Warehouse businesses find voice
23rd September 2013 · 0 Comments
By Christopher Tidmore
Once described as a “black hole between the CBD and the Garden District”, the last thirty years since the World’s Fair has seen the Warehouse District bloom into an Arts/Culinary/Commercial neighborhood which rivals the vitality of New York’s Soho. However, from a political standpoint, the neighborhood has often been an afterthought. Its commercial needs often put secondary to the powerful interests bordering it, from the titans of Poydras’ skyscrapers to the Convention Center’s itinerant visitors.
Seeking to change this unwelcome anonymity (yet still ironically generally unnoticed by the local mainstream media) many of the leading businesses of the Warehouse District banded together two months ago, inaugurating the creation of a business association to advocate for the unique needs of the budding Arts/Food district.
Organized by local entrepreneurs Ryan Haro and Eric Alexander McVey IV, the Warehouse District Business Association came about because, as McVey explained, “We all saw the economic imbalance as business owners, and with one email three days before the first social event the WDBA had over 40 strong members.”
There was an overwhelming desire for “One voice, one action” from restaurants to galleries to companies that often felt they were left without much political influence when stacked against CBD interests, and neighborhood groups from the French Quarter/Marigny to the Garden District. “The association plans to be that united voice of the many businesses in the Warehouse District area,” McVey maintained.
“We all are New Orleanians, all entrepreneurial business owners, and all have a forever love for our city. We understand the communication barriers between small business owners and the civic leaders. With a large platform such as the WDBA, the small and medium size businesses now has a voice.”
“Our service is offered to business owners and potential investors of the Warehouse District with a united deposition of positive community growth. Through our business relations, our members will have an established board to report and act on their behalf. Through growing and advancing our business voices as one business entity, the board’s services shall establish the most efficient communication channels to our sought after professional advisers, City Council members and Mayor’s office. “
“Together, we are a voice with an innovative vision. Without the proper gateways’, processes and relationships to the appropriate civic authorities, our voices will remain unheard. Our mission is to be the aggregated businesses and resident’s voices into a board and claim our representation for the years to come.”
“Our direction will thrive off of our member’s opinions, concerns, wishes, and needs. The WDBA will work in tandem with local businesses and civic leaders so that we keep our progress in concert with yours. Our positive contribution to our community is to help direct, promote, protect, and preserve the surround residents and businesses set to thrive with all the progressive developments forecast over the next five years.”
Starting such an advocacy group is never easy, McVey confessed, especially for he and the other charter members who all have companies to run. But, with the right organization, he noted, “the most difficult opportunity will be crafting and then directing such a large platform.”
“In three years, the [Association’s] master plan results in establishing measures, meetings, schedules, full time and part time staff to successfully adhere to a WDBA Annual agenda, and be able to quantitatively and qualitatively measure our services ROI. We plan to continually work with the City of New Orleans and certain departments of the city to ensure city growth.”
“While we obviously hope our venture will have a sense of novelty, we are striving for a freshness that will serve to invigorate, never to infringe upon, the endeavors of our neighbors. In good faith, we welcome all to join our efforts and value our dedication to the city of New Orleans so that together we can delight as the Warehouse District flourishes.”
And, key to that end will be maintaining the remaining historic features of the Faubourg Ste. Marie and the Warehouse Arts District. “We are a pro-business association that is to help protect, promote and preserve the commercial culture in our district. With the city’s economic development plan, we support the preservation and will offer an effective communication channel to city hall during our neighborhood’s economic growth.”
This article originally published in the September 23, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.