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Economic Development

Kobra´s Mural Brings Louis Armstrong Back to Life in New Orleans

Kobra´s Mural Brings Louis Armstrong Back to Life in New Orleans

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- > El mural de Eduardo Kobra que ha revivido a Louis Armstrong en Nueva Orleans

Culture builds strong communities and plays an important part in the rejuvenation of cities and the transformation of the ordinary into extraordinary. It also creates a sense of belonging and pride within a community.

New Orleans is the example of a unique American City that emerged from a cross-pollination of multiple cultures to create its own. The manifestations of the city’s culture can be appreciated in buildings and spaces, music and dance, social traditions, and cuisine. For centuries, New Orleans artists have captivated the nation and the world with their different forms of art. Residents feel proud to be part of such a unique city, and why wouldn’t we? There is a lot to be proud of! No other city can call itself the birthplace of jazz and be recognized as the bounce capital of the world.

Louis Armstrong is a prime example of this. Nicknamed “Satchmo” and later “Ambassador Satch,” Armstrong became internationally known for his charismatic stage presence, trumpet-playing style and unique voice. He was born August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, and every year the city commemorates his birthday with the Satchmo SummerFest, organized by French Quarter Festivals Inc. The first annual Satchmo SummerFest took place on what would have been his 100th birthday; that same year, the New Orleans airport was renamed the Louis Armstrong International Airport.

This year´s celebration was extra special, as globally known muralist Eduardo Kobra payed homage to our city´s cultural icon. On the week of Armstrong´s birthday, Kobra finished a fascinating mural on the corner of Gravier and O´Keefe, commissioned by developers ERG Enterprises and Kupperman Companies. His signature style brings Armstrong to life, using a collage of bright colors and geometric shapes in lieu of natural skin tones while depicting naturalistic shadow and light to create a photorealistic masterwork. Kobra’s mural has made this corner the epicenter of color for the neighborhood and brought a beloved historical figure back to life.

Kobra is known for depicting notable people around the world, including Russia, Great Britain, Brazil, Japan, Switzerland, France, Greece, Italy, and Mexico, to name a few. Kobra was born in the Campo Limpio region, near Sao Paulo, Brazil. Influenced by street culture, hip hop, and graffiti, he has now taken the world as his stage to prove that there is equal value between street art and fine art. Many believe there is greater value in street art, as it contributes to positive urban transformation, democratizes art, and has the possibility to raise awareness on the most critical social and economic issues of our time.

¡Until next time!

Last August, on the week of Louis Armstrong´s birthday, Brazilian muralist Kobra finished this fascinating mural in New Orleans on the corner of Gravier and O´Keefe streets. The mural was commissioned by developers ERG Enterprises and Kupperman Companies.

Photography: Matthew Seymour

Achieving Urban Opportunity, Access, and Economic Inclusion

Achieving Urban Opportunity, Access,  and Economic Inclusion

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- >Logrando oportunidad urbana, accesibilidad e inclusión económica

Cities and regions are the key social and economic organizing units of our time. They bring together people, jobs, and all that is required for economic growth. Also, urban density tied up with diversity, sparks creativity and innovation in business, arts, culture and society. According to CityLab, almost more than half of the world’s population live in cities and by 2030 it is projected that more than 9 billion people will live in cities and urban centers. Great minds such as Jane Jacobs have noted that cities are engines of innovation and the concentration of talented and creative people promote and accelerate economic growth.

In the United States the revitalization of our major cities has brought great benefits to some but displacement and lack of opportunity to others. Gentrification and income gaps are an unfortunate reality to many.

Everyone should have an opportunity to thrive and to be successful in creating opportunity for all. Leaders in all sectors of society must ask themselves important questions: How can cities yield more positive outcomes for all urban residents, small business owners, and long-term stakeholders?  What can we do to catalyze and accelerate more growth in the lower income and/or higher crime neighborhoods?  How do we ensure that all members of our communities are involved in these discussions, so we can create more inclusive economic opportunities?

Although New Orleans is no stranger to the spirit of continual re-invention that animates American cities, we must keep asking ourselves the hard questions to remain on a trajectory of equity and growth.

To facilitate this discussion, the New Orleans Business Alliance and the Aspen Institute have partnered to bring the Socrates Program to our city. This partnership provides a forum for emerging leaders from various professions to convene and explore contemporary issues through expert-moderated dialogue.

Socrates also provides the opportunity for participants to enter a diverse professional network and the broader range of the Aspen Institute’s programs. The seminars are designed as values-based Socratic explorations to facilitate the exchange of ideas. The Socratic method is one of the most powerful tactics for fostering critical thinking because it provides participants with questions, not answers.

