NEW ORLEANS—Millennials are moving to New Orleans by the thousands, and it’s not just for Bourbon Street.
Since Hurricane Katrina, young entrepreneurs have flooded the city, finding opportunities to start businesses, have families, and give back. In the past five years alone, more than 44,000 millennials have moved here.
“And that number keeps on growing,” Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., an organization that promotes local businesses in the area, told The Daily Signal.
To document the area’s growing transformation, The Daily Signal traveled to New Orleans to interview three millennials who moved there for a short stint with Teach for America, then decided to stay.
One of them, Cari Killian, is now the chief academic officer at ARISE charter schools. After working hands-on for Teach for America after the storm, she decided she wanted to see the city through its charter school transformation. Before the storm, Killian told The Daily Signal she never could have imagined raising children in a city notorious for its failing school system. Today, she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else—and is pregnant with her second child.
Tom Hayes, another Teach for America alum, helped launch 4.0 Schools, which equips entrepreneurs to create new education startup companies and schools. Now Hayes is the general manager for Uber New Orleans, and he recently succeeded in getting the ride-sharing program approved in a city that previously had a hard time embracing change. With a business degree from Stanford University, Hayes is used to investing in the future of young companies. But today, he’s investing in something different: the future of New Orleans. “I’m here and fully invested because believe in this place,” Hayes told The Daily Signal.
Brian Bordainick also moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to work for Teach for America. After building the now famous “Field of Dreams” to provide inner-city schoolchildren a place to play sports after school, Bordainick founded Dinner Lab, a company that identifies up-and-coming chefs and lets them test their menus at pop-up locations for small dinner parties in front of strangers who become friends. What started in Bordainick’s small French Quarter apartment now has locations across the country. He says New Orleans wasn’t just a ripe location to start a company, but also a place with a quality of life he couldn’t get anywhere else.
Killian, Hayes, and Bordainick have all been a part of New Orleans’s so-called “rebirth,” and in doing so, they have challenged a narrative so often heard in the media—that this generation is “selfish and entitled.”