April 4, 2014 2:15 PM
Students, activists and entrepreneurs gathered at the Goldie & Morris Mintz Center for Jewish Life on Thursday (April 3) for the latest session of “The Big Issue,” a debate series designed by Tulane Hillel to promote dialogue about issues facing New Orleans. The panel on “New Orleans 2.0: Fact or Fiction?” of five members discussed recent questions about the authenticity of post-Katrina economic growth within the city.
Gregory Rusovich, CEO of Transoceanic Trading and Development Company, explained that grassroots movements have motivated successes that would have been impossible 15 years ago.
“Katrina was a big turning point for the city,” said Gordon Russell, managing editor, investigations, of The New Orleans Advocate. Russell explained that the same storm that destroyed much of the city led to unprecedented reform; however, he is less optimistic about the longevity of these changes.
Rodrick Miller, president and CEO of New Orleans Business Alliance, pointed out that all numbers indicate progress, yet racial disparities remain prevalent.
“The answer to a lot of our social woes depends on jobs,” he said. Before lasting equality is achieved, Miller believes that quality job training, financial literacy programs and employer-driven community outreach are musts. “We face some tremendous challenges,” acknowledged Miller.
Andrea Chen, executive director of Propeller, said, “When entrepreneurs are making things happen, I call that lasting reality.” Chen cited financial results and success of collaborative organizations as evidence of growth.
“The things that we know and love about New Orleans are rooted in the people,” added Jeff Schwartz, executive director for Broad Community Connections.
Jamie Logan is a first-year Newcomb/Tulane College student.
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