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New Orleans Business Alliance Receives $400K “Build to Scale” Grant to Launch OurNOLA Investment Fund

NEW ORLEANS – Yesterday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo announced that the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) as part of its “Build to Scale” program. NOLABA will utilize this critical funding to structure an equity-based investment fund, create the first national pipeline of thousands of non-accredited investors, and deploy $10 million in capital to a minimum of six company investments in New Orleans.

Through the OurNOLA Fund project, NOLABA, the City of New Orleans, and a host of public and private sector entities will democratize investment access for millennials and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), while bolstering promising, scalable company outcomes. Modeled on key traits of other successful mutual and community investment funds, OurNOLA will bolster local companies focused on real estate growth, thereby healing decades of commercial corridor disinvestment and decay. Additionally, the fund will support founders of color in green, bio, renewable, and digital technology industries.

The project will leverage New Orleans’ brand as a destination hot spot, its strong alumni/expatriate network, and new connections to national angel and venture capital (VC) firms, with the ultimate goal of setting a new model for non-accredited economic development investment across the nation.

The “Build to Scale” program, administered annually by the EDA, aims to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support capital. These investments support aerospace, agtech, blue economy, bioscience, advanced manufacturing, and health technology clusters in regions throughout the U.S. and will lead to stronger, more resilient economies across the country.

“EDA is proud to support this year’s ‘Build to Scale’ grantees as they fuel regional innovation hubs throughout the country,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “Investing in scalable startups and creating access to capital will yield more economic opportunities and support the next generation of industry-leading companies. This is the type of vital work that President Biden’s build back better agenda promises to continue to support.”

NOLABA was one of 50 organizations from 26 states — including nonprofits, higher education institutions, state government agencies, and other entrepreneurship-focused entities — that received grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development. The organization, whose mission is encapsulated by its tagline – “Culture. Equity. Prosperity.” – is actively working to help solve the lack of local venture capital funding in support of enterprises started or owned by black and indigenous people of color.

“We’re honored to have received this award, which is an acknowledgment of our work to further economic growth here in New Orleans,” said Interim President & CEO Norman E. Barnum, IV. “The ‘Build to Scale’ program is one step toward creating unity and tying together local community, business, public and private efforts to help our entrepreneurs grow their companies and surrounding neighborhoods. We all need to be involved in this work together. This is the beginning of the new New Orleans.”

To learn more about the Build to Scale Program, visit eda.gov/oie/buildtoscale.


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