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Posted: Thursday, 06 June 2013 7:03AM

Forbes Magazine says New Orleans is a technology boom town

According to Forbes Magazine, Greater New Orleans is the top spot in the country, outside of California, for high tech jobs.

A Forbes' article, 'The Cities Winning the Battle for Information Jobs,' ranks Greater New Orleans as #3 in the USA, behind only technology heavyweights Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

Boasting a 29% increase in IT employment since 2009, author and researcher Joel Kotkin calls third-place New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner "the most dramatic player" in the battle, saying the information sector in metro New Orleans "is very broad-based, including companies in digital effects, videogames, software development as well as a burgeoning film and television industry. The recent decision by General Electric to place its new technology center and its 300 new technology jobs in New Orleans is another sign of the Crescent City's emergence as a viable information hub."

Michael Hecht, President & CEO of  Greater New Orleans, Inc., says it's absolutely remarkable that New Orleans holds that #3 spot in the country.  

"The fact that that is empirically, analytically, objectively New Orleans, I think, is a stunning validation of how far we've come in just a few years," says Hecht.

And, he says the Forbes' analysis is not only one of where New Orleans stands right now, but shows great promise for the future.

"Given the way this calculation was made, it actually is measuring trends," Hecht says. "It's not a point in time. It's measuring progress over time. It's essentially measuring momentum. And, in terms of the number of jobs that we've been adding, on both the percentage and absolute basis, we have the most momentum in the entire country, outside of California."

"What this means is that the combination of our lower costs, our rich incentives, our unique culture and a leadership from the state on down that's focused on digital...it means that we have actually successfully created, over the past five years, a new industry in Louisiana...and that's IT."

But, Hecht says it's not a solitary boom.

"We also are booming in gas, because of the natural gas boom. So, going forward, we're going to have a more diversified economy with lots of good paying jobs in energy, but also lots of good paying jobs in the tech sector."

"And that kind of diversity is going to make us much more resilient than we were back in the 80s, when we were not diversified as an economy."

"This is a good story," says Hecht. "Not only about technology jobs, but about the overall health of the economy of Louisiana and New Orleans going into the future."

However, he says, it also points to one of the challenges the future will present.

"We have to make sure we have enough trained workers to fill this burgeoning demand. Companies want to be here. The question is, 'Can Greater New Orleans and Louisiana supply enough workers for them?' And that really comes down to supporting our two- and four-year schools to make sure that we have enough IT and computer science graduates."

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