2010 ElectionQ&A


In preparation for the upcoming mayoral race, we have distributed a candidate questionnaire to the following candidates for New Orleans Mayor. Names in *bold* responded to the questionnaire by January 22:
Jonah Bascle
Manny Bruno
*Rob Couhig*
*John Georges*
Troy Henry
Jerry Jacobs
Thomas Lambert
*Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu*
*James Perry*
*Nadine Ramsey*
Norbert Rome
Below are the responses we received, in the order in which we received them.
We want to thank all of the candidates who responded for taking the time to share their thoughts with our members, and for their dedication to the prosperity of our City. This is a busy time in the campaign season, and we appreciate the thought and consideration that went into these responses.
The Urban Conservancy does not endorse any candidate. We distributed the same questions to all eleven mayoral candidates. The answers we received were reformatted for consistency, but the content was not altered.
Our goal is to provide you with information you can use to decide how to cast your vote. We attempted to ask questions in such a way that we got detailed and thoughtful responses, without leading towards certain answers. Our membership is politically diverse, but we share an interest in economic development in the City, and the role local businesses play as cultural and economic anchors of our neighborhoods.
We hope you find this information useful to you as you consider your vote for Mayor in February. To learn more about the candidates, be sure to join The Urban Conservancy for the “Mayoral Speakeasy Series”:http://www.urbanconservancy.org/events/1047 next week at The Icehouse.
Sincerely,
The Board of The Urban Conservancy
h3. Responses
*Submitted by: Rob Couhig*
_1. Have you ever owned or managed a small business? Please describe._
Yes. I started with a small law firm that grew from 13 lawyers to 260 in 6 cities; I purchased a small pest control company that grew into one of the largest in the state; I was the principal owner of The New Orleans Zephyrs; and I own a small oil and gas production company. In addition, I have worked as a consultant to small companies in their development plans.
_2. What are the three greatest challenges facing local businesses (both start-ups and established) that the mayor can affect? How would you respond to these challenges?_
*Safety, Taxes, Licensing and Permits*
I will change the leadership of the Police department in order to create a force that is disciplined, accountable and filled with integrity to enforce a zero tolerance policy towards crime and corruption. We will not raise taxes. Our goal will be to make the city a more affordable place in which to do business. Every effort will be made to reduce the tax burden to make the city more competitive. We will change the approach to one where licensing and permitting is easier for the public including moving the permitting office out of city hall to an easier, more accessible place to do business.
_3. Economic development money and tax incentives seem to be focused on attracting larger businesses to our area rather than retaining and growing our local businesses. What changes would you make to address this inequality?_
I disagree with the present philosophy. I will outsource to the Public-Private partnership the solicitation of outside businesses. City Hall will spend its time and energy working to help local businesses expand.
_4. Barriers such as high insurance requirements prevent many small businesses from doing business with the city. How would you allow more small businesses into the city purchasing process?_
(1) We must make sure that the insurance requirements are proportional to the actual task. (2) To the extent possible, we should avoid duplication by properly characterizing the risk. (3) In certain instances we will have a small contractor added as an additional insured to the City’s policy and that contractor will simply pay for the cost of being added as an additional insured.
_5. How would you address the issues faced by existing local businesses located in the footprint of the LSU/VA hospital complex?_
We will assist in their relocation to other areas likely to benefit from the expansion of the hospital district.
_6. Local business owners are often frustrated by lost time and revenue due to delays or errors when dealing with city government. How would you make City Hall more efficient and responsive to the unique needs of small business owners?_
This involves a cultural change. We will make sure that every employee at City Hall understands the paradigm shift sense that they are there to serve businesses and citizens, not vice versa.
_7. What are the most important ways the “Buy Local” concept can strengthen our community? And in your role as mayor, how will you support this concept?_
Obviously, it enhances employment in the local economy. I will lead by example and utilize strong local preferences in procurement.