This year the Socrates New Orleans Salon will include a public panel and reception on August 27 (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm) and a day-long seminar on August 28 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm) and the theme will focus on Urban Opportunity, Access, and Economic Inclusion.

If you are interested in participating in this discussion, get the details via nolaba.org or AspenInstitue.org.

 

The Community is Our Priority

The Community is Our Priority

By Metairie Bank

Click aqui para español- >La prioridad es la comunidad

At Metairie Bank, “Enriching the Communities We Serve” is more than just part of our mission statement, it’s our pledge to continue making a difference in our community.

Giving back is an essential component of what makes Metairie Bank a community bank. We’re dedicated to providing support to the communities where we live and work. We invest in the future of our communities by promoting financial literacy, health, and the arts.

 

We offer assistance to non-profit organizations and support programs that strive to better our communities and the lives of our neighbors who live in them. 

Helping to Make Home Buying Easier

We are dedicated to supporting the promotion of financial literacy. We know buying a home can feel daunting. We’re here to relieve stress by providing educational information into the home buying process. Community Development Officer Marina Manzanares lead an informational home buying workshop to help people in our community feel confident turning their dreams of buying a home into a reality.

Giving Educational Opportunities to Local Students

Our own Scott Schellhaas, VP of Mortgage and Commercial Loans is also a Board Member of Jefferson’s Dollars for Scholars. Scott and Community Development Officer Marina Manzanares presented a scholarship to Haynes Academy graduate Taylor Tarleton, who will be going to LSU.

As a community bank, we invest in the future of the communities we serve. We are proud to help provide educational opportunities for the youth of Jefferson Parish.

Metairie Bank is Happy to Support the Murphy Education & Sports Foundation 

They will host their 10th Annual Back-to-School Giveaway in July. It’s an incredible cause that provides students with the tools they need to succeed, including backpacks and school supplies. 

 

Finances July 2019

Finances

By Jason Reeves

Click aqui para español- >Finanzas Julio 2019

Hi everyone! It’s officially summer time here in New Orleans! This month I want to touch on the topic of debt and offer a few summer reading options to help you along the way in your journey to financial freedom:

 

  1. What is debt?  Debt is the state of owing something, usually money, to someone else. It’s most often paid back to that person or entity with interest. What this means is whatever amount you borrow and the longer you take to pay it back, the more interest you will pay in addition to the original borrowed amount. 

 

  1. How is debt used? Our financial system is based on the concept of borrowing and lending. Another word for debt that you may recognize is “financing” and what that allows both businesses and individuals to do is borrow money on good faith, with the promise of repayment plus interest. Typically, the amount and the interest rate you’re approved for is based on your credit score. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate and vice versa. 

 

  1. What are the most common types of debt? The most common types of debt are home mortgages, car loans, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, and medical bills. Although some may argue that there’s a distinction in “good debt vs. bad debt” ultimately, they’re still liabilities that hinder you from building wealth. 

 

  1. How do I get out of debt? Debt is easy to get into and hard to get out of, by design. Once you’re focused on your goal to be debt free, list all of your current debts in order from smallest to largest and start paying them off one by one. This allows you build momentum and stay encouraged with small victories along the way. 

 

  1. Once I’m out of debt, how do I stay out? Understanding money and how it works is a learned behavior and the best way to learn is by studying. 

Three books I’d recommend for summer reading are: 

1) “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey

2) “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and  

3) “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

 

Would you like to put together a personalized plan? Schedule your initial consultation with me by sending me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Focus on Finances June 2019

Focus on Finances

By Jason Reeves

Click aqui para español- > Concentrarse en las finanzas Junio 2019

Hi everyone! It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through 2019! I hope you’re doing well and that you’re on track with your goals! This month we’re going to talk about five ways to help protect and grow your retirement savings.

If I leave an employer, should my retirement money go with me? In most cases, yes. The primary reasons are that once you separate from that employer, you can no longer contribute to that account. Also, if you were receiving any company matching contributions, they typically stop once you’re no longer working there.

What options are available? Any time you leave an employer, you always have four options. 1) Leave the money with your previous employer. 2) Initiate a rollover of funds to your new employer’s retirement plan. 3) Initiate a rollover to a Traditional or Roth IRA. 4) Cash out what you’ve saved.

What is a rollover, and will I get taxed? The word “rollover” refers to the fact that money is in motion. You’re moving it from one place or plan to another. There are specific rules and guidelines that need to be met so you avoid a tax penalty. For example, money coming from an employer plan is usually pre-tax. Because of that, any account you decide to roll it to needs to be pre-tax, so it doesn’t cause a taxable event.

