New Orleans Business Alliance and Mayor’s Office to Launch $350,000 Pilot Program to Support Resiliency of Local Businesses and Commercial Corridors
NEW ORLEANS – The City of New Orleans and the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) are launching a $350,000 pilot program to support businesses and commercial corridors within the following seven neighborhoods identified as part of the NOLABA Strategic Neighborhood Development (SND) Strategy: New Orleans East, Lower 9, Hollygrove, Gert Town, Gentilly, Treme, and Algiers. These communities have experienced decades of disinvestment, leaving surrounding businesses more vulnerable to economic and environmental disasters, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of an intentional and strategic response to meet the needs of these vital communities, the City of New Orleans and NOLABA have announced plans to launch a joint program, the “Resilient Corridors Initiative,” to provide financial support to these businesses to ensure their ability to continue operations through COVID-19 and continue to be anchors for future economic growth within these strategic neighborhoods.
NOLABA and the City will invest $250k to initiate the pilot program, which will support a cohort of 40 businesses currently located or with plans to expand within the target neighborhoods. Businesses chosen to participate in the pilot program will receive $5,000 in grant funding and technical support from a cadre of diverse experts and practitioners that will provide several hours of technical assistance to the businesses to help implement strategies to sustain their presence through this period of economic downturn and recovery. Technical assistance will be tailored specifically to the needs of each business participating in the pilot program.
In addition to direct support for businesses within these key areas, NOLABA will invest $100,000 in projects that advance commercial revitalization efforts and build economic development capacity within the seven targeted neighborhoods through partnerships with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) and several other community organizations, including:
- Algiers Economic Development Foundation (AEDF)
- Dillard Community Development Corporation
- Earhart Blvd. Business Association
- Hollygrove-Dixon Community Development Corporation
- O.C. Haley Blvd. Merchant Association
- Mary Queen Vietnam Community Development Corporation
- New Orleans East Focus Group
- Old Algiers Main Street
- Sankofa Community Development Corporation
- Ujamaa Economic Development Corporation
The projects will include business retention, attraction, and placemaking activities intended to increase the economic vitality of these important New Orleans neighborhoods, benefiting the surrounding residents they serve.
NOLABA will hold a virtual information session for small businesses interested in applying for the grants on Tuesday, October 20, at 1 PM. Registration information can be found here.
Interested businesses must have been in existence for at least 18 months, have a physical presence within one of the seven neighborhoods, or have a signed lease/contract to open a business within one of the seven neighborhoods.
Acceptance into this pilot is based on a competitive application process. NOLABA will begin accepting applications on Wednesday, October 21, via its website. The deadline for submitting applications is November 9, and participants in the pilot program will be selected by November 18.
40 businesses will be selected to participate in the pilot program following a review process based on several criteria, including business impact on the surrounding community, business viability, and how the business intends to use grant funding and technical assistance.
“Culturally strong and economically vibrant neighborhoods have always been the backbone of New Orleans. Now more than ever, as we face the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. Strategic Neighborhood Development is one of our core focus areas at NOLABA. Our neighborhoods and the entrepreneurs who have invested in these corridors need support capital now more than ever. This is another step, and I’m incredibly grateful for our continued partnerships with the City and in each of these individual neighborhoods allowing us to step up and launch this program,” said NOLABA President & CEO Quentin Messer, Jr.
“This crisis is not like any other we’ve faced, but our people have faced it with the same resilient spirit. Many of our small businesses and institutions that have made New Orleans the place we love have been hit hardest by this pandemic. This initiative is an investment that will allow business owners in these historic areas to have a say in how to most equitably sustain and support growth in their communities,” said City Council President Jason Williams.
“COVID is affecting all neighborhoods. Our small, family-run businesses — particularly in distressed neighborhoods — are vital to health and growth. Hollygrove and Gert Town neighborhood businesses have deep ties to their communities. If these businesses close because of the looming effects of COVID-19, their communities will suffer. I’m thankful NOLABA and Mayor Cantrell’s administration are partnering with community development groups to ensure the future success of our neighborhood businesses,” said District “A” Councilmember Joe Giarrusso.
“Neighborhood commercial corridors are vital to the success of our communities. Walkable access to shops and necessities is a hallmark of New Orleans neighborhoods. Supporting both individual businesses and community organizations helps each side build on the achievements of the other. This kind of strategic investment in carefully targeted areas benefits not only those areas, but the city as a whole. When our local small businesses thrive, our communities do as well,” said District “B” Councilmember Jay H. Banks.
“As a community, we have all worked to support our local businesses during this time of crisis and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, the deep economic impacts of this pandemic mean we must offer more resources to ensure they survive. Each additional funding source, like the Resilient Corridors initiative, will help provide vital assistance to businesses that have been among the hardest hit from the effects of COVID-19. Small businesses are the backbone of our City, between the jobs they create and the critical goods and services they provide, and I hope this pilot program will serve as a lifeline to many establishments that are trying to survive,” said District “C” Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer.
“The Resilient Corridors pilot program, which will provide financial support to businesses to ensure their ability to continue operations as we face COVID-19, is what our neighborhoods desperately need in this moment. The City of New Orleans must strategically invest and support the resiliency of local businesses and commercial corridors. No neighborhood should be left behind when it comes to financial and quality of life investments in this great city that we love and work so hard to improve,”said District “D” Councilmember Jared C. Brossett.
“I am proud to support and partner with NOLABA on this innovative initiative to support small businesses in District E. We applaud all small business owners for persevering through these tough economic times, and hope that through the support of this program, you will be resilient for years to come,” said District “E” Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen.
“The Resilient Corridors Initiative is an ideal collaborative between NOLABA and the City of New Orleans. This partnership aligns with the City’s Generational Economic Development priorities of place-based development and promoting more equitable development in communities. The Resilient Corridors Initiative will deliver crucial technical and financial assistance to a cohort of businesses in neighborhoods throughout the City. This is an example of exactly the type of initiative the new Office of Business and External Services is looking to continue to invest in not just during COVID, but in the years to come,” said Deputy CAO of the Office of Business and External Services Peter Bowen.
“The Algiers Economic Development Foundation is thrilled to partner with the New Orleans Business Alliance’s Strategic Neighborhood Development team to invest funding, programmatic, and technical support in our community at this crucial time. Algiers is home to a beautifully diverse range of industries and business owners; from our locally-grown small businesses to our historic presence on the Mississippi River, we look forward to working collaboratively to create and sustain a thriving community,” said AEDF Executive Director Kelsey Foster.
“MQVN Community Development Corporation is grateful for the support from the New Orleans Business Alliance and the Resilient Corridors Initiative and their focus on the New Orleans East business community. The Resilient Corridors Initiative will support our work with the businesses along the Alcee Fortier Commercial Corridor during the pandemic and to promote its unique cultural history,” said MQVN Program Manager Khai Nguyen.
“Dillard University Community Relations is excited about this innovative outreach initiative which will spark economic growth in the Gentilly community. Beautification projects enhances property values and bring residents together to create safer communities,” said Dillard University Community Development Corporation Executive Director Nick Harris.
An application page with additional information on the program will be available on NOLABA’s website at nolaba.org next week.