Wiki Assignment 11/16-11/30


Start comments on the white paper here —- Ralph

"Louisiana has the assets and resources to surpass other states’ innovation efforts." This is found on page 7.

I would like to see some evidence that proves we have more assets and resources than Texas for one. T. Boone Pickens may just have more assets and resources than we do. I know that is probably not true, but aside from the research efforts of LSU and Tulane on Hurricane's, Marsh Lands, and the Mississippi river, along with Medical Research what else do we have that trumps Texas for one? (JJ Rassier)

I agree and I like your comment JJ about the quote describing Lousiana's potential. I alos think that we definitely need to have a list of the specific assets and resources that Lousiana has and the other states don't so that they can be used as a differential competitive advantage to bring in the talented researchers and entrepreneurs that the state is in desperate need of. Having said this, I also think that this quote was just meant as a mind booster, just like we could say that "we all in class have the assets and resources to be the new T.Boone Pickens" but that does not mean that we will be able to do that! —- (Hakima)

"Innovations are defined in this white paper as creative ideas implemented in practical
ways that generate wealth or social value." Page 9. Interesting Definition; (JJ Rassier)

"These statistics show that incomes in Louisiana are relatively low compared with other states, meaning
Louisiana citizens have lower quality of life than those in other states. These lower
wages also make it more attractive for our citizens to leave Louisiana for other states
where wages are higher and communities wealthier." Page 10.

Louisiana is one of the stickiest states meaning that only a natural disaster can get its citizens to pick up and move anywhere else. The author is trying to draw a correllation between income and quality of life. I can say that I have seen proof that Louisiana is an exception to this rule; I draw upon the strength of Louisiana's culture as the glue that keeps its citizens here despite the low levels of income. As long as food, music, dancing, laughing, parades and parties remain relatively cheap, these people I've met " Ain't goin no-where's". One point for Louisiana. Bring these people some strong jobs related to innovation based manufacturing. In other words get control over the corruption. (JJ Rassier)

JJ, ever heard the expression: “no money – no honey.” Simply translated, without jobs this city is not sustainable. When I first moved to NOLA, I felt there wasn’t a reason to leave this city. But then reality unfortunately crept in as I began my internship search. Fortunately I was able to find a great spot, but many of our classmates, who did want to stay didn’t. No jobs – No sustainable future. (Artist who’s name begins with the letter P)

I like that they separate research for innovations and the commercialization of innovations - seems in line with what the BioInnovation Center is saying by recruiting MBA interns to look at the business side. With more innovators and thus, a greater need for commercializing the innovations, then more jobs can be created for educated professionals (that are not lawyers or doctors). In other words, Tulane MBA's might be able to find more jobs locally! Also could be another step to bridging the gap between service industry salaries and 100k+ salaries. (Rachael Kansas)

I am not from here so i know little of the stickiness of the state. But I am sure of one thing, and agree with Rachael, without jobs for educated professionals, the state will lose tremendous innovative potential. The Education levels and skilled workforce are there but if the jobs are not people will have to leave. I am sure that if jobs are attracted wealth and higher salleries will follow. Beside that the level of purchasing power must be taken in to consideration as well when analyzing wages. (Bue Tidemann)

This makes me think about which comes first, the chicken or the egg? creative or high skilled jobs do not come to Louisiana because of the scarcity of potential employees (in terms of education), and paradoxically, no special attention was put into enhancing the educational level because of the lack of job offers for educated professionals. I think that the first step is to enhance the educational level at elementary and high-schools and then simultaneously promote companies to establish in Louisiana and provide the resources for high level college education.

In reference to that point, I attended today's TEDxTU conference, and Matt Candler, co-founder of New Schools for New Orleans, talked about the payoffs for the commitment of organizations such as NSNO, dedicated to achieving excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans, or Closing the NOLA Gap who work to close the achievement gap in New Orleans public schools, that have contributed to make New Orleans the new capital of reform school. Despite that, I gladly see that organizations are not mesmerized by the goals achieved but understand that there's a long path to walk and that is a key element to continue struggling and demanding more from the society and government. (Adrian Lopez)

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants (pg 35 & 36) - seems ridiculous LA is not applying for more grants. If it really is just a numbers game, what is holding LA back from applying for more? What's the root of this problem? Are people unaware of this grant? Are they unaware that it is only a numbers game? Is anyone explaining this to the applicants? (Rachael Kansas)

Louisiana companies are not submitting enough proposals to win a proportional share of the awards. (page 36). I have the same concerns as Rachel does. In addition, the state of Louisiana should analyze why the tax credits it is providing to firms that win SBIR grants is not encouraging companies to submit more proposals. The state should consider the development of an alternative mechanism to persuade firms and individuals to submit a greater number of proposals. One option could be the funding of more research units in sectors such as health care, environmental technologies, life sciences, or other sectors with high-growth potential. (Sofia)

Two types of entrepreneurs: lifestyle & growth-oriented (pg 40) - but some lifestyle entrepreneurs will be so successful they will develop into growth-oriented. Wondering if places like Naked Pizza or Sucre know they want to expand rapidly from the beginning??? With success, couldn't a small company start thinking bigger and a new strategy could emerge?… Good that their recommendations include encouraging successful lifestyle entrepreneurs' to broaden their goals. (Rachael Kansas)

I like that in some aspects they split the stats among the different cities in Louisiana, but in some others the stats are generalized to the state level creating some bias. (Adrian Lopez)

I agree with Rachael, "lifestyle" entrepreneurs are unlikely to miss growth opportunities. I have seen cases in which lifestyle entrepreneurs eventually become very successful, to the point that they do not enjoy their new hectic lifestyle, but in those cases they pass the leadership to another family member (i.e. their children), or sell the company. In no case I have seen lifestyle entrepreneurs being complacent when the opportunity to grow is out there. (Adrian Lopez)

