Economic Development

Appraisals vs. Home Inspections

Para español click: Valuación o avalúo vs. inspección

By Carolina Loreto

Prospective buyers often need clarification about the difference between a home inspection and an appraisal. Appraisals help you understand a home’s value, while inspections will help you understand its physical condition and integrity. Knowing the difference between both terms might help during the closing process.

A home appraisal is performed by a licensed appraiser who estimates a home’s fair market value. It’s common for mortgage lenders to require an appraisal before approving you for a loan. They seek assurance that the loan amount doesn’t surpass the property’s value, allowing them to recoup their investment in case of a buyer’s loan default.

To determine the value of a home, an appraiser factors in the home’s location, its condition, and the value of similar houses recently sold in the area. These are also known as comparables or comps.

Once a buyer has made an offer, they can hire a home inspector, a professional licensed or certified by the state, to thoroughly investigate the property’s condition and reveal any issues requiring repairs.

During the inspection process, a home inspector will examine the structure, roof, attic, plumbing, electrical system, and anything else that can affect its value. Even though the buyer doesn’t need to be present during the home inspection,  we highly recommend it. The inspector can walk through the home and explain the severity of any issues they discover. However, an appraiser won’t tell you their findings until they complete their report, which will go directly to the lender, but the buyer can request a copy of that report.

A home inspection is a tool that can protect the buyer, and the results allow a buyer the opportunity to request a price decrease/credit on the purchase; ask the owner to make repairs to fix any issues, or decide if they want to walk away and find another home to purchase.

In a real estate transaction, home appraisals and inspections benefit the homebuyer, home seller, and mortgage lender to guarantee the value and safety of the home.

How to Sell Your House in 7 Steps

 En español >> Cómo vender tu casa en 7 pasos

By Carolina Loreto

If you are considering selling your home, here are the seven steps you should follow for a successful sale. However, contact me to assist you if you still want some guidance.

 1 - Decide on a sales strategy

Selling a home is a complex process. You can do it yourself or hire a good REALTOR® who will know the best time, price, and method to list your home.

 2 - Decide on a competitive price

Your REALTOR® will help you determine the ideal pricing strategy for your home and local market. They will perform a comparative market analysis of recent home sales in your area. If the price is too high, this may discourage buyers. Setting the price too low can diminish your results.

 3 - Prepare your house for sale

This is one of the most crucial steps. Not all renovation projects are worth the cost, time, or money to complete. Some easy things to do are deep-clean the interior, repaint the walls and trim, and make necessary repairs. Hire a professional photographer for your listing. Quality photos can ensure that your home makes a good impression in online searches.

4- Put your house up for sale

Your REALTOR®  will list your home on your area’s local multiple listing service, or MLS. This ensures that you are seen by other agents with clients who want to buy and are listed on Zillow or Realtor.com.

 5 - Review and negotiate offers

Once you start receiving offers, let your agent advise you. The highest offer you receive may not be the best one. Some offers may include contingency clauses that could delay closing or cause a sale to fail. Your agent knows how to navigate this potentially tricky territory.

 6 - Understand your closing costs

Review your estimated closing costs before the closing day to prepare for the fees you will receive. Closing costs for sellers can be as high as 8-10% of the home’s sales price, and that amount is made up of your agent and buyer’s agent’s commissions, taxes, and fees.

7 - Close the sale

At the closing, you will sign all the legal documents related to the sale of your property. With the completion of the closing, you have achieved the sale of your house!


9 Steps for Buying Your First Property

 Click aqui para español- >9 pasos para comprar su primera propiedad

By Carolina Loreto, Realtor®

Buying a home is an exciting process, but it can also be overwhelming. If you want to buy your first property, here are some steps to consider. In future issues, we will talk more in depth about each step.

  1. Decide what neighborhood you want to live in. Familiarize yourself with housing costs in the areas that interest you.

  2. Get your finances in order. Consider your income, debt, and savings. Check your credit score. A high credit score can help you get a low-interest rate.

  3. Decide what type of loan is right for you. Different types of loans have advantages and disadvantages. They include conventional loans, FHA, VA, Jumbo, and others, which we will explain in upcoming issues. Talk to your mortgage lender for guidance in deciding which is best for you.

  4. Get pre-qualified and pre-approved for your mortgage. The ideal time to obtain these documents is when you're ready to begin your search. Your lender will consider your income, expenses, assets, debts, and price range. A pre-approval letter shows sellers and real estate agents that you are a serious buyer who can obtain financing

  5. Get a Realtor® or Real Estate Agent to work with you. It is essential to find a trustworthy agent who will provide information on the neighborhoods that interest you and is knowledgeable about the buying process and negotiations.

  6. Make an offer. If you have found a house that meets your criteria, it’s time to make an offer. During these negotiations, your real estate agent is your best ally.

  7. Inspection. The inspector will check the home for any defects that need repair. The inspection is essential because it allows you to renegotiate the terms or withdraw your offer if the report reveals significant problems.

  8. Valuation of the house. The lender arranges for the home’s appraisal, which may affect the granting of the loan. An assessment estimates a home's worth based on a property's condition, comparable sales in the area, and public records.

  9. Closing the sale. Your lender must provide the closing disclosure at least three days before closing. 

After all the necessary documents are signed, you are ready to move into your new home! 

I’m ready to take you through these steps and help you buy your next home. Call or text me at (504)232-0555.

The Future of Tourism in New Orleans

The Future of Tourism in New Orleans

By Ana García

Click aqui para español- >El Futuro del Turismo en Nueva Orleans

Will New Orleans still be a world-class destination in 2023? We have undoubtedly witnessed all the exciting events that took place in 2022 after the world crisis that was the pandemic. It was with excitement that we were finally able to see our city return to normal. The French Quarter, hotels, restaurants, festivals, and championships, were filled with tourists from all over the country and the world. The curtain opened again. In theater, there is someone behind the scenes responsible for ensuring everything goes perfectly; the same happens with tourism. In this case, New Orleans & Company is responsible for opening the New Orleans curtain. With each event, the curtain closes to prepare for the next event and ensure New Orleans continues to be a world-class destination.

