Tuesday, 05 May 2020 11:41

Covid-19: Hecht talks New Orleans region business and industry recovery, obstacles Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

HECHT NOLA USE 1

So many Coronavirus economy questions. For now, very few answers. Lots of disappointments. For some, hopefully, a new promising new normal beginning .

Questions such as: Can businesses in this region recover? Are we ready to reopen? Which industries might be the winners? Which could lose?

Michael Hecht, the President of Greater New Orleans Inc seemed optimistic but worried.  Hecht has been the face of the region's economic development engine. He moved to the city after Katrina and has been at the center of major developments in the airline, technology, manufacturing, transportation, aerospace, logistics, just to name a few. 

He was visible during the BP oil moratorium and now has a new crisis on hand, the massive self-imposed worldwide disruptions of production and employment which, locally, has a particular victim, the tourism and hospitality industries. Those two sectors have flourished greatly over the past decade. 

On Monday, I had an opportunity to engage in a Facebook Live discussion with Hecht to discuss the traumas of the deep recession of the Coronavirus. Below is part I in which Hecht discussed some of those opportunities in certain industry sectors, but also the challenges. Below are segments 1 and Segment 2 videos, entitled "Michael Hecht, Greater New Orleans Inc talks CoronaVirus devastation and opportunities Pt 1" and "Michael Hecht talks Coronvirus New Orleans region tourism, oil collapse, GNO Website", respectively.

Stephen Sabludowsky
Good morning, everybody. This is Steve Sabludowsky, publisher by Bayoubuzz.com. And this morning we're going to be talking to Michael Hecht, a friend of mine, the President GNO Inc. and Michael, I'm sure that you haven't one heck of a month, even though the beginning of May. So what's going on with you?

Michael Hecht
Well, it feels kind of like the 65th of March. Frankly, it's kind of all blended together. But, you know, I think that, that given everything we're doing, well, you know, I don't think there's any place in the country that has a combination of practical experience and emotional resilience, that Greater New Orleans does. So given what's within our control, I'm, I'm proud but not surprised at how well everybody's reacting.

Stephen Sabludowsky
That's terrific. Now we had of course, Katrina in and Rita and the host of hurricanes and then of course BP. So, we did recover. What's in your opinion..I want to be more positive and negative but I do want to lay out the waterfront, so to speak. So, what do you think the major obstacles are for this region at this point in time?

Michael Hecht
Well, obviously the you know, there are obstacles that involve lives and obstacles involve livelihoods. On the lives front until we get a vaccine or a very good therapeutic, or herd immunity Coronavirus is going to be a challenge particularly for the most vulnerable in our community. On the livelihood side, you know, a forced government shutdown, a recession, has been the necessary cure for this disease and the damage from that is beginning to toll--massive amounts of unemployment You have businesses that are really right now on the brink. And so managing through that, and getting to the other side is the task. On the other side, there's a lot of opportunities. I'm very optimistic about what we can see on the other side with everything from manufacturing and technology reshoring back to the US opportunities in health care and epidemiology. Opportunities in entrepreneurship and in logistics for retail. So there's a lot to get to, but we have a liquidity crunch on the business side that we have to manage in order to get there.

Stephen Sabludowsky
So why don't you tell us what some of those opportunities that you see?

Michael Hecht
Um, I think that some of the obvious ones are manufacturing supply chains. I think people are now recognizing that being dependent on China leaves them very vulnerable in terms of manufacturing. So I think that will begin to come back. And particularly to places like Louisiana we've been a leader in manufacturing for years and have been one of the tops in foreign direct investment in manufacturing, for as long as I've been around, so big opportunities for the river region, for the North Shore for all of Louisiana in manufacturing. In technology, what they're finding is that companies that are offshored, their, their production of their coding to places like India, we're finding that it was hard for them to work from home from India, they could work from home from the States, but if they were in Bangalore, there was major disruption. So I think you're going to see a lot more of that coding work coming back to the states and again, low cost high culture, places like New Orleans, I think really stand to benefit from those opportunities. In logistics, we have big logistics capabilities in the region with seven class one railroads and the river obviously, great highway access. So you're going to see more and more warehouses and logistics centers, a lot of them automated, however, being built, because logistics is the new retail everybody is saying and I happen to agree. And in health care, some changes that are--we're already coming or being accelerated, you're going to see telehealth where places like Ochsner have been a leader. You're going to see epidemiology and infectious disease. Where Tulane medical school was established for that purpose, played a role in curing Ebola. And now it's going to play a role going forward. And I think just in general, Steve, if you're a remember, post Katrina, the surge of entrepreneurship, I think you're going to see a similar surge here, with necessity being the mother of invention. And you know, this being a pretty big bad Mama.