"A Study on academic entrepreneurs found that two thirds of academic entrepreneurs start their businesses in the same state as their university." (Page 25)

Clearly, this statement emphasizes what we have discussed in "How Breakthroughs Happen" in the sense that technology brokers always start by bridging from their own worlds onto other distant worlds. Meaning, that they need to leverage the expertise they have developed in their own worlds first. This implies an important point that Lousiana has to address: if high impact entrepreneurs perceive Lousiana as an unfriendly and corrupt environment for innovation they will simply 1) not consider LA as a starting point, and 2) not consider it as a potential bridging destination! Which means, that working to improve the academic, political, and economic environments in LA to make them more attractive to entrepreneurs will lead to 1) attract top researchers in entrepreneurship who will in turn 2) attract or be the business men and women that will drive innovation in LA. —- (Hakima)

“Focus K-12 and post-secondary education in Louisiana on the knowledge-based needs of an innovation-driven economy.” (Page 6). Improving the quality of the education system is a requirement for fostering innovation in Louisiana. This will not only help by expanding the pool of future researchers and entrepreneurs, but by creating a more attractive environment for out-of-state top researchers. To attract researchers from out-of-the-state, Louisiana needs to offer a high quality K-12 education system. Well educated people will analyze the city where they are planning to move to. One important factor they will consider is the quality of education that the city offers. Since they are highly educated, they will also look for a good education for their children. It will also be interesting to mention that schools should encourage students to participate in study abroad programs. These programs allow students to explore other “worlds”, and to learn how other people live their lives. These programs can help bring new ideas and inspire innovations. (Sofia)

I agree with this phrase: “Creative workers gravitate towards cities and regions with interesting cultural experiences and educational opportunities.” (page 14). In general, well educated people are more demanding in terms of what they look for in a city. A city that provides interesting cultural experiences might very attractive to many researchers, and this is something New Orleans does offer. The city needs to focus more on improving its education system. (Sofia)

Sofia, I partially agree with this phrase: “Creative workers gravitate towards cities and regions with interesting cultural experiences and educational opportunities.” (page 14). Has anybody had the opportunity to travel to Huntsville, Alabama. Aside from the wonderful Space Camp they provide to young adventurous middle-schoolers, there is not one bit of culture in that city. However, Huntsville is the 2nd largest Research Park in the U.S (after the Research Triangle in North Carolina) and 4th largest in the world. What you do find in Huntsville is top-notch education, some of the best in the state, and rank top in the nation. There was a comment made in this wiki about whether the chicken or the egg came first…who knows, but for the life cycle to remain sustainable you need both. (Artist who’s name begins with the letter P)

Considering Louisiana’s strategic location for energy companies, the state should consider funding research initiatives in this sector. In addition, an energy research institution could not only be sponsored by energy firms located in Louisiana, but by others companies from the Houston area. This could be an opportunity to increase the share of private funding, one of the state’s goals. (Sofia)

I agree with you Sofia. While expanding Louisiana's competencies past the energy sector is a wise goal, and while diversification is key for economic downturns, I don't see any harm in initially playing to the area's strengths. If we could start some research institutions here, we may be able to attain some level of success like Houston, and if one of the premises of the paper is to be believed, that innovations brought to market breed market and economic growth, then just having those energy institutions located in the area should spur non-energy related jobs, at least if the growth is managed correctly. I think the initial influx of money from the research institutions is key. Once that is secured, then LA can begin to diversify past that sector and not make the same mistake Russia did with its oil industry in just continually reinvesting all oil-based profits back into the same sector. Once oil prices fell, wealth there collapsed. If we reinvest energy-based profits into non-energy related endeavors, then I think LA would be well-positioned to compete with more technologically-based cities like Austin. -Patrick Brady

-Begin Guillermo-
I find it peculiar that this white paper focuses so much on university based research. Statements like "The state must develop a nationally-competitive public research university" scream at me: give more money to LSU! I would hate to break it to the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce but LSU is already Louisiana's flagship research (and athletic) University. While university research is important I think the notion of putting the state's eggs in one basket is really dangerous. Although it may be the most efficient, putting all research moneys or focus on a single university neglect development in other parts of the state. The State University System of New York has its research funding separated in that certain universities get funding for certain programs and not others. In Florida, which is an example noted in the paper as well, the State sought to bring private research investments away from established research hubs in Gainesville, Tallahassee and Miami by encouraging Scripps to establish themselves in Northern Palm Beach County near Florida Atlantic University's campus.

I disagree with the paper’s take on receiving Federal Government funding for research and development. IN a common theme from the paper Louisiana is compared in a vacuum to other states. It is unproductive to make such comparisons especially when making recommendations for future public policy. The state should take radical measures to address the R&D gap and not wait for federal monies or sponsorship. Louisiana should do what other states are too cheap to do, and invest heavily in domestic R&D. Pork barrel research projects skew the actual impact of Federal research money. Louisiana should “think outside” of the box when considering how to attract top talent and fill endowed chairs. Making statewide financial commitments to R&D will do more to attract talent than simply funding chairs. Now, throwing money at R&D and making commitments for R&D wont fix the problems afflicting the state but will demonstrate to academics, private enterprise and entrepreneurs the state means business.
-End Guillermo-

Of course I agree with Guillermo when you say that focusing too much on university based research, and especially in one university, is dangerous. On the other hand, we are here speaking of louisiana that does not seem to have enough money to fund many different organizations. Isn't it better to have all the money focused on R&D in one area, instead of putting very low amount of money in many different areas, in order to have good ROI in R&D? Also, if the state wants to be appealing to private research companies, and companies in general I think that focusing on one university that would be the R&D flagship for Louisiana and that could be in a good position in R&D in the USA may be a better way to demonstrate to companies that Louisiana could be a place for innovation, instead of having many different medium-level areas for R&D, that would not be up in the rankings of US R&D. - Camille -

