Rooted in Greater New Orleans

Local companies conduct business on a global scale

For Otis Tucker, Jr., a fourth-generation New Orleanian, the Crescent City is as much a part of his identity as it is his home. But that’s not the only reason he felt this region was the best place to launch and grow his company, Trucking Innovation.

Tucker launched Trucking Innovation in 2013 as a trucking logistics and transportation firm, but it evolved to provide government contracting services all over Southeast Louisiana and east Texas. They pay 20 “w-2 employees and a host of 1099 independent contractors” for their work, Tucker says.

“New Orleans supports startups while they grow and emerge,” Tucker says, explaining how the city backs small businesses as they evolve into major companies that, on several occasions, have become known on an international level.

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Grady Fitzpatrick, the senior vice president of business development at GNO, Inc., believes Greater New Orleans is poised to become an established option for more company headquarters.

“We offer lower business costs than more traditional markets,” Fitzpatrick says. “Our real estate offerings for corporate headquarters are also affordable and diverse. Companies have options in our downtown office corridors, as well as suburban office parks and buildings, all with lease rates way below our competitor markets.”

He notes that the region also boasts a talented workforce and 13 higher education institutions that offer customized training for regional employers.

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“Our talent has also proven to be extremely dedicated and loyal to their employers,” Fitzpatrick. “Employee retention is a key concern for companies looking to expand or enter a new market.”

Fitzpatrick says the city is the right fit for companies working to establish a brand identity in the country, while associating themselves with a diverse region.

Like Trucking Innovation, Intralox was established in New Orleans. But they’ve been letting the good times roll – quite literally for – 50 years. Intralox offers conveyance solutions to food processors, manufacturers and e-commerce companies. It all began when founder J.M. Lapeyre searched for a way to safely deliver shrimp to the automatic peeler he invented, while eliminating the maintenance and downtime of traditional conveyor belting, and – as a result – invented the first modular plastic conveyor belt. 

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The company now boasts 1,500 international patents, rendering technologies that enhance food safety and power logistics, and solve challenges for customers.

Intralox is still based in the Greater New Orleans region, with headquarters in Harahan and Hammond, but the company employs more than 2,500 team members around the world. Its 60,000 customers span over 100 countries.

“We are a global company, and we have assembly operations all over the world,” says Karyn Kearney, Intralox’s director of corporate communications and external affairs.

Intralox produces and assembles modular belting and accessories in Louisiana, and they ship those products to their assembly facilities in China, the Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, India, Australia, and the United Kingdom.


Urban Freeways Connecting Aerial View
Aerial view of the Interstate 10 junction with Highway 90

Ideal Infrastructure

“The transportation infrastructure that Greater New Orleans offers is important,” says Kearney. “The Port of New Orleans is the only container port in the state of Louisiana provides us with the transportation infrastructure to ship our products all over the world.”

Fitzpatrick points out that New Orleans sits in the center of the country, with easy access to both east and west coast markets.

“The central time zone also plays to our strengths, as companies can easily communicate with both coasts within normal business hours,” Fitzpatrick says.

He notes that the new MSY airport, with its abundance of topnotch retail shops and restaurants, provides a first-class experience for visitors and sets the stage for more direct flights to New Orleans. The connectivity creates efficient travel for executives as they move from one place to another, conducting business.

Louisiana’s interstates, highways and portals further support the infrastructure, says Tucker, noting that they also provide access to a growing pool of truck drivers.

Kearney points out that real estate and the cost of industrial space on the Northshore and the Southshore is also ideal.

“That provides us with opportunities to expand our footprint as our business grows. And our business is growing very rapidly,” she says. “Having the ability to expand our business, and the footprint to support that growth, is important.”


Making Money

Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, offers tax incentives to entrepreneurs interested in running a business in the state. Tucker was recently awarded a new markets tax credit that allows him access to capital to restructure his debt loans and additional capital.

“That allowed me to give raises and invest in capital projects,” he says. “It improves the quality of my personal life as well as the business.”

Employee benefits, education and paid training positions for students give a boost to the local workforce.

Laitram, the parent company of Intralox, has participated in the Louisiana Quality Jobs Program for more than 10 years. It has been a helpful incentive that provides a wage rebate for net new employees, as well as a sales tax refund on qualifying expansions, says Kearney. 

She also highlights how Intralox works closely with a network of regional technical colleges and universities on collaborative technical programs, such as the mechatronics program. This two-year program pays students for their work on jobsites, provides employee benefits and serves as a gateway to well-paying careers in the manufacturing industry.

Intralox also sources talent from higher education centers. 

“New Orleans is one of the most attractive metro areas for relocation,” Kearney says. “And we recruit a lot of talent to our headquarters in the New Orleans area. Being in a city that’s attractive to those recruits is very important to our business.”


Port Of New Orleans Aerial
The busy Port of New Orleans, located just outside of downtown along the Mississippi River

Quality of Life

A thriving culture and quality of life have become key elements in the site selection process for new and expanding companies, says Fitzpatrick. 

“Employees are eager to live in a region that has a diverse workforce and a plethora of lifestyle options,” he says. “Greater New Orleans will never be considered boring, and that works to our advantage.”

Tucker cites the ability to walk, or easily bike, from place to place as a plus to living in New Orleans.

“The infrastructure is improving to support that pedestrian traffic,” he notes. 

“New Orleans is a destination for many,” Tucker says. “So when (prospective employees) come down here and see the culture, they see opportunities. Some consider returning permanently to live and work.”

New Orleans-based Intralox employees comprise individuals who are born and bred in the region, as well as talent that the company recruited from elsewhere. 

“New Orleans appeals to recruits that are interested in joining our company,” Kearney says. “The culture and the history offer them a really interesting place to live and work.”


Rounding Out the Region

Economic development isn’t a one-way street. Companies that establish their headquarters in Greater New Orleans help the region grow and foster an even stronger business climate.

“The jobs at a headquarters operation are usually high-paying and offer a diverse set of job types – accounting, finance, HR, sales and other office functions,” says Fitzpatrick. “The decision-makers are also located in the headquarters office. They have a commitment to the local market and ensuring their region provides a strong quality of life for their employees.”

Fitzpatrick says a company’s philanthropic practices will largely benefit its home city, as they have a “vested interest in their community and will deploy philanthropic funds to key non-profits in the region.” Additionally, philanthropic decisions are easier to make in a company’s headquarter city, as donations don’t have to be run by executives in “an out-of-market office without the local relationships.”

Existing headquarters in the Greater New Orleans region have already done a lot to validate the local market and attract new companies, but even still, Fitzpatrick believes a true economic hub will always be on the lookout for ways to expand the region’s appeal to companies establishing or relocating headquarters.

One look at GNO, Inc.’s attraction and retention website, Destination GNO, shows a robust infrastructure for many quality-of-life factors executives consider in the decision-making process, including diverse housing and school options and a reliable network of employers.

“We have to pay close attention to our quality of life and make sure we have the services and amenities that our citizens expect and deserve,” Fitzpatrick says. “When you compete to retain and attract headquarters, you are competing with almost any market in the country. We have to be diligent in continuing to provide a pro-business environment with an excellent quality of life.”

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