Resurgent New Orleans attracting seasoned entrepreneurs

A welcoming business climate

Chris Mangum, 45, is from Arkansas but worked in Atlanta for 20 years for BellSouth and in venture capital before moving to Monroe as an executive with the Century Link telecommunications firm. His wife, who’s from New Orleans, was recently pregnant with their first child, and he craved more entrepreneurial pursuits. So he studied her hometown.

What sold him on the strength of the New Orleans market was a scene he spotted walking by the iSeatz office in the Warehouse District on the Friday evening before the 4th of July holiday. In the windows he saw programmers diligently working and then putting up a cheer when they met a deadline for a client. Having such dedicated people is key for start-ups, he said.

He moved to New Orleans in September and became and investor and partner in a start-up,, that offers an online job placement service for hourly wage workers.

“I cannot think of a better place to start a business,” Mangum said. He finds the entrepreneurship community more welcoming and nurturing than in more mature start-up hubs. “It’s very tight knit. The Idea Village has done a very good job of weaving together that fabric and being a focal point for it. It seems like all the cylinders are hitting for this entrepreneurial area.”

The city still needs more high-level corporate jobs and more investment money for start-ups in later stages of development, Mangum said, but he expects growth will attract them.

“It’s like a gumbo recipe,” he said, quickly adopting local analogies. “Right now it’s still at the roux stage. If you get this part of it right, the rest is going to be great.”

And he said, “The lifestyle here is hard to beat. It’s just a cool, cool place to live.”

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