Why Are Students Graduating and Moving to New Orleans for Jobs?

By Kristine Dickson, The Entrepreneurship Alliance @ UNO

For those of us who have grown up in and around New Orleans, this question seems to be written incorrectly?  But no, it’s a correct question…more and more students are graduating and moving to NOLA, or opting to attend school down here for various reasons.  Some reasons, like deliciously wonderful food, Mardi Gras holidays, and continuous flip-flop weather are completely obvious to us, but other reasons probably elude us.  So, why are folks moving down to NOLA for jobs, you ask? What kind of jobs?

New Orleans is a hotbed of activity for people with good ideas, or more importantly people who believe in their good ideas as much as we believe in our Saints football team taking home the Lombardi trophy in 2014 (even if it means we have to play in the snow, but that’s a topic for another blog).  These people passionately believe in their ideas, and then they take it a step further. They commit to executing their idea all the way.  They are called entrepreneurs. New Orleans offers a vibrant community of thinkers, collaborators,  and people genuinely interested in helping these great ideas mature and become thriving businesses. This will further create  more ideas and even more businesses, and so on.

Streetcars in downtown New Orleans.Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans became a start-up in its own right, a start-up city.  As we learn in our business classes, obtaining a first mover advantage is key, and so many have flocked to our fair city to take a shot at the American dream of being your own boss and making the rules for yourself.

No doubt being part of a startup company takes a lot of hard work and lots of your own money, initially, so it helps to be in a place with a low cost of living compared to other cities that have also have vibrant start-up communities.  New Orleans also has an abundant supply of talent from several colleges and universities to accompany the relaxed and fun atmosphere for downtime and unwinding with colleagues.  It’s clear why New Orleans is a front runner of the places where emerging entrepreneurs are choosing to relocate.

So, what does this mean for those of us who have been here through thick and thin?  Well, we are lucky to live in a place that no longer means moving out to move up.  We have a chance to develop our great ideas, too, and take advantage of the groups of people present who want to hear our great ideas and have the resources and know-how  to help us “make it happen.” It also means we might be able to meet some cool people to collaborate with along the way, which is really when something great happens.  When we surround ourselves with people whose talents complement ours and who share our vision for developing an idea, that’s when a true opportunity is on the horizon and should be seized.

So, as we celebrate the beginning of football season, we embrace the idea that if we believe in New Orleans and we believe in our Saints, then we believe that we can turn our humble idea into a flourishing business.   But don’t worry, it’s okay to still make time for one more cocktail or that extra dozen charbroiled oysters .  That’s what makes us New Orleanians at heart.

(Photo by Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

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