NOLA 300 Forum for Progress and Prosperity

The Data Center, in partnership with the New Orleans Business Alliance, is hosting a Forum to explore The Data Center’s most recent reports, The New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Edition and The Tricentennial Collection.

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This one-day conference will bring together individuals from the public and private sector, including business leaders, community leaders, policymakers, decisionmakers, and scholars to learn more about the data and implications of The Data Center’s newest report. Through focused breakout sessions, we hope to bring together a diverse cross-section of New Orleans to discuss key findings behind the research and inform development of actionable recommendations that address systems contributing to disparities in New Orleans. It is our hope that the NOLA 300 Forum for Progress and Prosperity in New Orleans is a step forward on the road to building a city that harnesses an understanding of its own history and its long culture of innovation to create an inclusive and prosperous region that inspires an increasingly diverse nation to its true potential.


Schedule of Events

8:00 am – 10:00 am

Executive Session hosted by New Orleans Business Alliance (by invitation only)

Welcome by W.K. Kellogg Foundation

21st Century Economic Development

Competitiveness through an Inclusive Economy

10:00 am – 3:00 pm


10:30 am – 12:00 pm

General Plenary Session


New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Edition

As minority groups make up larger and larger shares of the workforce, economic success is dependent upon both the ability of all racial and ethnic groups to be performing at their utmost potential and an environment that provides fertile ground for realizing this potential. The city of New Orleans itself has been “majority minority” for several decades, and the number of African Americans and Hispanics in St.Tammany, Jefferson, and St. Bernard parishes surrounding New Orleans is growing fast. As the city of New Orleans completes her 300th year, the tricentennial is an important moment to assess our progress on inclusive growth. Certainly, only in the last 50 years have black New Orleanians had the possibility of becoming part of the city’s economic mainstream. The New Orleans Prosperity Index asks the question: Have black New Orleanians experienced increased economic inclusion since the end of the Civil Rights era (roughly 1968)?

How New Orleans Wins with a More Inclusive Economy

The Value of an Inclusive Economy

Inclusive growth remains the exception rather than the rule in most of America’s metropolitan areas. Local communities will have a better chance of addressing today’s defining economic challenge if it is reframed as one affecting both employers and workers. His report, “Opportunity for growth: How reducing barriers to economic inclusion can benefit workers, firms, and local economies,” explores the connection between economic inclusion and growth in U.S. metro areas, the implications for businesses and workers, and how regional economic strategies can eliminate barriers that are hindering inclusive growth.

Closing Remarks by W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Christy Wallace Slater, Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

12:00 Noon – 3:00 pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Go in-depth on topics discussed during the General Plenary and go beyond the data in the New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Edition through this series of twelve sessions within four concurrent tracks, one session each hour. These sessions will feature local scholars presenting their research published in the New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection. Additional sessions will cover ​the work of ​local scholars ​who will provide a glance at the data behind upcoming Tricentennial Collection papers to be released in the Summer of 2018. You will also hear from W.K. Kellogg Foundation as they premiere their report, The Business Case for Racial Equity, at the NOLA 300 Forum for Progress and Prosperity.  You can also join the New Orleans Business Alliance who will host conversations with policy leaders and business leaders discussing best practice approaches to workforce development and partnerships that will grow both traded clusters and local serving industries in New Orleans.

Track 1: New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection Series

12:15 pm | “Fighting for Inclusion: Blacks Continual Struggle for Citizenship Rights”

The fight for civil rights has been continuous throughout New Orleans’ history. Black New Orleanians have long struggled for the same basic rights and opportunities that most whites take for granted. This protest tradition continued from one generation to another, although at times intense opposition caused it to seem dormant. Generally, periods of activism were followed by lulls as the mood alternated between optimism and despair. This brief examines the array of actions taken by black New Orleanians to achieve equal rights, including lawsuits, organizing, voting, and building broad-based coalitions. All of these tactics are being used today as African Americans in New Orleans continue the struggle for full inclusion and equal rights.


