Optimism for economic development despite Ida, flood insurance issues and COVID


NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – People working to attract new economic development remain optimistic despite Southeast Louisiana hit by Hurricane Ida, growing concerns about insurance costs against flooding and the pandemic of COVID-19 in progress.

Walter Lane, Ph.D., is an economist at the University of New Orleans.

“Ida just stepped it all back a bit, but I think the long-term picture is pretty reasonable,” Lane said.

Ileana Ledet is Senior Vice President of Public Policy for GNO Inc., a regional economic development organization.

“I think part of the challenge is we’ve been in this process of starting and stopping,” Ledet said.

Lane says post-Ida reconstruction will help the economy.

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“Not in the magnitude after Katrina but there is money flowing, a lot of people are rebuilding and rebuilding is creating jobs,” Lane said. “There is some economic activity related to the rebuilding of Ida which I think is making money for the city.”

Ledet says the region has learned to be more resilient.

“I think different companies and individuals have started to do things a little differently, maybe a little more efficiently, so yes there are challenges with all of these elements, but I think we are in a better place. to manage them going forward, ”she said.

Todd Murphy heads the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.

“We have done pretty well economically during the pandemic despite all the factors against us. I think today, you know, people are trying to rebuild their houses. But we’re still seeing an influx of people trying to move into Jefferson Ward, both from a business perspective and from a residential perspective, ”Murphy said.

Murphy says Jefferson Parish has a diverse economy that includes retail, restaurants, the service industry, and industrial sectors and says that despite the hurricane, businesses are still interested in locating there.

“We are seeing interest from the people of the Northeast who come to visit industrial properties along the Mississippi,” Murphy said.

Ledet said the opportunities were multiplying in New Orleans.

“We are diversifying the economy. We have tech companies coming in, ”Ledet said. “In recent years, we have been building this technology, this ecosystem, by relying on our digital media, there are more and more companies. We just had this big sale last week, ”she said.

Yet further changes to the federal flood insurance program are causing concern.

“I’m very concerned about the rising flood insurance rate, especially for business, you know, there is for residential, but they seem to be really hitting businesses,” Lane said.

Murphy says Congress must act to keep rates affordable.

“We’re seeing hundreds of dollars in increases and people just can’t afford it, and so the last thing we want is people to give up their flood insurance,” Murphy said.

Ledet says the billions of flood control improvements that were built after Hurricane Katrina are a selling point as they work to attract new economic development.

“We had this monster come and hit our area and the protections that were put in place, this great hurricane protection system that we put in place, and we stayed dry here in downtown Nova Scotia. Orleans, recovered quickly, businesses are back, you have people back in their office buildings, ”said Ledet.

And she believes the pressure to keep flood insurance affordable is not over as GNO Inc., leads the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance, a national group, and other states have joined Louisiana in the fight to make the national flood insurance program sustainable for the future. .

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