • More than two dozen bylined articles by NOLABA staff appeared in local and industry/trade media.
  • Launched WhyNOLA Campaign – multimedia, multi-channel communications and marketing effort demonstrating why New Orleans is a great place to build a business or a career through the “Why New Orleans” stories of individual members of the business community. More than 8,000 video views in less than 30 days.
  • More than 100 staff expert speaking engagements, panel participation or moderation with local, national and international groups.

Building the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
New Orleans’ entrepreneurial landscape and growing tech scene continues to draw worldwide attention. NOLABA’s business attraction and retention efforts contributed to this in the following ways:

  • Valmiki 504 LLC, a subsidiary of Valmiki Capital Management LP, opened to bring world-class investing expertise to local startups. Valmiki 504 subsequently also announced multiple new resources for the city’s entrepreneurs, including
    • Partnership with and location in Landing Zone co-working space
    • Opening of TopXight LA technology startup studio focused on cybersecurity and software
    • Launch of Ceres 504 branded food and food technology incubator
  • Business retention assistance to nearly 60 local digital media/software development companies, entrepreneurs and established businesses.
  • Co-hosted Collision Conference’s New Orleans debut – the industry’s visionary tech conference’s move to the city was so successful organizers announced their commitment to return in 2017 and 2018. 11,000 entrepreneur attendees, a 47% increase over the 2015 conference in Las Vegas.
  • Conducted business attraction missions to key target cities – San Francisco; New York; North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park – and major industry events (SXSW/Austin, Texas; Great States Summit/Dallas, Texas; Web Summit/Lisbon, Portugal), to encourage growing tech entrepreneurs to consider New Orleans and identify new business attraction prospects.
  • Co-hosted a FAM Tour with more than 25 site selectors and targeted relocation experts to introduce them to the city’s startup assets and local entrepreneurs.
  • Hosted three Tech Happy Hours to continue building the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and tech community.

Sustaining Retail Attraction & Expansion Momentum
In 2016, NOLABA continued to focus retail business development efforts on business attraction and building the local retail and real estate community. As a result, the city is on track to surpass $210 million in sales tax collections this year. NOLABA’s retail development efforts yielded new store openings and greater collaboration among local businesses, including the following:

  • CVS – first national retailer opened in the Lower Ninth Ward.
  • New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Company – opened new location in New Orleans East to record Lenten crowds.
  • No. Carrollton Shopping Center – Marshalls and Petco opened across from Mid-City Market.
  • Nordstrom Rack – one of the retailers most requested by local residents opened as the 2nd anchor at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk.
  • True Religion – high-end international jeans retailer opened successfully on Canal Street.
  • 12 retail/real estate business retention/expansion events attended by hundreds of local commercial brokers, developers, attorneys, architects and others.
  • Business attraction via major industry organization activity (International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC))
    • ICSC RECon – led annual New Orleans delegation at industry’s premier trade show
    • ICSC Texas Deal Makers Conference
    • ICSC NY Regional Conference
    • ICSC Food Conference Committee – lead role in developing key new industry conference and chairing panel on the “role of the restaurant industry in urban revitalization”

”I’m very encouraged by NOLABA’s progress in 2016,” said NOLABA President and CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr. “Economic development is a team sport, and we’ve seen that play out repeatedly throughout 2016, whether through the increasing collaboration with economic development partners at the City, City Council, GNO, Inc., and LED; engagement with our outstanding Board; and the expanding level of engagement by our staff with other stakeholders in the community. Because of the momentum that we are building, I’m very excited about 2017. Organizationally, we are more committed than ever to ensuring that more New Orleanians achieve greater levels of economic security. At bottom, economic development is about positively transforming the lives of people.”

amritha appaswami, bio, quentin messer, retail, small business, tech, whynola


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