We think of New Orleans as being famous for several different things, namely jazz, food, art, history, and Bourbon Street. It has also had many nicknames. NOLA, N’awlins, The Big Easy, The Crescent City, and The City that Care Forgot. That last one refers to the carefree, easy-going nature of its residents.
However, last week New Orleans became forgotten. On a reader-driven survey for top entrepreneurial cities on Under30CEO’s website, New Orleans was left out of the list of nominees.
In a moment of heroism, I felt the need to save my city from obscurity and omission. I decided to band my community together before we became extinct. I took full advantage of my weekly column and used my journalistic powers to remind my readers, and fellow entrepreneurs, of all we had accomplished. We wanted to continue what we have done by voting for New Orleans as a write-in candidate. In true New Orleans form, we came together and once again proved how proud we were to be a part of New Orleans. More specifically, its entrepreneurial community.
The entrepreneurial community in New Orleans has been gaining momentum at an increased capacity. With the help of organizations that have aided in the growth of several entrepreneurs, and bourgeoning industries that are bringing new opportunities for start-ups, the city is full of possibilities for anyone who is interested in starting a business.
For anyone who has ever doubted New Orleans as being nothing more than a bead-throwing community of alcoholics driving around in fan boats, then think again. Check out the 25 reasons for why New Orleans is the best city for young entrepreneurs. You may even start packing your bags and your business for a move to the Big Easy.
Resources and Information
The growth of entrepreneurial activity has made an evident impact on the economic development of the city. As a result, more individuals and organizations are working to continue the consistent growth, as well as retain the young talent in the city. These organizations include collaborative workspaces, economic development agencies, and professional service providers all aiming to help expand locally-based businesses.
1. Launch Pad
A 12,000 square foot collaborative workspace that can accommodate 70 companies and 170 people. The space is occupied predominantly by creatives within the digital and film sectors. However, a variety of service providers in the building are available to help entrepreneurs with their businesses needs. As a result, this further contributes to the unique camaraderie between Launch Pad’s tenants.
Formed in 2010, the NOLABA is comprised of business leaders and civic authorities. The organization is deeply enmeshed in the economic development of the greater New Orleans area. They seek to interact with startups and established firms looking to run their companies in an environment that fosters investment, a strong quality of life, and tremendous opportunity.
A nonprofit social enterprise, Go.Be. seeks to undergird minority-owned businesses operating in the $150K to $1M window. Likewise, the organization offers development training, access to a wider network of like-minded entrepreneurs, and even funding for particularly promising businesses.
With a new facility opening in the downtown area, The BioInnovation Center is a technology business incubator that is committed to fostering bioscience entrepreneurship and promoting collaboration within the life science community.
5. Idea Village
The team at the Idea Village supports aspiring entrepreneurs by providing them with grants, talent, and workspaces to help them develop their ideas into for-profit businesses.
The annual entrepreneurship festival is hosted by The Idea Village to celebrate the entrepreneurial community and engage both local and national MBA students with entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and thought leaders. The week-long celebration includes networking events, pitch sessions, competitions, and opportunities for one-on-one consulting with other entrepreneurs as an effort to further support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.
Propeller focuses on assisting entrepreneurs who want to develop businesses that provide innovative solutions to social and environmental problems predominantly within the public education, healthy food access, blighted building/housing, and economic development sectors.
Anchored by Propeller, the elevator pitch competition is an opportunity to initiate new social innovation ideas throughout the city. In other words, 10 finalists present their pitch to an audience and panel of judges. They have a chance to win money and services to help further develop their idea into a business.
A non-profit organization committed to supporting and showcasing emerging artists, small businesses, and entrepreneurs by providing them with strategic communications and PR services.
A collaborative of organizations in the city that’s devoted to retaining young talent in the city by providing networking opportunities that help further connect new transplants to key people, advisors, and potential business partners.
An online publication that focuses on startups, entrepreneurial activity, internet product reviews, and tech news in the region. The online news source continues to foster entrepreneurial growth on the Silicon Bayou. It does this by profiling the individuals and companies who are further contributing to this growing community.
The center for entrepreneurship at the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University trains the next generation of entrepreneurs through coursework, community service projects, and internships. Through the curriculum and the opportunity to participate in initiatives such as the student-run entrepreneur association, students develop the skills and foundation for business development while further contributing to the economic development of the region.
The TEA is a student-run organization at Tulane University. Its mission is to promote entrepreneurialism within the university. It engages the community by educating its members and connecting them with local entrepreneurs.
