New Orleans Small Business Rising from the Ruins

As proposals for big-box retail projects mount in New Orleans, many small business owners who are returning to the city worry about the coming competition. A documentary is currently being filmed about the recovering city's business atmosphere.

New Orleans is a city of unique culture and fierce loyalties to the local. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, locally-owned businesses led the return to neighborhoods throughout the city, joining residents in the expensive and risky rebuilding effort. Chain stores and restaurants, meanwhile, remain boarded up nearly three years later, counting rooftops and awaiting municipal subsidies.

Dana Eness, Executive Director of the Urban Conservancy, finds in the filming cause for both hope and concern.

"Hanson Hosein and his assistants have been touring the city with their cameras to find out how a wide variety of mom-and-pop businesses are faring in post-Katrina New Orleans. See a three-minute in-production preview on Hosein's Independent America Web log:"

"The clip includes comments from Edward Blakely of the city's Office of Recovery Development and Administration as he bicycles with Hosein through a Katrina-damaged neighborhood."

"Blakely tells Hosein that 'the pressure from the ordinary citizens' is to bring more big-box stores. Blakely concedes that big boxes may 'put these . . . little guys out of business,' but he insists that citizens he is hearing from say they're focused on their own rebuilding efforts and 'can't think about that guy's business.'"

Thanks to Dan Houston

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