New Orleans Workforce Development Model Wins Approval

Under the new model, NOLABA will be responsible for providing a single point of entry for business attraction, retention, and workforce development in New Orleans and also for establishing a "place-based economic development strategy" by promoting high-impact neighborhoods.

The mayor and council of New Orleans approved a new business model for economic development in the city, one that consolidates the Network for Economic Opportunity's programming into the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), and the council supported this last week with a 6-0 vote. "Since 2010, we have worked diligently to create access to real opportunities for the people of New Orleans and ensure that everyone could benefit from the city's growth," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "The Network for Economic Opportunity and NOLABA have been integral in this effort. Together, we found that government resources alone cannot do this work—it requires partnership with business leaders. I am excited to launch this new business model to maintain our established business relationships, sustain the investments that so many residents have made into economic opportunity, and provide the next mayor with a solid plan to continue to the work of making sure that every resident of New Orleans can win."

Under the new model, NOLABA will be responsible for providing a single point of entry for business attraction, retention, and workforce development in New Orleans and also for establishing a "place-based economic development strategy" by promoting high-impact neighborhoods. The city maintains responsibility for setting policy priorities to ensure access to city employment and contracting and program oversight of federal funding; likewise, the city will monitor disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE), the local hire policy, and living wage ordinances across city projects and private projects receiving local incentives.

The model is being funded by the city's Economic Development Fund consisting of NOLABA's annual $1.5 million appropriation and the network's annual $1 million appropriation, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant funds ($148,692), and Workforce Innovation Fund grant funds ($158,683). The merger has received some $3 million in commitments from private donors in 2018 to be renewed annually for three years, and NOLABA is now required to raise $1 million annually -- up from $500,000 previously.

"I am most proud that this plan is not a plan that came from government employees or NOLABA staff, but intentionally engaged job seekers, small businesses, local training providers, economic development stakeholders, developers, funders, and advocates," said Ashleigh Gardere, the network's executive director and Landrieu's senior advisor. "This new model is the community's statement that our collective efforts are creating change in the lives of real people. Residents want to implement a new paradigm that allows all New Orleanians to benefit from the city's economic growth."

NOLABA President and CEO Quentin Messer said with their new network colleagues, "the new NOLABA builds upon the work that transformed it into one of fewer than 70 accredited economic development organizations in the world. The network's award-winning work complements and enhances NOLABA's ongoing efforts to accelerate the creation of more on-ramps to economic opportunity. Together, NOLABA, and the network have launched a new brighter chapter for NOLABA that will enable more New Orleanians to win for themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, and our great city."

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