What is an IRA? IRA is short for “Individual Retirement Account” and what it does is allows you to consolidate your money into one central location if you’re rolling it over from one or more employer plan. It also allows you to start saving and investing independently, without the use of an employer, if you’re self-employed for example. There are two primary types of IRAs and they’re called Traditional and Roth IRAs.

What’s the difference between a Traditional and a Roth IRA? The main difference between the two is that the Traditional IRA is designed for pre-tax money and the Roth IRA is designed for after-tax money. Also, money withdrawn from a Traditional IRA is taxable and money withdrawn from a Roth IRA is not, if the account is five years or older.

Would you like to put together a personalized plan? Schedule your initial consultation with me by sending me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Culture: A Fundamental Part of Economic Development

Culture: A Fundamental Part of Economic Development

By Alejandra Guzmán

Click aqui para español- > Nuestra cultura, una pieza fundamental para la promoción del desarrollo económico

During April and May, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival welcomed hundreds of thousands of attendees while hitting its half century mark. This annual spring event has brought an array of concerts that expand to every genre of music. Some of the legendary artists who have performed throughout the years include Mahalia Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Fats Domino, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Lenny Kravitz, Tony Bennett, Tito Puente, and the list continues! A 2019 local favorite was the Queen of Bounce Big Freedia. Those in attendance reported that she was electric.

 

Another 2019 highlight included Mayor LaToya Cantrell presenting George Wein the key to the City acknowledging his contributions to jazz festivals. Mr. Wein has been a jazz promoter and producer and his work has left an undeniable legacy. He was responsible for the Newport Jazz Festival, our very own New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and has represented festivals all over the world.

In 1959, the jazz impresario married Joyce Alexander Wein, a lady who also left a great legacy to American culture. A chemist by profession, Mrs. Wein started her career as a biochemist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and later in New York at Columbia Medical School.  In 1963, she joined her husband and others in founding the Newport Folk Festival, which is recognized as a major engine for festival culture. Her many contributions to society include establishing the Joyce and George Wein Professorship Fund in African American Studies at Boston University and an Endowed Scholarship Fund at Simons College. Mrs. Wein passed away in 2005 leaving an important legacy.

 

Festivals bring tremendous economic value, particularly to local businesses that benefit from the activity, and visitors driven by the event. For New Orleans, Jazz Fest also sets the stage for additional festivals throughout the year and helps maintain our cultural brand. What started as a small celebration of music and culture with just 350 attendees, has become an attraction of 680 musical acts in two weekends, and contributes $400 million to the city.

To learn more about how culture contributes to the economy, plan to attend the New Orleans Business Alliance’s Annual Meeting on June 27th. The organization will present how its work promotes, supports and grows our culture while focusing on equitable and inclusive economic development. The theme of the event is focused on Economic Development Reimagined featuring acclaimed international business leader, Arnold W. Donald, a New Orleans native who serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Carnival Corporation.

For more information visit nolaba.org

Until next time!

Focus On Finances May 2019

Focus On Finances May 2019

By Jason Reeves

Click aqui para español- >Concentrarse en las finanzas mayo 2019

Hi everyone! I hope that you’re staying focused on your personal and financial goals! This month’s focus is on the importance of life insurance. There are a few topics that we will discuss and hopefully give you some clarity on. 

  1. Life Insurance is expensive: There are two primary types of life insurance; whole life and term life. Essentially, whole life provides coverage for your entire life while term is for a specific number of years. As such, term life tends to be more affordable but can expire if not renewed. Also, in most cases, the younger you are the more affordable the coverage. Start young!
  2. My job provides Life Insurance for me: Although this may be true, your benefits don’t typically go with you if you leave. Also, most employers have a 60-90 day waiting period for new hires before they’re eligible for benefits, so you risk being uncovered. A supplemental policy remains in force regardless of where you work or your current situation.
  3. All insurances are the same: There’s several types of insurance that serve different purposes. The most well-known are health, dental, and vision. What often goes ignored is life insurance and disability income insurance. Each of these protect you and your loved ones in the event you’re unable to work or provide for them any longer.
  4. It’s just me, I don’t need Life Insurance: While it may just be you, medical and final expenses live on and are passed on to your family members, caretakers, or estate. Without proper coverage, there’s a risk of becoming a burden to those you care about.
  5. The process takes forever, I don’t have time: With the advancement of technology, getting a quote and having a policy put in place is easier and more convenient than ever.

Get started today by viewing this link: https://coverpath.massmutual.com//?fg=Jason-Reeves-599468  or for more complex situations, reach out to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Would you like to put together a personalized plan? Schedule your initial consultation at www.seguewealthmanagement.com -

We Are Stronger Together

We Are Stronger Together

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- > La alianza hace la fuerza

Last Fall, I was honored take part in an intimate dinner and conversation organized by the Aspen Institute. This took place in the context of a movement called “Weave: The Social Fabric Project”.

