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Business, civic leaders to examine New Orleans’ remarkable recovery

Named as one of the country’s best sites to relocate a business and called the “coolest place” to start a business, New Orleans’ economic recovery six years after disaster struck has been called a miracle by many.

Driving New Orleans’ comeback are the connections and new economic ecosystems created by business, community leaders and nonprofits. This is what the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s annual Study Mission, Oct. 4-7, will explore for means to grow the Sacramento region’s battered economy and for lessons in flood protection and disaster preparedness.

This year, Site Selection magazine, a journal targeting economic development professionals who choose where businesses are established, named the greater New Orleans region to its Top 10 Metros list for Corporate Facility Location. Inc. magazine called New Orleans the “coolest start-up city in America,” noting that each year from 2007 to 2009, 450 out of every 100,000 adults started up businesses in the New Orleans metro area—well above the national average of 320 and more than double the number six year ago.

Because of active incentives and tax credits developed in collaboration with state and local governments, film companies have flocked to New Orleans, and the New Orleans region is now host of more motion picture productions than any place in the country outside of Los Angeles and New York City.

“The story we are going to investigate in New Orleans is how leaders coalesced to create a new economic ecosystem,” said Martha Clark Lofgren, Metro Chamber interim president & CEO. “Similar collaborative efforts can help Sacramento rebound from economic adversity and also teach us how to avoid the economic consequences of natural disasters. The Study Mission will have a first-hand look at these proactive strategies.”

Helping lead the 2011 Study Mission to get a first-hand look themselves at New Orleans’ recovery and reinvention will be Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

“For those of us living in California’s ‘River City,’ at the confluence of two great rivers and near the fragile Delta, the New Orleans tragedy certainly served as a wake-up call,” said Sen. Steinberg. “The Metro Chamber’s Study Mission to New Orleans will give us an on-the-ground look at the lessons learned there. The result will help us improve our disaster preparedness and gain valuable information on how to best meet the challenges of recovering in the event of natural disaster.”

Noting that the people in the city of New Orleans have practically had to start over, Johnson commented, “New Orleans has taken a catastrophe and turned it into an opportunity. The prospect of learning how their government, business and community leaders collaborated—and in the process forged a new entrepreneurism—compels me to help lead this year’s Study Mission.”

Over the last 13 years, Study Missions have visited other cities like Austin, Texas; Atlanta, Ga; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver, Colo; Indianapolis, Indiana; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego and Seattle, Wash. For more information, visit metrochamber.org/study mission or contact Susan Harris at 916-321-9144 or sharris@metrochamber.org.

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