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Monday, 21 July 2014 19:12

GNO Inc's Michael Hecht stokes New Orleans region rapid acceleration

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hecht-hangoutMichael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO Inc, the economic development organization largely responsible for helping to bring in new companies into the New Orleans and the Southeast Louisiana region, discussed via a google hangout interview with Bayoubuzz publisher Stephen Sabludowsky, the current advances in the local economy:


Sabludowsky: Michael Hecht, GNO Inc. so, it has been about a year or so since you and I chatted online on google hangouts, so happy google hangouts to you.

Hecht:  thank you. i miss my google hangouts, we don't google hangout enough

Sabludowsky: absolutely.  That's the truth.  So in the last year or so, tell us what's going on, i know that last year was a real winner, i was at the annual luncheon, just give us an overview if you don't mind. 

Hecht:  Well really things have only accelerated from last year on the business development front,  of course yesterday, we had announcement ofYuhuang Chemical coming into St. James about two billion dollar project,  about 450 direct jobs, 2700 total jobs But, the real significance of this project is that it is the first mainland Chinese in Louisiana history. And so it might mean that in the future it might mean that will see many more these projects of course this massive demand and the potential economic impact From China.  And then not too long ago we had the Chiquita banana announcement which is very exciting because it marks the return of Chiquita banana to New Orleans they were gone I think from 1973 and Chiquita banana which was United Fruit has tremendous history in New Orleans. They actually built a lot of Tulane University in fact, Pres. Cowen's, now President' Fitts house is was actually the Murray house built by the founder of United Fruit. 

International Ship Holding also came back.  An iconic New Orleans company that left after Katrina went to Mobile recently come back is taking up a new warehouse In South Peters and they going to begin operating out of here again, And so it's really nice that some of these great companies likeRain CII also came back from Houston and is returning to the region.  And going forward will have many more announcements in technology and heavy industry and so forth.

And also, last night I was at an event sponsored by Boeing, celebrating mission to Mars is being built at Michoud.  What's happening at Michoud, Steve, we were worried a few years ago that the space shuttle was ending we do not know what future was going to hold for MAP, now its become a great public private facility where you have the Mission to Mars being built, you also have private company there making drones, making windmill blades, as well as the movies being shot at Michoud. {snippet 74}

On the policy front, perhaps one of most significant won was National flood insurance where actually  out of this office, we knew what we were getting into It, but over the course of the year we were able to develop the coalition of over 250 organizations over the course of 35 states and we were able to kind of catch lightning into a bottle And drive some bipartisan bicameral legislation to fix the unintended consequences of Biggers-Waters and Steve, not just Louisiana but in a lot of other parts of our nation.  So it's been an incredibly dense year.  The ranking awards keep coming in,  and probably the one, the two I am most proud of--one is that is a magazine called CEO magazine which apparently CEOs read and so it does a national ranking every year, a survey of what CEO's think or where CEOs think are the best states to do business.  Now can you guess what state wins every year for the past every 10 years?

Sabludowsky: Ah, North Dakota 

Hecht:  (laughter) North Dakota is actually up there now

Sabludowsky: I know. That's why I said it. (laughter) I wasn't pushed off a banana truck, You know

Hecht:  Well you were not.  When you went to North Dakota, Steve,  did you go to one of those madcaps?

Sabludowsky: Oh no listen I have never been up there, (laughter), I just happened to know these things

Hecht:  (Laughter) You are translucent you know everything. 

Sabludowsky: Ah, let me tell you

Hecht:  But the ranking comes out every year and back in 2007 Louisiana was 47th in the nation, so who do you think  was worse than us in the nation what other place friendly, that has the worse states  that CEOs like the least?

Sabludowsky: This is in Jeopardy right?  (laughter) Mississippi and Alabama, those are the two

Hecht:  What?

Sabludowsky: Those are the two suspects

Hecht:  But businesses like Mississippi and Alabama.. They've got all the auto manufacturers, but think about high taxes--California and New York.

In fact back in 2007 it was California New York and Illinois, the worst and then Louisiana.  Well eight years later we went from number 47 to breaking the top 10, at number nine.  So we've gone from the worse quintile to the best quintile in just eight years and what I like about that is--that's a perception survey so it means not only is the reality changing here on the ground and I have to really get the governor a lot of credit for that it started with him and his administration and Stephen Moret at the state but perception is changing and of that, of course, that's really what drives it at the end of the day.  The other survey i love is actually a  ranking, it's empircal, its Southern Business and Development did a ranking of what places has had the most economic development wins over the last 20 years? Well in the mid range market of between 1 million and 2 million people, guess where New Orleans came in?

Sabludowsky: Um, number 3?

Hecht:  Yeah with come in number two, only passed by Charlotte In the past 20 years.  And that, I think its pretty shocking

Sabludowsky: oh yes yes, absolutely, I think that there are so many people who have done a really terrific job 

Part 2 on Tuesday

Bayoubuzz Staff

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