The project was launched during the summer of 2018 under the premise that social isolation and political, racial and economic divisions are ripping America apart.

Aspen’s leaders believe that social fragmentation is a core challenge of our day. They also recognize that across the United States there are people building communities and healing divides. Therefore, they organized a listening tour, consisting of multiple events, across the country to document examples and understand the world view of participants and to celebrate their accomplishments.

The listening tour highlighted solutions in different communities across the country that are working well and are advancing towards collective impact. The New Orleans event brought together a group of 20 impressive community leaders who focus on different issues in our city. We enjoyed a conversation with artists, musicians, real estate developers, teenage activists, nonprofit founders, and many others.

All of them work to rebuild trust and overcome issues of isolation and loneliness for people in New Orleans, in their own way.


It was inspiring to interact with people of different ages, political views, racial and religious beliefs, and professional and socioeconomic backgrounds working on issues that benefit our community from their diverse perspectives. I was proud to see New Orleans is home to so many leaders who view community as the fundamental unit in society and who find serving others meaningful. They act on a moral motivation and seek to do what is right regardless of their backgrounds.

One year after “Weave: The Social Fabric Project” launched, hundreds of participants from across the nation will gather in Washington DC on May 14th through the 16th. The event will bring together

hundreds of community builders, journalists, leaders of faith, nonprofits, government, and business to celebrate, engage and spread a lifestyle that is based in honoring community.

We can all be weavers of our community. To obtain more information on how to engage with “Weave: The Social Fabric Project,” visit AspenInstitute.org.

Until next time!

Focus on Finances April 2019

Focus on Finances

By Jason Reeves, Segue Wealth Management

Click aqui para español- >Concentrarse en las finanzas

I believe that this year is going to be a great one for you and that, with a focused and intentional mindset, you will achieve your goals this year! Here are five key decisions that you control that can impact your life, be it positively or negatively, in 2019 and beyond:

  1. Having a long-term vision: At times, we get so caught up in the day to day routine of life that we struggle to think about where we see ourselves in the future. It’s important to live for today but also to plan for tomorrow.
  2. Having personal and financial goals: This aligns with having a long-term vision. To get to where you want to be, you must have a plan. Success doesn’t happen by accident.
  3. Investing time and resources in the right people: Time, not money, is our most valuable asset. We can’t buy it back or create more of it, so we must choose to spend it wisely!
  4. Paying (enough) taxes: Okay, no one likes the IRS. However, they have the ability and the authority to hold each of us accountable for what is owed. The downfall for many businesses and individuals, regardless of income or social status, stem from tax issues.
  5. Having perspective: At times, the stresses and responsibilities each of us have in this world can feel unbearable. However, taking time to think about why we do what we do and who we do it for, be it friends or loved ones, can help us stay centered. Don’t miss out on life, it doesn’t have a rewind button

Would you like to put together a personalized plan?

Schedule your initial consultation at www.seguewealthmanagement.com

 

Longue Vue House and Gardens: A Cultural Legacy

Longue Vue House and Gardens: A Cultural Legacy

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- >Longue Vue House and Gardens: Un legado cultural

Museums and cultural spaces serve as community anchors, catalysts for revitalization, and vehicles for cultural preservation and appreciation. They play an important role in community development as they provide educational opportunities and allow personal reflection that expands one's worldview. From an economic development perspective, they are important players in the tourism industry, add jobs to the economy and participate in workforce development through their educational programs. With its strong cultural heritage and tourism industry, it is well known that New Orleans is home to important museums, including the National WWII Museum, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, and the New Orleans Museum of Art, among others.

Culture connoisseurs will also recommend visiting Longue Vue House and Gardens. This is a multifaceted historic residence featuring a house museum and gardens, which includes a discovery garden for children.

This beautiful space’s history is what makes it the most special. Edgar and Edith Stern began construction on the house in 1939 as their private residence, but they had in mind that someday their property would become a public space. They named their home “Longue Vue” after the teahouse on the Hudson River where they became engaged.

Following the example of their own families, the couple kept a strong philanthropic and social responsibility mindset. They helped establish Dillard University and the Flint-Goodridge Teaching Hospital. They also worked on reforming voter registration. The Sterns were supporters of the arts, and particularly supported the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony, among different artists. Edgar Stern was honored with the Times-Picayune Loving Cup in 1930 for supporting the establishment of Dillard University. Edith Stern was recognized in 1964 for her role in founding Metairie Park Country Day School and the Newcomb Nursery School.