_8. Describe your views regarding Redevelopment Agencies, including whether or not you support the, If so, what is the major function of NORA as it relates to the local economy?_
Properly run, Redevelopment Agencies have the potential to transcend transitory politics to put long-term growth strategies in place. NORA’s historical role has been to work as a community improvement agency to reduce blight. Since 2006, the agency with the assistance of my leadership has been transformed into a force for wholesale redevelopment for entire neighborhoods working with neighborhood leaders. As a result of its transparent, collaborative approach, it is now the “Go To ” agency for the state and federal government. As mayor, it will be the agency involved in redevelopment of this city.
_9. Are there specific areas of the city in which local, independent businesses face particularly difficult challenges, and how will you go about prioritizing and dealing with the issues?_
Local businesses face the same issues as all businesses and citizens that attempt to do business in the city. The most important issues will be to improve the livability of the city including reduction of crime, corruption and blight and the creation of safe streets on which to drive , and the enhancement of shopping. It is also too expensive when one adds up the amount that they pay : in taxes, insurance and utilities. Reduction of these costs will be a priority.
_10. What steps would you take to ensure that after mandatory evacuations, small business owners could re-enter the city and resume business operations as quickly as possible?_
I would be judicious in ordering evacuations. We would follow a “Last-out, First-in” policy. This policy will allow business owners to re-enter on a priority basis so that those services essential to the citizenry returning are in place when they are allowed to do so. We will work with all surrounding parishes and states to coordinate the events, evacuations, and reentrance and will do so well in advance of the emergency.
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*Submitted by: John Georges*
_1. Have you ever owned or managed a small business?_
Yes, my grandfather Gus Pelias, a Greek immigrant, opened Imperial Trading in 1916. I began sweeping floor in the warehouse when I was nine years old. Today Imperial Trading has grown into a national wholesale grocer which services independent grocery stores in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Imperial Trading is now part of Georges Enterprises, a Louisiana-based company with world-wide investments consisting of a diverse group of holdings. We employee more than 1000 people, many of them women and minorities, and have a strong history of promoting from within.
_2. What are the three greatest challenges facing local businesses that the mayor can effect? How would you respond to these challenges?_
High insurance premiums, roads and infrastructure, and crime are the three greatest challenges facing local businesses. As Mayor, I will work with local experts and small business owners to develop a Master Plan for Infrastructure and work with state leaders to reduce insurance premiums. Lastly, one way I will reduce crime is by expanding and establishing neighborhood advisory councils, to include local business leaders, which will aid in communicating with District Commanders, Patrol Officers, and District Quality of Life officers.
_3. Economic development money and tax incentives seem to be focused on attracting larger businesses to our area rather than retaining and growing our local businesses. What changes would you make to address this inequality?_
For too long, our elected officials have focused on luring outside companies to grow our economy. We need to attract outside businesses but also foster the growth of our local businesses to develop our economy. As Mayor, I will have no hesitation in focusing more of our economic development funds to grow local businesses.
_4. Barriers such as high insurance requirements prevent many small businesses from doing business with the city. How would you allow more small businesses into the city purchasing process?_
Work with the State to reform the insurance industry.
_5.How would you address the issues faced by existing local businesses located in the footprint of the LSU/VA Hospital complex?_
I would prefer that Charity Hospital be rebuilt on its current site rather than a sprawling new complex which would impact an historic neighborhood with its traditional businesses.
_6. Local business owners are often frustrated by lost time and revenue due to delays or errors when dealing with city government. How would you make City Hall more efficient and responsive to the unique needs of small business owners?_
I would hire a new team of fresh, diverse and capable leaders for City Hall. I would restructure the organizational chart with a better use of Deputy CAO’s. I would require improved communications between departments and department heads. I would increase training of city workers in the areas of communication, customer service and customer satisfaction.
_7. What are the most important ways the “Buy Local” concept can strengthen our community? And in your role as mayor, how will you support this concept?_
Buying local helps our economy grow. One of the best ways we can increase our tax base and provide more and better jobs is to buy local. As Mayor I will instruct our purchasing office to buy local whenever possible.
