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«Mission Statement The following Mission Statement was adopted by the Board of Directors on March 28, 2000: The Committee for a Better New Orleans is ...»

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- Permitting. Opening a business in New Orleans is a nightmare of politics, bureaucracy, conflicting regulations, multiple certifications, hidden pitfalls, and miles of red tape. To the highest degree possible, the City must institute one-stop shopping for operating licenses, construction and zoning permits and compliance. The Task Force has recommended establishing an Economic Development Corporation (EDC) that would coordinate all this and more, as well as serving as a new business incubator and a major source of entrepreneurial support. Though funded at least in part with public monies, the EDC would be managed by an independent board. The EDC would also be charged with gathering and organizing the scattered economic development resources and entities that presently exist, and ensuring that new economic development initiatives complimented and were coordinated with existing ones. Business retention efforts, such as a business-calling program, would also be centered here. Similarly, minority-business certification and women-owned business certification need to be consolidated into a single process and location, in coordination with the State, the City and the private sector.

- Public/private partnership. MBE and WBE certification are just single examples of the widespread need for the public and private sectors to work together to facilitate economic development.

Formal partnership, strategies and initiatives must be developed to ensure that economic development reaches all segments of the community.

- Venture capital. More financial resources are needed for business start-ups and expansion, and the public and private sectors must again come together to establish venture capital funds.

- Regional competition. Government entities in the region must come together to plan and implement regional economic development strategies rather than fighting counterproductive turf wars.

Urgency in this area is further heightened by the trend at the federal level towards funding regional initiatives.

- Lack of economic diversity. Twenty years ago, New Orleans experienced an economic crisis when the one industry that the city economy was centered around fell into a major slump. Twenty years later the city again finds far too many of its income eggs in one economic basket, the tourism industry.

Not only is this industry highly vulnerable to downturns in the national economy, it is currently made even more fragile by the events of September 11, 2001. Moreover, many tourism jobs are low-paying and afford little opportunity for career advancement. True diversity in terms of variety of industries that thrive in the city is imperative for building a strong economic future for New Orleans.

While the problems are many and complex, the New Orleans area is not without its strengths.

Geography gives the City a port and other transportation assets, as well as a prime location for international trade. The eight colleges and universities have tremendous potential as economic catalysts, in areas such as job training, research and technology development. They also have a substantial direct economic impact on the City, while turning out large numbers of college graduates who have been exposed to the City's much appreciated culture and character, which are themselves important strengths.

Formal linkage between the educational institutions and the economic development process is essential.

Another often-overlooked asset is the significant military presence in and around New Orleans. Not only does the military have a strong direct impact, it also serves the community as a superb training ground for high quality jobs.

In addition to the obvious approach of building on these and other strengths, the Task Force focused on

several other essential economic development strategies. Included among these are:

- A neighborhood approach to economic development. Neighborhoods are another significant strength of the City, and these must be preserved and nourished. In general, emphasis was placed on growing and attracting small to medium-sized businesses and many of these can be neighborhood-based and neighborhood-beneficial.

- Entrepreneurism. Often beneath the official radar -- and unfortunately, sometimes spilling over into illegal activities -- there is actually the basis of an entrepreneurial culture in New Orleans. What these people lack are capital, training, support, and infrastructure. Business mentoring and incubation programs must be established, and innovative approaches to creating entrepreneurial opportunities -- such as buying spin-off divisions of existing enterprises -- must be identified and employed.

- Clustering of industries. New Orleans has largely lost its oil and gas cluster, but still benefits from a growing medical cluster. In addition, there are actually more local high-tech businesses than many people would suspect. These clusters must be supported and grown, while viable new clusters, such as biotechnology, must be identified and grown.

Another key facet of economic development is marketing the strengths and advantages of the City. A formal business attraction strategy, with a specific marketing plan, must be developed and implemented, and updated regularly as improvements are realized in all aspects of quality of life and quality of business life.

To a certain extent, all the rest of the CBNO Task Forces' work is dependent on the success of future economic development efforts. New Orleans must reinvent itself economically, adjust to changing times and conditions. Examples abound of other cities, such as Pittsburgh and Cleveland, which have dug themselves out of an economic abyss, and many did so without the natural advantages of New Orleans.

At the base of all of this are the people of the City. Despite the City's economic woes, almost 70% of New Orleanians think they have more economic opportunities now than they did five years ago. The people of New Orleans must be the starting point and ending point of all economic development efforts, for growing businesses is always and only a function of growing people.

NOTE: As a footnote to its action plan, the Economic Development Task Force asks that it be understood that inclusiveness is an underlying element of each individual objective. While many of the objectives list a number of specific organizations, the intention is to include all entities operating in the fields addressed by the objectives.