What I feel really interesting in the paper is that it really tries to find solutions on how to bridge small worlds (by attracting researchers from others small worlds, investing in research infrastructure, developing a culture of entrepreneurship…). On the other hand, and as we had seen in "How breakthroughs happen", there is a second phase in innovation where you build on innovative idea and I think that this part really misses in the paper. In particular, as we had discussed in class before, NOLA seems to miss the core competencies needed when building: a large pool of educated people, managers, infrastructures and services to support the development of the companies, … - Camille-

I agree with Camille and Guillermo, it is important that the state funds and pushes research in universities, but if LA wants to really shift to an innovation based economy, they have to attract private r&d. Which takes us back to the issue of quality of life and how do you manage to attract companies to move their r&d operations to the state. University research is important because it is a source of qualified people, but there has to be more incentives for private corporations to set research centers in this state, incentives that justify a very long term investment. -Olcan-

Regarding what people have said about quality of life and its relation to the likability to attract high-growth companies and creative professionals to New Orleans, there are some studies carried out that show that creative professionals put much attention to infrastructure aspects such as adequate public transportation, maintenance of the streets, low crime rate, and so on, but as JJ said, New Orleans has something that makes people feel enamored. I think that it is very important to leverage on the many other aspects that characterize New Orleans that do not comprise Bourbon Street only. New Orleans must be promoted also as a fertile land for opportunities to a targeted audience of creative professionals and entrepreneurs. For example, the Louisiana Children's Museum at City Park is betting on that, promoting a cultural and learning space statewide and eventually nationwide that breaks the paradigm of New Orleans as a "sin city". Locals and current residents know that the city has much more to offer, so it it imperative to promote that to targeted audiences. (Adrian Lopez)

I completely agree with you Adrian, and I would also like to add the key role that Universities play on this sense by making students feel committed and engaged about the city, making them a part of it, and I say this because this semester, for example, we have had several projects related to New Orleans in different courses, all of them trying to generate a positive impact in the city. One of them was related to developing a Strategic Consulting plan for the Early Learning Village project of the Louisiana’s Children Museum, the other one was to develop a plan to cover all the energy needs of the city by 2020 (the class was Management of Technology and Innovation) with issues related to renewable fuel, solar energy, among others. Both projects required a lot of research about the city and its different aspects, and I truly believe that by doing these kinds of project students feel more related to the city and start to realize that ideas like the ones carried in the academic context can be pushed forward a professional, social, or commercial level. I think that if Universities keep developing real projects that include New Orleans problematic students will start to discover new opportunities for personal and professional development in the city, maybe as entrepreneurs, maybe as regular citizens. (Andres)

Great comments everyone…I especially like the level of critique. (Ralph)

An "innovation ecosystem" is a very poignant title for the concept of innovation leading to economic development. The main problem within Louisiana's "innovation Ecosystem" is the Administrative aspect. Over the last 50 years many state leaders have started innovation based initiatives, only see these initiatives fall off, due to: lack of funding, lack of interest, or overshadowed by economic actives that reduce costs. Now recently as last year the Governor has created the LIC, and given this coordinating body the strict goal of developing and maintaining a consistent innovation based economic growth strategy. The question I have is, how long will the LIC remain a prime focus for the state? (Jamin)

The White Paper discusses that although Louisiana demonstrates a high level of entrepreneurial activity, it is disproportionately low in areas of high-growth, high-impact firms throughout most of the state. I think the paper leaves something to be desired here, insinuating that we just have a technological void in this area. I'd have liked to seen more positive focus on the fact that the people of Louisiana have always been very resourceful in bringing the state's natural resources to market, and in the process have created a huge job market, though not the one desired or expected by the author. Though we may not be a technological powerhouse, Louisiana has played to its strengths and generated enormous amounts of wealth for some risk takers in the process. -Patrick Brady

This is more of a question than a comment and I'd love some feedback on it…obviously for LA to become an innovation center we would need government support, but with such a long and proud history of corruption in the state, how can we count on this to come to fruition? -Patrick Brady

I agree that the attraction of top researchers who can commercialize innovations is key to transforming LA into an innovation center, but as the White Paper outlined, LA trails the country in so many metrics that I think would deter such star talent from ever wishing to relocate here. With average wages and government funding so much less than other more attractive options for top researchers, what will bring them to a state that, for the most part, doesn't have the culture in place to foster and support such a change? It seems rather iterative, that we need the talent to effect the change, but no one with any sense or basic survival instinct will want to move here until the change is well under way. Cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans don't seem to incentivize relocation like major cities on the east or west coasts. I think Louisiana will have to really offer and sell an opportunity to be a true change-maker, to get in on the ground floor and be part of the first generation of innovators that have an opportunity to take a faltering state and turn it into a true competitor in innovation and vehicle by which to bring new technologies to market. -Patrick Brady

If I may, (there has been so much criticism of the paper), I think the authors should be commend for acknowledging the lack of a skilled work-force in certain key areas and the importance of effecting change by focusing on K-12 and post secondary education in Louisiana (pg 49–53). The recommendations made like working with the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, incentivizing post-secondary education, reforming higher education and supporting efforts to retain and attract the experienced talent high-impact firms involve the different stakeholders and should generate positive results. I totally agree with Bue/Adrian (not sure whose point this is). We need people with specific skills to attract investment. People with the right skills need to know they will be employed if they stay in and it is important that the paper addresses both angles. (Akua)

