There are many issues confronting New Orleans. Among them are the concentration of poverty in the metropolitan center and the dispersal of the tax base and of expenditures on infrastructure to the outer fringes, the segregation of affordable housing away from locations where jobs are available, and the social and economic polarization of the several communities in our region.
When the Louisiana District of the Urban Land Institute chaired by Pres Kabacoff recognized the need to develop a regional strategy for metropolitan New Orleans; we, Metropolitan Neighbors --- a group of national and local organizations and community leaders, undertook with Pres Kabacoff the Regionalism Initiative to change the “rules of the game” for how business is done in our community.
In many important ways, urban regions function as single units, regardless of their geographic expanse or the number of government jurisdictions. To the outside world, “New Orleans” refers not to the city alone but also to a web of social, political, and economic ties that encompasses Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and St. Tammany Parishes and that may even extend toTangipahoa and Washington Parishes. This network of linkages is especially important in the new global economy, where state and national boundaries become less relevant and the city/region’s links to other parts of the nation and the world become more prominent. It is not the city that develops and holds a niche in the world economy – it is the region.
We decided to undertake an examination of the Metropolitan New Orleans Region. The Research Project was advised by Mr. David Rusk. Mr. Rusk has conducted an extensive study of the New Orleans Regional area and made recommendations for regional development, housing, education, transportation and other issues critical to the New Orleans Region. Like many major metropolitan areas, Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish have suffered population and employment losses, a declining tax base, and severe stress from concentrated poverty. Concentrated poverty is only one face of the two sided coin-the other being suburban sprawl, where those fleeing the consequences of this poverty move farther and farther out while shifting resources from the established portions of the area.
Meanwhile, this suburban sprawl is encroaching on sensitive wetlands and rural open space while creating the very congestion that many of the suburban residents sought to avoid. The inner-ring suburbs are beginning to experience some of the same problems as the central city. Unless the region pulls together to solve its problems, the entire metropolitan area will suffer and will not compete effectively in the global economy.
We have published the RUSK Report and the accompanying maps, tables, and graphics in the New Orleans Times-Picayune of September 8. We will have available here shortly an electronic edition of the Report. You can read what has been published in the Times-Picayune about the Report and our Project and related matters here
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