New Orleans & Company is the largest private industry in New Orleans. This organization is the tourism and hospitality industry’s official destination sales, marketing and trade organization, responsible for driving over $10 billion of annual business to the regional cultural economy and attracting leisure and cultural travel, business meetings, conventions, weddings, festivals, sporting, and special events to New Orleans in a highly competitive global environment. After the current CEO, J. Stephen Perry, announced his retirement at the end of 2022 after 20 years in this position, Walter “Walt” J. Leger III, the current Vice Chairman of New Orleans & Company, will assume the role of president on January 1, 2023. Over the past 20 years, the city has achieved record levels of visitors, won Super Bowl, Final Four, and NBA All-Star Game bids, created thousands of jobs and careers in the hospitality industry, secured critical investment returns, and won multiple national and international awards according to neworleans.com.

The Sugar Bowl is just one of the major sporting events that will be back in our city at the beginning of the year. The Miss Universe pageant will be another great event that will delight the world directly from New Orleans for the first time in Louisiana history. Miss Universe is an asset in fostering international tourism since the number of international visitors has decreased dramatically in recent years. “I think in 2019, we had about 900,000 international visitors. Those numbers are dramatically reduced right now, the pandemic obviously caused that, but there are also other challenges with visa applications and other things being delayed that made it difficult for people to travel internationally,” said Leger. To help counteract the situation, New Orleans & Company will continue to strongly advocate with the Biden administration and the State Department to improve the visa process. 

The ninety-five contestants in Miss Universe serve as ambassadors for their countries and turn event spectators into potential visitors. The tourism executives see this exposure to an international audience as an opportunity to showcase New Orleans and show a diverse culture that can connect with and attract many people. Hospitality and restaurants have remained busy and provided exceptional service, despite challenges with COVID variants and staffing difficulties. For Leger, the Final Four best demonstrated New Orleans’ ability to host visitors with various events. “The Final Four was just spectacular this year: the city was full, the energy was incredible, we had great teams here, and that really set off an amazing year of meetings, conferences, and events. New Orleans is ready to welcome thousands of visitors in 2023.” 

New Orleans & Company understands the challenges of the uptick in crime in New Orleans. To help with the situation, they have donated vehicles to the New Orleans Police Department to patrol the French Quarter. “We want everyone to be safe and have a great time. That’s why we sort of take our role as seriously as we do, and we recognize that we will continue to be partners in fighting crime and providing resources necessary to supplement, but we do see a lot of progress. NOPD is redeploying officers in a different way”, Leger stated.

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) is vital for hosting various global events. It has been undergoing structural and environmental changes to stay a top destination. “Sustainability in travel is emerging as a more important issue because people who travel want to know what kind of carbon footprint they are leaving when they take a flight or when they visit a destination,” explained Leger. The linear 7-acre park built along Convention Center Boulevard includes rain gardens and other functional tools to remove rainwater and reduce the pressure from the storm drainage. Last October, the NOENMCC received the LEED v4.1 certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the first convention center in the world to receive the certification for sustainable practices. The New Orleans & Company team is proud of its partnership with the convention center. It recognizes that creating these sustainable practices will help keep and bring more conferences, conventions, events, sports championships, and other events to New Orleans. “We are going to keep pushing as hard as we can to make sure that this place is among the most sustainable from an environmental

standpoint as it can be,” added Leger.

In terms of attracting and welcoming Spanish-speaking visitors, New Orleans and Company will focus on strengthening its relationship with Mexico. Leger recognizes the growing local Spanish-speaking population. “As a company, we’re going to have to be smart and strategic about how we continue to create opportunities for engagement and also make sure that we are fully welcoming to those that speak Spanish,” said Leger.

2023 will continue to carry some of the challenges the tourism industry faces, but New Orleans & Company is ready. “Our team has been very competitive, and we are going to continue to be extremely aggressive in how we pursue these events and bring them to New Orleans,” said Leger. Leger’s vision assures us that our city will continue to be a world-class destination not only in 2023 but also in the future. No matter how many times the curtain closes, as long as it always opens, we can continue to welcome the rest of the world and share the charm of our city.


Metairie Bank Celebrating 75 years in business

Click aqui para español- >Metairie Bank Celebrando 75 años en el mundo de los negocios

Celebrating 75 years in business, Metairie Bank has become a Rock-Solid institution by enriching the communities it serves. Since its establishment on February 15, 1947, the bank has focused exclusively on delivering its customers’ products and services. This focus has made them a consumer favorite, reflected by its title of “Best Bank” in New Orleans in the CityBusiness 2022 Reader Rankings contest.

Metairie Bank believes in helping to strengthen our communities and making them better places to live. Through its philanthropic outreach and social service, Metairie Bank has provided needed resources to worthwhile causes like Each One Save One, Junior Achievement, Youth Service Bureau, Jefferson Beautification Inc., American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Children’s Hospital, Crime Stoppers, Jefferson Dollars for Scholars, St Tammany Health System, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the St. Tammany Health System honored the financial institution by dedicating its Pediatric Exam Room to the children and families on the Northshore on behalf of Metairie Bank.

One hundred twenty employees represent the bank throughout its nine branch locations; seven in the East Bank of Jefferson Parish and two in St. Tammany. Metairie Bank serves residents in these parishes and residents of Orleans, St. Charles, St. Bernard, and St. John parishes. 

Metairie Bank provides an outstanding work-life balance for its employees and a family-oriented workplace. It has received recognition as New Orleans’ Top Places to Work in 2015, 2018, 2020, and 2021 by the Times-Picayune/The Advocate/NOLA.com.


In an era where bigger isn’t always better, and high-tech doesn’t necessarily equate to high touch, Metairie Bank pledges never to lose sight of the personalized service customers expect. Providing Personal Service has been integral to their success for over 75 years, and that’s how their legacy will continue.

