While New Orleans slept, other decaying cities, like Baltimore and Pittsburgh, injected solid planning and business incentives to bring them back from the brink. And the results there have been positive.
Conditions in New Orleans are now so dire that Dixon said it has the “worst infrastructure in America, in terms of streets and sewers,” and about one third of city properties remain vacant.
Yet, in spite of its many drawbacks, New Orleans, being New Orleans, and the heart and soul of Louisiana, has always possessed a cool, stemming from its music, food, architecture, history and people, that keeps visitors coming back.
And, recently, that cool has attracted a fresh population of 20- and 30-year-olds who've made New Orleans their home. Dixon characterized the new transplants as the “building blocks of the [New Orleans'] economic future.”
“If the city can take the right steps to create incubator businesses and provide the kind of economic assistance that helps encourage young folks, with great graphic design or advertising or digital firms” it’s on the right path, said Dixon.
Among other new industries, the plan also foresees life-science research, TV and music production and sustainable building and design. To close the gap between the skilled and unskilled local labor pool, the plan recommends job and workforce training and adult education. (Watch video report about New Orleans as an "economic laboratory" over the past five years.)
In addition, adoption of new comprehensive zoning rules are recommended by the plan as are the reestablishment of "vibrant neighborhoods," each with a park within walking distance, mixed-use corridors and commercial centers.