By Sean Cockerham, McClatchy Newspapers, July 16, 2012
NEW ORLEANS — [.....] many residents say New Orleans is a better place to live now than even before the devastating flood. There is a surge in entrepreneurship, with newcomers and native New Orleanians launching tech startups and other new businesses, saying there’s a spirit of creativity and possibility the hidebound city lacked before the storm. The traditional, clubby networks that ran the city were broken up by the disaster, said Tim Williamson, who runs a group that helps entrepreneurs attract investors. Everyone had to start over, he said, and that demanded ingenuity and risk taking.
“New Orleans became a startup city,” Williamson said.
The Brookings Institution reports entrepreneurial activity in New Orleans at 40 percent above the national average, with an average of 450 out of 100,000 adults starting businesses each year. That is nearly double the rate it was before the hurricane.
The city has become a magnet, in defiance of those who forecasted its downfall. New Orleans grew faster than any major U.S. city in the 15 months following the 2010 Census, the latest figures available [.....]
Not all New Orleanians benefit from the city’s renaissance. It is a different city for the very poor. Much of the Lower 9th Ward, a low-income African-American neighborhood hit the hardest by the storm, remains blighted [.....]
New Orleans has the highest per-capita murder rate in the country, with killings concentrated in the city’s poorer neighborhoods. The city is still sick from the storm. An estimated one out of every four homes in New Orleans remains vacant [.....]