Week in Review, March 7-11: Top N.O. Business Stories

NEW ORLEANS — The boards of the World Trade Center New Orleans and Greater New Orleans Inc. have approved an operational partnership that means the WTCNO will move its operations from Canal Place into GNO Inc.’s Energy Centre offices later this spring. “The formation of ‘The World Trade Center at Greater New Orleans Inc.’ is a strong signal to the world that Greater New Orleans and Louisiana are doubling down on international trade,” said Michael Hecht, GNO Inc. president and CEO, in a press release. “Our combined organizations will be more robust and impactful than before – and at the same time more efficient. I would like to offer my gratitude to the many committed board members of both organizations who worked to make this organizational vision a reality.” Founded more than 75 years ago, WTCNO is one of more than 300 World Trade Center organizations across the globe. It has hosted many dignitaries and heads of state over the years as part of its mission to promote diplomacy and free trade. GNO Inc., meanwhile, has received multiple economic development awards as it focuses on attracting companies, jobs and wealth — and creating a better environment for business investment.

Here are the week’s other top business stories:

The McEnery Company has been hired to solicit offers on a commercial site along the Mississippi River in Algiers that’s being sold via federal bankruptcy court. 1321 Brooklyn Avenue is located in a mixed-use area and consists of three vacant, undeveloped tracts of land. The gross site size is roughly 3.3 acres (143,748 square feet). Miami-based developer Philip Spiegelman bought the property in 2006 and initially planned a $100 million, 345-apartment development that included affordable housing. In 2017, he cut the size of the project in half but, in 2019, the New Orleans City Council failed to approve the plan. The bankruptcy court has a “stalking horse” buyer in place who has agreed to purchase the property for $4,436,000, but McEnery is collecting additional bids. Parke McEnery, the company’s sponsoring broker, said the time is right for a development like this — especially on a piece of property that’s “as high as it gets” and directly across the river from downtown New Orleans. …

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Viking has announced that its new 386-guest Viking Mississippi riverboat was “floated out” in Louisiana, marking a major construction milestone and the first time the ship has touched water. Set to debut in June, the vessel will sail Viking’s voyages on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and St. Paul, Minn. “It is a proud moment that this new ship has met an American waterway for the first time,” said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, in a press release. “Our guests have long wanted to sail the Mississippi River with Viking, and we very much look forward to welcoming them on board this summer. We are grateful to our American partner, Edison Chouest Offshore, who has helped bring to life our vision of exploring the Mississippi in the ‘Viking way.’” The traditional “float out,” which means a ship is moving into its final stage of construction, took place at Edison Chouest Offshore’s LaShip shipyard in Houma. …

The latest New Orleans 500 survey shows that the imminent return of New Orleans’ “festival season” is cause for celebration among the city’s hospitality executives — and also welcome news for many CEOs in others sectors of the economy. Half of the leaders who responded to the survey said these gatherings increased their company’s bottom line. It goes without saying that operators of hotels, tour companies, restaurants and other visitor-dependent businesses are optimistic about the return of Jazz Fest, Essence Fest, French Quarter Fest, the NCAA Men’s Final Four and other events that attract paying customers. For many executives, in fact, the tourist influx can’t come soon enough, especially after the city has endured two years with far fewer visitors than normal. “Our businesses — the Steamboat Natchez, Riverboat City of New Orleans, Gray Line Tours and Café Beignet Restaurants — all thrive on tourism,” said Gordon Stevens, president of New Orleans Steamboat Company. “We are part of the hospitality industry, which has suffered more due to COVID than any other segment of our economy. The return of festivals and events is a godsend.”

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