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What are the pros and cons of growing a business in New Orleans?

In a recent interview with New Orleans CityBusiness, EMH Principal and Executive Director of Tulane University’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship Dr. Ralph Maurer discussed the advantages and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur in New Orleans.
New Orleans vs. other national entrepreneurial hubs

“There are areas in the country that have exploded — Austin, Palo Alto, (Calif.), and Seattle — and you see a lot of common elements. First of all, all of those places were very interesting places to live in at the time they exploded. There’s a rich culture, great food, a well-educated populace. They were exciting places at that time in history, and New Orleans has that, too. There are a lot of very well educated people who came here after Katrina with a lot of new ideas and ties to other markets.”

Advantages

“We have historic ties to Latin America, which are going to get even better with the widening of the Panama Canal. Because of the links, there are a lot of connections with business schools in South America. This is something we can build on. The low-cost of living makes it easy for a young professional to come and start out here.”

Disadvantages

“There has never been a city that has been able to develop a long-lasting entrepreneurial community without fixing blight, crime and educational problems. The education system has undergone significant improvement since the storm, but there are a lot of innovators who wouldn’t want to take a hit on their children’s education. It’s not clear that this is a disadvantage, but we have a scale issue. Nationally, there are very few entrepreneurial hubs that are this small, Boulder, (Colo.) being the only one. Because of our geography, there is very little room for growth, unless we get more companies looking at the North Shore.”

“Blight and crime problems hold the city at a disadvantage for incoming entrepreneurs. But like other entrepreneurial hubs such as Austin, Texas, New Orleans’ culture continues to attract a growing number of educated people. This is a long game that is going to play out for the next 10 to 20 years. It’s undeniable that places change as times change, we have to focus on the areas we are
traditionally strong at.”

Robust Industries

“Despite the fact that a lot of the oil companies have moved their headquarters, there is a lot of knowledge around energy and the environment here. People often forget about hospitality, but it’s a deep area where the possibilities for entrepreneurship are massive. We benefit from having research-heavy academic institutions and that’s helped foster a growing bio-medical sector.”

After a high energy, high optimism New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week, the city’s entrepreneurs are now poised for growth. We at EMH are eager to help our Gulf Coast companies navigate the New Orleans business ecosystem and strategically plan for expansion.

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