NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a new comprehensive strategy to connect disadvantaged job seekers and businesses to new opportunities. Spearheaded by the Mayor, the Economic Opportunity Strategy seeks to introduce a new way of connecting all New Orleanians to the city’s economic growth through partnerships with local training providers, social service agencies, and community advocates. In addition, the Strategy will include collaboration with some of the region’s largest employers and anchor institutions—LCMC Health, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Ochsner Health System, Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, Tulane University, and Xavier University of New Orleans.
“As we continue to make New Orleans the city we’ve always dreamed of, we will not leave anyone behind. The Economic Opportunity Strategy is our new comprehensive approach to creating pathways to prosperity for our citizens,” said Mayor Landrieu. “We will recruit, train and connect the hardest to employ to real jobs and match local businesses to strategic opportunities for growth. With the help of our partners from every sector, the Economic Opportunity Strategy will pave the way for New Orleans to close the income gap and create equity for all New Orleanians.”
In April 2014, the City of New Orleans embarked on a strategic effort to examine a local report identifying that 52 percent of African American working age men in the city are not working. The report, conducted by Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy at Loyola University New Orleans in partnership with The Data Center, was released in June 2013 as part of a study of the economic potential for African American men in New Orleans.
The development of the Mayor’s Economic Opportunity Strategy included the hosting of a local expert roundtable followed by the convening of focus groups with job seekers, employers, training providers and social service agencies. As a next step, twelve returning citizens—supported by the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development—conducted a city-wide survey of unemployed African American men in New Orleans. Simultaneously, in partnership with the Democracy Collaborative, the City interviewed eight local anchor institutions to identify relevant employment and procurement needs.
“From the beginning, the Mayor made it clear that it was important to both address the barriers and identify opportunities in the design of the Economic Opportunity Strategy. As with every strategic initiative, the City is focused on bringing together cross-sector partners, employing a data driven method and leveraging current city programs to give our citizens the best quality of life possible,” said Judy Reese Morse, Deputy Mayor for City-wide Initiatives. The City’s Economic Opportunity Strategy’s development team included the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Office of Workforce Development and the Innovation Delivery Team.
After surveying local and national best practices, the City hosted two day-long design sessions facilitated by PolicyLink. The sessions—attended by 150 representatives of local employers, national practitioners, training providers, social service agencies and job-seekers—helped to create the framework for expanding economic opportunity in New Orleans. The Mayor’s Economic Opportunity Strategy will:
- Establish a collaborative of local anchor institutions committed to expanding economic opportunity to disadvantaged job seekers and businesses.
- Create a workforce intermediary that connects disadvantaged job seekers to employment opportunities through anchor institutions, providing case management, foundational skills training and supportive services.
- Create a procurement intermediary that connects qualified disadvantaged businesses to contracting opportunities through anchor institutions.
- Create a worker-owned cooperative that connects job seekers to employment by leveraging procurement and purchasing opportunities through anchor institutions.
- Establish and align customized job training based on employer needs that prepares disadvantaged job seekers for in-demand jobs through anchor institutions and major infrastructure projects.
“For more than 70 years, Ochsner has delivered high quality medical care to patients and families across southeastern Louisiana," said Warner Thomas, President and CEO of Ochsner Health System. "Part of our mission as an organization is to provide solutions that will make our region even stronger in the months, years and decades ahead. We are proud to stand with Mayor Landrieu and other anchor institutions on a strategy that will strengthen employment and procurement opportunities for individuals and businesses here in our community.”
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and Living Cities will support the Economic Opportunity Strategy. The City will also leverage funding for workforce and community development initiatives from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, New Orleans Works Funders Collaborative, United Way, Capital One, J.P. Morgan Chase, Surdna Foundation, Foundation for Louisiana and Baptist Community Ministries to support the economic opportunity portfolio.
“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is committed to working with diverse leaders, grassroots organizations, institutions and other community partners in New Orleans to ensure children are well-educated, healthy and living in economically secure families,” said William Buster, Director of Mississippi and New Orleans Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We are pleased to partner with Mayor Landrieu and the collective effort to create better economic, social and educational outcomes for all New Orleanians.”
Equity as a Growth Strategy
The Economic Opportunity Strategy follows on the prioritization of “equity as a growth strategy” by the New Orleans Business Alliance in the City’s 5-year economic development strategy, Prosperity NOLA.
"By ensuring all citizens can participate in the workforce, we increase our ability to effectively grow the New Orleans economy into the resilient, thriving condition that benefits all citizens. This new strategy is a key component to deepening the employee base for companies looking to expand or relocate a business here," said New Orleans Business Alliance Interim President and CEO Melissa Ehlinger. "NOLABA is working closely with anchor institutions to broaden their reach into the local community, through procurement opportunities for small and emerging businesses—many of which are minority owned and employ minorities—through projects that create jobs and through workforce development programs."
In addition to connecting job seekers with training and opportunities, the Economic Opportunity Strategy will connect qualified local businesses to contracting opportunities. Good Work Network, the Mayor’s Office of Supplier Diversity, New Corp, Inc. and the Urban League of New Orleans will enhance the connections businesses and anchor institutions as part of the Economic Opportunity Strategy.
Addressing the Challenges & Creating Opportunities
During today’s launch event, the City released a report on African American male unemployment outlining the June 2014 survey findings and addressing both the challenges for employability and the assets within the population. The data will be used in continued outreach and engagement to job seekers throughout the implementation of the Economic Opportunity Strategy.
The City recruited global experts for preparing the hardest to employ job seekers for career pathways.
“STRIVE is incredibly enthusiastic to partner in the mission to create economic opportunity for New Orleans residents. Our curriculum is offered in more than 25 community-based organizations in the world, and now we will have an opportunity to support Mayor Landrieu’s commitment to removing barriers for those who have been disconnected from the workforce,” said Robert Carmona, Co-founder of STRIVE International.
The Economic Opportunity Strategy addresses the need for economic inclusion and supports a local call to action by advocates, community-based organizations and service providers across the New Orleans region. The following community partners helped to inform the Economic Opportunity Strategy:
- Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy
- The Democracy Collaborative
- One Voice
- Stand With Dignity
- Total Community Action
- The Jeremiah Group
- Providence Community Housing
- Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections
- Café Reconcile
- Partnership for Youth Development
- Youth Empowerment Project
- Liberty’s Kitchen
- Ride New Orleans
- Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services
- District Attorney’s Diversion Program
The Mayor’s Economic Opportunity Strategy is one of several initiatives fueled by the Innovation Delivery Team to help Mayor Landrieu develop and deliver powerful solutions to the city’s toughest challenges. Situated in the Mayor’s Office, the Team combines best-in-class idea generation techniques with a structured, data-driven approach to delivering results. New Orleans was one of five pioneer cities to receive an Innovation Delivery Team grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.