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In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina, followed by multiple levee failures, devastated New Orleans and other parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, inflicting major damage to commercial property, infrastructure, and housing. The failure of the levees and the subsequent flooding of New Orleans caused enormous damage and disruption to the city, its people, and its economy. Recovering from a disaster of this magnitude poses a major challenge to the city, the state, and the nation. The complexity of this challenge is compounded by the fact that New Orleans’ population and economy had been lagging for several decades before Katrina. In response to this situation, this report provides recommendations regarding effective organizational and strategic approaches to revitalizing the city’s economy, identifies the best practices that other cities have used to foster economic development, and describes how these practices might be applied to New Orleans. Recommendations consider the organizational structure of a New Orleans economic development program and how it should strategically focus its efforts. Planning for the successful future economic development in the region depends on avoiding the mistakes of past efforts, so consideration is also given to historical trends and development missteps.

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This research was sponsored by the Horizon Initiative and was conducted within the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute (RGSPI) — a partnership involving the RAND Corporation and seven universities in the Gulf of Mexico coastal region.

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