Stephen Sabludowsky
You mentioned something about logistics, and being new retail. So I'm assuming that you're talking about having to buy something and have it delivered. That kind of logistics?

Michael Hecht
Yeah, well, I think you'll see two things. One obvious..

Stephen Sabludowsky
part of that I'm sure

Michael Hecht
You'll see the Amazon style, but I think even more significantly, you're going to see stores increasingly become showrooms or fulfillment. centers. So you're going to shop online, then you're going to go to the store to pick up or you might go to the store to browse, then it will get delivered there. So the stores as set as where the actual holding the inventory and where the commerce takes place, I think that's going to continue to decline that's going to happen in the cloud. And it warehouses and stores will become more of showrooms or places you just go to pick up there's a new term called "bopies" buy online, pick up in store, and that's kind of what you're seeing a lot now with, with groceries, right?

Stephen Sabludowsky
Oh, yeah, absolutely. As well as other products. Now, I just had to buy something from Best Buy two weeks ago. And sure enough, I you know, went ahead and bought it online and then picked it up. Yeah. Yeah, it was a interesting experience. It's amazing how these technologies have, have just really kind of come together. And you know, as you know, of course we have the digital media law and So I'm just wondering, you know, that seems like it could be a pretty good opportunity.

Michael Hecht
It's a great opportunity. Right now we're the seventh fastest growing tech market in the country. We're number five for African Americans and tech number three for women in tech per capita. And it's I think, you know, the many things that have been underscored by this Coronavirus crisis. One of them clearly is the need to keep diversifying the economy because we're not just getting hit by Coronavirus, getting hit by the oil price, you know, debacle. And so diversification is really the long term mitigation for that clearly.

Stephen Sabludowsky
I'm glad you bought the crisis debacle. Yeah, what $20. I mean, that's extraordinary.

Michael Hecht
Well, and it did make it concrete. Every dollar in the barrel of a price of oil equals 11 to 12 million for our state Treasury. Our state budget this This past year had been budgeted at $57 per barrel. And then it went down to you know, for a moment below zero, but basically in the low 20s. So that's three $400 million swing in our state budget because of oil. It just makes our budget too volatile to always be dependent on energy, unfortunately. So energy is going to continue to be important. It's a key foundational industry. But we do need to diversify around that. I'm even talking about hospitality. Walt Legier had a great line to me. He said, you know, in five years from now, I'd like to see hospitality, even bigger than it is today. But at the same time, I'd like it to be only the fifth largest business only the fifth largest sector in the world.

Stephen Sabludowsky
So what about tourism?

Michael Hecht
Tourism is gonna, you know, it's going to take a few years to get back. You've got so many things that have to fall back into place, air travel, confidence in hotels, people having discretionary spending. All those things have to come back online. And so I think everybody is realistically saying that it will come back, we'll come back better than ever. But it's going to be it's going to be slower. It's not going to be flicking a switch.

And that's the entire region,

Stephen Sabludowsky
not just the entire state.

Michael Hecht
Yeah, one of the things that we really have to do is like we did after Katrina, where we take some CDBG dollars and invest them in a "Louisiana is open for business", "come visit Louisiana" type of program. People have to know that they can come back to Louisiana, and they have to know that it's safe.

So let's talk about focus a little bit more on sort of the positive one of the two is I'm going to do something kind of interesting. You don't mind I'm going to try to share our screen. Right. And I think you'll see if you have if I think that you're seeing it right now the adjustments that I made here, I'm going to Go ahead and I'm going to put up the Greater New Orleans website. Greater New Orleans Inc. website. Let me know when you can see it.

Perfect. Yep.

Stephen Sabludowsky
You see it?

Michael Hecht
Yep.

