It’s been 10 years in the making, but New Orleans is back.
Among other signs of its resurgence, Crescent City has undergone a building boom–with luxury hotels and a billion-dollar state-of-the-art health center, to more sporadic rebuilding efforts in the Lower Ninth Ward. Big businesses including GE Capital and Costco have brought hundreds of new jobs to the city from out of town. And efforts like Idea Village, a non-profit accelerator devoted to fostering entrepreneurship in New Orleans, are taking root.
Small businesses have also played an enormous part in the recovery effort, including bars and restaurants, of which there are 600 additional establishments. There’s also a newly burgeoning tech and software industry, education companies, and alternative energy firms.
The following is a selection of successful businesses from sectors old and new, whose entrepreneurs found their true grit in the events following Katrina. Many are born and bred in New Orleans, and they’re proud of their city’s cultural heritage. Some also were the recipients of high-impact training from Goldman Sachs, whose 10,000 Small Businesses initiative brought needed skills, mentorships, and funding to 400 New Orleans businesses. All share a desire to return New Orleans to a pre-eminent spot among the nation’s top cities.
Daniel Victory, owner of Victory Bar
Daniel Victory founded the bar in 2010, shortly after being named one of GQ magazine’s top five bartenders of the year. The acclaim certainly helped light a fire under his business. He had been working at the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton when Katrina hit, shutting the hotel bar down for three years. During that time he traveled around the country, sold cars, and did construction. He and then partner Andrew Emory bootstrapped the bar, located near the city’s French Quarter, with $40,000 in savings. Today, Victory has 13 employees and sales of $800,000. The bar makes signature drinks with roots in New Orleans culture like the Gin Fiz, Hurricane and Sazerac, which may have been the United States’s first cocktail, allegedly created by a former slave turned apothecary.
“The day I opened the bar, me and my partner had $200 between the both of us,” Victory said. “I put the cash in the drawer, and that’s what we started out with. It’s crazy the way things worked out.”
My Cleaning Concierge
For Barrett Wiley, Katrina and its aftermath was a defining moment. And certainly cleaning up the flood damage and mold in his Gentilly Parish home helped lead him ultimately to the idea for his company, which offers cleaning services to large commercial spaces in New Orleans. “It forced me to live in the moment and to adapt,” Wiley says. “What we knew was no longer there, and you had to figure out the next best way.”
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