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Help sustain New Orleans entrepreneurship by hiring locally

The fifth annual New Orleans Entrepreneur week culminated last Friday at Manning’s with The Big Idea Challenge. (Photo credit: Julia Ballard, Silicon Bayou News)

The fifth annual New Orleans Entrepreneur week culminated last Friday at Manning’s with The Big Idea Challenge. (Photo credit: Julia Ballard, Silicon Bayou News)

Louisiana has been working very hard lately at changing its legendary reputation of corruption, crumbling industries, crime, and a below average school system. Specifically, in New Orleans, which was once known only for its weekends (and weekdays) of revelry and flooded neighborhoods. However, Louisiana can now be perceived as being a more advanced state. And, while still not perfect, it has come a very long way in the recent years.

One of the fastest growing industries in the region has been in technology. Several financial factors have drawn in startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs within that sector, and subsequently talented individuals across all sectors. Talent in design, marketing, and software development are migrating into the city, instead of out. We are all very proud of the hard work, policy changes, and leadership that have gone into changing the state’s old ways. The nation and world have even noticed. Pat on the back, Louisiana.

The work is not even close to being over. In order to be a success, we must sustain the businesses that are here, and prove to the world that we are in fact a business and cultural center, with plenty of talent to show for it. While many people praise the city as being a “startup hub,” I argue that it will be the business center of the south.

Then why, I ask, are major projects still being outsourced to large corporations elsewhere in the country? We all love to talk about all the great things going on here, but are you still not ready to put your money where your mouth is?

New Orleans’ very own Tourism Marketing Corporation has just launched a new $4 million ad campaign to continue to promote tourists to the city. As if it really needed it with the recent record-breaking tourism numbers, growing restaurants, and numerous accolades the city has received. Still, someone has to do it, and the recipient of the big budget “Follow Your NOLA” campaign went to New York City’s Dentsu America advertising firm, instead of one of the several award winning firms here in town. Think about the irony here. The $67 thousand dollars a month could have been great business for a local firm and for new hires. I say, follow your local businesses, NOLA.

The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. isn’t the only one outsourcing. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, with its computer science and graphic design departments, recently hired an out of state firm to redesign their website.  Smoothie King has its mobile app developed elsewhere, and I certainly notice the numerous PR phone calls and emails I receive from Chicago and New York firms representing their Louisiana-based clients. I have even noticed companies, who have capitalized on the city’s entrepreneurial resources and touted the burgeoning community, hire outside of Louisiana.

We are all very quick to congratulate each other when things are great, praise the city and state for all it has, and even fight for what we believe. Everyone came together to rebuild after Katrina and fight the corporate heads that took away the daily newspaper. Then, I urge you to continue to stand up for your city and sustain what we have.

Adriana Lopez writes about the New Orleans entrepreneur community for NolaVie.