Stephen Sabludowsky
Okay, great. That's really interesting, this little slow delay on the video, but they'll see you too. So I'm going to scroll down. And what is there anything in particular in terms of your website that you think that the audience really ought to know about in terms of what's going on right now?

Michael Hecht
Yeah, if you go to the top of the website, actually, Stephen be great. 

Stephen Sabludowsky
Yeah.

Michael Hecht
And you can click on a couple of things first business resources.

Stephen Sabludowsky

Okay. So

Michael Hecht video, video up in the red.

Stephen Sabludowsky

Let's see, I'm sorry. success stories

Michael Hecht

can take you all the way to the top,

Stephen Sabludowsky
all the way to okay. I'm sorry. I thought there was some telling me that I'm about to crash. Okay, so business initiatives.

Michael Hecht
Okay. It's a click on no business. Keep going down. Yeah. And so we have a bunch of initiatives here. There's our plan for reopening if you click where it says this plan may be downloaded directly here.

Stephen Sabludowsky

So help me here. Like

Michael Hecht
Right there top. Yeah.

Stephen Sabludowsky
Okay. So you Okay, first, you can sign up for The Daily newsletter email, which happens

Michael Hecht
Are you getting ours every day, Stephen,

Stephen Sabludowsky

I sure am and I'm going to show that in a second.

Michael Hecht

That then we've got a plan enough to go into it now but we've got a plan for reopening which you can click on in the orange box below that.

Stephen Sabludowsky

Okay, so am I there yet?

Stephen Sabludowsky
Yep, just passed it and then and then we've got in that next year.

Michael Hecht
That's how you can open your business

Stephen Sabludowsky
can open Okay.

Michael Hecht
And then if you go down below that the next Orange Box. There's a comparison chart of different lending programs that people can look at, if they want to know which ones they can apply to.

Stephen Sabludowsky
Interesting. Interesting. I bet, you've had a pretty good amount of traffic.

Stephen Sabludowsky
Yeah, but really, really terrific. So can my business open? You mentioned that GNO Inc has a plan? You want to talk about that plan? A little bit?

Michael Hecht
Yeah. The the purpose of our plan is really to show people that it's not as much a comment on the timing as much on the ability and the commitment of business to really do whatever it takes to open safely. So it details everything from PPE in the workplace, to distancing, to new labeling, new protocols for employees, new ways of handling guests, for example, we talked about that online. But the point is that business is ready to reopen. And they're ready to do it in a very different way than they were doing it two months ago. And so we think it's important because business being open is about getting the economy going. It's about keeping people employed. It's about the psychological health of the community, because it's difficult not working. for all those reasons. We think using all these new protocols, it's time for business to get back open again.

Stephen Sabludowsky
So. I guess each industry is going to have its own protocol, obviously. And a lot of people, including myself, very, very frightened about going out to stores and things of that nature. I mean, that's just the nature of the beast. Especially when you hear about possibly the deaths, doubling, you know, within a month. So, I mean, how's how's business going to be able to deal with that perceived problem, or real problem.

Michael Hecht
Um, you know, it's both perceived and real. And I think that businesses are going to have to build trust over time, through their practices. And then it's also of course, up to me and you just to be safe and protect ourselves when we go outside and to protect others. So for example, wearing a mask is about protecting others, washing your hands is about, you know, protecting yourself. And so it's going to be a combination. And I think that the point that everybody understands is that it's going to be slow. It's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take a while for the economy to get back. And I don't know, Stephen, that we'll see a full economy back until, really frankly, we have a vaccine that's widely available to use. So in the meantime, though we've got to get back to a 50% economy, a 75% economy, and that's much better than the alternative, which is where we are right now, which is basically, you know, relying on government stimulus to keep us alive. That's that's not grid good over time for business for individuals or for the for the government. Starting to make that transition, even if it's halting, even if it's slow, I think is important. I think it's really significant.

Coming soon: More of the Hecht interview

DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE? TALK ABOUT IT BELOW AND SHARE YOUR COMMENT ON FACEBOOK

 

Read 737 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 May 2020 16:03
Stephen Sabludowsky

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+StephenSabludowsky/posts

 

www.bayoubuzz.com/media/k2/users/584.jpg | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1