Metairie Bank is committed to serving the Latino community in Greater New Orleans by providing bilingual staff to connect with their Spanish-speaking clients. They are looking to add more bilingual members to the team. Visit a branch, or go online to metairiebank.com to apply. 



Click aqui para español- >Rize

Sofia Viscuso, Founder and CEO of Rize, an internship search and application resource for university students, recently graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans in 2022. During her time in school, the Latina entrepreneur received over $30,000 in funding from business pitch competitions, including WBENC Collegiate Accelerator, Moody’s Analytics Social Impact Challenge, and the Tulane Business Model Competition for the development of her start-up, Rize.

Rize, founded in 2020, is a platform for university students to search and apply to remote, paid internships easily. Rize connects college students to businesses through short-term paid projects and provides small and midsize companies with an affordable way to test out and hire college student talent. 

The platform has completed over 200 projects with 40 business clients, boasting a 75% business return rate. Students across the country have connected with potential employers, tested different industries, added a mark to their resumes, and collectively made 110K dollars.

Rize allows for creating successful relationships through its project-based work that maximizes time and resources for both businesses and students. The most common projects on the platform are digital marketing, social media management, web development, sales, business operations, and research.

This young company has already proven its impact by providing its services to organizations such as the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, New Orleans Business Alliance, Microsoft, and Corbec Media, among others.

The company has affiliations with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council and Tulane University. Reflecting on its rapid growth, Viscuso is ready to hire a full-time team for Rize in 2023, as she predicts an increase in more companies requiring the platform’s services in the Greater New Orleans area. 

Rize boasts a hybrid work environment that empowers employees across the company to be creative problem solvers and team players. Viscuso seeks to hire personnel who share her passion for Rize’s social mission to create a more diverse and equitable workforce by increasing the quality of internship opportunities available to college students.

Undoubtedly, the passion for her work will take her even further. 

If you are interested in joining the team, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

El Centro

El Centro

Click aqui para español- >El Centro

El Centro es una organización sin fines de lucro (501c3) con sede en Luisiana y fundada por Lindsey Navarro en 2018. Ofrece coaching y capacitación empresarial en español con la misión de empoderar a la comunidad latina a través de educación financiera culturalmente relevante y competente.

En la actualidad, El Centro ha atendido a más de 3.000 personas a través de sus programas educativos presenciales, servicios de asesoría y acceso a capital. Mediante la educación virtual, han llegado aproximadamente a 68.000 clientes por medio de conferencias y vídeos instructivos como: “Pasos para comenzar un negocio”, “Cómo comprar una vivienda” y asesoramiento crediticio.  

El Centro también ha desarrollado programas para fortalecer el bienestar financiero de los empresarios de bajos ingresos en el Estado de Luisiana. Los programas incluyen Camino Financiero e Impúlsate (ambos programas de estilo cohorte), servicios de coaching y talleres empresariales y financieros. 

También realizan el programa VITA Latinix, un servicio voluntario de asistencia para declaración de impuestos sobre la renta, con el cual presentaron más de 92 declaraciones de impuestos, asegurando $184.000 en reembolsos para individuos y familias con ingresos anuales menores a $58.000 en 2022.

Sus servicios son asequibles y, en su mayoría, gratuitos para los participantes, gracias a la asociación con organizaciones como el Consulado de México en Nueva Orleans, Capital One Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Louisiana Small Business Development Center, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB), W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Louisiana Economic Development, U.S. Economic Development (EDA) y New Orleans Foundation.

El Centro forma parte del SEE CHANGE Collective, un catalizador que busca cerrar la brecha económica en ingresos de Afroamericanos e Hispanos/Latinos en la región de Nueva Orleans.

El Centro tiene su sede y dirige la Incubadora de Negocios Latinx en el edificio de Colmex Construction, donde proporcionan un espacio de trabajo acogedor para empresas latinas emergentes.

Día a día, El Centro está consolidando una comunidad fuerte que anima a las personas latinas a perseguir su sueño americano mediante la creación de empresas, el bienestar financiero y la igualdad racial para sus familias y comunidades. 

Para más información sobre sus programas, visite elcentrola.org.

Complete Logistical Services (CLS)

Complete Logistical Services (CLS)

Click aqui para español- >Complete Logistical Services (CLS)

Founded in 2010 by CEO Spencer Sens, Complete Logistical Services (CLS) strives to supply effective staffing solutions worldwide, including maritime, warehouse, commercial construction, diving, logistics, IT, administrative, and renewable energy staffing solutions. 

Sens envisioned an organization with the ability to match qualified professionals seeking maritime careers, offshore jobs, oil rig jobs, diving jobs, or commercial and heavy civil construction jobs with companies in urgent need of staff. 

CLS was a small, helpful resource for clients in a pinch. Thanks to the passion and drive of the CLS team, this small business rapidly expanded and took root as an indispensable staffing partner. During the start-up period, Sens had a mantra: “I can do it.” So he applied that mentality to every project and client.

With offices in Chalmette and Lafayette, CLS is the premier staffing solution for the Gulf Coast region. The organization takes pride in recruiting qualified and experienced global personnel across all industries. These include offshore services, commercial and heavy civil construction, warehouse jobs, administrative work, IT, engineering, transportation, commercial diving, oil and gas, and renewable and offshore wind industries. +

Thanks to advanced staffing technology, CLS can find the perfect fit for job seekers and employers quickly and efficiently.


Visit clogistical.com to find a job or to seek workers, and count on the reliable staffing support of Complete Logistical Services. 

The Montessori Method at Home

The Montessori Method at Home

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- > El método Montessori en casa

As an economic developer and because of my personal and professional interest in human development, I’ve always been aware of the relevance of early childhood education. With the birth of my daughter, I have experienced how critically important it is to be intentional about the opportunities we offer to children in their early years.

The human brain undergoes the most growth during the first three years of life. Babies must receive the most attention since they are developing the foundations of critical, emotional, social, and cognitive skills. Babies grow healthy attachments to their parents and caregivers in these first years. The experiences in this crucial time will shape their emotional intelligence and self-confidence.


