25 Reasons Why New Orleans is the Best City for Young Entrepreneurs

by / ⠀Startup Advice / October 13, 2011

top city for entrepreneurs

New Orleans has long been known for several different things: jazz, food, art, history, and Bourbon Street. It has also had many nicknames, such as NOLA, N’awlins, The Big Easy, The Crescent City, and The City that Care Forgot, which refers to the care-free, easy going nature of it’s residents. However, last week New Orleans became forgotten. On a reader-driven survey for top entrepreneurial cities on Under30CEO’s website, New Orleans was left out of the list of nominees.

In a moment of heroism, I felt the need to save my city from obscurity and omission, and decided to band my community together before we became extinct. I took full advantage of my weekly column and used my journalistic powers to remind my readers, and fellow entrepreneurs, of all we had accomplished and to continue what we have done by voting for New Orleans as a write in candidate. In true New Orleans form, we came together and once again proved how proud we were to be a part of New Orleans, and more specifically, it’s entrepreneurial community.

The entrepreneurial community in New Orleans has been gaining momentum at an increasing capacity. With the help of organizations that have aided in the growth of several entrepreneurs, and bourgeoning industries that are bringing new opportunities for start-ups, the city is full of possibilities for anyone who is interested in starting a business.

For anyone who has ever doubted New Orleans as being nothing more than a bead-throwing community of alcoholics driving around in fan boats, then think again. After reading the 25 reasons for why New Orleans is the best city for young entrepreneurs, you may even start packing your bags and your business for a move to the Big Easy.

Resources and Information – The growth of entrepreneurial activity has made an evident impact on the economic development of the city. As a result, more individuals and organizations are working to continue the consistent growth, as well as retain the young talent in the city. These organizations include collaborative workspaces, economic development agencies, and professional service providers all aiming to help expand locally-based businesses.

1. Launch Pad– A 12,000 square foot collaborative workspace that can accommodate 70 companies and 170 people.The space is occupied predominantly by creatives within the digital and film sectors, however, a variety of service providers in the building are available to help entrepreneurs with their businesses needs, further contributing to the unique camaraderie between Launchpad’s tenants.

2. The Building Block – Now with two locations, The Building Block is a regional hub for green businesses. Housing anything within the sustainable industry from commerce, products, and innovation, the collaborative workspace offers office, warehousing, manufacturing, and retail space targeted at cutting overhead costs and increasing productivity for the entrepreneurs.

3. The Icehouse – An open floor plan in the newly renovated warehouse offers an entrepreneurial-charged environment for designers, media artists, entertainment companies, startups, and social innovators alike. While providing each tenant with their own space, the environment allows for social engagement and collaboration among the creative entrepreneurs.

4. New Orleans BioInnovation Center– With a new facility opening in the downtown area, The BioInnovation Center is a technology business incubator that is committed to fostering bioscience entrepreneurship and promoting collaboration within the life science community.

5. Idea Village– The team at the Idea Village supports aspiring entrepreneurs by providing them with grants, talent, and workspaces to help them develop their ideas into for-profit businesses.

6. New Orleans Entrepreneur Week – The annual entrepreneurship festival is hosted by The Idea Village to celebrate the entrepreneurial community and engage both local and national MBA students with entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and thought leaders. The week long celebration includes networking events, pitch sessions, competitions, and opportunities for one-on-one consulting with other entrepreneurs as an effort to further support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.

7. Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans – SENO focuses on assisting entrepreneurs who want to develop businesses that provide innovative solutions to social and environmental problems predominantly within the public education, healthy food access, blighted building/housing, and economic development sectors.

8. PitchNOLA competition– Anchored by SENO, the elevator pitch competition is an opportunity to initiate new social innovation ideas throughout the city. 10 finalists present their pitch to an audience and panel of judges for a chance to win money and services to help further develop their idea into a business.

9. Generation: New Orleans, Inc.– A non-profit organization committed to supporting and showcasing emerging artists, small businesses, and entrepreneurs by providing them with strategic communications and PR services.

10. 504ward – A collaborative of organizations in the city devoted to retaining young talent in the city by providing networking opportunities that help further connect new transplants to key people, advisors, and potential business partners.

11. Silicon Bayou News – An online publication that focuses on startups, entrepreneurial activity, internet product reviews, and tech news in the region. The online news source continues to foster the entrepreneurial growth on the “Silicon Bayou” by profiling the individuals and companies who are further contributing to this growing community.

12. The Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship – The center for entrepreneurship at the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University trains the next generation of entrepreneurs through coursework, community service projects, and internships. Through the curriculum and the opportunity to participate in initiatives such as the student run entrepreneur association, students develop the skills and foundation for business development while further contributing to the economic development of the region.

