New Orleans Region Business and Matchmaking Forum to Promote Awareness for Economic Development

gfowlerBecause South Florida has become one of the most successful entrepreneurial locations in the U.S. in real estate, construction, banking, transportation, tourism, and other sectors, New Orleans is seeking to establish a working relationship with this area in order to facilitate the recovery efforts of the city post Hurricane Katrina.

On Thursday, June 21, 2007, the World Trade Center of New Orleans Inc., in conjunction with more than 60 business leaders and other organizations in Louisiana and Florida, held a “New Orleans Region Business and Matchmaking Forum” at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL.

The objective was to attract investments and other new business to the New Orleans region from Miami-area and multinational companies, with a focus on real estate and construction-oriented projects. George Fowler, III, a WTC board member active in the New Orleans and Miami communities spearheaded the initiative. Eugene Schreiber, executive director of the World Trade Center of New Orleans Inc., co-organized the trip. Co-sponsors of the event in Miami included the Greater Miami Chamber, the Latin Chamber, the Latin Builders Association and the Spain U.S. Chamber.

Fowler said many Florida businesses already have an interest in New Orleans because portions of their portfolios are here. Others simply recognize an opportunity when they see it. “The Miami area is in the midst of a construction slowdown, so building companies in that city are looking for opportunities elsewhere.”

The Forum consisted of brief opening presentations by New Orleans region business and economic development leaders on the plans for rebuilding the infrastructure and economy and the development-friendly incentives offered through the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act, followed by lunch and then a 2-hour one-on-one matchmaking session between Louisiana firms that have specific, viable real estate development and construction-oriented projects, and a large number of Miami-area prospective investors, entrepreneurial partners, contractors, and suppliers. The participating Louisiana companies were assigned to designated tables after lunch, and met informally with the companies present from the Miami area to discuss their projects.

There were over 150 people in attendance and the forum produced some promising leads. In the end, the primary benefit of the forum was promoting awareness of the demand for commercial and residential buildings in New Orleans and the need for labor to construct these buildings.