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A JPSO deputy assists with traffic at the departures area on the first day of the new terminal at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, La. Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.

Nov. 5 marked the beginning of a new era for New Orleans and Louis Armstrong International Airport. As political, business and civic leaders noted, the ribbon-cutting for the beautiful, new terminal demonstrated just a taste of what, collectively, Louisianans can accomplish when we work together and innovatively across parish boundaries, political ideology, race, class and other categories that too often distract us from those things that bind us.

I am not naïve in thinking that a new terminal will solve all of the challenges facing the New Orleans region, particularly those related to accelerating economic growth and doing so in a manner that elevates the economic security of all residents. But, it is another important step in a journey of many.

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In partnership with the City of New Orleans, the New Orleans City Council, businesses, higher education institutions and so many other engaged community stakeholders, the Business Alliance works every day to more rapidly reimagine economic development so economic growth touches more New Orleanians in their daily lives where they live, work and dream. 

Recently, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Louisiana Economic Development and the Business Alliance announced the expansion of three bioinnovation companies that grew from the imaginations of New Orleanians and were incubated at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center. Over the next five years, the companies will create over 135 direct jobs with combined $9 million annual payroll and another 143 indirect jobs for our community.

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These three companies, AxoSim, Cadex Genomics and Obatala Sciences, could have chosen to grow anywhere in the world. Just because they were birthed here, their leaders were under no obligation to remain here and grow here.

As entrepreneurs with shareholders, they are obligated to pursue growth, where it will be most profitable. In fact, these entrepreneurs, Lowry Curley, William Edward Haack and Trivia Frazier, are being courted by cities across the globe to relocate and grow their companies, payrolls and dreams away from our city.

Yet these three bioinnovation entrepreneurs, and so many others leading local knowledge sector companies like LevelSet, inXile, Torsh, iSeatz and Lucid, have given our city a vote of confidence. They voted for our city realizing a lot of work remains to be done to address talent and workforce development, infrastructure, and our risk capital ecosystem; to build robust local angel networks and counter nagging perception challenges about our city’s receptivity to business beyond the tourism industry.

Through pioneering research generating state of the art technologies, AxoSim, Cadex Genomics and Obatala Sciences are creating clinical research tools and processes that help drug companies and physicians improve treatments for conditions ranging from the neurological, oncological, and chronic ones like diabetes.

As we enjoy our beautiful new airport terminal, let’s celebrate the “beautiful minds” who created three wonderful companies that are creating jobs locally and helping to save lives locally, nationally and globally. 

Quentin L. Messer, Jr.

president and CEO, New Orleans Business Alliance

New Orleans