I discovered the Montessori method in my quest to find information on what type of toys or experiences I should offer my daughter to help her develop. The Montessori method mainly focuses on promoting independence, hands-on learning, and providing a suitable environment for child development. Maria Montessori created this method. She was born in Italy in 1870 and was one of the first women to attend the University of Rome Medical School. Because of the positive outcomes, this method has become famous worldwide. This method emphasizes freedom within limits, independence, and respect for the social and natural development of the child. Finally, it pushes children to work with different materials to develop the power of self-discipline and concentration. The difference between the traditional educational method and Montessori is that formal education focuses on transmitting knowledge. In contrast, Montessori focuses on the natural development of children and leverages their genuine interests.

The Montessori method is easy for parents to learn and adapt to the home environment. There should be an emphasis on mutual respect between child and parent. Montessori recognizes each child as a special individual with unique needs, abilities, and learning styles.

As we apply this method at home, we have changed our environment to allow our daughter to move freely and feel the space as her own. We ensure everything is safe, from the furniture to securing cabinets, covering electric outlets, etc. We also organize her play material to be easily accessible for her and display them in a way that’s naturally inviting to play. We also limited the number of toys and intentionally chose them depending on their purpose and the skill they help develop.

We have evolved based on our observations and following her natural inclinations. She loves animals, so we offer material around this theme for her to remain engaged and excited about educational toys. We have also adapted the kitchen and bathroom to her size and further involve her in our daily routines. There is so much to discover with this method, and it can get overwhelming when you are balancing work, life, and the many different challenges that come with parenting. Finally, I found helpful websites that offer practical advice on adapting Montessori into our lifestyle, including The Montessori Notebook and Montessori in Real Life. 

My journey as a parent has just begun, and I’m excited to continue learning and growing with my daughter. It makes me happy to be able to share my experiences and hopefully help other parents in their journey.

A Time to Celebrate!

By Alejandra Guzman

Often, a long-term vision for economic development is hard to understand when you don’t see immediate results.

Two decades ago, many economic developers around town were rife with hope. They knew New Orleans had good people who believed in the city and were pressing for ways the community could connect and launch scalable entrepreneurial ventures. As a result, organizations such as the Idea Village were pushing for entrepreneurship as the agent of change needed in New Orleans to reverse decades of economic and social decline.

Years later, acquisitions of New Orleans companies like LUCID validate these ideas. For example, we learned that the Cint Group agreed to buy New Orleans-based analytics company Lucid for around $1.1 billion in late October, making it New Orleans’ first unicorn.

Startups that reach $1 billion in valuation for sure raise hope of innovation and entrepreneurship-driven growth for our city at a time when COVID-19 has caused so much damage.

In addition to LUCID, there have been other uplifting announcements in our ecosystem. For example, Levelset was bought in September for $500 million, and Latin American company Beliv bought Big Easy Bucha in November.

These transactions represent over two decades of efforts within the startup community. Exits validate New Orleans as a great place to start a business and continue with the cycle of investments and as inspiration to other entrepreneurs.

Levelset logo
Levelset logo

These acquisitions are proof of the value of supporting long-term economic development strategies. Both Levelset and Lucid were part of the Idea Village’s annual pitch competition and have benefited from their training opportunities and exposure to a broader network of funders and supporters.

Funding has been a long-standing concern for our city’s startups, and quite frankly, any startup in the country. The sales of these startups that local investors backed means that the investors will now have a cash pool for potentially supporting other local firms.

We hope this will be the case. Money that goes into a bank account does not help the ecosystem. Instead, the money needs to be reinjected into the community to fund other startups in the ecosystem.

New Orleans, French Quarter
New Orleans, French Quarter

We should all celebrate these exits as they are a big deal for our community!

The country needs to know what is happening in New Orleans. The more they hear about these accomplishments, the greater our chances of attracting talent and investors to continue growing.

¡Es momento de celebrar!

¡Es momento de celebrar!

A menudo, una visión a largo plazo del desarrollo económico es difícil de entender cuando no se ven resultados inmediatos.

Hace dos décadas, muchos desarrolladores económicos de la ciudad estaban llenos de esperanza. Sabían que la ciudad tenía buenas personas que creían en la ciudad y estaban presionando para que la comunidad se conectara y lanzara empresas que fueran escalables. Organizaciones como Idea Village ya estaban impulsando el espíritu empresarial como el agente de cambio necesario en Nueva Orleans para revertir décadas de declive económico y social en Nueva Orleans.

Años más tarde, estas ideas se han validado con la adquisición de compañías locales, incluida Lucid. A finales de octubre se supo que el Grupo Cint acordó comprar Lucid con sede en Nueva Orleans por alrededor de $1.1 billón. Primer unicornio de Nueva Orleans.

Las transacciones empresariales de compañías como lucid, levelset y big easy bucha representan más de dos décadas de esfuerzos de la comunidad de emprendedores en nueva orleans.

Las nuevas empresas que alcanzan el $1 billón en valoración sin duda generan la esperanza de un crecimiento impulsado por la innovación y el espíritu empresarial para nuestra ciudad en un momento en que COVID 19 ha causado tanto daño.

 Además de LUCID, ha habido otros anuncios alentadores en nuestro ecosistema, como Levelset, que se compró en septiembre por $500 millones y Big Easy Bucha anunció a principios de noviembre que sería adquirido por una empresa latinoamericana.

Estas transacciones representan más de dos décadas de esfuerzos dentro de la comunidad de empresas emergentes. Las salidas son importantes no solo para validar a Nueva Orleans como un gran lugar para iniciar un negocio, sino también para continuar con el ciclo de inversiones e inspirar a otros emprendedores.

Esta es una prueba del valor que trae el apoyar estrategias de desarrollo económico a largo plazo. Tanto Levelset, como Lucid, formaron parte de la competencia anual de presentaciones de Idea Village y se han beneficiado de sus oportunidades de capacitación y exposición a una red más amplia de patrocinadores y partidarios.

