Unique “Experiential” Conference To Tackle New Orleans Issues With Housing, Cultural Preservation, Public Transportation, Safety & Healthy Neighborhoods


NEW ORLEANS — One of the most unique conferences to ever visit New Orleans starts today and is guaranteed to leave a lasting impact on the city. Known as the Vanguard Conference, it annually attracts urban specialists from around the world who study the successes and challenges of the conference host city. The Vanguards hail from all over the U.S. as well as Hong Kong, Canada, Puerto Rico and India.

Co-sponsored by the New Orleans Business Alliance and Next City, attendees will walk and cycle to and from various venues. In the meantime, 40 urban experts will learn about the city’s unique challenges while addressing different approaches to issues like economic development, access to affordable housing and public transportation, cultural preservation and making our neighborhoods safe and healthy.

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“When experts from around the world visit New Orleans to learn about our city’s successes and help us conceive solutions to the recurring challenges facing our great city, the special place that our city occupies in world is again underscored,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., New Orleans Business Alliance president and CEO. “We’re proud to host Next City and the Vanguards. Their choice of New Orleans for this conference confirms that we, as a city, are thought leaders for other cities globally while giving us the opportunity to learn, which is the hallmark of New Orleans’ ability to innovate and re-imagine itself.”

Throughout the next three days, the “Vanguards” will visit the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, Port of New Orleans, Liberty’s Kitchen, the Claiborne Corridor Cultural Innovation District, the Treme Center, Studio Be, Café Reconcile, Ashé Power House and the Pythian Market, among other locations.

The culmination of the event will be the Big Idea Workshop that is open to the public (including a free reception) where Vanguards present their ideas for tackling key New Orleans issues. Attendees should RSVP here.

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“Next City proudly feeds movements working toward greater equity and inclusion, and working with NOLABA, one of the most unique economic development organizations, makes our focus this week of ‘Equity as a Growth Strategy’ something special for us and the entire nation,” said Lucas Grindley, Next City’s executive director. “It is easy to forget the challenges facing New Orleans because it’s easy to get lost in the beauty and charm here. The city should always be honored as a leader in so many areas like inclusive and place-based economic development and we’re grateful to witness that work firsthand this week.”

The disciplines of the 2018 Vanguard fellows include philanthropic changemakers, academics, policymakers and planners working for influential organizations such as the Urban League and National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as the Kresge and Ford foundations.

Speakers include Brandan “Bmike” Odums, local activist and nationally renowned visual artist; Brandy Christian, Port of New Orleans CEO; Mark Davis, director of the Bywater Institute; Beth Caniglia, editor of the Solutions Journal; Kurt Weigle, Downtown Development District CEO; Dennis Bagneris, CEO of Liberty’s Kitchen; Geoff Coats, executive director of Blue Bikes; Claiborne Corridor leaders and more.

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