Today, the Longue Vue House and Gardens continues the legacy of its founders. It promotes innovative thought, creative expression and life-long learning, discussion and action on issues of social justice and community responsibility. Individuals and families are welcomed to take the tours offered at the site. Longue Vue House and Gardens offers other ways in which people can get involved, such as an extensive program for children, family-friendly events throughout the year, and a membership program. One can also book certain areas of the space for social, business, or any special occasion.

To support the arts, Longue Vue offers an artist residency program. Each year, an artist is selected and offered a studio space on site, a stipend of $6,000 to use at its own discretion, supplies, promotion, and the possibility to sell their craft during events and in the gift shop. Jamar Pierre was the 2018 Artist-in-Residence, and Longue Vue House and Gardens was able to support him thanks to a grant from The Helis Foundation.

New Orleans is fortunate to be home to the Longue Vue House and Gardens, a true cultural legacy. If you haven’t visited yet, make sure you take advantage of the Spring weather and make it your next family plan. Until next time.

Taller Educativo para Compradores de Vivienda

Focus on Finances February 2019

Focus on Finances

By Jason Reeves

Click aqui para español- >Enfóquese en sus finanzas

Did you make a 2019 resolution to get your finances in order? If so, here are 5 to-dos to help you get the results you want:

  1. Start with a purpose. Really take the time to understand “why” you’re doing what you’re doing. Why is it important to you?
  2. Write down your goals and look at them every day. It typically takes 21 days to form a new habit (or break an old one) and this daily reminder will help you stay focused.
  3. Put together a monthly budget. This will show you where your money is going and who it is going to while allowing you to plan for what’s to come.
  4. Do not go further into debt. It’s ok to start where you are, just remember that in order to move forward, you have to commit to not going backwards. 5. Be intentional with every financial decision you make. Wealth is not built overnight, rather, one good decision at a time! Would you like to put together a personalized plan?

Schedule your initial consultation at www.seguewealthmanagement.com

Doing Business in Mexico

Doing Business in Mexico

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- >Estableciendo Negocios en México

Our southern neighbor, Mexico, has a vibrant economy and is the United States’ second largest export market after Canada. Mexico has a large, diversified economy that is linked to its deep U.S. trade investment relations. With 120 million citizens and a rapidly growing middle class, Mexico represents an attractive market for investors and foreign businesses.

Monterrey, Mexico City and Guadalajara are the major business hubs in Mexico. Growing up and working for more than 10 years in Monterrey, I can attest that this city is, in fact, one of the most important business hubs in the country. Monterrey is home to an elite university system, a diverse group of well-established multinational companies, and a burgeoning class of globally-competitive startups.

The cosmopolitan nature of the city created a demand for international education, making it possible for most children to obtain bilingual education starting in preschool all the way to higher education. The Monterrey Tec is the most important higher education system in Latin America and has hundreds of agreements with international universities to support exchange programs. As expected, the culture of internationalization produces a highly competitive workforce.

Recently, Mexico passed reforms in the energy, telecommunications, labor, financial and educational sectors. The reforms are intended to increase the country’s global competitiveness. The energy and telecommunication reforms can offer new opportunities for U.S. firms.

As far as international trade agreements, it is important to watch the development of the “new NAFTA.” Late 2018, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico signed a trade deal to replace NAFTA at the G20 summit in Argentina. It is now known as USMCA - the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Although President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new agreement, it requires ratification by all three governments. Regardless, Mexico is one of the finest destinations for U.S. exporters.

Looking at the Mexico market is worth value. For investors and business leaders interested in this market, there are various resources to consider including the U.S. Commercial Service. Tasked with helping companies to expand, it has locations in Monterrey, Mexico City, Guadalajara and New Orleans. Most recently, the Global Connect coalition began helping to bridge the gap between small and medium-size businesses and global resources and networks.

Partners include the New Orleans Business Alliance, the World Trade Center of New Orleans, GNO, Inc., the Port of New Orleans, the Port of South Louisiana, and Louisiana Economic Development.

Visit NOLABA.org for more information on economic development, Global Connect, and international business events. Until next time!

City Park: A New Orleans Treasure.

City Park: A New Orleans Treasure.

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- > City Park: Un Tesoro en Nueva Orleans

The New Orleans community has the good fortune of enjoying one of the oldest urban parks in the nation.

Spanning a total of 1,300 acres, City Park offers a unique experience to millions of visitors each year. From taking a stroll through the beautifully cultivated botanical gardens, to biking, jogging, and walking the park’s paths, to adventuring the rides at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, City Park offers fun and diversion for everyone.

A personal favorite characteristic of our park is its beautiful oak trees, which represent the world´s largest stand of mature live oaks. This grove includes a grand oak that dates back nearly 800 years! Although this fact alone qualifies City Park as a veritable treasure, there are many other reasons why we should cherish and care for our urban park.

