Seeing is Believing When It Comes to NOLA Progress

Feb 4 2013

In recent weeks, New Orleanians have been singing the praises of their city’s remarkable recovery and resilience to visitors here for Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl. Signs of a robust economy are evident everywhere, from new construction to street repairs, and from beautifully renovated historic homes in residential districts to a burgeoning restaurant and retail scene along commercial corridors.

But the story of “The Big Easy” is never a simple or straightforward one, and a recent survey sheds light on the underlying complexities and contradictions inherent in our progress.

On January 25, 2013, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.), Southeast Louisiana’s 11-parish economic development organization, released Bridging the Perception Gap: Results of National Opinion Survey. According to its press release, GNO, Inc. commissioned Lake Research Partners to conduct the study “to understand how the rest of America views New Orleans, through their thoughts on doing business here, moving here, and quality of life.”

The survey was conducted in November 2012 in six target media markets - Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles/San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C. Over 1,600 registered voters were surveyed, including an oversampling of 500 college educated young professionals.

Not surprisingly, perceptions about quality-of-life, economic opportunity, and extreme weather events continue to persist. That said, one of the key findings was that four out of ten of those surveyed would consider moving here if given the opportunity. This number increased to six out of ten for individuals who have visited in the past two years, suggesting that visiting improves perception.

Residents know that there is much work to be done to ensure that Southeast Louisiana remains a habitable and affordable region for all the citizens who call it home. According to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, water management and other issues related to wetlands loss, skyrocketing rental rates, and persistently high poverty and crime rates are some of the city’s and the region’s most entrenched challenges. As GNO Inc’s perception study shows, however, recent quality-of-life wins are evident and contribute to a sense of momentum and optimism that is not lost on the visitors who fall in love with our city every day.

You can read the full Bridging the Perception Gap study here.

You can read more recent facts and figures from the GNOCDC here.

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