New Orleans: a designated Manufacturing Community?

LifeCity, New Orleans’ green business association, recently returned from being invited to the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) National Summit hosted by the Department of Commerce in Washington D.C. The IMCP is a national program to prioritize federal grants from 12 agencies to communities who have demonstrated a strong place-based strategy to grow the manufacturing sector.

The IMCP program is an initiative designed to revolutionize the way federal agencies leverage economic development funds through a collective impact approach. This way, local communities are incentivized to utilize best practices and form collaborative strategies that grow our economy. It encourages communities to develop comprehensive economic development strategies through backbone organizations that will strengthen their competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments.

During the Summit, the Department of Commerce announced a second round of the IMCP competition where an additional twelve new communities will receive a dedicated federal point of contact and consideration for over $1.3 billion in federal economic development funding. New Orleans has the opportunity to be designated in this next round and build upon our existing momentum to strengthen Advanced Manufacturing in the region, creating jobs and improving livelihoods for our community.

Through the IMCP program, the federal government is rewarding best practices by coordinating federal aid to support communities’ development plans and synchronizing grant programs across agencies. Thus, if the Greater New Orleans community becomes a “designated manufacturing community” we will receive preferential treatment for funding from 12 different federal agencies.

It’s almost hard to believe: twelve different government agencies all coordinating their efforts to support growth in manufacturing including the Appalachian Regional Commission Delta Regional Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The government is breaking out of its silos – slowly but surely – in order to be more effective with its funds and services. These changes are thanks to leaders like Tom Murray of the Environmental Protection Agency and Kristin Pierre of Housing and Urban Development.

“Strengthening local economies must occur through place-based initiatives that coordinate the collective efforts of multiple organizations across sectors,” says Tom Murray, Biologist, Senior Science Advisor to the Chemistry, Economics & Sustainable Strategies Division. “We are proud to model this collective impact approach as 12 government agencies. No matter how challenging this can be at times – working across multiple agencies – this coordinated approach will help leverage tax payer dollars to their highest use.”

The IMCP Playbook, a guide to help communities create effective strategies for strengthening manufacturing, builds upon the success that federal agencies have seen in implementing the Economy, Energy, Environment (E3) framework across the country. Similarly, the E3 framework consolidates technical assistance across multiple federal departments to help manufacturers increase profits, create and retain jobs, and improve social and environmental outcomes.

The federal government is the greatest funder of non-profit agencies addressing our society’s social and environmental challenges, and it is excited to see a collaborative approach to ensure that funds are being spent for their best use.

But what if the New Orleans community is not designated? The good news is that the process of applying for the designation allows our community and partners the opportunity to establish a common vision for growing manufacturing in our region and working across our own local silos. While New Orleans did not get designated in the first round, our community partners have made headway to improve our application for round 2.

New Orleans’ five-year plan for economic growth, ProsperityNOLA, developed by a collaboration of business, civic, education and nonprofit organization, provides a playbook for growth in the advanced manufacturing cluster. Furthermore, the Value NOLA Initiative spearheaded by LifeCity and built upon the E3 framework has already proven successful with local manufacturers in the region.

“As a manufacturer, I’m running trucks in and out every day delivering concrete and it is difficult to find enough time to examine and improve our operations,” says Renee Landrieu of Landrieu Concrete and Cement Industries. “By working with the Value NOLA Manufacturing Group, I’m already realizing ways I can save money and grow my business – and also increase my impact on our bottom line and the community at the same time.”

LifeCitDepartment of Commercey will be coordinating a second application for the IMCP designation in partnership with many other organizations such as the Louisiana Small Business Development Center and Algiers Economic Development Foundation through the Value NOLA Initiative. If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved, email

To learn more about the IMCP Application and Playbook see here:

To learn more about the Value NOLA Manufacturing Group, see here: