Flozell Daniels Jr.: We’ve made some really strategic investments in nurturing small businesses and entrepreneurs here in New Orleans. And now what we’re
trying to do is take advantage of a stronger economy so that we can expand participation
in that economy. Melissa Ehilnger: ProsperityNOLA is a five-year economic development strategy for the city of New Orleans. We’ve brought together over 200 business and civic
leaders over the course of about eight months to really look at the New Orleans economy
– where have we been? Where should we go? Flozell Daniels Jr.: I think, when Katrina hit, with the BP oil disaster, one of the things that we were very interested in, and continue to be interested
in, is diversifying the economy so that we can have a more resilient economy. A cluster-based approach doesn’t just look
at the businesses. It looks at all of the supports that the businesses need to grow.
During the planning process, biosciences and health services emerged, as well as creative
digital media, because of the assets we have already in New Orleans. Sustainable industries
emerged; we sit on a lot of water and we’re surrounded by it. As we think about costal
restoration, there is tremendous opportunity for us to grow our businesses and export that
talent and that knowledge internationally. Flozell Daniels Jr.: The cluster approach gives us a chance to signal to partners, both in the state and outside the state, that we’re focused on
giving attention to places where we have natural strengths. Aaron Miscenich: The New Orleans BioInnovation Center is a business incubator targeting the life sciences. We work with major research institutions to
take their bench research, add more value to it, and grow them into small businesses
here in the city. If you look at the way that the city is looking to grow its economy, they
tend to really center a lot of it around the development of a knowledge-based economy.
The startups that we’re building out of this university technology really tend to
hire a great broad range of employees – everything from the young, inexperienced lab techs all
the way through to the PhD, M.D.s, that all of these positions really have a great deal
of upward mobility as they gain more and more experience. Flozell Daniels Jr.: We came together years ago and really created this notion of New Orleans as a model city. We’ve been working to create solutions right
here in New Orleans, powered by Philanthropic partnerships and working with communities
and across sectors. New Orleans, we believe, really is a model city in developing solutions,
advancing answers that have national and global application.