Fritts To Assist New Orleans Recovery

Fritts To Assist New Orleans Recovery

Lessons can be learned while help is being given.

Revitalization is about to take on a whole new meaning for Lara Fritts, executive director, Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC). From June 24 to 30 she will be working in the New Orleans Mayor's Office of Recovery Management evaluating 17 recovery zones devastated by the 2005 hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

The zones have been targeted for concentrated redevelopment and revitalization activity built around public assets in business corridors, with a goal of generating private investment, Fritts said. "They've spent the last two years putting together plans for reviving these specific zones," Fritts said.

She will be one of a group of economic development professionals who will work in four- and five-person teams evaluating those proposed plans, providing input on economic feasibility, giving peer review, and gathering input from residents of the various impacted neighborhoods. The program is being administered by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) headquartered in the District of Columbia.

"IEDC was seeking volunteers and I felt this was something where my background really matched what they were looking for. I also saw this as an opportunity for a two-way benefit," Fritts said.

"Not only will I be using my expertise and knowledge to help them but also I'll have the opportunity to network with my peers to possibly gain some new ideas on revitalization I can bring back here to help our Richmond Highway revitalization efforts. Hopefully, I'll also be able to supply some ideas they haven't thought of either," she said.

"We are very proud to have Lara be one of the highly talented professionals who are dedicating their skills and creativity to the recovery efforts of the City of New Orleans," said Rick Neel, president, SFDC.

"All Americans want to see New Orleans and the other Gulf Coast communities restored to economic health, and that goal is best accomplished by encouraging conditions in which small and medium size business can provide jobs, service and products for their communities," he said.

Each of the targeted areas on which the teams will focus has a commercial sector to it, according to Fritts. Plans have been put forward to revitalize those areas. The teams will now evaluate those plans and provide outside expertise to bring them to fruition or make significant changes.

SFDC promotes the economic revitalization of the Richmond Highway corridor by encouraging business development and expansion. It assist businesses identify possible sites and facilities, understand the development process and provides assistance with permit expediting. IEDC is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to helping economic developers do their job more effectively.