The one-upper. Everybody has known one at one point in their life, be it in the fourth grade or graduate school. The kind of person you just want to turn to and say, “OK, we get it!” If New Orleans were a person (and she’d be an interesting one, at that), this would be the reputation she is quickly gaining. Putting aside those categories where New Orleans ranks in the top ten, which are impressive in their own right, let’s take a look only at the economic categories where New Orleans is currently best-in-class:
1. Fastest growing city in America
2. Employment rate
3. Economic recovery out of the largest 100 metro areas in the U.S.
4. GDP output
5. Economic growth potential
Add to all this that it is home to the Superbowl this coming Sunday, and New Orleans is also the best-looking one in the class. (In the next ten days, between the Superbowl and Mardi Gras, the city is set to see approximately $672 million dollars pour in—not a bad ten day spread.) What is it that turned New Orleans from performing sub-par economically for so long, forcing thousands of residents to leave for better opportunities, to giving something for New Orleanians (both old and new) to brag about? As Adriana Lopez points out in a recent Forbes article, “America’s New Frontier for Business Opportunity,” there are a few factors at work that have all enhanced the business atmosphere in the city.
First, there has been a rebooted effort to eliminate corruption in government across the state. New Orleans has long been the butt of many running jokes concerned with the moral integrity of city leaders, and for good reason. Now, as Lopez points outs, Louisiana is ranked no. 1 by the Center for Public Integrity, and these perceptions have a significant effect on business activity in New Orleans. Whereas before, companies were apprehensive to locate in a city with crooked city officials, now corporate giants such as General Electric and Gameloft are flocking to a location with more trust between the public and private worlds.
Second, local and state economic development initiatives are collectively providing attractive financial incentives for current companies and those that are looking to expand. One statewide workforce training program, FastStart, has created over 63,000 jobs and brought in over $28 billion in new capital investment. On the local level, Greater New Orleans, Inc. has attracted companies like General Electric and Gameloft to the city, and has galvanized the city’s new medical district (including the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, where EMH is located). Not only is the New Orleans economy on a steep incline, but according to the Brookings Institution, the Recovery School District in the city has catapulted to the top school district in the country for school choice and competition (Lopez).
We at EMH are drawn to stories like Lopez’s not only because we call New Orleans home, but also because, with every project we undertake, we aim to add to this rapidly increasing momentum, be it with a local non-profit, a multi-million dollar shipping company, or an expanding restaurant. Every company needs to be able to answer why it is that they do what they do; this is an important question on which we often challenge our clients, and it is something we always strive to keep in mind as well. At EMH, we believe that businesses in New Orleans and the Gulf South can and should be performing at a higher level, and our “raison d’être” is to utilize our capabilities to get them there. As the level of success among companies in New Orleans and the Gulf South continues to rise, we hope to see the rankings keep pouring in; here’s to the Third Coast!