NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans this week announced new initiatives to drive more business to the downtown area in partnership with the new Downtown District Development (DDD) leadership.
“We believe that committing to clean up our downtown community will spark and spur economic development and growth for our city,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “We are doubling down on investing in façade improvements and are planning to utilize federal dollars received as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help small businesses thrive while providing quality services to our residents and visitors.”
The new initiative includes the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development’s $1.5 million investment from the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s National Disaster Grant to create the Mayor’s Strike Team. The grant will fund 50 long-term temporary employees, which is employment that exceeds 120 calendar days. The team currently consists of 38 long-term temporary employees to assist with debris removal, in partnership with the Office of Workforce Development, Department of Sanitation, DDD and the French Market. The positions serve re-entry participants and chronically unemployed individuals, as well as residents seeking rapid reattachment to employment. Pay rates range from $16 to $28 an hour, and the position can last up to 12 months.
During the press conference, Dr. Stella Jones, owner of Stella Jones Art Gallery, discussed her appreciation of Mayor Cantrell’s efforts in keeping downtown clean. The gallery has been located at 201 St. Charles Avenue for 27 years, surviving Hurricanes Katrina and Ida, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“When I call the mayor and say, ‘My front is dirty,’ she sends the Strike Team,” said Dr. Jones. “So, that’s all I need.”
Davon Barbour, the DDD’s new President and Chief Executive Officer spoke on public-private partnerships working together to achieve strong curb appeal to retain and attract businesses to downtown New Orleans. He says there are a number of programs available to assist businesses in the downtown area.
“The DDD is proud to offer a variety of grants to downtown property and business owners to help downtown continue to be a great place to do business,” said Barbour. “Our grants range from up to $40,000 for sidewalk repairs, $20,000 for façade improvements such as sign, window and door repairs, $6,000 for parklets and retail displays, $3,000 for exterior lighting and $2,500 for graffiti removal. Downtown property and business owners can contact our dedicated Economic Development team to learn more by visiting www.downtownnola.com.”