Bloomberg CityLab, May 10, 2021, A Wary New Orleans Braces for a New Tech Boom
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a wave of technology entrepreneurs descended on New Orleans. Pitching the flood-struck city as Silicon Bayou, they espoused tech’s abilities to aid in the reconstruction process.
Now, a different disaster has given the city another opportunity to live up to its tech-hub branding. During the pandemic, the city began to expand its low-cost/high-culture proposition to attract remote workers fleeing more costly areas. “We’re starting to see tech refugees coming in from the East and West Coasts, looking for secondary markets like New Orleans to make their coastal salaries, but live better,” says Michael Hecht. president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc.
The migration of high-salary young digital nomads represents a potential boon for New Orleans, where the tourism and hospitality industries have been hammered by Covid. But, as the city’s earlier bid to ignite a tech boom proves, it also carries risks. Gentrification and the displacement of existing residents from once-affordable neighborhoods has been a hallmark of the post-Katrina city. A recent report from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition ranks the city as one of the most intensely gentrifying cities in the U.S.