Wetland Resources LLC wants to create sustainable, long-lasting storm protection for Louisiana cities through large-scale planting of cypress forests.
That idea won the fifth annual Water Challenge business pitch competition.
The challenge, sponsored by Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Idea Village, was held Monday at the Chicory as part of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.
Wetland Resources took home the $10,000 prize. The company’s pitch also was named the Audience Favorite and picked up a $500 award.
The competition sought high-potential entrepreneurial solutions for wetland and marshland restoration, storm protection and rain harvesting.
The solution is the product of 20 years of research by Wetland Resources co-founders Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas.
Wetland Resources’ goal is to plant and protect 1 million trees in the next decade, through swamp restoration and the planting of cypress swamps around every municipality in southeast Louisiana.
The result will be hurricane protection for all neighborhoods in coastal Louisiana, benefiting insurance companies, creating jobs through massive plantings and increasing safety for people, plants and animals over the course of the trees’ 1,000-year lifespan.
Ella Delio, director of environmental and regional initiatives at the Greater New Orleans Foundation, said Propeller did a good job of attracting a broad audience to help solve environmental challenges. “What we learned at the Water Challenge is that it’s going to take all of us — businesses, nonprofits, policymakers and artists — to tackle our water issues innovatively and effectively,” Delio said.
Separately in a crowd-sourced civic design competition, three artists pitched their ideas for a public art installation to engage New Orleanians around the challenges the city faces living with water. “Turning” by Michel Varisco was selected by an audience vote, winning $25,000 in project funding, provided by Arts Council New Orleans, to install a project design on the new Lafitte Greenway. “Turning” will include a trio of interactive cylinders incorporating sound, mosaic renderings of the Mississippi River and electro-luminescent panels.