_8. Describe your views regarding Redevelopment Agencies, including whether or not you support them. If so, what is the major function of NORA as it relates to the local economy?_
I support redevelopment agencies because redevelopment is one of our major goals. NORA’s role is taking properties off the blighted rolls and putting them back into commerce. I would support fast-tracking single-purchase transfers and sales of blighted property to homeowners by bypassing NORA. I would also fund, support and develop home ownership programs for first-time buyers, including the expansion of ” soft-seconds” programs. I would also improve the cooperation and coordination between the different departments at City Hall that are concerned with housing.
_9. Are there specific areas of the city in which local, independent businesses face particularly difficult challenges, and how will you go about prioritizing and dealing with these issues?_
Many parts of our city, New Orleans East, Gentilly, Gerttown, Holly Grove, the Lower 9th Ward and others, have great difficulty attracting, nourishing and retaining small and mid-size local businesses. I will have my economic development and permitting departments work with those businesses to identify funding opportunities and to help them navigate through the paper labyrinth that has evolved at City Hall. We will also encourage the type of adaptive reuse of properties that allowed Trumpet Advertising to convert an old icehouse in Faubourg St. John into a business “incubator”, jump start the re-birth of North Broad between Canal St. and St. Bernard Avenue with the use of economic development grants and give full support to innovative programs like The Lafitte Corridor Project that could benefit businesses from the French Quarter to Faubourg St. John and Mid-City.
_10. What steps would you take to ensure that after mandatory evacuations, small business owners could re-enter the city and resume business operations as quickly as possible?_
Businesses must open quickly following mandatory evacuations, but the real issue has to do with safety, security and utilities. I will work with business leaders to develop a safe and efficient strategy to accomplish this goal.
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*Submitted by: Nadine Ramsey*
_1. Have you ever owned or managed a small business? Please describe._
I owned my own private practice prior to declaring my candidacy for elected office. I paid rent, insurance, met payroll, paid taxes due, and more. I marketed my business to secure customers. I am very familiar with the opportunities and challenges that small business owners face on a daily basis.
_2. What are the three greatest challenges facing local businesses (both start-ups and established) that the mayor can affect? How would you respond to these challenges?_
I believe that the number one concern among business owners and entrepreneurs is their dissatisfaction with the permitting processes of the city. To that end, the Ramsey Administration will include the creation of a Central Permitting Office. At present, various permits in the City of New Orleans are issued by agencies that include the Department of Safety and Permits, the Department of Public Works, the Sewerage and Water Board, the Fire Department, the Vieux Carre Commission, the Historic Districts Landmark Commission, the Fire Department and more.
Central Permitting Office: The Ramsey Administration will immediately after Inauguration appoint a Committee of city workers in the various department of government that issue permits. This Committee will be provided with the support that it needs to operate and to research issues. Within six months of its Inauguration the Ramsey Administration will approach the New Orleans City Council to request its support in funding through the City’s Economic Development Fund a Central Permitting Office. This Office will include trained personnel who are familiar with the Ordinances and Statues that govern the award of all of the city permits. This agency of government will be located at a place at which all of the city’s permitting functions can be housed. The Ramsey Administration will approach the State of Louisiana to assist in making space available to house this operation, or it may seek to purchase or lease space in the private sector to accommodate the needs of this most important office.
The number two concern is the tendency of the local media to emphasize bad news, sometimes at the expense of good economic news. It is important to a Mayor to be upbeat at most times, encouraging business owners and entrepreneurs to recognize the good news regarding business development in our city. Our administration will include regular briefings on economic development progress and opportunities to local media and to citizens who wish to know more.
The number three concern is the lack of city government resources to support the infrastructure needs of our city and business community. City government must do all that is possible to identify new sources of revenue to meet the needs of a population that is growing in size and needs. Our administration will look at tax incentive programs and will look at the exemptions granted to particular agencies and industries to determine whether there is a way for businesses to more equitably share the burden of taxation.
