06 May Economic Development Week 2018: Join the Conversation
Economic development matters only because people matter. NOLABA approaches economic development in a holistic manner using pillars of business friendliness, talent and workforce, and place-making, keeping our mission to achieve economic equity and sustainability for all New Orleanians at the forefront.
International Economic Development Week, #EconDevWeek, was created by the International Economic Development Council in 2016 to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and increase quality of life. NOLABA is a pioneer in building a holistic economic development strategy, and we are celebrating our nationwide example during Economic Development Week – May 7-12, 2018.
Business attraction is a critical component in bringing new investments that fuel a city’s economy. It is a long game, requiring strategy to build a pipeline of prospects. Collaboration with economic development partners is also critical, in our case, with Louisiana Economic Development, GNO, Inc., the City of New Orleans, and other non-governmental organizations. With enough persistent efforts, prospects become employers, who then hire talented workers for jobs. More jobs means a greater tax base, which yields a stronger economy.
From New Orleans’ foundational industries to emerging opportunities in tech and bio, NOLABA plays a vital role in bringing increased business activity to New Orleans. We work to position the city as an ideal place to invest and grow a company by showing the reasons why New Orleans is attractive for financial and human capital investment. Our collaborative efforts helped bring the biggest economic development announcement in state history this past year. DXC Technology’s Digital Transformation Center will create 2,000 direct jobs through the next five years and potentially more than 2,250 indirect jobs. It was named the nation’s No. 2 project in Business Facilities’ 2017 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition.
A signature business attraction initiative for NOLABA is the NOLA Health Innovators Challenge. Not only do we aspire to bring high-growth entrepreneurs to our city to grow their companies, but this partnership with healthcare leaders like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System works to bring healthcare solutions to improve the quality of life of our residents. This year Blue Cross and Ochsner awarded $36,000 and a pilot opportunity to Alertgy, a startup from Florida who developed a prototype for a noninvasive glucose monitoring device and alert system for diabetes patients.
NOLABA also developed a business attraction tool to educate prospects about a high-impact area offering large tracts of undeveloped land ripe for growth – New Orleans East. We illustrated a map of New Orleans East detailing industrial and commercial opportunities, along with general planning districts, parks, nature preserves and wetlands. Click here to view the map.
Because economic development is a cross-cutting issue affecting businesses in every industry – and the economic security of all New Orleanians – NOLABA empowers “ambassadors” to represent our message of how economic development impacts all New Orleanians. The ambassadors are professionals from a variety of sectors who participate in our signature 7-week Ambassadorship Program that explores each of NOLABA’s work streams. Our Spring 2018 cohort begins May 15.
Talent and workforce is another critical component of economic development. NOLABA is the bridge between local employers and the talent they need because talent attraction, development and retention contribute to business recruiting, innovation and entrepreneurship, and drive economic prosperity as a result.
NOLABA covers the whole spectrum of talent – from high level roles to those with barriers to employment, and we connect residents to opportunities in several ways in order to position New Orleans as a great American city for business investment, quality of life and economic opportunity.
Programs like STRIVE in New Orleans develop talent through a rigorous four-week workshop focused on soft skills and attitudinal training. NOLABA is the license holder for STRIVE’s job readiness curriculum in New Orleans and is leading the scaling of the model to five different Opportunity Centers.
In addition, we work to retain and attract a highly sought after skilled workforce through 504ward, which is housed at NOLABA. Focused on both new and native New Orleanians, 504ward is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2018 and connects young professionals to key events, people and opportunities through bi-weekly emails and dynamic programming.
We also work with niche populations to ensure the development of successful talent pipelines. An example is NextOp, a nonprofit organization that blazes a trail for military talent by recruiting, training and placing high-performing middle-enlisted veterans into industry careers. NOLABA worked with NextOp to open its first non-Texas office in 2017 and connected NextOp with DXC Technology as another source of talent for its new Digital Transformation Center.