Key crossover issues:

- Population loss (City Management, Housing)

- Workforce education/development (Education, Public Safety)

- Revenue generating by City (City Management)

- Regional cooperation (City Management, Transportation)

- The airport (Transportation)

- Crime (Public Safety)

- Tax incentives (City Management, Housing)

- Home ownership (Housing)

- Neighborhoods (Housing)

- Poverty (City Management, Education, Housing, Safety)

- Homestead exemption (City Management, Education, Housing) Action Plan Critical Issues and Goals

1.0 Diversification of the economy; making New Orleans government user-friendly for business.

New Orleans has a reputation as a difficult business environment, and the City has a challenge to build its credibility if its desire to attract new business is sincere. The creation of an open, accessible and widely understood regulatory system is a logical first step.

Create a transparent regulatory system that is predictable, accessible and coordinated. The system, which will include zoning, permitting and licensing, will be equitably administered and strictly enforced, and eliminate political and administrative barriers.

1.1 Mayor to mandate a one-stop licensing and permitting service center (the Center), which will cooperate with the business community, business organizations, Secretary of State, and departments of City government that issue permits. The Center will create a technologically advanced, functional, seamless, and accessible business and zoning permitting office, which will enable a one-stop process for permits.

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1.2 Mayor, with assistance of Techvision 2020, Louisiana Technology Council and other representatives of the City's technology community, to develop a web-enabled, online strategy to access such City services as parking ticket payment, applications for permits and other City services.

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2.0 Workforce Development The City should take a leadership role in tightening the relationship between education, training and existing and potential job opportunities.

Create a seamless and coordinated workforce development delivery system that trains workers for (1) entry level jobs that are sustainable and offer definable career paths; and (2) higher level jobs that offer competitive wages, measured against regional and national bases. Rationally determined existing and projected job opportunities will define the scope of job training offered.


2.1 Workforce Investment Board (WIB), in partnership with the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), to develop, coordinate and prepare an implementation plan for a training program for junior and senior high school students, which will enable them to pursue existing job opportunities in the New Orleans labor market and receive career path counseling.

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2.2 WIB and Delgado Community College, in cooperation with other relevant educational institutions and the labor and business communities, to identify training requirements to move beyond entry level jobs into higher paying jobs, in order to earn livable wages that will contribute to economic growth and sustainability in this community.

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2.3 City to develop workforce incentives, which include training requirements, wage and benefit targets, work force development and similar programs, which are linked to meeting accountability standards and are designed to benefit the workforce and economic development goals of the City, as well as the interests of recipients. The City’s RFP process should be utilized in this effort.

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2.4 City to build upon the successes of the New Orleans Jobs Initiative in designing and adopting new training methodologies, which are innovative and effective and will meet the demands of an expanding labor market.

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3.0 Need for effective business attraction and marketing program.

New Orleans should establish consistent and credible marketing strategies to attract new business, taking advantage of the City's unique culture, creative character and physical assets.

Create an effective and innovative business attraction strategy, formally aligning the City's public and private sectors, which encourages private sector job-creating investment. This strategy will encourage economic growth in neighborhoods, while preserving the City's unique character and benefiting all citizens.

3.1 Mayor, City Council and Economic Development Corporation (EDC), in cooperation with Louisiana Technology Council (LTC), New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Orleans Regional Medical Complex, colleges and universities, and others, to establish a venture capital and seed capital program, combined with incubator facilities, to develop new cluster businesses related to existing clusters.

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3.2 EDC to coordinate and contract with regional organizations in their areas of expertise to fully develop a business attraction and diversification strategy, to include the Louisiana Technology Council, New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce, New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Orleans Arts Council, MetroVision, New Orleans Regional Medical Complex, and the colleges and universities.

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4.0 Inner city business and job base to address problems of poverty, working poor and the underemployed.

The City's greatest potential for meaningful change lies in its ability to improve the lives of the working poor and the underemployed.

Implement a business development strategy in the City, using proven theories, that addresses problems related to poverty, thereby significantly reducing the number of working poor and underemployed.

4.1 Mayor and City Council, in conjunction with business, labor and civic leaders, to officially recognize and embrace the establishment of economic development policies and strategies which specifically address and substantially reduce unemployment, underemployment and poverty.

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4.2 Mayor to align the business and economic development policies and strategies referred to in 4.1 above, with the strengths and weaknesses of the City and its neighborhoods, using proven, quantifiable standards linked to, and coordinated with, private, public and educational institutions.

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5.0 Growing new and existing businesses; business retention and making New Orleans business-friendly.

Foster an environment that encourages and rewards entrepreneurial activity, supports and promotes the growth of existing businesses, and affords opportunities for employees to build assets.

5.1 EDC, in cooperation with MetroVision and the Downtown Development District (DDD), to establish an effective Business Calling Program for existing New Orleans businesses, utilizing EDC staff, business executives and elected officials.

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5.3 MetroVision to sponsor an Entrepreneurial Development Task Force, composed of successful local businesspersons, to develop an entrepreneurial strategic plan and create a Center for Entrepreneurial Development in collaboration with the City's colleges and universities.

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5.4 CBNO, in cooperation with MBE/WBE certifying agencies, to identify, evaluate, standardize, and implement best practices of all organizations currently involved in supporting minority economic development in the City and, in cooperation with such agencies, to assess the City's minority business enterprise and women enterprise (MBE/WBE) initiatives.

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