17 Jun Quentin Messer, the assistant secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, to lead New Orleans Business Alliance

The Advocate


Quentin Messer, most recently the assistant secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, has been named president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance, the local economic development agency and Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced Wednesday.

Messer succeeds Rod Miller, who left the agency last summer to lead the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

Melissa Ehlinger, who has served as interim president and CEO of the agency since Miller’s departure, will return to her role as senior vice president when Messer begins work July 1.

Messer, 46, will receive an annual salary of $200,000.

The Business Alliance is a public-private partnership between the city and private investors. It had operating revenue of $2.7 million in 2014, $1.5 million of which came from the city. The remainder was a mix of private money, federal grants and other sources.

Messer joined LED in 2012 as the director of state economic competitiveness and was promoted to assistant secretary a year later, according to a news release announcing his selection.

The Business Alliance said it conducted a nationwide search for a new leader.

Messer will be the alliance’s second president since it was formed early in Landrieu’s first term to complement the city’s economic development office and attract businesses to New Orleans.

Messer brings an “extraordinary combination of private-sector, public policy and foundation experience” to the post, Business Alliance Chairman Henry Coaxum Jr. said.

“A public-private partnership like (the Business Alliance) requires an unusual set of skills,” Coaxum said. “We needed a candidate with the nuts-and-bolts knowledge of economic development, along with intimate understanding of business, government and nonprofit environments. We also needed someone who could really maximize the exceptional team we have in place.”

The Business Alliance has played a key role in efforts to recruit more major retailers to the city. It also was responsible for producing Prosperity NOLA, the city’s five-year plan to drive economic growth in five industry sectors by 2018.

Messer received an undergraduate degree from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He also received a master’s degree in business administration and a law degree from Columbia University.

Before arriving at LED, Messer was a practicing lawyer, was active in education reform efforts and worked as a senior management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.

“I am excited and honored to be joining the New Orleans Business Alliance team,” Messer said in a statement. “When we do our work well, we will transform the lives of New Orleanians by providing more on-ramps to opportunities and ensuring a stable, sustainable economic future for us all.”