Nearly 10 years ago, Hurricane Katrina shone a spotlight on the major challenges the greater New Orleans region had been facing for decades: high poverty, structural unemployment, major population declines, a non-diversified economy and migrating businesses. All this meant that in the 40 years preceding, the area had underperformed the national average in job creation by more than 40 percent.
Today, with our partners at GNO, Inc. and the NOLA Business Alliance, New Orleans is diversifying its economy, creating jobs in digital media and bioscience, and fostering an emerging environmental industry focused on coastal restoration and sustainability, all while sustaining foundational industries like energy, international trade, advanced manufacturing and hospitality.
Five years ago Goldman Sachs saw the renewed potential of New Orleans and chose us as one of its first sites for the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative has turbocharged our focus on small-business development, providing a customized education program and offering small-business owners the opportunity and the building blocks to a practical business education.
The cohorts of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative range in industry: manufacturing, retail, plumbing, construction, tourism and health care. In fact, just six months after completing the program in New Orleans, 69 percent of graduates of 10,000 Small Businesses reported increasing revenues and 44 percent reported adding jobs.
This remarkable story has captured the attention of industry leaders, attracting companies such as GE Capital, Gameloft, Cobalt, Chiquita, and dozens of others to expand or relocate to New Orleans.