_3. Economic development money and tax incentives seem to be focused on attracting larger businesses to our area rather than retaining and growing our local businesses. What changes would you make to address this inequality?_
The city and state waste significant resources pursuing businesses that are located in other states. We also invest significant and maybe too great a level of resources in awarding tax incentives to out of state businesses at the expense of our own businesses. The Ramsey Administration recognizes that ours is a city of entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs create the majority of the new jobs and wealth generating opportunities in our city. It is in the best interest of our citizens that our city government do what is within the plans of the Ramsey administration: we will invest significant time and at least the city’s economic development fund in providing grants and business assistance to small businesses and to entrepreneurs. Our Division of Economic Development will create data bases of local small and emerging businesses, providing opportunities for them to learn about doing business with the city and with other agencies. The Division will work with private sector firms to identify ways in which the city can support bonding and contract financing assistance for local businesses.
_4. Barriers such as high insurance requirements prevent many small businesses from doing business with the city. How would you allow more small businesses into the city purchasing process?_
State law – low bid wins – governs the process of including more small businesses into the city’s purchasing process. However, there are measures that government can take, including providing educational seminar opportunities to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs, putting in place a strong disadvantaged business enterprise program that includes strong contract compliance measures, reaching out the private sector to encourage joint ventures on major projects and purchases, and more. Our administration will be pro-active in reaching out to small businesses, using the services of a very active Division of Economic Development. It is also important to note that our Administration will, through its office of Contract Compliance, insist upon 50% participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in contracts where there is an opportunity for participation.
_5. How would you address the issues created for existing local businesses located in the footprint of the LSU/VA hospital complex?_
The Mayor’s Division of Economic Development Office of Small and Emerging Businesses will have in place programs and access to resources that assist owners and entrepreneurs in identifying resources that can assist them in doing better business. The businesses that are located in the footprint of the LSU/VA have an outstanding opportunity to benefit from the resources that will be invested into this new development. Working with our Office of Small and Emerging Businesses, these business owners will be able to access information and resources that can help them to take advantage of the coming opportunities.
_6. Local business owners are often frustrated by lost time and revenue due to delays or errors when dealing with city government. How would you make City Hall more efficient and responsive to the unique needs of small business owners?_
Frustration with lost time does not automatically mean that City Hall is not being responsive to the needs of businesses. City Hall workers have jobs to do that mostly result from the passage of Ordinances and Statutes that put in place procedures that protect the public. Errors should be avoided, of course, but it should not be expected that every pursuit of a license or the securing of information will result in expedited visits to City Hall.
I and other business owners have attempted to do businesses with City Hall through the City of New Orleans website. We have experienced success.
It is important to note that many citizens want smaller government with more services provided. Many want increased protection of their interests but want less paperwork. I am confident that the majority of workers at City Hall are committed to performing their tasks in the best interest of our citizens.
_7. What are the most important ways the “Buy Local” concept can strengthen our community? And in your role as mayor, how will you support this concept?_
It is important to define “buy local”. Does it mean to make purchases in our region, or in the City of New Orleans? ‘Buy local’ means that higher percentages of the money spent on gods and services remain in our local banks and financial institutions. It is good to have greater access to resources because our financial institutions are made healthier with increasing deposits and reserves. So, as Mayor I will encourage citizens at speaking engagements and in correspondence, as well as on the city’s website, to see the value of supporting City of New Orleans located business enterprises.
_8. Describe your views regarding Redevelopment Agencies, including whether or not you support them. If so, what is the major function of NORA as it relates to the local economy?_
It is important that Redevelopment Agencies do what is necessary to avoid conflict with the natural market forces that can at times lead to greater accomplishments in the area of redevelopment. Redevelopment agencies should move to dispose of their assets and to discharge their responsibilities in a timely manner and in ways that are in the best interests of our citizens. NORA’s role in the local economy has been exaggerated due to excessive media attention. The fact remains that hundreds of properties that were once under the control of NORA still remain undeveloped. It is best for the city to avoid creating new bureaucracies that seek to take the place of the logical market patterns that accompany reliance on the private sector to move forward.