One concern is the fact that no time span is allocated to any of the activities (short-term, long-term etc). The changes required in education for example will only be felt in a decade at best and this should be clearly stated in the paper along with a strategy on how the shortage of skilled employees will be addressed in the interim (if any investors are to be lured to Louisiana) ought to have been considered as well. (Akua)

The two main criticisms that I have of this white paper are that there is no timeline (not even a general one) as Akua pointed out and all of the recommendations are very broad in scope; there is no true call to action. Maybe it is the purpose of the paper to give a general overview of the problems and potential ways to combat them and allow others to iron out the details in due course; but without a more specific and time-oriented plan, very little will be accomplished. (Billy)

I think the paper does give some good recommendations for policies to implement in order to attract entrepreneurs and promote innovation through providing more support for research institutions and small businesses. However, I do think that the crux of the problem is missing - the lack of and decreased number of large businesses in Louisiana and New Orleans. Louisiana and New Orleans have a long history of driving businesses away due to business tax laws and corrupt politics. In recent years, a number of large companies (steel producers and auto-makers) have been interested in establishing sizable business presences in the southeast region. Louisiana was in consideration along with Mississippi and Alabama, but Louisiana lost on these deals due to the unattractive business environment. From what we have learned in the MBA program, businesses primarily choose between alternatives based on one thing - the bottom-line, cost. Louisiana and New Orleans offer many things that businesses love such as low rents and distribution networks (i.e. Mississippi River and railroads); but these advantages have been offset by the high business taxes and corrupt politics. The state is beginning to fix these problems with transparent governmental practices and business tax incentives such as SBIR. The problem with SBIR is that it focuses only on small businesses. I agree that small businesses are a key part to promoting innovation and having a growth economy, but Louisiana and New Orleans need the large business base first to bring in a larger population and provide a sustainable base economy. It is a very romantic idea to see New Orleans and Louisiana as rising from the ashes with a burgeoning growth economy rooted in innovation just as the Saints did by winning the Superbowl last year; but I think that we must have a more realistic mindset. New Orleans and Louisiana must implement policies that make it no-brainer for large established businesses to relocate or start operations in the area. These large companies have the capacity to create large numbers of jobs, which can provide a significant, positive economic boost for the area. These large companies also have the resources to implement their own R&D projects, which creates the technology based jobs that we want, but removes the burden on local governments to provide funding. Once large businesses are able to develop a foothold in the area, it will be easier for small businesses to develop due to a sustainable economic support structure. In general, other states that have been able to focus on innovation have a diverse group of large businesses that provide a sustainable base for the local economy, which in turn provides support for small businesses. People in the area desire so much to have a growth economy; but when a base economy has not been established, this is nearly impossible. You must walk before you can run. (Billy)

I definitely agree with Billy’s idea of having large business headquarters in New Orleans will economically improve the region because of the generation a new jobs and mainly because that fact will attract more other large business to move their headquarters into New Orleans. I would say that for any manufacturer the idea of having enough access roads to receive its row materials and to send its final goods to the rest of the country or any global destiny, will be an important issue and a key factor when it will make the final decision to move its headquarter somewhere else. The port, rail roads, highways, airports and the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean make of New Orleans and Louisiana a strategic place to any exporter manufacturer and promoting New Orleans’ competitive advantages of transportations means would be a good point to start with. -Ricardo-

I think the BR Area Chamber does an excellent job of proving that the State is behind the curve on the tech movement, specifically at the university level with regards to R&D funding. It is encouraging to see states like Arkansas and Mississippi (the ones that Louisiana can relate to most in terms of economic, education and healthcare-related adversities) take initiative on economic development roadmaps; and I believe that our state has the resources to compete with them as well as with Georgia, Florida and Texas.
Nevertheless, the authors of this paper do not mention corruption's role in stifling the state's economic progress. Billy and Hakima bring up great points about corruption and its negative effects on creating a sustainable economic environment for the state of Louisiana and its major cities. Local and national speakers like Bill Hines (board member at GNO, Inc.), Jimmy Maurin (board member of Sterling Properties) and Len Riggio (Chairman of Barnes & Noble) have spoken at Tulane and while doing so, they have all alluded to major companies leaving New Orleans and other cities in Louisiana over the last four decades due to political corruption. Moreover, Mr. Riggio also mentioned that companies are deterred from coming back or starting here for the first time because corruption still exists on many levels. So while it is incredibly important to focus state money toward bioinnovation and the tech movement — as doing so will encourage organic economic growth while attracting existing outside businesses to the state — it is equally important to ensure that the state abides by a zero-tolerance policy on political/business corruption. New Orleans has done a phenomenal job since the storm of cleaning out City Hall and making examples out of corrupt political leaders. The city and the state should continue this practice in conjunction with optimizing economic development programs that favor innovation.

As Katie, I agree on the idea that the BR Area Chamber does a great job with this document since it provides guidelines to increase the competiveness of Louisianan focusing first on the long run and not trying to find some short term policies. As a whole and going back to our classes I see this document as a combination of the simple rules strategy and innovation seen from a perspective close to the one presented by Hargadon. Aside from the above I also agree with Katie when she mention that corruption can’t be left out of a document of this kind; being from a country like Colombia that has struggled for many years trying to attract outside investment, a country that wants to rise employment and a country that has also struggled to keep talented people from leaving the country (aspects that I feel are somehow close to Louisiana’s reality ), I can say that aspects related to quality of life, like high school education, security and corruption among others can’t be treated as different issues, because in order for people to stay or to be driven to places with some difficulties like these and in order to create long term development people need to have a minimum level of quality of life.
I think that in order to make a really complete document that can work as a real guideline, this white paper should include recommendations on these issues (public education, security and corruption) that in my understanding are big weaknesses of the Louisiana state, if it doesn’t, it might follow the destiny of some other projects like the LSTF or the Quest for Technology projects that are mentioned on this document which are defined as “examples of good planning with no results”.

