Landrieu Announces New Business Model For Economic Development Delivered by NOLABA
Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a new business model for economic development in New Orleans led by NOLABA. Consolidating the Network for Economic Opportunity’s programming into NOLABA, this new model will sustain economic opportunity investments and create a new way to provide economic and workforce development in New Orleans.
“Since 2010, we have worked diligently to create access to real opportunities for the people of New Orleans and ensure that everyone could benefit from the City’s growth,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The Network for Economic Opportunity and NOLABA have been integral in this effort. Together, we found that government resources alone cannot do this work—it requires partnership with business leaders. I am excited to launch this new business model to maintain our established business relationships, sustain the investments that so many residents have made into economic opportunity and provide the next mayor with a solid plan to continue the work of making sure that every resident of New Orleans can win.”
Under this new business model, NOLABA will be responsible for providing a single point of entry for business attraction, retention and workforce development in New Orleans as well as establishing a place-based economic development strategy by promoting high-impact neighborhoods. Additionally, NOLABA will expand and coordinate the local small business ecosystem, including new financing for startup, small and disadvantaged businesses. Lastly, NOLABA will consolidate administration of incentives to provide consistency and predictability to local and national developers.
The City will maintain responsibility for setting policy priorities to ensure access to City employment and contracting as well as program oversight of federal funding. The City will also monitor disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE), the local hire policy and living wage ordinances across City projects and private projects receiving local incentives. The City also will coordinate and ensure shared DBE compliance practices across local public authorities.
The business model is being funded by the City’s Economic Development Fund consisting of NOLABA’s annual $1.5 million appropriation and the Network’s annual $1 million appropriation, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant funds totaling $148,692, and Workforce Innovation Fund grant funds totaling $158,683. The merger has received over $3 million in commitments from private donors in 2018 to be renewed annually for 3 years. Additionally, NOLABA is now required to raise $1 million annually, an increase from $500,000.
Ashleigh Gardere, former Network for Economic Opportunity Executive Director and Senior Advisor to Mayor Landrieu said, “I am most proud that this plan is not a plan that came from government employees or NOLABA staff, but intentionally engaged job seekers, small businesses, local training providers, economic development stakeholders, developers, funders and advocates. This new model is the community’s statement that our collective efforts are creating change in the lives of real people. Residents want to implement a new paradigm that allows all New Orleanians to benefit from the City’s economic growth.”
NOLABA President and CEO Quentin Messer said, “With our new colleagues from The Network for Economic Opportunity, the new NOLABA builds upon the work that transformed it into one of fewer than 70 accredited economic development organizations in the world. The Network’s award-winning work complements and enhances NOLABA’s ongoing efforts to accelerate the creation of more on-ramps to economic opportunity. Together, NOLABA and The Network have launched a new brighter chapter for NOLABA that will enable more New Orleanians to win for themselves, their families, their neighborhoods and our great city.”
In 2010, Mayor Landrieu, in partnership with business and civic leaders, formed NOLABA—the first public-private partnership for economic development—to employ the best practices in economic development to reposition New Orleans as the ideal intersection of commerce and culture. In 2014, Mayor Landrieu launched the Network for Economic Opportunity to connect disadvantaged job seekers to opportunities. Together, these organizations have worked diligently to promote economic growth and create jobs, vigorously pushing to attract major retailers, business startups and new private investments.
Since 2010, the City has created 20,000 new jobs and opened more than 140 new retail and restaurant openings. The City’s African-American male under-employment rate decreased from 52 percent to 44 percent. Mayor Landrieu has also raised the City employee and contractor minimum wage to $10.10, setting an example for public and private bodies to pay a living wage. Unemployment has been nearly cut in half since its peak in 2010 and over seven years.
NOLABA Board Chairman Henry Coaxum said, “We believed historically, that a rising tide raised all boats. Then, we looked ashore and realized that there were many that did not have boats. We now realize that we must be intentionally focused on equity as a growth strategy to effectively address the needs of local businesses. Diversity can be and must be our strength if we want to truly compete nationally and internationally. This integration of economic development with economic opportunity will be transformational for NOLABA, and all citizens of New Orleans.”
New Orleans Workforce Development Board Chair Sheila Burns said, “Approval of the CEA between the Network for Economic Opportunity and NOLABA is the first step toward realizing the Board’s own Strategic Plan to create a workforce development system that will serve as a center of workforce innovation, coordination and collaboration in partnership with our One Stop Operator, our training partners, an engaged business community and those committed philanthropic organizations. On behalf of the New Orleans Workforce Development Board, I am excited to help spearhead this new business model which will align economic opportunity and economic development more closely with the goal of delivering measurable, relevant and value-added services that are responsive to the needs of industry and to jobseekers in our community.”
On Thursday, September 28, 2017, the New Orleans City Council approved a cooperative endeavor agreement (CEA) to enact this new business model in 2018. Set for the next three years, the CEA outlines the responsibilities of the City and NOLABA, the oversight of Council, and the financial commitment.
Gardere is NOLABA’s new Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Joining her in January as new NOLABA employees are Brandi Ebanks, Assistant Vice President of Talent Development; Asali Ecclesiates, Director of Strategic Neighborhood Development; Monique Robinson, Director of Integrated Partnerships (Opportunity Youth); and Bill Sabo, Director of Food, Music and Software Tech.