Setting the Table: Economic Development in Post-Katrina New Orleans

By Guest Contributor
August 28, 2009
Corporate Citizenship Center

By Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc.

Working in New York City in the years after 9/11, I learned a basic lesson about economic development. The attacks left the city in financial ruin, $4 billion in the red. Yet, four years later, NYC was experiencing its biggest building boom in decades. Why? Because of specific public policies that then encouraged private investment. Watching this, I learned: the most efficient thing economic developers can do is to “set the table”- and then let the markets work.

This is why I am so excited about the outcome of the recent Louisiana legislative session. While it was a tumultuous few weeks, when the smoke cleared, pro-business, pro-community bills did remarkably well, bills that now set the table for a potential feast of wealth creation for the Greater New Orleans community.


First and foremost is HB 106 (Hunter Greene) – elimination of capital gains tax from the sale of a private business. It used to be that when you sold your business in Louisiana, you were hit with a 6% bill. So, many people, and their companies, left before they sold. The result has been years of wealth – and brain – drain to neighboring states, like Texas. HB 106 fixes this unintended consequence, immediately levels the playing field, and gives Louisiana a new recruiting tool.

Then, there is SB 277 (Ann Duplessis) – up to a 35% tax credit for the production of digital media. What earlier legislation did for film, SB 277 will do for digital. And if you think it has been exciting shooting to #3 in the country for movie production, get ready for what will happen in digital, an industry that dwarfs film in potential for growth and high-quality job creation.

Greater New Orleans, Inc. is optimistic about our region. The recovery economy is in full swing, with billions invested and more to come; young professionals are moving into our area at an unprecedented rate; our housing market and regional economy have been ranked as the a safe haven to ride out the national recession; and, the individual assets of our region have provided the diversity necessary to retain key companies, and provide a great quality of life for a population that is now over 90% of its pre-storm total.

You can find out more about the Greater New Orleans Reality and the state of region on Greater New Orleans Inc.’s website.