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Newell: More entry-level tech jobs coming to NOLA amid great economic news

Newell Normand
November 08, 2019 - 6:11 pm

It's not just the new airport, or the exciting plans for a re-imagined Charity Hospital. There's been a whole spate of positive economic developments for the Crescent City as of late, and Newell invited Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO Inc to deliver the good news. 

"Site Selection magazine has Louisiana among the top 10 states for best business climate for the 10th year in a row! Wow!" Newell exclaimed.

"That's one of the premiere economic development magazines," Hecht said. "It just means we continue to have the assets - the river, the industrial infrastructure - and also the attitude at all levels, political levels, business community levels, educational institution levels, that site selectors and businesses looking for. I think that's one of the reasons Greater New Orleans was ranked 'Major Market of the Year' last year, tying Nashville for the most economic development wins."

"These are all success stories I love talking about," Newell said, "Because if we aren't our own best cheerleaders, who will be?"

"There are a lot of critics out there. Look at the opening of the new airport, which is just absolutely magnificent, sculptural, epic, and people are still snipping about this or that. It's important to acknowledge the challenges but also talk about the good stuff. We had this announcement yesterday of Testronic, a London based video game testing firm putting 150 jobs into the Exchange Center, the former Chevron building down on Gravier. What's important about that is that these are entry-level jobs into the software and gaming industry, and it is another part of filling out the ecosystem of our tech scene. Right now we are the 7th fastest growing city in the country for tech, we are number 2 for women in technology, number 5 for African-Americans in tech jobs."

READ MORE: The 2019 Greater New Orleans Jobs Report

"That's awesome. That is really, really great. So GNO Inc, you joint ventured with Bank of America on this report, which is 70 pages chock-full of unique data in this market. What can you tell us about it?"

"It exists at two levels. At the highest level, we were just trying to say, if you were looking for a high-growth career for the next ten years in the region, what are the jobs and what are they going to pay? This is meant to be a guide, a blueprint. You can drill down and get detail on over 50 different occupations over a range of sectors that we think are high-growth sectors with an average salary of over $62,000."

"That's a big number," Newell said, "Because we've been wedded to the service industry and the numbers don't usually get there in regard to the volume of jobs. A lot of these jobs, as I look through this report, are entry level positions. You might need a degree or something but you're entering at a damn good salary."

"What's nice is that in this report, 29% of the jobs don't require a Bachelor's degree. A good portion, almost a third require training but not even a full BA. An Associate's Degree will get you there. It's a full range of jobs. The key to success for us as an economy and a community is to have a diverse range of jobs across a diverse range of industries for a diverse range of people. This report's trying to give some detail and substance to that."

"40 years ago, it used to be you could find that silver bullet industry that you could bring to a region at the state or municipal level. They don't have many of those anymore, do they?" Newell asked.

"They don't, and it's kind of a lousy strategy anyway, to have all your bets on one place on the wheel. The great counter-example to that is this - here in New Orleans, we have been a two-trick pony for a while with the energy and hospitality industries. Those two were dominating. If you look at Houston after the oil bust of the '80's, they diversified. They dredged out the canal to build up international trade, they built up the medical center. When you have a more diverse economy, you're going to be more robust over time, you're going to be less subject to shocks in a particular industry. Now, in post-Katrina New Orleans, we're doing a much better job of diversifying and we have to keep pushing in that direction.

Hear the full interview in the audio player below.


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