El financiamiento ha sido una preocupación constante para las empresas emergentes de nuestra ciudad y, francamente, para cualquier empresa emergente en el país. La venta de estas nuevas empresas que contaron con el respaldo de inversores locales significa que ahora tendrán una reserva de efectivo para posibles inversiones en otras empresas locales.

Ojalá este sea el caso. El dinero que ingresa en una cuenta bancaria no ayuda al ecosistema. Es ideal que el dinero se reinvierta en la comunidad para financiar otras empresas en el ecosistema.

Estas salidas son bien importantes para nuestra comunidad, así que celebremos. El país necesita saber lo que está haciendo Nueva Orleans y cuanto más escuchen sobre nuestros éxitos, más posibilidades tendremos de atraer el talento y los inversores para seguir creciendo.



Leveraging Technology for Women Empowerment

Leveraging Technology for Women Empowerment
By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- >Utilizando la tecnología para empoderar a la mujer

During the last year, it has become evident that technology plays a vital role in the workforce. Many of us had to leverage virtual platforms to connect with our teams, clients, and stakeholders to keep our businesses going. As places in the world begin to reopen, technology will continue to be a critical part of our professional experience.

Another evidence of the effects of the pandemic is that it particularly hit hard the female talent pool. Women have the most jobs in the service industry, and this industry which requires face-to-face interaction was heavily affected by lockdowns. Other women were fortunate enough to stay employed during the pandemic, but a lack of childcare services and schools’ shutdowns compounded challenges for workers who are also parents. Daycare centers had to cut their staff, making childcare options less available and, in many instances, more expensive.

Although things are looking better now, lack of childcare availability has been a long-time issue for women in the workforce, prompting them to leave to become mainly caretakers. The current situation has provided an opportunity to question how we can shift the workplace dynamics to be more inclusive and offer the work-life balance that many parents, particularly women, need to stay productive members of our economies.
Although not every business or industry can maximize the use of technology and computers to offer the flexibility of remote work opportunities, the organizations that do ultimately benefit from saving on infrastructure costs, talent retention, and increased productivity.

I’ve recently discovered SheWorks!, a 360-degree platform that provides on-demand access to talent and data analytics. SheWorks! helps companies drive diversity by connecting them with an international pool of certified women while giving tools to hire, monitor, and manage distributed teams. The platform also supports talent directly by offering online resources to continue to enhance and learn new skills. They have partnered with Facebook, Google, SAP, Microsoft, and CISCO to provide access to free courses that allow women to grow and remain competitive.

According to Natalya Spicker, President of SheWorks!, women thrive when given access to remote work. “Prior to the global pandemic, 51 percent of women left the workforce due to lack of flexibility. Millions more lost their jobs following the crisis. As we look to the future, women will be at the core of economic recovery and SheWorks! is on a mission to empower them. We hack the gender unemployment gap by giving women access to remote work opportunities and connecting them with companies scaling their business while being committed to diversity and inclusion. Our 360-degree platform enables companies to grow with on-demand access to an international pool of certified, remote-ready, full-time professional women and tools and data analytics to hire, monitor, and manage distributed teams. It’s a win-win proposition that we firmly believe in.”

Their growing talent pool includes various disciplines, like content developers, writers, data analysts, programmers, and translators. They now have a network of close to 20 thousand women located across 75 countries. The founder of the company, Silvina Moschini, is an Argentinian who believes that technology is changing the future of work and that women should not have to choose between their personal and professional life. Under the philosophy of Sheworks!, the only thing women need to get a job is access to the internet and laptops.

To see how you can offer your talents and become part of Sheworks!, or to learn more about this platform, visit wheresheworks.com


La nueva asociación hace que la universidad sea más accesible al mismo tiempo que impulsa una "fuga de cerebros" en la región

HARVEY, LA (28 de junio de 2021) - Las escuelas de la parroquia de Jefferson y la Universidad de Nueva Orleans (UNO, por sus siglas en inglés) se enorgullecen de anunciar un nuevo programa de admisión instantánea que otorgaría la admisión automática a la Universidad de Nueva Orleans para todos los graduados de las escuelas de la parroquia de Jefferson que cumplan con los criterios de inscripción.

“Obtener educación o capacitación postsecundaria puede ayudar a nuestros estudiantes a encontrar el trabajo que se ajuste a sus pasiones, aumentar su potencial de ingresos y contribuir al éxito profesional a largo plazo. Estamos orgullosos de asociarnos con la Universidad de Nueva Orleans para ayudar a los estudiantes a alcanzar sus metas y hacer que la inscripción en la universidad sea accesible y asequible”, dijo el Dr. James Gray, superintendente de las escuelas de la parroquia de Jefferson. "Cuando nuestros estudiantes eligen universidades y carreras locales, toda la región se beneficia de una fuerza laboral más educada y ciudadanos comprometidos con un interés personal en su comunidad".


“La Universidad de Nueva Orleans se enorgullece de asociarse con las escuelas de la parroquia de Jefferson para eliminar las barreras y aumentar el acceso a una educación universitaria de alta calidad aquí mismo en Nueva Orleans”, dijo el presidente de UNO, John Nicklow. "Un título de UNO puede transformar las vidas de los estudiantes a realizarse en una carrera sin la carga de una deuda excesiva".

Para ser elegible para la admisión automática, los estudiantes deben haberse graduado de una escuela secundaria de Jefferson Parish con un GPA general de 2.0 o superior y un GPA de Louisiana Core 4 de 2.5, y enviar una solicitud de admisión universitaria gratuita en apply.uno.edu.

Además de la facilidad de inscripción, la Universidad de Nueva Orleans se compromete a brindar asistencia financiera a los estudiantes de las escuelas de la parroquia de Jefferson. Como se prometió en su Compromiso de Privateer, la Universidad cubrirá la necesidad financiera de todos los estudiantes elegibles cuyos padres ganen $60,000 o menos. Además, los estudiantes serán considerados automáticamente para una beca académica que oscila entre $2,000 y $5,000 al año durante cuatro años.

Para obtener más información sobre el programa de Admisión Instantánea y para postularse, los estudiantes deben visitar apply.uno.edu. 

