Propeller and Thrive Host Water Challenge

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Environmentally minded entrepreneurs will present their water companies to a panelist of water industry leaders and pitch their solutions to the most pressing water-related issues facing the community from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 30 at the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week at Gallier Hall, 545 St. Charles Avenue. RSVP at to attend the event. 

“These are existential issues, and New Orleans and Louisiana’s future depends on solving them,” said Andrea Chen, CEO and co-founder of Propeller. “The impacts of climate change and frequent storms cannot be faced alone, and the preservation of our city and region lies in the power of coming together and supporting the work and ideas of entrepreneurs on the ground.”

The Water Challenge 2023 is a part of New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week, a six-day entrepreneurial fest where startup founders, business leaders, aspiring entrepreneurs, industry experts, investors, and leaders come together to celebrate, learn, and network at the intersection of innovation and culture. 

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Propeller and Thrive New Orleans are co-hosting the challenge, which is an investment into blue-green infrastructure and coastal restoration in Louisiana, providing pathways to contracts and business expansion opportunities for local small businesses in the water economy, and sets a stage to collaboratively tackle these problems. Following each presentation, the panel will present guidance on how each entrepreneur can best be positioned to compete for contracts with their agencies.

“Our goal in facilitating the 2023 Water Challenge is to build climate resilience within New Orleans and to raise up Indigenous leaders and businesses in developing solutions,” said Chuck Morse, Executive Director of Thrive New Orleans. “We know that Black and African American people face more severe harm from climate change, as reported by the EPA, and addressing climate change and rising tides is a critical social justice issue.”

JP Morgan Chase Advancing Cities, Delta Regional Authority, New Orleans Business Alliance, Greater New Orleans Foundation and the City of New Orleans are generously supporting the challenge. 

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“The Greater New Orleans Foundation is proud to be the founding sponsor of The Water Challenge,” said Andy Kopplin, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “The Water Challenge aims to solve some of the biggest environmental issues we face here in Southeast Louisiana while simultaneously helping entrepreneurs showcase their ideas and innovations to achieve equity in the water sector. The Foundation created The Water Challenge a decade ago to advance our initiative to help our region live better with water. As the Greater New Orleans Foundation celebrates 100 years of philanthropy, leadership, and action, we were proud to support this year’s event once again and can’t wait to see what our entrepreneurs have in store!”

This year’s entrepreneur showcase features presentations by eight BIPOC, growth-oriented entrepreneurs whose businesses focus on innovation in the coastal and green infrastructure industries. Review panelists include executives from Louisiana’s anchor institutions and local government agencies, such as Ghassan Khorban, CEO of the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board; Brenda Breaux, Executive Director of New Orleans Redevelopment Authority; Greg Grandy, Executive Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; David Willis, Deputy Small Business Program, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Councilmember Oliver Thomas, Council District E.

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