_9. Are there specific areas of the city in which local, independent businesses face particularly difficult challenges, and how will you go about prioritizing and dealing with these issues?_
Many times, irrational expectations accompany the excitement of many who seek to do business here in New Orleans. It is important to note that government provides support services, but that government agencies cannot, in most instances, substitute for private initiative in making businesses grow and prosper. Our economy will not generate billion dollar firms in most instances. Our city will not soon have ten thousand person employers moving here. Our economy is different from in other cities, just as our state economy is built upon different foundations that from other states.
Our administration’s work, through the Division of Economic Development and the Office of Women’s Business Development, when combined with the efficient management of an Economic Development Fund, and an Office of Small and Emerging Business Development that is committed to building entrepreneurship, will be able to perform with distinction in providing badly needed services to business owners and entrepreneurs in our city. Business owners who have difficulties in doing business with City Hall will have an outlet that will enhance their experience in dealing with and doing business with and at City Hall.
_10. What steps would you take to ensure that after mandatory evacuations, small business owners could re-enter the city and resume business operations as quickly as possible?_
I am confident that local, state, and federal agencies can work together on re-entry plans. The public safety is of foremost importance in decisions to allow citizens to return to cities that may have been devastated by storms. Hazards on the ground and in the form of compromised buildings may pose a greater threat to business owners and entrepreneurs than their not doing business as quickly as they might desire. However, whatever is the final decision must be one that treats all business owners in like fashion. Hardware store owners in different parts of town, for example, must be allowed to compete for business unless there are severe mitigating circumstances that limit such.
Our city is best served when businesses can re-open in environments of safety.
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*Submitted by: Mitch Landrieu*
_1. Have you ever owned or managed a small business? Please describe._
I am a practicing attorney and own a law firm called International Mediation & Arbitration, Ltd. My practice’s focus is alternative dispute resolution.
_2. What are the three greatest challenges facing local business (both start-ups and established) that the mayor can affect? How would you respond to these challenges?_
Local businesses, especially startups, often have a hard time gaining access to capital. I will work in Baton Rouge and Washington D.C. to promote incentives for small businesses. I will also regularly convene angel investors and venture capitalists to highlight investment opportunities in local businesses. I will also work with a newly created Public Private Partnership to create business incubation centers and identify ways to improve access to capital.
Many local businesses do not have access to workers with needed skills and experience. I will work with education institutions to cultivate a highly-trained and educated workforce.
I also support the streamlining of permit procedures.
_3. Economic development money and tax incentives seem to be focused on attracting larger businesses to our area rather than retaining and growing our local businesses. What changes would you make to allow more small businesses into the city purchasing process?_
My administration will require strict adherence to ordinances and policies related to the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, just as it would other ordinances. We will also provide workshops to help local small businesses prepare to compete for city work.
_4. Barriers such as high insurance requirements prevent many small businesses from doing business with the city. How would you allow more small businesses into the city purchasing process?_
I will create a level playing field that provides a fair opportunity for anyone who wants to do business in New Orleans. I support DBE goals and the participation of small businesses in city contracts. Setting goals for hiring local firms will be important to the city’s request-for-proposals process. It is very important that we help build the capacity of small firms.
_5. How would you address the issues faced by the existing local businesses located in the footprint of the LSU/VA hospital complex?_
My office is currently establishing the guidelines for a program that will address the needs of businesses and homes in the footprint of the VA project. This will include moving historic buildings to vacant lots in historic Mid City so that residents and businesses do not have to leave the area. The city and state should do everything possible to ease the transition of residents and businesses in the footprint.
_6. Local business owners are often frustrated by lost time and revenue due to delays or errors when dealing with city government. How would you make City Hall more efficient and responsive to the unique needs of small business owners?_
My fundamental belief is that we must have a diverse economic base and a business climate that is fair and open to all.
