Letter from the President

Michael Hecht

Welcome to 2022!

Based on our results from last year, I am confident that our region is not only going to handle the uncertainty and challenges of the coming year, but that we are going to thrive.

This issue of REGION focuses on creative professionals and entrepreneurship.  These trending economic forces matter in Greater New Orleans, and we have demonstrated competitive advantage. For example, in the Technology and Digital Media sector, our region is not only one of the fastest-growing in America, we are also #4 for number of Women and African-Americans, per capita, in these jobs—demonstrating “inclusive innovation.” And in entrepreneurship, New Orleans has grabbed the attention of the world, with billions of dollars of recent exits of startups including Lucid, SunPro Solar and Levelset. Of this cash generated by these sales, as much as $1B will be reinvested in the Greater New Orleans economy via employee equity and local investors, kickstarting a “fly-wheel” effect, wherein an entire cohort of new investors can now start new companies, fund new investments and support new philanthropy.

Perhaps most importantly, coming out of COVID, Greater New Orleans now has an outstanding chance to attract and keep workers—who are more than ever first choosing where to work, and then for whom to work. Post-COVID, “Elephant Hunting”— trying to attract corporate headquarters and large relocations— has been supplemented (if not replaced) by a focus on building “Butterfly Gardens”—environments and amenities that will attract talented workers, who are now flitting between locations. While the declared “death of big cities” is premature, there is little doubt that some significant amount of remote work is here to stay. This presents a great opportunity for second- and third-tier cities that are not big enough to support a headquarters, but could be the perfect place for remote workers to live, work, play—and pay taxes.

In the new economic reality, attracting people is how you attract business. There is an infrastructure implication to this, as cities trying to attract remote workers must have the right broadband, co-working space and other business amenities that people have come to expect. There is also a quality-of-life aspect to this, from entertainment to recreation to the basics, like public safety. Finally, there is a narrative element to this: When a worker is freed from the cost and confines of New York or San Francisco, which cities are in their “Places to Move” decision set?

In 2022, it is time for our economic butterfly garden to bloom.

 

Thank you for your support,

Hechtsig

Michael Hecht

GNO, Inc. President & CEO