How City of New Orleans Can Incentivize Locals to Rebuild Stronger and Better

How many times will New Orleanians rebuild after a major hurricane wrecks their property?  Although Ida’s winds were not as destructive as Katrina’s flood waters, the stress of rebuilding is intense.  Evacuees returned home much sooner. There is a lot of work to do. But are locals willing and able to do the work of rebuilding again? Should they?

The Perfect Storm

The new levee system was remarkable.  It withstood the most powerful storm to hit the state. No flooding within the levee system.  But Ida’s strong winds downed trees and ripped off and battered roofs.  Ida decimated the power grid. People sweltered in high heat and humidity for days. Yet amidst the misery is renewed hope.  If the power company hardens the system, then New Orleans will be around another three hundred years. Actually, Ida was the perfect storm.  The lessons of Ida are clear.  And the opportunity the storm creates is incredible.

How to Restart the Economy

The governor, mayors, parish presidents, council members feel the pressure to get things going now.  Many say the best way to move forward is to let the storm chasers get it done.  They have the equipment, experience, and are here.  License plate from around the country are all you see when you drive around.  Residents are calling demanding the debris be removed. 

Only using storm chasers is a Trump huge kinda mistake.  Many locals are out of work.  Local businesses already mired in COVID setbacks see opportunity.  And the Stafford Act requires significant DBE participation and outreach.  While much has be made about Entergy’s NO East plant being oversold, more can be said about our lack of internal capacity. 

Hurricane prone New Orleans should be the capital for storm reconstruction services. Hardened levee system. Hardened electric grid.  Protected water supply system. And storm businesses immediately ready to serve.   Two tracks are necessary.  Business and people. 

Mayor LaToya Cantrell

Business Track

Our businesses must have funding, equipment and properly trained people.  And this can be accomplished easily.  Hardening our infrastructure requires the same equipment and skills to rebuild it. Investing in local DBE businesses makes the most sense.  This reduces crime immediately.  Crime and unemployment are directly linked.   Local businesses hire local people who know the city.  This sensitivity improves the entire rebuilding efforts locally.  How we can invest in our local businesses:

  • Immediate access to low interest loans
  • Easy access to equipment leases
  • Contracting preferences and set asides
  • Parish liaison officer who provides real time updates
  • Stafford Act requirements training

People Track

Still over 50% of African American men are unemployed in New Orleans.  Many are job hesitant dur to COVID.  But outside work offers more flexibility.  And we must train our people to do the work.  Delgado community college, high school summer programs, city based jobs training programs and state funded programs must begin training programs.  Train should include:

  • heavy equipment training,
  • light equipment training,
  • truck driving,
  • life skills,
  • conflict resolution
  • following orders,
  • and other soft skills

And now is the perfect time.  Federal disaster money is flowing to town.  This money must flood local black businesses. I bet dollars to doughnuts people would be happy to wait an extra two weeks to have debris removed if they knew local companies with local employees would be doing the work.   The work has to be done now.  Invest in our companies now.  Give contracts to local companies to do the work.  Local banks must participate by helping business lease equipment to do the work.  The equipment is in town.  The companies are here.  Our people are here.  The work is here.  Ida was the perfect storm. 

Let’s get to work New Orleans!! Grow Local Black Owned Businesses.

Related: Wealth is Power

One thought on “IDA is Opportunity to Grow Our Businesses”
  1. This is the best thing I have seen written regarding Ida, their is a serious absence of leadership that has not mentioned this as an opportunity to invest in our future as a city. Congressman Troy Carter is the only leader that has expressed any concern about local businesses being not only included but not excluded. Did we not learn anything from Katrina, did we forget or do we just not give a damn about growing our local and specifically Black Businesses. If capacity does not exist presently for certain jobs, then a true partnership must be facilitated with outsiders to ensure that our local businesses are not 3 or 4 deep in getting contracting opportunities. What happens is a large local and or outside business will sub-contract so many times by the time our DBEs get a contract it’s value has been so devalued it is not much worth bidding on it.

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