To support, grow and diversify our economy, I will reorganize City Hall to focus on job growth, foster entrepreneurship and support business development. We will make sure there is a business-friendly setting in city government. I will create a level playing field that provides a fair opportunity for anyone who wants to do business in New Orleans and ensure that the city is helping rather than hindering economic development.
_7. What are the most important ways the “Buy Local” concept can strengthen our community? And in your role as mayor, how will you support this concept?_
As Lt. Governor, I launched the Cultural Districts Initiative. This effort creates hubs of cultural and economic activity and supports indigenous businesses in neighborhoods by offering smart tax incentives. Original artwork sold in these cultural districts is exempt from local and state sales tax. There are now 20 cultural districts from Magazine Street to the Ninth Ward.
In order for our community to grow, we must take advantage of our native talent and intellectual capital. We have a history and culture that is unique and unmatched in this country, and we should extend the “buy local” concept to cultural products as well as consumer goods.
_8. Describe your views regarding Redevelopment Agencies, including whether or not you support them. If so, what is the major function of NORA as it relates to the local economy?_
Redevelopment agencies, in and out of government, will play a huge part in our recovery.
The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority can help our local economy by getting blighted properties back into commerce. This will stabilize the value of property citywide, generate revenue for the city and provide much-needed housing and commercial property.
_9. Are there specific areas of the city in which local, independent businesses face particularly difficult challenges, and how will you go about prioritizing and dealing with these issues?_
Local and independent businesses face challenges across the city. I will support these businesses through incentive programs and a more business-friendly setting at City Hall. We need neighborhood-focused programs similar to the Cultural Districts Initiative that incentivize the purchase of local goods.
_10. What steps would you take to ensure that after mandatory evacuations, small business owners could re-enter the city and resume business operations as quickly as possible?_
As Lt. Governor, I stood at the side of two different governors during four hurricanes, so I understand the importance of returning as soon as possible. My administration will make sure that as soon as the city is safe, small business owners and employees will be able to return. Our residents rely on the services provided by small businesses, and their early re-entry will aid the return of everyone else.
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*Submitted by: James Perry*
_1. Have you ever owned or managed a small business? Please describe._
I currently serve as the Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. My organization is dedicated to promoting civil rights and community development throughout the greater New Orleans by providing education and homeowner protection services, investigation and enforcement activities. As the CEO, I effectively manage the organization’s approximately million dollar budget, coordinate and allocated funding from public and private sources, manage personnel and direct activities in multiple departments. As a business manager, I have been successful in running an operation that provides critical housing, legal and community development services to the people of New Orleans.
_2. What are the three greatest challenges facing local businesses (both start–‐ups and established) that the mayor can affect? How would you respond to these challenges?_
The challenges for small businesses include (1) infrastructure, (2) workforce development, and (3) access to financing. However, the first priority must be to reduce crime in order to improve the public perception of New Orleans and encourage greater investment and consumer spending. As Mayor, my comprehensive infrastructure plan will pair pavement and utility management with neighborhood economic development goals. By coordinating workforce development organizations with the needs of local business we can attract and retain a skilled workforce. Business incubator programs can reduce capital costs and business enterprise zones will use tax incentive for businesses to grow in New Orleans.
_3. Economic development\ money and tax incentives seem to be focused on attracting larger businesses to our area rather than retaining and growing our local businesses. What changes would you make to address this inequality?_
Large businesses can be beneficial to our economy, but we must be careful not to overly subsidize them. As Mayor, tax incentives will be carefully considered so that our investment in large industries will work to further the development of our small business community. I will establish a review process for tax subsidies that considers impact on local businesses. As Mayor I will make sure that TIF proposals are connected to local planning goals and set out specific processes for evaluating and approving TIF proposals, including opportunities for small business to develop in or nearby TIF districts.
