Kimberly Williamson brought a wealth of experience to New Orleans' Downtown Development District when she joined the redevelopment movement during the summer of 1999. Previous stints working to revitalize Buffalo, NY, and Kalamazoo, MI, helped Williamson formulate a New Orleans plan of action: "We're exploring ways to grow the community from a regional standpoint."
She says one of the biggest challenges in enhancing the local economy is trying to diversify a city that relies heavily on the tourism industry with more than 27 million visitors each year. "The tourism market includes a lot of service jobs that don't pay very well," she says. "For that reason, we're working to bring in the biotech industry. We're also recruiting some high-end retailers, which will help attract even higher-end retailers. New Orleans will only continue to grow and diversify over the next several years."