Para obtener más información sobre cómo las escuelas de la parroquia de Jefferson están preparando a los estudiantes para la universidad y sus carreras, visite jpschools.org/collegeready

Universities and Their Role in Economic Development

Universities and Their Role in Economic Development

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- >Las universidades y su impacto en el desarrollo económico

It is hard to think about economic development without considering the role universities play. Academia, the private sector, and other financial stakeholders rely on one another to create economic opportunities. Leveraging talent, innovation, and location with the interconnectedness of each of these elements are critical to creating economic opportunities. Universities also play a crucial role in shaping the policies of a region and addressing the needs of society to boost the economic, social, and cultural development of communities. From a place perspective, higher education institutions contribute to their communities’ overall aesthetic and quality of life through their campuses and sites.
Many universities worldwide have evaluated their campuses and have aimed to provide living quarters for students and staff, offering high-quality public transportation and attractive commercial and cultural functions that enhance the quality of the location.
This quality of place serves their community and serves external stakeholders who seek to engage with universities expecting these institutions to address the needs of society, including fostering economic development.
University leaders understand these expectations, and many are already trying to strengthen university engagement with society by carefully considering the needs of the community for their evolution.

Two good international examples of universities that recognize stakeholder engagement and stimulates urban activity are the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico and Bilgi University in Istanbul.

Bilgi University has followed a model of buying and restoring former industrial buildings in underdeveloped neighborhoods to provide adequate and affordable premises for its growing activities while giving a socio-economic boost to the surrounding city quarters.
A particular project that has garnered attention is the Santral project, involving a former power station. The rich cultural, political, and economic history of the site and Istanbul, more broadly, makes the success of this regenerating process impressive. Its design and use were carefully crafted to respect the heritage and needs of the community.
In Mexico, the Tecnologico de Monterrey has reimagined its urban footprint impact. This institution created Distrito Tec, an initiative that addressed a rapid outward expansion that ignited a low-density, resource-inefficient metropolitan area plagued by congestion and drug violence.

The university collaborated in designing a master plan for the evolution of the campus, which included 24 surrounding neighborhoods as part of a cohesive district. The urban transformation increased public and green space, pedestrian and cycling paths, and social cohesion through cultural and community programming.

New Orleans is home to a vast network of higher education institutions, including Tulane University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Loyola University New Orleans, LSU Health Sciences Center, University of Holy Cross, University of New Orleans, Dillard University, Southern University, Nunez Community College, and Delgado Community College. The contributions to the economic and community development that these institutions generate are tremendous and have a city, state, and national impact.
Let us celebrate and support our universities! They certainly play an essential role in our society.


The Intersection of Business and Community Impact


The Intersection of Business and Community Impact

By Alejandra Guzmán  

Click aqui para español- > La intersección de los negocios y el impacto comunitario

Working in the intersection of business and community impact has been my passion. I have seen how business practices make a difference and communities advance through corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be considered a self-regulating business model that a company implements to hold itself accountable. By doing this, they recognize the impact they have on society, the economy, and the environment. CSR can take different forms depending on the industry. Typically these practices include specific programs to address community issues and volunteer efforts. Companies benefit from boosting their brands while helping society.

Working at CEMEX, a multinational construction company, I discovered the power that CSR has to influence policy, create products and services to cater to community needs and provide a systemic change in leadership. I witnessed how the quality of life of thousands of people resulted from corporate social responsibility projects. Implementing CSR programs at CEMEX resulted in community access to construction materials for affordable housing, an international alliance to support Mexican youth’s access to higher education, and the integration of people with disabilities into the workforce through policies. 

In 2020, Google issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, the most significant sustainability or green bond issuance by any company in history to fund environmentally or socially responsible projects. They are also conscious about how technology has been an essential ally during the pandemic and committed to getting critical information to keep families safe and healthy. Google partnered with Apple to provide technology that can help fight the spread of COVID 19. They offered help to businesses and have helped government and non-profit agencies run important announcements through their “Ad Grants Crisis Relief Program,” including vaccine-related content.

Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship happens when companies take a step further and design services and products that create a social benefit while supporting their bottom line.  

Social entrepreneurs pursue social innovation and transformation in different fields such as education, health, environment, and business development. As a common denominator, these initiatives seek poverty alleviation and economic mobility through business methods and solutions to traditional practices.

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes, is a great example. Since its founding in 2006, this company has positively impacted over 100,000,000 lives. The shoe company donates 1/3 of its profits to grassroots efforts that help communities thrive. TOMS invests in three key issues that they believe will lay the groundwork for equity: promoting mental health, ending gun violence, and increasing access to opportunity.

Many more companies, large and small, are using business as a force for good.  You can find many examples of “Certified B Corporations” on bcorporation.net.  These businesses meet high standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

CSR and social entrepreneurship practices seek to solve society’s most challenging problems that government and nonprofits cannot solve alone.


Better Business Practices During Uncertain Times

Better Business Practices During Uncertain Times

By Alejandra Guzmán

Click aqui para español- > Mejores Prácticas de Negocios en Tiempos de Incertidumbre

Navigating the current environment has become a challenge for businesses in every sector. In the Real Estate Industry, one of my main focuses with the New Orleans Business Alliance, there has been a lot of uncertainty. I have been taking a close look at what is happening in the public and private sectors and consumer behavior. Ultimately, the Real Estate Industry, and almost every industry for that matter, is affected by these three areas. Without a doubt, one of the most challenging aspects of these times has been uncertainty. COVID does not have a precise expiration date. A couple of weeks ago, we did not know the presidential election results, and we still do not know if some of the consumer trends will stick for the longer term. However, it is also essential to acknowledge that there are other things that we do know. For example, we know that critical federal support will continue.


A great example of federal support is the Opportunity Zones Program. This vital tool was established by Congress as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and aimed to increase investment and revitalize communities. Since most of this program is in private hands, it offers a simple way to reinvest capital gains into distressed communities through Opportunity Funds.