Ditto. I feel the statement on pg. 39 (and later on page 60 something) about the government supporting and not leading the development of entrepreneurial communities is really key in sustaining an innovative based economy. I fear that otherwise, allocation of resources would be more politically motivated instead of based on the demands of regional entrepreneurial markets. I imagine that politics and not market forces were the reasons why the Venture Capital Match program funding was discontinued.

Also, I think the writer may agree that the lifestyle entrepreneurs can have a critical impact on the quality of life in a locale. How? Owners of shops and restuarants in N.O. for example: the more you have, the more it promotes a sense of ownership of the community and therefore could lead to grassroot efforts in spurring city government to improve roads, public schools, and other quality of life aspects that can attract innovators, investors, researchers, and other power players to our state that the article says is so important. And empowering these local entrepreneurs is a way of keeping the entrepreneurial community leading the way in the innovation based economy agenda, not the state government (as I think that is the most important cautionary point in this article).

Plus, as the article says, the same lifestylers could later on become the growth oriented ones so desired. So I guess what I'm saying is: in trying to spur growth oriented entrepreneurship, don't do anything to discourage the lifestylers.

As a last thing, I imagine and hope that this "blue ocean" study mentioned in the article will find the enormous opportunity, perhaps already capitalized on, in fostering an innovative manufacturing economy around the Haynesville Shale formation in Northwestern Louisiana. I really believe in supporting the technology transfer from academia to commercialization idea, but at the same time, we should build a strong manufacturing economic base, especially in the oil and natural gas field which is one of our strengths. It would be immensely beneficial to tap into the potential of developing the bridge between the small world of the Haynesville Shale natural gas community and a state academic research institution.

We mentioned in class in the NYC Bloomberg case how manufacturing, while it may not attract all white collar professionals, it does build a skilled labor force and a strong income base.

One recommendation given in the paper is, “the state should institute an ongoing annual monitoring and review of Louisiana investments in academic research programs to ensure these investments are producing specific and measurable results.” I couldn’t agree more. In a state notorious for corruption and lack of oversight, restoring the confidence of all stakeholders will be necessary before even more investment/progress is made in the attempt to bridge the gap between academia and industry.

@Billy – I think you bring up an excellent point about the difference in LA’s proposed innovation-based economic development vs. our current traditional economic development. While I laud the paper’s vision on innovation, someone has to focus on the mess that currently exists. Once a powerhouse in the region, LA has fallen behind and significant reforms must be made in order for us to compete with places like Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas again. Traditional economic development efforts should simultaneously receive the same amount of emphasis. Fortune 500 companies once had a home in LA, and I think that with a balanced approach, LA can once again become a dominant player in both the traditional and innovation-based forms of economic development.

Akua mentions that this paper does not focus enough on the importance of K-12 education, and I think she is exactly right. While strides are being made in New Orleans, there still is a long way to go – both in this city, and in the rural areas of the state. Investments in early-childhood education and elementary education on a macro-level could have tremendous effects on the next generation of workers in this state. The paper mentions a stronger focus on STEM, and I agree that this will produce positive results while building a more educated workforce. In addition to the creation of a nationally competitive and premier state research institution, I believe that technical schools in LA should also receive more focus and support in the state. 2-year technical degrees can provide a critical piece to the equation when trying to build an educated workforce. (Chris)

I agree with Akua and Chris in that K-12 education is a critical factor for the state’s economic development. As the paper mentioned: “Metropolitan regions around the U.S. are shifting economic development strategies to include knowledge-based jobs to foster innovation in their communities. Those jobs require post-secondary education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related fields.”
Louisiana has several deficiencies in K-12 STEM-related education, and scores low in achievement tests of math and science. Math and science are important subjects to prepare students for higher degrees in science and technology. I agree with the article in that LA should focus in K-12 and post secondary education. Besides the advice that the paper provides, the state can also create a large marketing and campaign that communicates to the public the goal of the state to become an important producer of innovations, especially in the fields of technology and biosciences. This will create public awareness of the goals of the state, and help better align all the resources at the aim of fulfilling these objectives. Young students might be more interested in doing well in subjects such as math and science, because they know that the state is investing in these areas, and that more educational opportunities will be available in these fields in the future. Schools and students will be motivated to improve their scores in these areas to achieve these long term goals. The objective will be to align the work of all the stakeholders for the state to achieve its goals. (Sofia)

The paper spends much time discussing what needs to be improved in terms of funding to achieve an increase in innovation and technology in Louisiana. It is important also to really analyze the culture of Louisiana and the corruption that is in the system here. All the cities that are hubs of technology in the US are quote new cities or developments. Nobody who lives in those cities are really from there mostly they have migrated there. On the other hand New Orleans is a city that has many families that have been here for hundreds of years and they are not always welcoming of new folks and ideas if it threatens their power structure. Here in New Orleans its is difficult to attract white collar workers because the wages are low and that plays a big part in the decision making process of young professionals who need to pay of student loans. Making Louisiana a hub for technology would increase the wage potential and attract people here, but the infra-structure of the entire education system here needs to be overhauled as some of my classmates have already pointed out. Then there is the matter of the state funding, the state constitution is set up such that only discretionary spending can be cut…95% of discretionary spending is education and charity hospitals. Everytime the state runs a loss these are the two areas that get hit. Too many politicians have too much "skin in the game" to allow this to change. I am not saying that other places don't have corruption but what I am saying is that the corruption here is different, and it needs to be a major focus of any group that is trying to bring change on any level to this state.(Vivek)

"Louisiana must aggressively attract more private sector research and development activity" (under Development of Private Sector and Federal Research)
- Totally agree with this. I am a firm believer that private sector does an awesome job of boosting the economic development in any area. While K-12 education is a huge concern, the question is do students who graduate our of high school see job prospects in LA?
I think its very hard for students and parents to justify that an investment of 12-16 years of education would lead them to a respectable job. Guess this concern can be addressed by having more activity in the private sector research and development area.
The paper does a good job in outlining how "A major private sector research laboratory is an ideal use of the state’s economic development megafund".

