Imagine this: By 2025, it’s estimated that 10 percent of the world’s GDP growth will come from large and middleweight cities in America of which New Orleans is a part. The chase for good jobs is the war of the future.

One crucial element in this chase will be the fact that thriving communities will be those that are driven by a local belief system that allows its community to respond and adapt to threats that may affect its ability to compete economically.

Said another way, vibrant communities stand for something; they have ideals and a reason to exist, no matter what the circumstances they face. Here is the thing, whether negative or positive, the way a community views itself has an impact on the psyche of the community and sets the stage as to how the city is perceived by critics and onlookers.

Whether right or wrong, this can affect the direction of economic growth in a positive or negative direction.

No one can argue the outstanding assets that exist in the city. There are far too many to list here. However, out of all the assets that are present, the city’s authentic sense of place and culture is a “competitive advantage” that is matched by no other city in America or maybe the world. Any aspect or negative issue that disrupts this advantage should be challenged vigorously by the citizens of New Orleans.

It’s a civic responsibility for everyone. One thing that is certain, cities become irrelevant when they can no longer attract people, investment and industry, and they risk facing anonymity if they fail to piece together a community narrative that propels excitement, interest and opportunity while maximizing their competitive advantages.

The challenge facing New Orleans is protecting its competitive advantages and standing for ideals that do not allow negative acts within the community to derail the possibilities for New Orleans. The city and the region have too much to offer.

Dr. Eric Johnson

Urban regeneration strategist

New Orleans