13. Tulane Entrepreneurship Association – The TEA is a student-run organization at Tulane University whose mission is to promote entrepreneurialism within the university and engaging the community by educating their members and connecting them with local entrepreneurs.

14. Tulane Business Plan Competition– The competition provides students from across the globe the opportunity compete with other aspiring entrepreneurs and pitch their business ideas to a panel of accomplished entrepreneurs and venture capitalists at Tulane University.

15. Match NOLA– A program that provides Tulane students with the opportunity to have a hands-on professional experience working with a local entrepreneur. Students are able to gain work experience and exposure to entrepreneurial ventures, while providing local entrepreneurs with insight and fulfilling their professional needs.

16. Economic Development Agencies – Organizations like GNO, Inc and The Louisiana Economic Development agency work at the state and regional levels to promote the area, generate new business development, and create a strong workforce in Louisiana, further aiding economic development and brining new industries to the South.

Economic needs:

17. Low cost of living – An entrepreneur’s economic needs are met with a combination of a low cost of living and high quality of life. Specifically, in a day in age where business can be done remotely and not necessarily in cities like New York City or Chicago that are considered to be business Meccas, however, more costly. Living and office costs in New Orleans are remotely affordable when compared to the national average, giving you more bang for your buck and the affordability to live a more high quality lifestyle than you would in most other large, urban cities. In 2011, New Orleans was ranked 3% below the national average for cost of living, whereas New York City was 118% above average — a 121% difference in cost of living between two cities who had less than a 24% difference in median household income.

18. Tax incentives – Competitive local, state, and federal tax incentives are offering more opportunities for businesses to expand and/or relocate to Louisiana — New Orleans specifically. Supported industries are growing in the region and opening more opportunities for new businesses within those growing sectors.

Flourishing Industries – With the growth of various supported industries in the state, several established companies are relocating to Louisiana due in large part to tax incentives and a low cost of living. This influx of larger companies further proves the that there are needs and opportunities for new entrepreneurs within a range of industry sectors. Local economic development agencies GNO, Inc and LED provide data and information on the leading industries and incentives. However, even beyond the government supported industries, more entrepreneurs are aspiring to turn New Orleans into a hub for other industries as well — all evident by the growth within finance, manufacturing, food/drink processing, and fashion sectors.

19. Film and Entertainment – Because of tax incentives, trained workforce, visually appealing landscapes, and the development of new infrastructures and state of the art production facilities, Louisiana is now ranked #3 for film production behind California and New York.

20. Digital Media – Louisiana offers the most aggressive tax incentive program in the nation for Digital Media and Software and has recently expanded to include the development of Consumer Software, Business and Enterprise Software, Web-based Applications, Digital Media and Games, Interactive Devices and Consoles and Embedded Systems. The growth of film production and relocation of new software companies such as Gameloft to the region further support the growing industry.

21. Energy – As a major producer, processor, and exporter of domestic energy, Louisiana has long led the nation within the energy and petrochemical industry with the help of multimodal transportation and the largest port complex in the world, strong workforce, and aggressive local, state and federal tax incentives.

22. Specialty Healthcare and Biotechnology – Existing infrastructures, trained workforce, aggressive incentives and research funding help in creating a growing industry within life sciences and innovation, bringing more innovative businesses to Louisiana.

23. Diverse Culture and Constant Inspiration – Architecture, art, music, food, and culture are a constant in New Orleans providing endless entertainment and, even, inspiration.

24. Entrepreneurial spirit within the city – New Orleans and it’s residents instinctively carry traits of the entrepreneurial spirit. From the ambition each person has in contributing to the rebuilding of New Orleans, the passion for the food and culture, the resilience and adaptability to life after Katrina that kept New Orleans going strong during the economic recession and the BP oil spill, and the positivity throughout our development as a city are all characteristics that parallel the mindset of an entrepreneur. Everything that has fueled New Orleans into overcoming setbacks and barriers, also drives an entrepreneur to success.

25. Community and unity – Through the setbacks of the past few years, New Orleans residents have grown stronger as a community and formed a new sense of unity. Specifically, within the small ecosystem of entrepreneurs. Members have established bonds and partnerships that have not only helped ones own business evolve, but the growth of bourgeoning industries and the economic development of the city as well. This form of unity has grown largely with the help of incubators, workspaces and networking groups that encourage collaborations and partnerships within a community of people who are genuinely interested in each others prosperity.

Author: Adriana Lopez is the Executive Director of Generation: New Orleans, Inc, an organization that is committed to supporting entrepreneurs through various PR and marketing efforts. She also writes about the entrepreneurial community in New Orleans for several local publications. Follow @genNOLA

About The Author


Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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