I find Im's analysis and recommendations to be very pertinent. There entire paper lacks specificity on ideas or possible projects. Maybe because he is a local, but Im mentions the Haynesville Shale and how the Louisiana can benefit from the Haynesville shale other than from simply extracting the natural gas. But aside from the specifics commented on the notion of creating the notion of ownerships of change and progress is also properly discussed in Im's comments. (Guillermo)

@Patrick, I completely agree with you viewpoint on "Attraction of Top Researchers Who Commercialize Innovations".
Apart from involving private sectors and creating eminent scholars programs, I guess these top researchers (guess we can call them technology brokers as they are "linking creative ideas with the marketplace" acc. to paper) also need basic facilities in a metropolitan areas. We won't see an influx of these researchers to New Orleans region unless govt. starts spending on infrastructure(public transport, roads) and crime.
I am sure these are top priority for any person before moving to a city. If these "brokers" are experts in their respective fields, its hard for them to leave out their comfort zone and move to a totally different city.
Its impossible to clear out the mess in politics and the best way is to focus on developing the basic amenities in the city and state.

Few points I notice in paper:-

a. The paper talks a lot about investing in research at small and medium scale but I guess the major problem is convincing stakeholders in terms of returns on their investment. It would be great to draw a metrics on what are the most important criteria for various investors when they think about R & D investments in New Orleans.

b. While "Developing a Culture of Entrepreneurship in Louisiana" is critical I think these entrepreneurial activities should be more product (than service) oriented to attract investors. Everyone loves to see some tangible products rather than hear about sales pitch for a service which is best left for imagination of these entrepreneurs. An annual exhibition/seminar/conference of several products from these entrepreneurs will be beneficial for marketing these businesses as well as the city in general.

c. It will be interesting to see how the state would take a lead role in developing and funding a marketing and outreach campaign on a regular schedule over several years. I wonder how we can utilize tourists activities like Mardi Gras etc.(I am amazed paper doesn't mention it esp. coz its one of the significant GDP boosters to LA) to communicate these campaigns.


I agree with most of the comments but I personally think that education as some of you mentioned is really important, but the change is going to be felt in the long term. We should be focusing in different changes in the short term that are necessary, while at the same time work on the ones that takes more time like education, security, infrastructure, etc.
Me coming from Venezuela, a place where companies are making a lot of money because is a country that have petrol (for your interest: in Venezuela 1 bottle of water is more expensive than 1 bottle of gasoline) and at the same time the society is very consumerist. On the other hand is a country that has a lot of risk because private property and foreign investments are not respected by the government; makes it more difficult for the people to decide staying or leaving to a country with lower political risk.
If a company would think to come to New Orleans at least what they want to look for is a lower cost, that the law is respected, less corruption and as Jairo said, which for me is very important, quality of life. In Venezuela families are deciding right know between making money, because as I mentioned companies are doing well, and the quality of life for them of being kidnapped, stolen and also mess with their properties.
In general, what companies will look for and what New Orleans should focus on if they want to bring companies is a stable place for them, with the opportunity to have a good education for their families and a place where there can grow their business and their families where everything is respected. I think that New Orleans has a very high potential of being a great city and grow faster, after they came out from Katrina. Being here five years after a storm that destroyed an entire city and not noticing that anything happened, because most of the places were already repaired and re constructed is hard to believe.

I also agree with you Saul and Jairo, because you both know the situation in Colombia, and basic education plays a key role here. Back home we are doing big efforts in improving in many aspects (diminishing corruption, fostering a culture of innovation, diminishing wealth inequalities), but as in New Orleans there is still a lot to be done in terms of education especially. If you do not have well qualified and knowledgeable people where are you going to get the talent and the workforce to develop local projects and initiatives? Are we all going to populate the city with just trained people from other places? If local and state authorities do not make a re-structuring of the K-12 system (from what I have heard from my classmates and the readings) the local population won’t have a chance to compete with more skilled employees from outside, and if we are considering that the locals are the ones that are more close to the city and the ones that won’t leave it easily then we realize that we need to make a big investment of them so they can keep making the city grow, so if we provide more education opportunities for them since they are kids the chances of success in many aspects for the city will proportionally increase. (Andres)

While the purpose of the white paper is to provide a broad vision for the future innovation economy in Louisiana, I found it TOO broad! The recommendations are logical and based on secondary research (mainly literature reviews), but I did not find some of these recommendations actionable or correlated to a specific entity. Most started off, "…there should be XX like this other state" without clear recommendations on how to get there or who should start it. Perhaps the paper is trying to set some "Simple Rules" for the LA community to agree upon - meaning the top 4 overarching goals/recommendations (although goals don't necessarily equal strategy). A majority of the burden for improving the innovation economy was put on the LA government and universities. In doing research for another class on green tech innovation, it is clear that the LA government has a very limited budget to fund these ideas, and the state will have to get more creative. It would be interesting to see the government/university response to this white paper. The paper could have explored more of the organic growth scenarios outside of the southern region (i.e., Boston, San Jose, Denver). A survey of current entrepreneurs and their "drivers" would have been interesting and added value to the report. As far as presenting an innovative strategy, I felt the paper was a summary of best practices in the region rather than focusing on the LA appeal and assets. The paper could have used a New Orleans twist! (RUTH)

