NOLABA’s Fund to Help Local Gig Workers Doubled

Donations roll in while nearly 1,000 people apply for aid within first 24 hours


NEW ORLEANS — On Monday morning, the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) announced it had created a fund to provide assistance to gig workers who reside in Orleans Parish who have lost income as a result of the coronavirus. The fund started with a $100,000 commitment by NOLABA who set the goal of increasing the funds through donations to a minimum of $500,000.

Within hours of the announcement, the public-private partnership between the city of New Orleans and local community investors was almost halfway to its goal thanks to New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, who donated $100,000.

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Benson’s addition is part of the $1 million donation she announced Monday afternoon to support response to the coronavirus pandemic, which will include the creation of the Gayle Benson Community Assistance Fund.

Victoria Adams Phipps, vice president of programs at NOLABA said the gig economy relief fund has already seen a lot of interest — unsurprising since gig workers make up an estimated 8% of the workforce in Orleans Parish.

“In the first 24 hours we’ve had north of 5,000 people seek out information on the site and already nearly 1,000 people have applied for assistance,” she said.

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Phipps added that the fund has also received its first donations from individuals and businesses.

“We’ve seen everything from individuals contributing $5 because they feel the need to do something to help, up through very significant amounts,” she said.

Phipps stressed that this is only the first of the efforts NOLABA is planning to respond to individuals and businesses impacted by the coronavirus.

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“We have four focus areas and one of them is small business,” she said. “You will likely be seeing more resources coming online to help in that area next. That’s a large part of what our team will be working on in the next two weeks.”

NOLABA President and CEO Quentin Messer said he’s optimistic and encouraged by the response he’s seen so far in the parish.

“Every meeting I’ve been to has begun by focusing on what the city can do to help businesses of all sizes, and particularly small- and medium-sized companies…The willingness across companies and organizations to come together has been really wonderful to see.”

Besides giving to help those in need, Messer noted there’s something else everyone can do during this difficult time — fill out their census forms.

“It’s getting kind of lost right now in everything,” he said, “but it’s important for future funding that we make sure we’re not undercounted.”


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