New Orleans Tops List, as City Rebuilds

What was just a few years ago hard to even imagine, seems like the factual future now for the Crescent City: New Orleans has made it to the number one slot on a Forbes magazine list

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

What was hard to even imagine just a few years ago seems like the factual future now for the Crescent City: New Orleans has made it to the No. 1 slot on a Forbes magazine list. Joel Kotkin‘s recently released list of the 10 fastest-growing U.S. cities since the recession placed New Orleans con top with an impressive 28.3 percent growth since 2007, bringing the city’s population in 2012 to 369,250.

Although the growth rate is generally attributed to the post-Katrina rebound, New Orleans is undoubtedly working hard to achieve growth. And with the city still far from pre-Katrina population levels (which numbered 472,000 in 2002), growth is expected to continue.

Furthermore, the city is experiencing a striking economic rebirth. Traditional New Orleans industries are rebounding, hospitality being the most obvious example, with old and new festivals filling the city streets and big-attendance events such as the 2013 SuperBowl; oil-related industries also abound in the Greater new Orleans area, while the state’s film and labor tax credits combined with the city’s unique architecture and setting have resulted in a blossoming film industry that not only boosts the city’s image but also brings in much needed revenue to local businesses.

In addition to its Hollywood South nickname, New Orleans is striving to reach another goal: that of Silicon Bayou, the South’s Silicon Valley. It is banking on becoming the IT city for technology start-ups.

And the city’s growing economy is evident in its spending appetite. As previously reported on this page, The Domain Co. has started construction on South Market District, a massive mixed-use residential and retail development in downtown New Orleans spanning four blocks. With luxury amenities and LEED features, the project is expected to become a premier living destination in the Greater New Orleans area. But the smaller shops that such development is targeting are not the only retailers to profit from the city’s increase in revenue and spending power: Big-box retailers have flocked to the city in the past two years, far more than any other region of the U.S. Walmart is bringing two stores to the city, while Costco is also on its way to develop a store in the Big Easy. And then there is the Summit Fremaux in Slidell, Metro New Orleans, the two-phase retail destination being developed by locally based Stirling Properties and national retail real estate investor CBL & Associates Properties . The 650,000-square-foot development also holds the potential for future development, as it was initially imagined as a 400-acre mixed-use project. Read more about the project here.

Image credits: Postcards from New Orleans Facebook page