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The Roundtable

The following representatives from the New Orleans business, education, and technology communities contributed insight, forecasts, and cautions regarding the transformation of their hometown.

Jim Clinton
Director, Southern Technology Council
Jim Clinton views New Orleans from a regional perspective. After 10 years as president of the Louisiana Partnership for Technology & Innovation, Clinton joined the Southern Technology Council in April 1999. Now the 53-year-old pioneer works to diversify New Orleans’ economy and spark innovative business conversations.

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“The Louisiana Partnership for Technology & Innovation has contributed to the community by encouraging conversations about growth, studying opportunities, and working to understand the impact of a strong research program on community businesses,” he says. “We bring together resources from the academic, political, and private sector in an effort to reinvigorate and diversify the Louisiana economy. We focus on startups and early-stage opportunities that emerge from the private sector or academic sectors.”

Harold E. Doley, Jr.
Founder and Chairman, Doley Securities, Inc.
A distinguished member of the New Orleans business community, Harold Doley, Jr. was the first African-American member of the New York Stock Exchange when he began his career there in 1972. Three years later, Doley founded his own financial firm — the realization of a dream that began with a childhood curiosity for business fostered inside his father’s local grocery store. Doley Securities, Inc. specializes in “raising capital for securities issuers, providing secondary market services for institutional investors, and furnishing financial advisory services to institutions, corporations, government and political subdivisions.”

“New Orleans is going to have to move beyond tourism as one of its prime economic thrusts because tourism does not require the type of talent that is necessary to service modern industries,” Doley says. “New Orleans has to diversify its economy and the skills of its labor force.”

Brady Finney
Director of Operations, New Orleans Technology Council
Born and raised in New Orleans, this 28-year-old change agent recently returned to his native turf after living in Boston for 10 years. Analyzing sales and marketing strategies for local companies, Brady Finney helps advance the NOTC’s mission to integrate the efforts of business, government, education and venture capital. “The New Orleans Technology Council wants to help city government understand the benefits of bringing the technology industry into this city. We say, ‘Look, if Computer Associates moves an office here, it’s either going to hire 10 local programmers at $65,000 to $125,000 a year or it’s going to bring in workers who will buy houses and grow the community. That’s economic development.'”

Carla Fishman
Director of Research & Technology, Tulane University
Throughout her nearly 20-year career at Tulane University, Carla Fishman has observed academic advances of all kinds at competing universities. All those years of surveillance have taught Fishman a valuable lesson about New Orleans’ growth potential: In order to forge ahead in research and technology, she says, the city’s intellectual community must form an unwavering partnership. “By trying to compete in individuals silos, we can’t make giant strides. If we are going to move forward in this state, we need to do it together.”

Under her guidance, Tulane University will join Louisiana State University to create a pioneering gene therapy initiative, which educators and business leaders hope will plant the state firmly on the map for cutting-edge bio-tech research. “Here’s a real opportunity for us to work as a state,” Williamson says. “We want to foster a climate that’s conducive to biotechnology in Louisiana, and the state legislature has approved $6.8 million for creating that infrastructure.”

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Bob Gayle
Executive Director and CEO, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce
Bob Gayle says the New Orleans business community must work to not only entice employees from other regions, but retain local talent in order to attract more and more high-tech companies and young entrepreneurs.

“We certainly have the talent here, but a lot of times, high-tech workers think the grass is greener in Silicon Valley,” says Gayle. “People don’t think the opportunities are here, but the opportunities are growing. We just have to get out the word. We’ve got to make sure that we’re well connected to our universities so our students know what is available. Our mission is to enhance the business environment and thereby convince companies to locate here. And if a city can set itself apart by having qualified, customized training for its workforce, then you can be a lot more competitive. That is currently in the works here.”

Barbara MacPhee
Principal, New Orleans Center for Science and Mathematics
Nearly 400 students attend the New Orleans Center for Science and Math, one of the New Orleans Public School System’s three “special schools.” “Remarkably, 95 percent of our students are African-American and 65 percent are female,” says Barbara MacPhee, principal of the progressive public high school that accepts virtually every student who applies for enrollment. “We’re the only math and science high school in the country with that kind of statistic.”

Edward Massey
Owner, Massey Realty
For the past two decades, Ed Massey has paid close attention to the look and feel of businesses moving into New Orleans, and the demographics of citizens who are packing up and leaving. “At one time, we had a lot of young people leaving the city because they couldn’t get jobs,” Massey says about the brain drain in New Orleans, a plausible theory for the departure of local talent. “New Orleans has been known for Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, and wonderful food and culture, and that’s great. But the area is also economically viable and it’s growing. New industries are coming into the area, things have stabilized, and young people now constitute a large portion of the homebuyers, and that’s encouraging.”

Tim Ryan
Dean, College of Business Administration, University of New Orleans
Tim Ryan oversees nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and a $5-million budget that he allocates to departments such as accounting, health care management, and the University of New Orleans’ MBA program. “As a university, we must give students hands-on experiences with the appropriate equipment so we can continue to challenge them. In the last six years, we’ve added significant new hardware to enhance the classroom learning experience.”

Stephen Sabludowsky
Co-founder, The Internet Coalition
Sabludowsky, an attorney with more than ten years of Web experience, specializes in Internet and technology law. After noticing a need for greater organization in the New Orleans Internet community, Sabludowsky co-founded the Internet Coalition, a grassroots organization that unites representatives from civic, professional, academic, and media groups.

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“There are so many professions that have, to date, not really been plugged into the Internet. The Coalition’s aim is to bring together these groups to improve New Orleans’ standing in the national and world-wide Internet community,” he says. “A number of national surveys have placed Louisiana and New Orleans in the bottom tier of states and cities that are wired or tech-ready. The coalition’s goal is to provide an offline and online community of Internet users so they will know who to go to and what resources are available for collaboration.”

Kimberly Williamson
Executive Director, New Orleans Downtown Development District
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.”

Tim Williamson
General Manager, Cox Interactive Media of New Orleans
Tim Williamson manages a full-time staff of 11 and oversees aspects of InsideNewOrleans.com ranging from editorial content and technology to marketing efforts and community relations. Williamson, 34, is a native of New Orleans who left the city for a decade and moved back last year to launch the New Orleans studio.

“The new economy in New Orleans will be driven by a new group of New Orleanians who are really focused on the technology industry,” he says. “There’s a tension between this group and traditional business circles in New Orleans because these tech-minded individuals are doing business a little different. It’s extremely exciting. The energy is driven from passionate New Orleanians who’ve moved back to the area and want to make something happen here. The city is starting to understand this fresh mentality as local stars emerge and local companies produce results.”

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