Introducing NOLAbound: a new program to augment entrepreneurial growth in New Orleans

Over the past few years, New Orleans has been receiving a lot of national recognition and it hasn’t been about Hurricane Katrina or Bourbon Street. It’s been focused around our growing businesses, high-ranked business environment, bourgeoning industries, and entrepreneurship.

Even with all the positive press and high placements on several national lists, one wonders how effective it has been in recruiting more entrepreneurs and proactive individuals to New Orleans, and exactly how many people we have seen migrating into the city as a result. Of course, we are proud and appreciate the praise and positive reviews, as well as the feedback. However, how can we continue to create awareness about the opportunities in New Orleans and further enlist relocation here?

Three local organizations at the forefront of economic development and entrepreneurship have come together to create a more proactive approach to give individuals the opportunity to experience for themselves everything New Orleans has to offer young professionals.

NOLAbound, a collaborative effort of GNO, Inc, the Downtown Development District, and the Idea Village, is a program that will offer 25 entrepreneurs, innovators, and professionals with broad networks from across the country an all-expenses paid experience in New Orleans. As part of the unique program, the recruits will document, share and broadcast their experience in New Orleans to their social networks, focusing on entrepreneurship within four sectors specifically: technology, bioscience, sustainable, and arts-based industries.

“We continue to hear from visiting professionals that they are surprised and impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit that has developed in New Orleans in recent years,” said Curry W. Smith, a spokesperson for NOLAbound.  “NOLAbound is our unique way of showing the rest of the world how innovative New Orleans has become.  By selecting 25 individuals to witness our progress for themselves, we are asking them to help us reach thousands more with the true story of the ‘new’ New Orleans.”

With a mission to endorse and promote the entrepreneurial movement and progressive thinking in New Orleans, the program will take place from Wednesday, March 14 to Sunday, March 18, 2012, perfectly timed to coincide with the fourth annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. The invited participants will receive free airfare, ground transportation, meals, room and board, and will have access to several New Orleans Entrepreneur Week events. The NOLAbound invitees will also have the opportunity to meet with leaders in the city’s growing arts, biosciences, digital, and sustainable sectors, be granted VIP access to select activities in the city, and will be encouraged to experience the unique neighborhoods, people, and culture of New Orleans.

Besides asking each participant to assess New Orleans and share his or her experiences with their networks through the NOLAbound website, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, and/or personal blogs, the program will be chronicled on video as part of a documentary feature film. Set to debut next fall, the film will highlight New Orleans as an emerging entrepreneurial and multi-industry hub. One of the participants will also be selected by NOLAbound followers, based on who best represents New Orleans with their impressions of the city, to return in October 2012 for the world premiere of the film.

The goal is to minimize misconceptions about New Orleans and help evaluate and spread the word about the city’s status as a center of new business progress and thinking, by giving visitors from around the country a unique opportunity to experience a part of New Orleans that visitors and tourists don’t have access to.

With the documentary as its key deliverable, the NOLAbound program is designed to solidify why New Orleans was recently named America’s “#1 Brain Magnet” by Forbes and chosen as the “Coolest Startup City in America” by, and further prove that New Orleans is indeed one of the best places to live, work, and play.

The application period for NOLAbound begins today, Thursday, November 17, and continues through Friday, December 16.  Candidates can apply online at, and follow on twitter and Facebook for updates on the program.