On page 41 is the idea of today's lifestyle entrepreneurs eventually transforming their businesses into high-impact firms to become tomorrow's growth oriented entrepreneurs. Do LA entrp embody this aspirational attitude? Are entrp in LA trying to improve their personal lifestyle or are they really growth entrepreneurs seeking to change the greater community? I would say that especially in services (as Ravi mentioned), the entrepreneur is seeking to affect their inner community and maintain their wealth/lifestyle. However, I like the quote on page 45: "…smart and creative people to come together to develop solutions to real world problems." I think THIS is the reason entrepreneurs are now flooding LA. Katrina gave them this opportunity to "develop solutions to real world problems." Saul mentioned "short-term" strategies… creating a strategy to leverage these new "solution-oriented" entrepreneurs in LA is important in the immediate future. How do we support these people? How do we keep them here? How do we use them to attract more people like them? It would be useful to ask them rather than just look at what other states (that do not have a Katrina/oil spill scenario) are doing. Sometimes comparisons are not enough; as many people have already said, LA should be focusing on its points of differentiation. (RUTH)

That took forever, Ruth. I'll get to your comments later. (CHRIS)
Seriously Ruth…lets be a bit more concise. (P)

@Saul – Well said. However, this paper argues that the things you mention aren’t enough for New Orleans to be an innovation-based hub. I agree with you, though, and believe there are many things we need to improve before we can truly be great. You site these changes, as “short-term”, but I believe that there are few changes that need to be in New Orleans with a short-term mindset. This is exactly what happened in the past, and is what Jamin alluded to earlier in his post. Continuity with all of these efforts needs to be crucial if this is going to be a “movement”. I believe that a comprehensive approach needs to be taken so both innovation and traditional economic development can prosper here.

@Ravi – You bring up a great point about this paper’s lack of tourism-related topics. I think we have a unique opportunity to take advantage of one of city’s biggest strengths and create an innovation-based tourism campaign that really shows off the strides being made in this city – especially because we are viewed by so many as a bachelor/ette party destination or “sin city.” While I assume this paper wants to ignore this small, but very important characteristic, this needs to be taken into account when looking for growth drivers.

Great (and sometimes funny) stuff all around. Keep it up until morning! - Ralph

I would like to add two additional comments before we close this interesting conversation:

1) The Importance of Education

Just like Chris, Akua and Saul did, I think we will never stress enough the crucial importance of education. Not that this is the major social problem in Louisiana but because this is the major source of any change be it at the social, economic, or innovation level. About this, I would like to provide a vivid example: Singapore.
I think Louisiana has a lot to learn from Singapore. Singapore obtained its independence a few decades ago, in 1965. At that time no country was interested in taking it over when the British relinquished it as the country was extremely poor and the population uneducated. At the time, its per capita income was the same as Jamaica's. However, today, largerly thanks to the prime minister's focus on education, Singapore is:

- Rated THE most business-friendly economy in the world
- Is the world's 9th-richest country in per capita income (the US is 10th, Jamaica 123rd).

I remember this story because a Chinese business man and a friend of mine told me how he noticed the change in the country when he lived there for a while. Education was elevated and considered as a matter of survival. It has been so much emphasized and pursued that you can see the picture of a classroom in one of the Singaporean dollar bills. And this is a country that does not have natural resources and that has become one of the world's 10 most open competitive and innovative economies by starting to build its economy from its human capital through Education. So, bottom-line, education is key for Louisiana to attract businesses large and small caps, to attract talented entrepreneurs who are looking for qualified partners/employees, and to attract professors who would like to teach in a friendly and education-oriented environment.

2) The Difference between researchers and entrepreneurs

I think that while the paper emphasizes the necessity to attract "entrepreneurial research talent", it fails to distinguish between two major constituencies: the entrepreneurial professor, and the entrepreneur. Louisiana universities need entrepreneurs who can teach and pass on their passion for entrepreneurship, their skills and their know-how. Louisiana's economy, on the other hand, needs entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks and embark on an experience in its still nascent entrepreneurial environment. Using the first category in to fill the second is OK. However, thinking that regular entrepreneurs can play the role of a professor and ask them to teach in universities may not be very effective since not all entrepreneurs can be good teachers. (Hakima)

Hakima, Singapore is a great example of education reform's positive effect on a country or government. The Chamber mentions the importance of education as part of "quality of life" for talent recruits here to show its important role in fostering innovation; however, education reform (in addition to extinguishing corruption) is also worth as much mention in this paper as the need for tech research resources and talent. The writer argues that schools should focus on skilled labor opportunities in STEM-related fields, as STEM-related fields will continue to create more jobs; yet, we shouldn't ignore students who would flourish with a fine arts education. Most of Louisiana's major cities attract tourists and residents because of their rich cultures that emphasize music, photography, art and literature. And as experienced in New Orleans, there are job opportunities in those areas (even profitable ones that contribute to the state economy). Education should be improved in this state to contribute to “quality of life,” but we shouldn’t neglect the other half of the school curriculum in the process. (Katie)

Katie, thank you for waiting until the last minute to make your post. I waited patiently for you to finish you edits, and I had to resort to my Puerto Rican ways. Nevertheless, I totally agree with your comments to Hakima, and would like to add a few of my own. Narrowing the scope of what we teach is not the answer. Creativity and Innovation stem from many fields, including the fine arts. A simple example is Food, and the culture that surrounds it. What is more important in reform is how we are educating, how are we teaching at schools to be problem solvers and innovative thinkers. What we teach is irrelevant, how we teach, and how they are learning more important. (P)