Urban parks play a fundamental role in a city’s economic and community development. Livable cities must be able to support vibrant populations and highly skilled workforces in order to compete with the global marketplace. Highly talented individuals are naturally interested and attracted to places that offer economic opportunities and diverse amenities that contribute to a superior quality of life.

An essential amenity to a livable city includes a network of green areas and parks. This contributes to a healthy environment, economic growth, and community cohesion.

From an environmental perspective, unpaved grounds have the capacity to absorb water. Considering that our city receives at least 60 inches of rain every year, having the right green infrastructure to manage water is fundamentally important.

In terms of social development, parks offer the amenities that contribute to an excellent quality of life. A well-maintained and properly designed network of green spaces is part of a core strategy to attract and retain a strong workforce and encourage future investment.

Green areas are also a place where members of our community come together for inclusive interaction, recreation, and physical activity. These areas stimulate healthy development in our children and the city’s youth by providing them with sufficient and adequate space for play and expression.

Additionally, through recreation and interaction with nature, people of all ages can participate in the many aspects of civic involvement.

City Park offers the opportunity to host many of our city´s legendary events including the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, also known as Voodoo Fest.

These events help preserve the unique character and culture of our city and further provide a boost to the economy by bringing thousands of visitors to our area each year. Festivals generally produce millions of dollars in income, including tax revenues for the City and State.

Not every community enjoys the privilege of having a treasure like City Park—yet another reason why New Orleans is such wonderful place to live! Until next time!

Celebrating Women in Business & Promoting Gender Equality

Celebrating Women in Business & Promoting Gender Equality

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- >Celebrando a las profesionales y promoviendo la equidad de género.

Even though there is an increased awareness of the hardships that female professionals have dealt with and overcome, there is a lot more work to be done. Traditional and cultural ideas of femininity have deeply influenced how women are treated and viewed which is an unfortunate worldwide reality.

Perceptions and expectations, amongst other factors, make it hard for female professionals to advance in their careers and acquire an active participation in different roles of public life. With a lack of female representation, it is hard for younger generations to imagine and visualize their possibilities.

To overcome these challenges, it is crucial to propagate success stories of women in business and to celebrate these successes, achieved both in business and society, and to highlight emerging female role models. It is quite challenging to imagine something that you have never seen. Seeing women achieve amazing life goals serves as inspiration, motivation, and as a reminder that you can get there too!

Increased visibility of successful women in business also helps raise awareness of many issues that need to be solved, paving the way to female success. I had the honor of participating in the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. This event, set in New York, honored women executives, entrepreneurs, employees, and the companies they run worldwide. The awards were presented to winners during a dinner event with more than 550 people in attendance.

This year marked the 15th Anniversary of the Stevie Awards and the inauguration of the Women Future Conference preceding the award ceremony. It was an entire day of celebrating the achievements of working women around the world. I was inspired to meet successful women from Jordan, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and many other countries. Events like the Stevie Awards are important to promote women empowerment and introduce female role models to our community. We need to do more. We must develop innovative and inclusive approaches to attain gender equality in all aspects of society.

We must tackle common barriers collectively to progress in business and society: We must endeavor to achieve equal pay, equality, diversity in senior representation, safety for students and faculty on campus, advocating for, defending, demanding, and succeeding in STEM Education, and sensitizing organizations guilty of unconscious bias. Until next time!

Culture as a Pathway to Fortify the Social Fabric of Our Cities

Culture as a Pathway to Fortify the Social Fabric of Our Cities.

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español- >La cultura como un camino para fortalecer el tejido social de nuestras ciudades

There is a lot to say about culture and how it builds strong communities. Culture plays an important part in the rejuvenation of cities and the process of transforming the ordinary into extraordinary. Culture also creates a sense of belonging and pride within a community.

New Orleans is the example of a unique American city that has emerged from a cross-pollination of multiple cultures to create its own. The manifestations of the culture of New Orleans can be appreciated in buildings and public spaces, music and dance, social traditions and cuisine. Residents of this town feel proud to be part of such a unique city, and why shouldn’t we, if there is so much we can be proud of?

There is no other city that can claim to have given birth to jazz and get recognized as the bounce capital of the world. For centuries, New Orleans artists have captivated the nation and the world with different forms of art. Contemporary examples of cultural ambassadors include musician, band leader and TV personality Jon Batiste and visual artist and muralist Brandan Odums “BMike.” Batiste has performed with important artists such as Stevie Wonder and Prince. He also appears with his band, Stay Human, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

New Orleans is lucky enough to have more than one talented member in the Batiste family. Paul Batiste, for example, founded the Batiste Brothers Band and is also a guitarist, producer and songwriter. Paul Batiste’s passion for continuing a music tradition in New Orleans by teaching music is admirable. His experience in education and entertainment business spans for 40 years. Recently, Batiste provided a testimony on what it meant for him to be an educator. He very eloquently explained that beyond music, he is “providing young people with a sense of belonging and pride through culture.”

