Local elected officials and business leaders addressed the future of New Orleans East
The NOLA East Economic Development Focus Group “New Orleans East Matters” held its first State of the East Forum on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church. The event, which was also Live Streamed on the church’s Facebook Page, YouTube Channel and Instagram, had limited attendance due to COVID-19.
Representatives of various local businesses and organizations spoke briefly on major topics related to economic development, including under utilized assets such as “the big three” — Six Flags, Lincoln Beach, Lake Forest Plaza; and resources, healthcare and safety.
Representation from local government included Quentin Messer, New Orleans Business Alliance; Cyndi Nguyen, City Councilmember District E; Jason Hughes, State Representative District 100; Dr. Takeisha Davis, New Orleans East Hospital; Jared Brossett, Councilmember District D; Candace Newell, State Representative, District 99; and Captain Nick Gernon, New Orleans Police Department Seventh District. Quentin Messer shared comments from Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who was unable to attend, stressing her commitment to ensure that economic recovery and the Federal dollars associated with it, come to New Orleans East.
Moderator Tangee Wall, President of New Orleans East Matters, described the organization as a grassroots coalition of various organizations committed to assisting in rebuilding New Orleans East, which she stated is the fastest growing part of New Orleans, with a population of 88,000; has the largest percentage of homeownership in the city; and is accountable for 45% of the city’s tax base, and $300 million of spending outside of New Orleans East. A video provided a sampling of the many businesses, organizations, schools, churches and neighborhoods that make up New Orleans East.
Points of particular interest from the event are listed below:
- Individuals are encouraged to provide their suggestions and ideas for activities to be developed at Lincoln Beach, a site with tremendous potential, as shown in the video provided by Michael Pellet. Rep. Jason Hughes and Councilmember Jared Brossett discussed possible funding sources for developing the area.
- The former Plaza Mall held the first Chick-Fil-A in the state of Louisiana and Rubenstein Brothers, the high end men’s clothier. Although the property is tied up in litigation, Dr. Eric Jones suggested that leaders “be creative” in finding solutions to redevelop.
- Starting and operating a business can be easier in other cities, and John Renthrope of Cajun Fire Brewing Co. feels that assistance, expedited processes for development are needed.
- PJ’s Coffee on Read Boulevard landed in the Top 20 PJ’s in the country. Owner Stephanie Chambliss said that although inside dining is unavailable, the patio and drive thru are open.
- Psytia and Aaron Jordan, long time owners of Universal Printing (10 years) and Main Street Studio, stated the importance of cleaning up blighted property so that businesses like theirs aren’t negatively impacted.
- NOLA Black Wall Street has a Facebook membership of 25,000 and the goal of Derek Levy and other members is to increase that membership to 100,000, utilizing the $10 membership fee to spur business growth.
- Dr. Takeisha Davis introduced members of the New Orleans East Hospital team who are part of the 350 employees who serviced 300,000 patients and handled 35,000 emergency room visits. The hospital is actively working to bring Obstetrics services back to the area, which is the top area for new babies, and whose mothers must travel three times as far as other mothers to deliver a baby.
- New Orleans East has the largest population of NOPD’s districts, and also the largest land area. Education and Economic Development, Capt. Gernon believes, will keep individuals out of the criminal justice system. Community involvement is key and the Seventh District Facebook page has information on weekly meetings.
- Rep. Jason Hughes reported that lighting along major corridors has been restored, and new landscaping bids have been executed with smaller areas covered by multiple landscapers.
- The former Rite Aid Pharmacy on Bullard Avenue at Lake Forest Boulevard is being redeveloped into a Plasma Center.
The recorded event can be viewed on YouTube.
The organizers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.