@Akua, Chris etc. I could not agree with you more. Education is key in my opinion. It drives businesses here and keeps educated people here. One concern I have about bringing in any major change to the local economy (considering as Patrick & Vivek pointed out that we are an old state and quite set in our ways), is the need for public buy-in. Economic development organizations cannot do it alone. The community needs to be accepting of change and embrance new transplants to the region. In a sense, this relates again to education. If our children are taught to open their eyes to the world, think big, and be accepting of new people and traditions, then maybe our culture will adapt with time to be more flexible. (rachael k)

@Billy, re: your earlier comments about large companies and tax incentives are seemingly in line with what organizations like GNO Inc. are doing. I mean, Michael Hecht did not cancel on our class to take a meeting with a small business. Obviously someone large was interested in the area - and would of course bring greater business etc. However there are two things to keep in mind - 1) small businesses are where large businesses are sometimes born. And they are often the backbone of our country. NOLA survived the economic troubles in 2008 compared to other cities because we are NOT dependent on large companies. 2) tax incentives is like a competitive game… we lost businesses (and obviously oil) to texas because of tax laws and then we steal movies from hollywood because of new tax incentives. You're absolutely right that tax incentives are important for attracting major companies to LA. But perhaps it is also about learning to play the game - being ahead of the curve. Is it cyclical? Is another state next in line to drive business away from us? (rachael k)

Ravi definitely touched on this….. As I read through everyone's comments about what Louisiana needs to be pushing, attracting, promoting etc. it seems there is a common thread of improving the state's public relations. But let's face it, we have a reputation. As someone else noted earlier, we are known for Bourbon Street. (and now the Saints!) but in all seriousness, it seems the work of economic development organizations is hugely PR. It reminds me of Mitch Landrieu's speech on campus last year (when he was still the Lt Gov) and he was essentially promoting his office for social entreprenuership. Apparently, Louisiana was on to something and even Washington noticed. Tulane has taken a stance in supporting such initiatives (especially through the business plan competition and the LRI in general I'd imagine)… and it would be great for Louisiana to showcase these efforts. And of course, if the state could do a better job in promoting itself without only mentioning the parties and opportunities for tourists, that would be great. As a UT Austin alumn I received an email this year with a survey asking alumni how they view the school and how they think the school should best be promoted. They suggested taglines which we could essentially vote on which would be seen in new advertisements for the school. The options included promoting athletics, promoting research, promoting saving the world (through research etc), and promoting diversity. My gut was that UT (coming off an appearance in the championship football game last year (but got smashed by BAMA (P))) should move away from the athletics sale because the school is already known for sports. Rather, a new focus on the future and what students are bringing to the world could influence potential students and potential donors in a new way. Similarly, Louisiana needs a new campaign where tourists are welcome, but people also see the good work the state is doing. (Rachael k)

“The state should identify and fund programs that provide pre-seed bridge funding to promising concepts and link innovation developers with universities and venture Capitalists”. Page 3. I think this phrase is pretty interesting especially in the context of brokering that we were discussing a few weeks ago, by emphasizing in the importance of people that moves across different networks (in this case academic and financial ones) to create structures that foster innovation. I also think that this concept is almost mandatory, and innovation in Louisiana or anywhere else cannot be thought as something that can be achieved from an individual point (either academic, political, social) but something that has to be developed through a joint community effort. (Andres).

“Developing a Culture of Entrepreneurship in Louisiana” Page 38. I completely agree with this part of the document because I have seen personally how a culture of entrepreneurship in a city can boost it to higher levels inside a region or even a country. I was living in a small town in Sweden a couple of years ago, and that town (Lund) has had a tremendous growth in economical, social, and competitive aspects in the last years, mainly because an increasing culture of entrepreneurship and innovation supported by different entities. The town has one of the biggest and most important Universities in Sweden (Lund’s Universitetet), and they have a strong emphasis in research and innovation, but all of this is supported also by local and national authorities that are providing funds and assistance to young entrepreneurs that are willing to take their ideas one step further, but the innovation process does not stop there; there are also big multinational companies located in Lund (some of them world players in pharmaceutical, biomedical, and telecommunications industries, like Astra Zeneca, Gambro, Sony Ericsson, Tetra Pak) that are also developing joint research projects with local entrepreneurs, the University, and other companies, to create an entrepreneurial hub in the region with Lund as its centre, a hub based in innovation and the use of leading technologies, which have helped the town to become one of the main cities in this aspect, attracting investors from all over the world. (Andres)

Louisiana is far behind the curve of national spending on academic research and development activities and programs. How do you guys propose the funding for these initiatives will be acquired? I've past the midpoint in the white paper and still I have not encountered a concise or actionable plan for subsidizing these programs. (Jamin)

Furthermore, I already believe that Louisiana, specifically New Orleans, has already become an entrepreneurial hub for private business to take seed and grow. Continually attracting the human capital needed for these activities to grow, providing commercialization opportunities, is the largest problem identified in the paper. As we have discussed in class on numerous occasions. (Jamin)

@Hakima ..I totally agree with you. Attracting high caliber entrepreneurial academics and professors is key to growing a strong economy that focuses on innovation. (Jamin)

@Rachel K, While I agree with your viewpoint on 2008 crisis-survival for NOLA but I think tax credits is the way to go. While its nice to have hollywood movies made here but I am not sure how much they contribute to jobs etc. when compared to large firms(ex-oil). Another thing with these big firms is that they often enhance the entrepreneurial growth as the smaller companies can become either suppliers or support the big companies business. I def. think LA has to get in couple of big Fortune-500 firms (tax credits or other tactics) which should act like a "network effect" for other big firms and we would benefit from them. (RAVI)