1:15 pm | “Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk”

New Orleans history and culture is rooted in a unique sense of place. Yet, beneath a shared sense of tradition and culture lies another reality marked by separation, privilege, and disadvantage. The historical and contemporary dividing lines in New Orleans, like in most American cities, fall along categories of black and white, race and ethnicity. Gaining an understanding of the history of neighborhood segregation in New Orleans is essential to appreciating contemporary racial disparities in wealth, access to opportunity, and vulnerability to disaster risk.


2:15 pm | Education for New Orleans

Join authors, Kyshun Webster and Brian Beabout, who will be discussing upcoming research to be published in the Summer of 2018 as a part of the New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection.


Track 2: New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection Series

12:15 pm | “From Bondage to Bail Bonds: Putting a Price on Freedom”

How did the United States become the only common law country in the world to employ a system of commercial bail bonding? The earliest Louisiana Constitution provided a right to bail, understood as release on a promise to pay if one did not return to face charges…without having to pay up front. This brief describes bail across the city’s 300-year history and how it morphed to the present-day system of money bail. It then explains the processes and costs of modern money bail. Finally, it offers models from jurisdictions that have rejected money-based detention as inconsistent with the core principle of innocent until proven guilty.


1:15 pm | “The Impact of 300 Years of Jail Conditions”

Beginning from the first incarnation of Orleans Parish Prison in 1721 by Bienville at Jackson Square to its current iteration under federal court supervision, the form and function of the jail has changed. Written accounts from the 1800s to present describe dangerous, unsanitary, and torturous conditions for Orleans parish detainees. As recently as 2013, Judge Africk described the conditions in the jail as “an indelible stain on the community.”  Unearthing the history of the New Orleans jail and its relationship with the city, this essay discusses new solutions that include the voices of the impacted communities.


2:15 pm | “Advancing Health Equity: Building on Positive Change in Health”

Health equity cannot be achieved until there are deliberate and sustained efforts to address the root causes of inequities. This brief explores some of the historical roots of health inequities in New Orleans, from lack of access to health care, to poorer quality of care, and to factors such as housing, exposure to toxins, and poor job opportunities. City leaders and advocates can begin to close the gaps caused by historical inequality and build pathways of opportunity to optimal health and well-being for all people who call New Orleans home.


Track 3: New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection Series

12:15 pm | Reframing the Conversation in the New Orleans Restaurant Industry

Join author, Zella Palmer, who will be discussing her upcoming research to be published in the Summer of 2018 as a part of the New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection.


1:15 pm | “Business Case for Racial Equity – Strategies for Growth”

By 2050, more than half the population, workforce and consumers in the eight-county Metro New Orleans area will be people of color. And, metro New Orleans stands to realize a $43 billion gain in economic output by closing the racial equity gap. This means lessening, and ultimately eliminating, disparities and opportunity differentials that limit the human potential and economic contributions of people of color. Businesses and organizations that leverage the demographic shifts by recruiting, retaining and investing in the talents of people of color will secure a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Join us to learn more about this new study and what you can do to take action.


2:15 pm | Office Hours! The Data Center New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Edition

The New Orleans Prosperity Index has over 24 different metrics covering income and wages, employment, housing, democracy, health, education, and criminal justice. If you have questions about the data or want to learn more about The Data Center’s most recent research report, bring your question to this Q & A session with the authors.


Track 4: 21st Century Economic Development hosted by the New Orleans Business Alliance

12:15 pm | Talking Talent: Activating Our people, Securing Our future

Preparing and connecting a skilled and ready workforce is necessary to meet local employers’ 21st century needs. Hear from employers in green infrastructure, manufacturing and technology about their efforts to prepare and advance local residents in high-growth, high-wage industry sectors.


1:15 pm | Entrepreneurs of Color: The Untapped Market in New Orleans

Join author, Andrea Chen, who will be discussing upcoming research to be published in the Summer of 2018 as a part of the New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection.


2:15 pm | Partnerships as a Path to Inclusive Growth: A Case Study in Green Infrastructure

Inclusive growth is essential to economic competitiveness in the 21st century and requires new partnerships for New Orleans’ economy to compete globally. Hear from leaders and presenters who will share the benefits of a mentor-protege model and how their partnership is helping to position New Orleans in a global knowledge economy, enhancing the city’s ability to export expertise in green infrastructure.