_4. Barriers such as high insurance requirements prevent many small businesses from doing business with the city. How would you allow more small businesses into the city purchasing process?_
The first step in improving opportunities for small business to compete for city contracts is to reform the contract selection process. As Mayor, I will a implement competitive selection process that requires advertizing contracting opportunities widely and with sufficient lead time for small businesses; eliminates ambiguity in RFPs and backroom dealing; provides objective selection criteria; requires diversity in the composition of evaluation teams; requires transparency and review during public meetings; and give priority for minority and women-owned and locally businesses.
_5. How would you address the issues faced by existing local businesses located in the footprint of the LSU/VA hospital complex?_
Developing the biomedical industries will provide cutting edge health services and medical teaching facilities while creating opportunities for small businesses and thousands of jobs for residents. I prefer the Foundation for Historic Louisiana’s plan. The plan includes a state of the art renovation of the Charity Hospital. We would be able to have all the jobs and economic development that come with the LSU plan, while saving the historic Mid-City neighborhood and all the small businesses in its footprint. If the Foundation for Historic Louisiana plan failed to go forward, I would advocate for fair compensation and grants for businesses that were forced to relocate.
_6. Local business owners are often frustrated by lost time and revenue due to delays or errors when dealing with city government. How would you make City Hall more efficient and responsive to the unique needs of small business owners?_
As Mayor I will be engaged with the competent administration of our city government and will set a model for all employees. Personnel need to be given training that creates a competent and service-oriented environment. My administration will work with the Civil Service department to develop a personnel policy that includes training and review process of employees, and department heads will be tasked with the responsibility of sending their employees for such training. I will establish a small business liaison in the Office of Economic Development so that small business can have a direct contact at City Hall.
_7. What are the most important ways the “Buy Local” concept can strengthen our community? And in your role as mayor, how will you support this concept?_
Our small businesses are not only an important economic driver, they form the backbone of our city’s culture and authenticity. Buying local allows us to preserve our unique heritage, support the local economy, promote local decision making and keep more dollars in the community, which generates even greater economic development. I will support the buy local concept through collaborations with the city offices of tourism and economic development and community development organizations to market and promote our local businesses.
_8. Describe your views regarding Redevelopment Agencies, including whether or not you support them. If so, what is the major function of NORA as it relates to the local economy?_
As a housing policy expert, I am very familiar with the role redevelopment agencies can play in eradicating blight and rebuilding our neighborhoods. Their efforts can be beneficial, as they work in close coordination with local residents and community organizations. As Mayor, I will direct city housing officials to work cooperatively with NORA in devising a coordinated strategy to eradicate blight, protect property owners and build our economy. NORA recently received major funding from the federal government, and should ensure that those funds stay in the community by using them to finance local businesses and property development initiatives.
_9. Are there specific areas of the city in which local, independent businesses face particularly difficult challenges, and how will you go about prioritizing and dealing with these issues_
As Mayor I will develop and implement a coordinated strategy for economic development that includes disadvantaged businesses and underdeveloped areas of the city. Through carefully planned business enterprise zones and TIF districts, which will include small and local businesses, we can begin to attract new development to underserved areas. We will look for existing assets in communities, and develop programs to add value to the businesses present there. These economic development plans will be closely coordinated with our comprehensive infrastructure maintenance plans so that city services will go hand in hand with business development.
_10. What steps would you take to ensure that after mandatory evacuations, small business owners could re–‐enter the city and resume business operations as quickly as possible?_
An effective business re-entry program is essential to repopulating our communities, providing basic services, and protecting our economy. The first step toward a successful re-entry plan will be to improve awareness among the business community about the tiered re-entry program. As Mayor I will direct the Office of Emergency Preparedness to conduct outreach programs for local businesses to increase participation in the program. I will also direct the relevant city agencies to consider expanding the criteria for Tier 3 so that more of our local business can benefit from the program and provide their services for our city.
As mayor, I will make sure the city takes advantage of each neighborhood’s assets to rebuild our economy.
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