It’s been seven years since devastating Hurricane Katrina destructed the City of New Orleans, and in that time the city has joined together to move forward in a positive direction to help rebuild the historical attraction. The pride and persistence of the residents have kept the city alive, and their determination has not gone unnoticed. FEMA has granted New Orleans $40 million to continue its transformation to a restored city. The grant has been allocated towards roadways in New Orleans and surrounding areas, New Orleans Museum of Art, LSPCA, Youth City Center, LSU Health Sciences Center, and LSU School of Dentistry. The bulk of the grant will go towards the Morris F.X. Jeff Municipal Auditorium in which significant damage to the electrical and mechanical systems, floors, walls, and seats will be repaired. This city has proven to stay confident and resilient through difficult times, and such a grant will add to the city’s positive focus. If you would like to find more information about the breakdown of allocations, check out Nola.com’s article.
Two weeks ago the New Orleans City Council passed and ordinance that is purported to beef up labor violations for city construction contracts. The council was sharply divided whereby the ordinance passed by a 4-3 final vote.
The ordinance is best described by the City Council’s own publication:
“The Council adopted Ordinance Cal. No. 28,899, authored by Council Vice President Granderson that requires that contractors and subcontractors with city construction contracts of more than $50,000 report to the City Attorney any current company violations of federal, state and municipal laws that govern labor and employment. Specifically, the contractor is required to give notice to the City Attorney within 90 days of the issuance of any labor violation determination. If the contractor fails to correct the violation within a 90 day period the City Attorney will issue a written notice to the contractor and take enforcement action including civil remedies.”
There are many supporters and critics of the new ordinance. Many of the opponents say that it will just create needless paper work for contractors and will not solve the root cause of the problem. Although, supports say that since Katrina undocumented workers have been hurting union workers doing it by the book. The New Orleans City Business and NOLA.com both have their takes on the issue with good write ups. Overall this sounds like it will create more paper work for contractors and subject them to vague and ambiguous labor laws (where they are already subject to them anyway).
Having dealt with the City Attorney’s office in the past, this seems like it will simply be a bullet in its gun when going after small businesses. The city claims that if contractors are obeying the law they have nothing to worry about, unfortunately based on past client experiences, that is not likely the case. Just what the construction industry needs right now, another law.
On January 30, the New Orleans Mayor, Mitch Landrieu announced plans for what they are calling Contractor’s College. This cutting edge program will aid Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in becoming educated so as to allow them to compete in the market place with other more established construction companies.
Mayor Landrieu is quoted as saying:
“Contractor’s College is another great example of how we can build capacity among local businesses by removing obstacles that have prevented their inclusion in local opportunities in the past,”
“I am confident that this program will put DBE firms on equal footing with other companies as our City continues to recover and rebuild.”
The program is funded by a $1.042 mm grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is another step whereby the Landrieu administration has taken positive action to see to it that our business community is more competitive and fair. The Office of Supplier Diversity will oversee the allocation of the funding and run the Contractor’s College.
Those parties interested in participating in the Contractors College will need to fill out the Contractor Contact Form on the city’s website. From there you will receive further information on the program. Further information can be found at the city’s web-site or nola.com.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded TIGER Grants last week to cities across the country, funding projects that “foster job creation, show strong economic benefits, and promote communities that are safer, cleaner and more livable.” New Orleans shared in the pie of funding, getting a $45 million grant to pay the full cost of a new streetcar line to run along Loyola Avenue, reaching from Canal Street to the Union Passenger Terminal.
In addition to the $45 million in federal funding, RTA is hoping to make a “French Quarter Loop” through local investment.
While much of the focus here has been on the development of retail establishments along the streetcar line, here are some benefits we see:
- $45 – $115 Million investment into building the new lines;
- Increasing alternative transportation options for residents and tourists (including transportation to the train station)
- Additional step for New Orleans towards more sustainable practices
Congratulations to RTA and the team working on the TIGER Grant.
The New Orleans Times Picayune ran a story last week that lead off with these two paragraphs:
Louisiana is expected to get $122.3 million in federal economic recovery money to improve the energy efficiency of homes, government buildings and public transportation over the next three years and to jump-start renewable energy projects for electricity generation.
The money should create scores of new jobs for tradesmen willing to learn green building practices. It also will help moderate-income households around the state improve the energy-efficiency of their homes and lower their utility bills.
Over the next three years, authorties estimate that over 6,000 homes will be weatherized under the program.
In addition to this, President Obama has recently come out to designate New Orleans as the “U.S. Blueprint” for green construction and environmental protection, invigorating urban centers and stressing volunteerism.
Perhaps the promise of the Global Green USA’s Build It Back Green program, Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation and other similar programs are finally making its impression, and the New Orleans area will see real investment in green building over the next few years.