Eight students, staff, and faculty worked on two planning and policy projects for the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations (LANO). LANO is the statewide advocacy group for the nonprofit sector in Louisiana. Besides lobbying on behalf of the entire sector at the State House in Baton Rouge, LANO operates regional satellite offices including one in New Orleans. Given the vacuum of local leadership in post-disaster New Orleans, LANO has stepped in as a key civic leader in helping to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations in the recovery effort. Our HBS Immersion team completed two projects for the New Orleans office.
The first project involved developing a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Handbook for local neighborhoods in New Orleans. CBAs are designed to bring transparency to negotiations between the community and corporations/developers on securing compensatory benefits such as committing to hiring a certain percentage of workers from the local area, contributing to affordable home ownership funds, and supporting other community programs. The handbook was designed to help communities approach negotiations more strategically and proactively and to take a holistic, win-win perspective of development as opposed to an us-them mentality. Specifically, the group used this framework to provide analytical support for a time-sensitive CBA being negotiated with Home Depot by a coalition of neighborhood groups. We hope the Home Depot work and the handbook will have lasting impact as more developments happen across the city of New Orleans.
The second project focused on performing a business inventory of Oretha Castle Haley (O.C. Haley) Boulevard, a blighted 10-block corridor in Central City New Orleans with a rich cultural and historical importance as the “Black Canal Street.” O.C. Haley was recently awarded National Main Streets designation as only 1 of 4 areas in New Orleans recognized as an important historic corridor worthy of revitalization efforts. We interviewed 24 businesses/organizations with storefronts along the corridor, identified needs and aspirations, synthesized themes, and recommended next steps. We hope that this initial overview and analysis for O.C. Haley will be a helpful foundation for its revitalization. The unfolding of O.C. Haley’s revitalization has the potential to be a model for incipient neighborhood revitalization efforts across the city.
The success of our time in New Orleans was primarily due to being connected with community partners that have the political and civic capital to connect us with the appropriate resources and contacts and to actually carry this work forward after our departure. We look forward to seeing the future impact of our work!