Tuesday, 14 September 2010 23:56

Council Prez: Article Saying New Orleans Dead Forever, "Is Dead Wrong"

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Is New Orleans “One of the 10 American Cities that Are Dead Forever” or New Orleans City Council President, Arnie Fielkow right when he said that a recent article in the Business Insider “has got it dead wrong”?

The following open letter was published in the Louisiana Weekly from Fielkow on September 13.

The Business Insider cited the following major points to support its position:  
The Port of New Orleans is not as necessary as it was in the past and the commercial traffic is now depending upon truck, rail and air

Other cities such as Atlanta are becoming the South’s financial centers

Hurricanes especially Katrina have essentially destroyed the important tourist market  

The BP incident has added further misery to New Orleans

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/10-american-cities-that-are-dead-forever-2010-9#new-orleans-5#ixzz0zYCL6P8B

Here is the open letter by Fielkow.  Give us your opinion below on our Buzzbacks

LA Weekly – September 13, 2010 – An Open Letter to Orleanians in response to a Business Insider article declaring New Orleans dead A recent article in the Business Insider prophesying the “10 American Cities That Are Dead Forever” has got it dead wrong for including New Orleans among the ranks of these moribund municipalities. In fact, with words like “rebirth,” “recovery,” and “resilience” so commonly used here since Hurricane Katrina, I truly have to wonder what in the world the authors of this index are thinking and if they have been to New Orleans recently.
The primary reason cited for New Orleans’ demise is the loss of its prominence as the major port city of the nation. It is true that in relative terms to the ports of Long Beach, New York, Seattle and even our regional rival, Houston, New Orleans has come down from its once lofty historical status. But our port traffic rebounded within a year after Katrina to pre-Katrina levels and the leaders of this great city know that port expansion is necessary for sustained long-term growth.
But I don’t want to measure our future against our past like the authors at the Business Insider seem so keen to do. Ever since the waters of Katrina have receded back to their source, a flood of optimism has inundated this city; and this optimism is beginning to yield tangible results. In every speech I have heard from our new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, he repeats the sentiment that New Orleans is not rebuilding the city we were but are rather creating the city we want to become. Since the storm, not only has the population nearly returned to its pre-storm levels, but New Orleans has worked at reinventing its identity as a hub of innovation. We have completely overhauled the public school system, begun systematic reform of the New Orleans Police Department, developed a nascent but robust film industry that attracts major Hollywood projects, are working towards comprehensive recreation reforms, implemented governance reforms that include the adoption of a citywide Master Plan and the creation of a city Office of Inspector General, weathered the national recession better than the rest of the nation, and even won the Super Bowl.
And whether it is due to our culture or the sense that you can make a difference here, young people are beginning to notice. In fact, two new terms have entered the demographer’s lexicon to deal with trends that we have seen here since the storm. Playing off the once-true-to-New-Orl¬eans parlance of “Brain Drain,” which describes the loss of talented human capital to outside economic influences, we now have new terms of “Brain Retain” and “Brain Gain” for those young adults from New Orleans who have decided to stay in the City, and those young professionals who are attracted to this city due to its quality of life, opportunity and unique spirit, respectively. In fact, this year’s freshman class at Tulane University had more applicants per spaces available than any university in the nation with 44,000 applicants for a mere 1,600 spaces.
Like no other city in America, New Orleans embodies what can be done in the face of tragedy. Our recent adversities of Katrina and the oil spill have taught us how to lend each other a hand, and how to lift a neighbor out of churning, violent waters. These are not metaphors here in the Crescent City, but stark and indelible realities that are seared into our collective memories from course recent events.
Here in New Orleans, we are far from being “forever dead”; in fact I would say that New Orleans is alive and strong; its residents are gritty and determined; we know what is like to be down-and-out, and absolutely refuse to go there again. In New Orleans, we are not a dead city. We are not a dying city. We are a city in the midst of a great rebirth!
Arnie Fielkow
New Orleans City Council
This article was originally published in the September 13, 2010 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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