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

August 28, 2009

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.