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2012 Urban Heroes Inspire with Grit and Devotion to New Orleans

Sep 28 2012

Passion. Perseverance. Presence. When the Broadmoor Improvement Association (BIA) was incorporated in 1970, Broadmoor was already a well-established, multi-racial community living in harmony. The association worked continuously to improve the neighborhood.

Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures decimated Broadmoor. In 2006, a city commission suggested the area be transformed into a drainage park. Within days of that announcement, the neighborhood responded with a rally on Napoleon Avenue, declaring “Broadmoor Lives!” Through the leadership of BIA president LaToya Cantrell, the neighborhood became a national and global recovery model. It forged partnerships with the Clinton Global Initiative, Harvard University, and many others; brought in thousands of outside volunteers; secured millions of dollars in investment and its redevelopment plan has been written about and studied extensively.

Today, Broadmoor boasts:
* A new LEED-certified library/community center
* A $29 million renovated charter school
* An under-construction health center and
* A lower blight percentage than the city average
Broadmoor is now truly “Better Than Before.” You can learn more here.

Massey’s Professional Outfitters

Massey’s story begins 40 years ago in 1972 when it opened as a mom and pop sporting goods store in Metairie run by current owner Mike Massey’s parents and grandparents. For 20 years, the store focused on local team sports and grew to serve the expanding population of Jefferson and the river parishes.

When Mike and his brother-in-law Bobby Johnson came into the business as third generation shopkeepers in the early 90’s, they decided to focus on the sports that they loved; skiing, hiking, paddling, camping. It meant shedding some customers, probably a lot of revenue, and putting much faith in then-relatively obscure brands like Patagonia and North Face.

As the business grew to two stores, and then to three, and began to enjoy e-commerce success, Katrina helped them recognize what was missing from their formula: New Orleans. “No matter how connected we felt to the city,” says Mike, “It just wasn’t possible to convey that love of New Orleans from a suburb. To our customers, our staff, and our reps and brands— maybe even ourselves— we were just another store on the outskirts of a big metropolitan area. They all knew we were somewhere ‘around’ New Orleans but not exactly what that meant.”

After looking for properties all over town, they decided to take their chances on a flooded building in an area that was still largely deserted with mostly shuttered businesses surrounding them, and as Mike says, “it started sloooowwww…”

Forty years since Massey’s first ribbon cutting, and almost 5 years at their North Carrollton Avenue location, Massey’s is going strong. The Mid-City store is humming every day of the week, equipping outdoor lovers with everything from clothing to camping gear, and kayaks to bicycles.

Massey’s commitment to community projects that promote active lifestyles has been constant and significant, demonstrating their conviction that collectively, New Orleanians can build an economically, environmentally vibrant city.

Recipients will receive a commemorative “Where Ya Rack” bicycle rack to be placed at a location of their choosing to recognize their contributions to the creation of livable communities and their alignment with The Urban Conservancy’s core values

Filed under: Rebuilding New Orleans