Throughout our interviews with five promising companies from the five sectors outlined in the ProsperityNOLA plan, a few trends emerged. First, the universities in New Orleans are increasingly serving as a source of human capital for the city’s entrepreneurial scene. Whereas before, graduates from Loyola, UNO, and Tulane might have left New Orleans for better opportunities elsewhere, companies like IDScan.net, Theodent, and Connect + Trade are testament to the fact that New Orleans’ graduates are increasingly staying put to start and grow their ventures. In addition, tax incentives are also playing a major role in galvanizing the New Orleans start-up scene, as we saw with Joule Solar and Theodent.
On the other hand, New Orleans still has some work to do in order to continue to provide support for a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Most importantly, there must be increased access to risk capital. The lack of a sophisticated venture capital presence in New Orleans is a common concern among budding companies here, and it is something that must be developed in order to attract new companies and grow the ones that are located here.
Nashville, Tennessee recently became the first city to have an exchange traded fund (ETF) based solely on companies in the Greater Nashville area. Through the Nashville Area Exchange Traded Fund, investors that are bullish on Nashville can place bets on locally-headquartered public companies like Dollar General, Cracker Barrel, Tractor Supply, and HCA. Based on the potential of companies like the ones we have highlighted this summer, and the economic momentum that New Orleans has gained in the past few years, we pose the question to you: if a fund existed in New Orleans for locally-based companies, how willing would you be to invest in New Orleans?