Saving Local Businesses: Where Do We Go From Here?

Across America, businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water. The situation is the same in New Orleans, a city highly dependent on tourism that has seen its economy hit hard as a result of the events of the past 12 months.

The arrival of a new president in the form of Joe Biden could result in many changes for America, but what are some of the local industries trying to survive in NOLA right now?


NOLA is known around the world as one of the premier party cities on the planet, but the last few months have been exceptionally tough for the city’s hospitality sector.

Bourbon Street, usually a mass of people all-year round, has been alarmingly quiet with bars struggling to get people through their doors. Restrictions to control the spread of the pandemic have been tightened in recent weeks, with businesses told they must cut their occupancy down to 25 percent of capacity.

For a lot of the top bars and restaurants in New Orleans, the change means it will become effectively unsustainable to keep their doors open at this time. With hundreds of new coronavirus cases every day in the city, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has faced a battle over controlling the spread of the virus while protecting NOLA’s economy and everything that makes the area so great.

For now, all NOLA’s bars can do is hunker down and try to survive. Even with Mardi Gras just around the corner it seems unlikely things will be back to normal in the city any time soon.


Casinos are normally some of the busiest businesses in NOLA, but that all changed during the course of 2020 and there are signs these organizations could struggle to bounce back this year.

Indeed, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board recently released figures showing that revenues for the city’s casino industry fell by more than a third (36.5 percent) in November.

The drop in revenue from $50.8 million to $32.3 million shows how difficult it has become for NOLA’s casinos as many regular visitors have long moved online and might be there to stay considering the freebies being awarded to customers.

Harrah’s land-based casino, NOLA’s casinos and riverboat casinos are all facing an uncertain future as more and more people start to play their favorite casino games online instead. Harrah’s has been hit particularly hard, with winnings in November collapsing from $26.1 million to $14.7 million, a fall of 43.5 per cent over the course of the month.


NOLA is famous for its superb cuisine, but many restaurants in the city have closed in the last year and a lot of others are fighting hard to stay open.

According to the Louisiana Restaurant Association, around one in six restaurants across the state have shuttered with many more on the brink of closure.

The stimulus package will offer some salvation but lots of businesses need more help if they are going to be able to make it through to the other side of this difficult period.

Of the cash that is on the way, president and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association Stan Harris recently said: “This is not going to offer any relief to someone who’s had to close their business, but it does offer a lifeline to those who have been holding on.”

A lot of restaurants in NOLA, though, do not believe the stimulus package goes far enough.

It also remains to be seen what the impact of a potential $15 minimum wage could have in the city. While the move would undoubtedly be welcomed by low-paid workers, some businesses could find it hard to balance the books if they have to increase the salaries of their staff.


With the number of people visiting New Orleans for a vacation dropping sharply during 2020, various businesses associated with the tourism industry have been affected as a result.

Hospitality Enterprises is one such company to have struggled, cutting its workforce to 50 from 4000 as a result of seeing sales slashed.

The company’s president Warren L. Reuther Jr. has received $2.2 millions in loans to keep the company going but hopes for more funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program. 

“It can’t get any worse,” Reuther said in a recent interview with the Advocate.

Many other business owners agree with Reuther’s assessment of the situation, with hopes the vaccination process can alleviate the coronavirus crisis and lead to brighter times ahead.

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