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Friday, 25 March 2011 14:47
GNO Inc. Report: Public Perception Hits Louisiana Hard On Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
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Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc., the economic development alliance for the 10-parish Greater New Orleans region, released Part Three of its three-part study, titled “A Study of the Economic Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.” Prepared by GNO, Inc. using multiple research methods—nationwide and statewide public opinion telephone polls, surveys of targeted decision makers, in-depth interviews, and media content analysis--the study focuses on public perceptions of conducting business in Greater New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, and Gulf and Louisiana seafood following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Tags: GNO Inc, BP oil spill, public perception, Louisiana, Louisiana economy, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Louisiana business
Section I of the most recent study addresses public perception of Louisiana seafood and tourism. Section II of this study examines opinions of Louisiana as a place to live and conduct business. Overall, the research indicates significant perception gaps about Greater New Orleans and Louisiana. To help correct these misperceptions, GNO, Inc. recommends a major regional marketing effort.

"In many categories, we found significant gaps between reality and people's opinions," said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. "Examining these findings, we believe the best way to address this perception gap is through a coordinated, large-scale strategic marketing campaign for the region."

The study found that the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill had the largest and most negative impact on public perceptions of—and consumer demand for—Gulf and Louisiana seafood. National restaurant owners reported that 68.8% of their customers now regularly ask about the location of origin for seafood, compared to only 33.4% of customers in 2006. Additionally, 73.3% of restaurant customers had favorable opinions of Louisiana seafood in 2006. Currently, 50% of customers have unfavorable opinions.

"What troubles us most is the harm that public perception can do to such an economically vital industry," said Robin Barnes, Executive Vice President of Greater New Orleans, Inc. "Despite extensive testing determining Gulf seafood safe to consume, the demand for these products remains exceptionally low."

Another important finding of the study is that 27% of poll respondents perceive Louisiana to have fewer job opportunities than elsewhere, compared with 11% who believe the state has more job opportunities than other regions. The poll also provides critical insight about the decisions of site selectors who assist companies looking to expand or relocate their facilities. Site selectors are recommending Louisiana as a location for businesses in many industries and are indicating that the state’s business climate is improving.

"Companies such as Blade Dynamics, Nucor, Globalstar, and Folgers are investing large sums into corporate expansion projects throughout the Greater New Orleans region," said Ron Starner, General Manager of Site Selection magazine. "Business and community leaders are making great strides, but the story is not being told nationally. The region would need up to $100 million for a marketing campaign to successfully communicate this story."

Released in October 2010, Part One of the Economic Impact Series focused on the Oil Spill's impact to the Louisiana fisheries industry and related businesses. Part Two, released in January, examined the economic impact of the federal deepwater drilling moratorium and the de facto shallow water moratorium. As new information becomes available, GNO, Inc. plans to use the three-part study as a platform upon which to provide periodic updates to the region.

Part Three of the three-part study is made possible by funding from the U.S.. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration and Chevron through the GNO, Inc./Chevron Coastal Vitality Project.

Click here or visit www.gnoinc.org to download Part Three of "A Study of the Economic Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill."

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