BMike is also using art as a tool to create cultural identity and belonging. He has not only transformed blighted spaces in New Orleans through powerful art but has also dressed historic landmarks with culturally relevant murals. Furthermore, he has created “Studio Be,” a space which has gained significant attention with its huge murals depicting issues such as civil rights. It is common to visit the studio and find young students touring around and learning powerful stories through Odums’ art.

Fortifying our social fabric through culture is part of the activities that The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized as a strategy for sustainable urban development and Batiste and Odums are doing just that in a very organic and honest way. UNESCO has created its Creative Cities Network (UCCN) to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified and valued creativity as a strategic part of their development.

By joining this network, cities commit to sharing best practices and developing partnerships with civil society as well as in the public and private sectors. The application for cities to be part of this network will open in 2019, and hopefully, we will see New Orleans become part of this group.

In the meantime, we should celebrate and support the members of our community who are already embracing culture as a pathway to fortify the social fabric of our city.

Until next time!

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion As a Strategy for Growth

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion As a Strategy for Growth

Click aqui para español- >Diversidad, igualdad e inclusión como estrategía de crecimiento

There is plenty of evidence that communities that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) perform much better than those which do not. As the United States becomes a minority majority country, being able to be inclusive will be fundamental for the prosperity of our nation. Earlier this year the Brookings Institute released research results stating that economic inclusion may be the key to lasting growth and prosperity. Their publication shows that the relationship of growth and prosperity to inclusion grows larger and stronger over time.

To advance in DEI, it is important that we embrace changes at an individual level but most importantly that we change organizations and ultimately systems. Understanding the underlying cause of the lack of diversity and then acting upon it is key.

I belong to organizations where we have looked at our teams and realized the executive team members and leadership are not representative of the communities we serve. Intentionality becomes relevant in these situations, so in some instances, we have slightly changed procedures to guarantee we truly embrace DEI.

New Orleans has the fortune of being home to organizations that understand the need for diversity, equity and inclusion. These organizations also help others achieve their goals in this regard. Founded in 2017, Beloved Community is a New Orleans based organization committed to building a new ecosystem that can sustain equitable, diverse schools, businesses and neighborhoods. Their name is inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. teachings. He promoted the concept of inclusiveness, both economically and socially, through the notion of the “Beloved Community.” He stated that achieving economic and social justice is necessary for a healthy society.

In their first year of operation they have reached more than 1,575 students, over 170 school faculty, and more than 2,000 youth. Beloved Community has helped multiple organizations obtain a budget increase allocated to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Beloved Community is building a diverse voice in local leadership across education, housing, and the corporate sectors. They are devoted to making sure that the commitment to real solutions to support DEI remains long after any individual leader, local legislation, or funding stream is gone. Most importantly, they are true believers that people change systems, which is why they offer capacity building programs to support, build and sustain the path for growth. You can find more about their services at wearebeloved.org.

Until next time!

Dialogue as a Tool for Economic Progress

Dialogue as a Tool for Economic Progress

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español->El dialogo como herramienta para el progreso económico

Too many, if not every economic and social issue of our time, is multidimensional in nature. This requires that those leaders that attempt to solve them are open to dialogue and to understanding different points of views. Many organizations, including the Aspen Institute recognize this. This organization is dedicated to foster a good society and bring people together to promote dialogue and exchange of ideas. This is done through different programs including the Socrates Salon. Named after the Socratic method of discussion, participants of this program go through expert moderated dialogue and are able to discover their beliefs about specific topics and understand the position of others.

Recognizing the value of this program, the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) partnered with the Aspen Institute Socrates Program to co-host a Socrates Salon “The Future of Work and Learning” on October 11-12th. Together they will bring expert leaders to explore how emerging technology trends are impacting education, business and society.

This topic was selected considering that in the last decades technology has dramatically and very quickly changed the way people live, work, and learn all over the world. With this we have also seen challenges around public policy, education, and workforce. At the same time, it is important to recognize that innovation around technology is what is driving many economies' future growth.

Overall it is important for every community to consider the opportunities and challenges presented by an increasingly digital world. Also, leaders need to be thoughtful about how to embrace the benefits that come with new technology while making sure communities stay true to their culture and offers opportunities for all.

