I don’t know if it’s just me (and I don’t think it is), but it really feels like the #NOLATech scene is standing at the threshold of greatness. These are exciting times that have people all over the world talking about what this vibrant city has to offer. While growing up in New Orleans, all my friends and I heard about was the “Brain Drain” — get educated here, then leave for a “big city.” For decades, this was actually the goal of many, because they either felt it was necessary for their success, or because they thought staying wasn’t even an option. Just a few days ago, I overheard a conversation that shows a shift in that thinking.
While checking-out at a local hotspot for clothing (considered the pearl of Uptown by many), I overheard an exchange by two high school friends who, I could tell, hadn’t seen each other in awhile. Pleasantries turned into congratulations when one informed the other of his new job that he’d be starting in the next few weeks. But, when the newly-hired friend informed his former classmate that the job was in Houston, the friend’s face went from excited to visibly disappointed. In a strange twist, the friend began to console his relocating buddy, as though he had just been fired, rather than accepting an apparent promotion.
The entire mindset of our city is changing. The thinking has shifted. It’s starting to feel like people are expecting greatness now. We’re planning how to sustain and grow our success, rather than simply how to create it. While that may only seem to be an insignificant change (or not one at all), this is actually a huge milestone in our city’s long and admirable progression. Likewise, many people outside of the city are taking note of this new mindset.
The NOLATech community is one of the arenas that is starting to garner national attention. Over the weekend, UNO played host to the @CodeMKRS Music Marathon. The 24-hour hackathon centered around local developers and creatives coming together to create music-themed digital applications. Some teams focused on local music products (such as a Jazz Fest-themed app that helped you find your friends’ flags), while others focused on the music industry as a whole (such as a website that recommends music based on your favorite bands — it tells you all sorts of info on recommended artists, from the band’s website to where you can find their next gig). While technically the hackathon was a competition (and I know this is completely cliché), the city was truly the winner of this contest.
Every successful event the NOLATech community holds is proof that we’d make a great home for any developer, designer, or even for a major tech company looking to relocate (which is crucial to helping us get to the next level). As we continue to come together as one cohesive community, we’re able to help each other grow stronger than any one of us could possibly do alone. This cohesion is key, which is why Lanyap Creative plans to follow the examples of @FrankGruber, @noreaster, @skeevis, and @thorpus of the immensely successful #DCTECH community. Their tremendous success will not only teach us, it will also help us to continue moving our community forward.
We are already advancing, as there are so many ways to mix it up with the NOLATech community right now: Nola Meetup, GNO Code Meetup, and all things CodeMKRS to name just a few. But this is just the beginning. We all need to keep pulling our weight and building a home that we can all point to and call the #NOLATech Community. Let’s cross that incredible threshold and create the “Brain Gain.”
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