On the heels of the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin came to New York Friday to encourage economic investment to revitalize the damaged Gulf Coast city.
Mayor Nagin launched the New Orleans Economic Development appeal to update New Yorkers on the progress of rebuilding efforts and present opportunities for investment and redevelopment of the city.
Before the hurricane, New Orleans was a vibrant cultural center known for its Cajun cuisine and jazz music. Each year, millions of visitors from around the world descended upon the city to participate in Mardi Gras festivities. Katrina devastated New Orleans' economy and tourist industry, but Nagin says progress can be seen one year later.
"We are rebuilding our city with the use of technology to create efficient and organized government, a more creative hospitality industry and a world class local and national business opportunities," said Mr. Nagin. "And as part of our economic development rebirth, we've been focused on identifying and obtaining financial assistance for New Orleans businesses so that most businesses that were lost can rebuild and can rebuild quickly."
Nagin says New Orleans is poised to transform itself and offers opportunity for those willing to invest in the city.
"In my opinion, New Orleans is at a tipping point," he added. "We are about to see billions and billions of dollars flow into our city. We are about to see most of citizens come back to our city. They are struggling to come back, but they are determined to come back even better and stronger and as those billions of dollars flow into our city, that is why we want all business owners around the world to consider New Orleans and also for new business owners to expand and invest in our wonderful city."
Nagin highlighted New Orleans' economic importance as the fourth largest port in the world and said 25 percent of gas and oil that supplies the United States comes through it.
Nagin recently came under fire from some New Yorkers for his comment in a television interview in which he called Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attack in 2001, a hole in the ground. He says he regrets his choice of words and he is looking forward to forging a partnership with New York.
"I want to make sure that everyone in New York understands I love New York City, I've been here on many occasions and I think that we as New Orleanians and New Yorkers understand what tragedy is all about," he said. "And we understand the difficulty in trying to recover from a tragedy."
Nagin says New York's 9/11 experience and its prominence as the media and economic capital of the world, make it the appropriate place to launch an appeal.