There has been increased interest in investments with social impact within the private sector, particularly those promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. This interest is part of the corporate response followed by the killing of George Floyd. For example, Bank of America announced that it would be committing 1 billion dollars to economic opportunity initiatives. They understand that the underlying community and social disparities have accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic. Mastercard has pledged $500 million to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap for black communities across America. This year, several companies have decided to add Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America, as a paid company holiday. The list includes companies like JCPenney, Google, Target, Lyft, Mastercard, The New York Times, and Nike, among many others.

PWC released a survey that shows how consumers are in “limbo” with 49% of consumers surveyed are avoiding leaving their homes, 50% are working from home remotely, 42% avoiding public transportation, and 57% practicing social distance from friends and community. Nesting at home means there is much more leisure time, leading to other consumption patterns such as online shopping, exercising at home, cooking more at home, etc. These consumer behaviors could ultimately have a long-lasting effect on how businesses operate, and because of this, many companies are currently evaluating their real estate needs.

With all of this happening in our environment, businesses and professionals could follow some best practices: 1) Base your strategy on what you do know, 2) Stay in touch with industry leaders through professional associations, and 3) Leverage business tools available to the public.

Base your strategy on what you do know.

It is easy to be overwhelmed when so many variables are in place. In this case, the best plan is to evaluate what we do know and develop a game plan based on this. As I mentioned before, we understand that some investors and corporations have an increased interest in equity and diversity. There are also federal programs that are promoting investment in distressed areas. Are you a minority-owned business? Could you serve a minority community? Perhaps you can leverage a national program.

Stay in touch with industry leaders.

There are many organizations in our community that bring together leaders and professionals from all backgrounds. A great way to stay aware of trends is to join one of these organizations or attend some events. In the Real Estate Industry, I follow ICSC and the Urban Land Institute.

Leverage business tools available to the public.

The New Orleans Business Alliance offers a suite of tools that allow businesses to understand the market. Regarding consumer behavior, the organization can provide businesses with real-time data of who their customers are in terms of demographics and consumer preferences and when and how often they visit their establishments. These reports are valuable when we are uncertain of what consumer trends will stick after the challenges presented by COVID. Visit www.nolaba.org for more information on this and other business tools.

Finally, I would add that whatever you do, don’t be discouraged. Be mindful of what is still within your power to do and do it. 

Keep moving; keep being productive!

Day of the Dead – honoring our community through cultural traditions

Day of the Dead – Honoring our community through cultural traditions

By Alejandra Guzmán         @aleguzman

Click aqui para español- > Rindamos honor a nuestra comunidad a través de tradiciones culturales

November is one of my favorite months in New Orleans. The weather is spectacular during this month and there is a rich cultural calendar. Although many of the big events and festivals typically programmed for this time of year have been affected by the pandemic, this should not stop us from finding creative ways to enjoy cultural traditions.

Whether or not we can attend an event there are many original ways we can celebrate and thus keep Latin culture present during this month.


My favorite example of one of the cultural events held during November is the Mexican festival known as the Day of the Dead. During these festivities, families pay tribute to their deceased friends and family. Through a series of activities, they welcome their souls through a celebration that includes their favorite meals, drinks, and belongings. This festival is celebrated between the 1st and 2nd day of November and it is believed that during this time the border between the spiritual world and the real world dissolves. The souls of the dead return to the world of the living to feast, drink, dance, and play music with their loved ones.

To honor this tradition, many communities in the United States organize festivities that include key symbols of this holiday and invite the community at large to celebrate. Although there were many events around the Day of the Dead canceled, there are fun ways to celebrate. A good idea is to create an altar of the dead in our homes. The tradition includes honoring our ancestors by putting photos of our family members and deceased and decorating with minced paper. The chopped paper refers to cut decorative paper that is used throughout Mexico for multiple parties. During the Day of the Dead celebration, this paper is placed around the edges of the altar to add color.

Another way to celebrate is with the traditional bread of the dead. This traditional bread is one of the foods most associated with the Day of the Dead. It is often placed on the altar, but you can also enjoy it at any time with coffee or hot chocolate!

In New Orleans, there are establishments that sell it or if you prefer, you can make your own bread. The internet is full of recipes to fulfill this mission.  Another tradition that can become a fun family activity is a traditional verse composition written especially for this season. They are usually satirical stories that mock people in a way that suggests they are dead, even if they are alive. It’s common to find skulls in Mexican newspapers and magazines that mock celebrities and political figures.

Promoting such activities with family and friends promotes cultural diversity, is a source of inspiration for creativity, offers an educational opportunity for all, and promotes social cohesion through healthy dialogue and family fun. These are all necessary elements for healthy and prosperous communities.

To stay informed of activities either in a virtual and face-to-face format around the city, be sure to visit the VIVA NOLA events section or the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (www.hccl.biz) website.

Family Systems For a Healthy Economy

Family Systems For a Healthy Economy

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- > Sistemas familiares para una economía saludable

This past July, my husband and I welcomed a baby girl into this world. I could have never foreseen being pregnant during a global pandemic. Within this context, my motherhood journey has tested me in many ways. With different protocols to be followed during routine prenatal doctor visits and delivery and hospitals limiting entrance to patients, not being able to share with loved ones, the process of welcoming a little one has been disappointing. But, the challenges presented by the pandemic go beyond the emotional ones.

As a working couple, both my husband and I value, even more, the importance of a system that supports families through paid parental leave, affordable healthcare, and a child care system. Our plans for the care of our baby before the pandemic included a childcare center so that we could return to our work responsibilities. Those plans had to change as many childcare centers closed to protect the health of families. Although we were able to build an alternative system with family support, we are conscious of the fact that many other working parents don’t have the same luck.

According to the Brookings Institute, parents with minor children comprise near one-third of the country’s workforce. If we want to see a healthy economy, we need the workers to remain in or re-enter the labor force. With the pandemic, the status of schools and child care programs dictates the ability for working parents to return fully to their jobs as the economy reopens.

