New Orleans has the tools to build a bioinnovation and health-services sector that can compete with others across the country, but it needs a community of support to put the various pieces together in a way that will be sustainable in the long term, New Orleans Business Alliance CEO Rod Miller told a group of civic and business leaders last week.

Miller said the growing local health-services infrastructure, the diversity of research going on in the city and the teaching capacity that exists all point toward a strong bio-sector.

“We’re excited about where the bio-space is going,” he said. “The question is, ‘Can we be successful?’ ”

What any business cluster needs, Miller said, is an “integrated economic development system.”

“There needs to be the connecting of the dots,” he said.

While hospitals work on their primary goal of delivering care and start-up companies seek to produce the next important medical device, there need to be people working together to provide connections to capital or workforce solutions, for instance, Miller said. He challenged the representatives from business, civic and educational institutions to partner with his organization in providing that support.

Miller offered the assessment during an update on the Business Alliance’s effort to grow the bioinnovation and health-services sector in New Orleans.

The sector is one of five key business clusters the economic development organization vowed to develop when it introduced its “Prosperity NOLA” economic growth plan for the city last year.

The five-year strategic plan aims to bring local government, businesses and universities together to create high-paying jobs in New Orleans outside well-established industries like tourism.

Miller offered his comments on bioinnovation in remarks at the Pan American Life Center exactly one year after the initiative was announced.

The Business Alliance spent the past year talking with other cities and healthcare organizations about best practices, in an attempt to draw up a road map for how to grow the industry, he said.

“We’re really excited about this sector because we believe it has the greatest gamut of possibilities,” Miller said.