The competition provides students from across the globe the opportunity to compete with other aspiring entrepreneurs and pitch their business ideas to a panel of accomplished entrepreneurs and venture capitalists at Tulane University.
The Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Freeman School of Business brings together scholars, inventors, investors, and students to solve problems and build businesses. Likewise, the Lepage Center is a center for entrepreneurial activity at Tulane, for knowledge about entrepreneurship in New Orleans, and for innovation in the Gulf South and beyond.
16. Economic Development Agencies
Organizations like GNO, Inc and The Louisiana Economic Development agency work at the state and regional levels to promote the area, generate new business development, and create a strong workforce in Louisiana, further aiding economic development and bringing new industries to the South.
17. Low cost of living.
An entrepreneur’s economic needs are met with a combination of a low cost of living and high quality of life. Specifically, in a day in age where business can be done remotely and not necessarily in cities like New York City or Chicago that are considered to be business Meccas, however, more costly. As a result, living and office costs in New Orleans are remotely affordable when compared to the national average, giving you more bang for your buck and the affordability to live a more high-quality lifestyle than you would in most other large, urban cities. In 2011, New Orleans was ranked 3% below the national average for cost of living. New York City was 118% above average — a 121% difference in cost of living between two cities that had less than a 24% difference in median household income.
18. Tax incentives.
Competitive local, state, and federal tax incentives are offering more opportunities for businesses to expand and/or relocate to Louisiana — New Orleans specifically. Supported industries are growing in the region and opening more opportunities for new businesses within those growing sectors.
With the growth of various supported industries in the state, several established companies are relocating to Louisiana due in large part to tax incentives and a low cost of living. This influx of larger companies further proves that there are needs and opportunities for new entrepreneurs within a range of industry sectors.
Local economic development agencies GNO, Inc. and LED provide data and information on the leading industries and incentives. However, even beyond the government-supported industries, more entrepreneurs are aspiring to turn New Orleans into a hub for other industries as well. This is all evident by the growth within finance, manufacturing, food/drink processing, and fashion sectors.
19. Film and Entertainment
Because of tax incentives, trained workforce, visually appealing landscapes, and the development of new infrastructures and state-of-the-art production facilities, Louisiana is now ranked #3 for film production behind California and New York.
20. Digital Media
Louisiana offers the most aggressive tax incentive program in the nation for digital media and software. As a result, it has recently expanded to include the development of consumer software, business and enterprise software, Web-based applications, digital media and games, interactive devices and consoles, and embedded systems. Likewise, the growth of film production and relocation of new software companies such as Gameloft to the region further support the growing industry.
As a major producer, processor, and exporter of domestic energy, Louisiana has long led the nation within the energy and petrochemical industry. To clarify, it’s done this with the help of multimodal transportation and the largest port complex in the world, a strong workforce, and aggressive local, state, and federal tax incentives.
22. Specialty Healthcare and Biotechnology
Existing infrastructures, trained workforce, aggressive incentives, and research funding help in creating a growing industry. As a result, you can see this within life sciences and innovation, bringing more innovative businesses to Louisiana.
23. Diverse Culture and Constant Inspiration
Of course, architecture, art, music, food, and culture are a constant in New Orleans. Therefore, they provide endless entertainment and, even, inspiration.
24. Entrepreneurial Spirit
New Orleans and its residents instinctively carry traits of the entrepreneurial spirit. From the ambition each person has in contributing to the rebuilding of New Orleans, the passion for the food and culture, the resilience and adaptability to life after Katrina that kept New Orleans going strong during the economic recession and the BP oil spill, and the positivity throughout our development as a city are all characteristics that parallel the mindset of an entrepreneur. Likewise, everything that has fueled New Orleans into overcoming setbacks and barriers also drives an entrepreneur to success.
25. Community and Unity
In conclusion, the city has experienced setbacks in the past few years. However, New Orleans residents have grown stronger as a community and formed a new sense of unity. Specifically, within the small ecosystem of entrepreneurs. Members have established bonds and partnerships.
Likewise, they have not only helped one’s own business evolve but the growth of burgeoning industries. Along the way, the economic development of the city flourished as well. As a result, this form of unity has grown largely with the help of incubators, workspaces, and networking groups that encourage collaborations and partnerships within a community of people who are genuinely interested in each other’s prosperity.
Author Adriana Lopez is the executive director of Generation: New Orleans, Inc. GNO is an organization that is committed to supporting entrepreneurs through various PR and marketing efforts. Similarly, she also writes about the entrepreneurial community in New Orleans for several local publications.