Even before the pandemic, childcare options have been a problem, particularly for women who typically carry the responsibility of caregiving for children. The Brookings Institute reports that women are the majority of workers who struggle because they do not have a potential caregiver in their families. 55% of women depend on childcare and schools to be able to work. Balancing the act of getting work done and taking care of a family is a difficult task and can cause families to struggle financially and emotionally.

The Coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that a system that supports families also supports businesses and workers. An accessible childcare system is critical to our social infrastructure. Parents need childcare to obtain and maintain a job. Children need a safe place to be that promotes their healthy development while their parents are at work.

A robust child care system must provide access to adequate and affordable centers that are in proximity to the family. It is necessary to consider that in addition to the social and economic benefits of accessible child centers, the childcare industry is a significant driver of the economy.

The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children collaborated with LSU´s Public Policy Research Lab and others to get a sense of the impact of child care on Louisiana´s workforce, businesses, and the economy. Their findings include that childcare issues result in a $1.1 billion loss annually for Louisiana’s economy and that employees’ absences and turnover costs due to child care issues cost Louisiana employers $816 million a year. The Early Learning Policy Group reported that the child care industry has an economic impact of $99.3 billion.

As a mother and as an economic developer, I´m glad organizations like the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children and the Early Learning Policy Group advocate for the development of systems that work for families and promote thriving economies.

To learn more about this topic, visit www.policyinstitutela.org

Presidential ELECTIONS 2020

Presidential ELECTIONS 2020 

Let’s all go out and vote!

By Alejandra Guzmán @aleguzman

Click aqui para español- > En estas elecciones Presidenciales... ¡Salgamos todos a votar!

This year has been an unprecedented one that has brought a change in virtually every area of our lives. COVID19 came to shake us and force us to rethink many of the processes we follow in our private, public, and professional life. It has affected us so much that we have talked very little about the presidential election coming up in November of this year.


In every election, we hear about the group that will have the “power” to influence who will be our next President. Earlier this year, the New York Times published an op/ed piece about the Latino vote. The article mentions that, as it was the case in 2016, if Democrats want a chance to beat Donald Trump, they will have to have the support of the Latino voters. In 2016, the percentage of Latinos who showed up to vote was low. More than half of the 27 million Latinos with the ability to vote stayed home.

Regardless of why this behavior occurred, we must highlight that if the Latino community wants to be represented, they must go out and vote. It is important to recognize the power Latinos have as a community. This year, for the first time in history, the Latino vote will represent 32 million people, the largest minority group with the ability to vote in the United States. 


I would like to see a President who understands both the economic and social challenges that affect the Latino community. These include education, good jobs, and access to health insurance among other needs. It can be argued that everyone in the country is going through challenges in these same areas. However, the lens used to look at our community should be different. For example, many of our families speak English as a second language and in many cases, they are not bilingual. It is very common for public schools to lack staff with Spanish proficiency. Parents who do not master English have difficulty supporting their children, which causes an educational lag, among many other problems. This situation can snowball to bigger problems like barriers to entry into other educational and economic opportunities. In addition to this, many members of our community are still discriminated against, and others have a legal status that needs resolution. These conditions affect opportunities in all areas of their lives.


Let’s also consider that Latino businesses are essential to the success of the U.S. economy. There are more than 4.7 million Latino businesses in the country, and they contribute more than $700 billion per year. Despite these numbers, Latino businesses still have barriers to access capital that could allow them to scale their businesses. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce estimates that there is a $1.38 trillion gap. Although there are organizations dedicated to supporting the Latino community through their programs, partnerships, and lobbying, the Latino vote is needed to improve our community’s situation and to close these gaps.

 The Latino community is a strong community that contributes to the U.S. economy in a meaningful way. If we want representation, we all must go out and vote this November.

The Virtual Format, A New Reality?

The Virtual Format, A New Reality?

By Alejandra Guzman         @aleguzman

Click aqui para español- >  ¿El formato virtual, una nueva realidad?

Educational and networking events are an important part of my work as an economic developer. This is a way I connect with other professionals and conduct a lot of my business. Events allow our stakeholders to learn, connect, and develop plans. Considering the importance of maintaining these dynamics, the New Orleans Business Alliance as well as many of the organizations in which I contribute as a board member have decided to keep some of their 2020 programming in a virtual format.

Virtual events are online sessions that include the interaction of people in this format, rather than at a physical location. They work because they still allow interaction despite the distance. The type of virtual event will depend on the goals in mind.  Event types include formats such as virtual conferences that include a series of sessions or seminars with a single session.


For example, one of the programs I host through the New Orleans Business Alliance is the Real Estate Breakfast in partnership with the Urban Land Institute of Louisiana. During these breakfasts we bring speakers who present us with relevant information in the Real Estate industry. Since we launched this program, we have been quite successful with attendance at maximum capacity and very good feedback.

Due to coronavirus and social distancing requirements we decided to keep our 2020 Real Estate Breakfasts in a virtual format. Naturally, our whole team got a little nervous. We didn’t know what our audience’s response would be.

Fortunately, everything went well and on May 28 we opened our first event in this new virtual format. Our speaker was Bo Kemp, an expert in the area of private-public partnerships and real estate investments. Bo shared some of the tools available to help the Real Estate industry as a response to COVID-19 as well as his perspective on the current context. A great benefit of doing this event virtually is that we had access to people like Bo, who resides in Chicago. If we had done it in New Orleans, we wouldn’t have had the flexibility to bring in out of town experts like him. We were also able to expand the capacity of participants. In past events, we had encountered the need to set a waiting list due to physical space constraints.

Finally, the cost of hosting this event was significantly reduced. Luckily, the audience was very satisfied, and we received great feedback. While we recognize that this format can’t replace the value of networking when we meet in person, virtual events also bring many benefits.

All this has made us reflect and consider a hybrid format for 2021. The interesting thing is that we’re not the only ones thinking this way. It will be interesting to see how the virtual format will take a leading role in the following years. My bet is that we will be seeing much more hybrid formats in many areas including business and academic activities.

For the time being, we must take advantage of the resources we have despite the restrictions that arise.

See you next time!

Economic Development

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