New Orleans is no stranger to technology related growth. Our city has increasingly been recognized as one that is home to creators and technology companies such as DXC Technology. Other companies that have chosen our city include Accruent, GE Digital, IBM, Align, and iMerit. This makes New Orleans a great location for the Salon “The Future of Work and Learning” this October. The Salon will examine the ways this city has reinvented itself to welcome inclusive technology companies, entrepreneurship and innovation while being intentional to stay true to its history, culture and people. The moderation will be led by Dr. Connie Yowel, CEO of Collective Shifts, a former policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Education during Bill Clinton´s administration and a former associate professor at the University of Illinois. 


I’m excited that New Orleans will be host of this event and that as a community we have recognized the value of dialogue as a tool for economic progress. Until next time!

FORWARD Symposium

FORWARD Symposium: Enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous Louisiana for all.

By Alejandra Guzman

Click aqui para español->FORWARD Symposium

The economic and social success of our community is dependent upon how well we can create balance and promote sustainable practices in the business and public sectors, education, and society in general. To achieve this, we must rely on a foundation of awareness and education on the matter.

Organizations around the world, such as U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), are taking a leading role in these efforts. This organization with an international footprint promotes a movement of community leaders, professionals, businesses and innovators working to accomplish healthy, efficient communities, and to develop equitable buildings.

I have the honor of serving as a board member for the USGBC Louisiana chapter. Our group´s mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous Louisiana for all.

One of our signature programs is the FORWARD Symposium and for the past three years it has focused on engaging a diverse community of forward thinking leaders who will be key to moving the state towards a more resilient future.

The event is open to USGBC member and non-member business professionals, environmentalists, architects, educators, nonprofit leaders, economic developers, and students. Participants will be able to collaborate and explore what is happening across the state in the subject of sustainability. Among some of the preferred topics for this year will include coastal restoration, LEED for cities, equity as a growth strategy, and healthy communities. Another highlight of the program includes the Women in Sustainability Empower (WISE) Breakfast, which is designed to engage the audience in a robust discussion with prominent female leaders in the field of green building, urban development, community revitalization, and equity and inclusion.

During the symposium participants will also learn about the USGBC Louisiana Green Schools Initiative. This includes a yearly competition in which we encourage schools to undertake a green project to make their school and communities a healthier place to live, learn, and grow. Our objective with this initiative is to bring awareness and educate our youth on the benefits of green building and environmental stewardship by participating in hands-on experimental projects.

During our 2017-2018 cycle, we were able to reach 7,400+ people in 21 parishes and 91 schools across Louisiana. We are excited to continue this work and trust that our programs will help inspire people across our state to act by enabling an environmentally, socially responsible, healthy and prosperous Louisiana for all. To find out more about the FORWARD Symposium visit https://usgbclouisiana.site-ym.com/

 Until next time!

The 3rd Annual FORWARD Symposium will take place on Friday, October 19, 2018 at the Tulane University Lavin-Bernick Center.

FUND 17

Supporting Economic Mobility in New Orleans

By Alejandra Guzmán

Click aqui para español -> FUND 17

Social entrepreneurs pursue social innovation and transformation in different fields such as education, health, environment, and business development. A common factor among them is the pursuit of poverty alleviation and economic mobility through business methods and by the application of innovating alternative solutions in traditional practices.

 As an Economic Developer that believes in equity as a growth strategy and the power of social entrepreneurs, I'm glad that New Orleans is home to organizations promoting these concepts. One of my favorite organizations in this field is Fund 17. Fund 17 is a small, but growing 501c3 non-profit with the goal of turning hustles into livelihoods in the 17 wards of New Orleans.

To get a sense of their relevance, consider that some of the most common barriers for small businesses to scale are lack of access to adequate information, capital, and basic business skills. Fund 17 addresses all of these issues.

The organization provides free training and resources to entrepreneurial community members including one-on-one business development support, workshops, and loan advising. Founded in 2012 as a student-run non-profit, they have grown into a diverse and robust community of entrepreneurs, partners, professionals and students dedicated to creating economic opportunity for all.

The organization has reached more than 200 entrepreneurs who otherwise would not have been served by any traditional organizations in New Orleans. Fund 17 targets the under-served neighborhoods and communities that have the greatest need of finding pathways to economic advancement. Fund 17 has received financial and professional support from international organizations such as KIVA and the Kellogg Foundation. Most recently they were awarded the Next 300 Competition grant by the City of New Orleans.

All of this is a testament to the excellent work that Fund 17 has been doing, and the great potential it has to continue influencing the upward economic mobility of our communities. This year, the organization is in the process of designing a community business incubator that will offer affordable space, equipment, and computers to entrepreneurs. It will also include a food business co-op to facilitate the scaling of businesses in this industry.

This strategy is truly necessary to strengthen neighborhoods that have not benefited from New Orleans overall economic success in the most recent years.

To learn more about Fund 17 and how to support them, visit www.fund17.org. Until next time!

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