Four Years after Katrina: Celebrate Progress

Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and three recent posts acknowlege that there is plenty to celebrate, as the communities devastated by that storm continue their process of recovery and renewal.

For starters, this morning BCLC published a guest post by Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc. (GNO), a business and economic development organizations in New Orleans. Hecht’s post, “Setting the Table: Economic Development in Post-Katrina New Orleans,” shares recent successes which GNO and other local officials believe will help move forward economically the greater New Orleans area.

An August 13th piece by BCLC’s Mark D’Alessio covers the recovery impact of the Hancock County (MS) Chamber of Commerce, whose executive director, Tish Williams, has pushed the community toward building back better with hurricane-strength determination.  Hancock County was completely devastated by the storm — I visited Tish in 2006 — but the community receives far less attention than New Orleans.  For more on Hancock County’s recovery, see my interview with Tish in BCLC’s 2008 report or visit the Hancock County Chamber’s website.

And finally, a staffer from the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce wrote a piece yesterday, deservedly drawing attention to the accomplishments in local education in post-Katrina New Orleans.

From ChamberPost:

The New Orleans’ school district’s academic performance jumped from 56.9% pre-Katrina to 66.4% last year, according to state education officials. While still behind the national average, a 10% gain is no small feat. And much of these improvements can be attributed to the storm itself. Katrina provided an opportunity for the city to completely revamp the school system, in essence, to start anew – and those in charge have grasped on tight to this opportunity. Soon after the storm, the Recovery School District was established and took over almost all of the schools within the city.  (Read more)

No doubt there is still a long road to recovery and renewal in the Katrina-devastated communities, but this weekend, let’s commemorate the anniversary by applauding their progress.