Another example is working with the EMPLOY Collaborative to launch career pathways for “opportunity youth,” such as the Walgreens pharmacy technician pathway. We profiled this program in March as the first cohort moved through its curriculum. Opportunity youth are 16 to 24-year-olds who, due to contextual and life factors, are disconnected from employment and education, and New Orleans has a disproportionately high population (14.5% – more than 2% higher than the national average). Monique Robinson, one of NOLABA’s directors of Integrated Partnerships, works closely with EMPLOY and Walgreens on this pathway and others to help this underserved population connect to living wage careers in New Orleans’ workforce.
Small businesses are the driving force of the New Orleans economy and provide necessary resources for local residents. In fact, more than 90% of Orleans Parish employers have fewer than 25 employees. NOLABA is committed to efforts that aid our small business owners in growing and expanding their ventures through our dedicated Small Business Ecosystem Development work stream, led by Lynnette White-Colin and Wayne Encalarde.
No other city is more entrepreneurial than New Orleans, and NOLABA provides the full continuum of support for small business – from community-based small businesses all the way to the next generation of high-growth entrepreneurs.
We connect minority-owned businesses to the opportunities they need through the award-winning Anchor Collaborative. We guide small businesses to resources and services in the ecosystem so they can grow and prosper in New Orleans, such as certifications. Phala K. Mire, President & CEO of Women’s Business Enterprise Council South, presents the benefits of certification for women-owned businesses in this article.
Because certifications are a valuable way to stand out, we also help navigate the DBE process, always thinking about what resources your small business will benefit from the most.
So take advantage of the resources on NOLABA.org, including a comprehensive listing of local resource providers in the technical and financial areas. And to read success stories of small businesses who have tapped into New Orleans’ small business ecosystem, start here.
Placemaking and culture/quality of life are another pillar of economic development that makes a city ripe for investment and growth. Focusing on specific high-impact neighborhoods is something NOLABA is committed to, with neighborhood revitalization projects such as the Claiborne Corridor Cultural Innovation District a priority for our team. Through the integration with the Network for Economic Opportunity, NOLABA hired its first Director of Strategic Neighborhood Development, Asali Ecclesiastes, and she is leading the revitalization that the community celebrated with a ribbon cutting April 20.
Once fully operational, the project is expected to create spaces for 50 small and micro-businesses and eight anchor businesses, according to the U.S. Economic Development Administration. This increase in commerce “under the bridge” means more jobs and wealth creation for this New Orleans neighborhood. Ecclesiastes said the project will start small, with planned community festivals once a month, and the entire district will be complete by 2021.
NOLABA also works to build its deal-making capacity by establishing a yearly presence at RECon, the largest retail and real estate conference in the world, hosted by the International Council of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas. Momentum for New Orleans started to build at RECon 2013 and 2014 when we could cite deals with Costco, H&M and Tiffany, and of course the redevelopment of The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk. Those early successes laid the groundwork for continued retail expansion, and retailers like True Religion, MAC Cosmetics and Sephora have now opened successful locations in the city.
RECon 2018 is May 20-23, and NOLABA Vice President of Investor Relations Stephanie Bell, CEO Quentin Messer, and New Orleans City Council members will be among the attendees telling the story of New Orleans’ many neighborhoods as strong and vibrant retail destinations. Click here to view our New Orleans neighborhood guides.
NOLABA’s work to grow New Orleans’ economy comes together through a lens of inclusive diversity. We know that diversity and inclusion must be a key part of our economic growth strategy if we want to help every New Orleanian prosper to their full potential. It is with business investment, a talented workforce, a strong quality of life and economic opportunity for all citizens that a city can truly sustain growth. NOLABA CEO Quentin Messer explores in this LinkedIn column how New Orleans has “the right playbook” for progress in inclusive diversity as New Orleans celebrates 300 years and the inauguration of Mayor LaToya Cantrell.