New Orleans launches agency modeled after Beacon Council
By Risa Polansky
Looking to rebound from the economic devastation caused by Katrina, the city of New Orleans is scheduled to launch an organization modeled after Miami-Dade County's Beacon Council today (10/5) in an attempt to boost its flailing economy, says Frank Nero, Beacon Council president and CEO.
"We've been working very closely with them since April," he said. "This is not a silver bullet for them, it's not a cure-all, but we think it's a component that will help address some of their needs. It can be part of the effort to rebuild and revitalize that city's economy."
Beacon Council leaders are to attend the launch of New Orleans' Horizon Initiative to meet with public officials and business and civic leaders.
"We feel a kinship to New Orleans. There are a lot of similarities between our two cities" Mr. Nero said. "Twenty years ago, New Orleans was considered the gateway to Latin America, and here was Miami, with 10% unemployment. In that period of time, we've seen a complete juxtaposition of these two communities."
Since 2001, Miami-Fort Lauderdale MSA has created 195,000 jobs, Mr. Nero said. New Orleans lost 188,600 jobs in that period, a 33% decrease.
"We have offered this, we're doing this because we feel an American city like New Orleans should not be laid to waste," he said. "We're going to do whatever we can to help them — we're in this for the long run."
The New Orleans region lost 190,000 workers over the past year, with the health and education industries suffering the largest percentage declines, according to the Brookings Institution. In the past six months, the region added 3.4% more jobs. Unemployment rate is now 7.2%, higher than last August.