New Orleans, LA
Metro Area Population: 1,227,096
Number of Public Climbing Gyms: 0
Just down the Mississippi river from Memphis is another great location for a climbing gym: New Orleans. The “Big Easy” has historically not been easy on climbing gym operators. Several have tried and failed to make a go of it in NOLA, with only one gym, which is located outside of New Orleans proper, still operating after the floods and economic recession.
Like many other cities on this list New Orleans is moving away from old industries and trying to bring in new business sectors, like information technology, to help diversify their tourism-heavy economy. Though the great Katrina flood set the city back a few hundred thousand people that have yet to return and a few years economically, the transfusion of recovery money has begun changing the city for the better. According to an article in Businessweek:
“While Katrina was a horrible disaster, it also has provided the city with the money and the chance to reinvent itself,” said Sean Cummings [a local real estate developer]. “As New Orleans is reinventing itself, it’s attracting new talent, new ideas and new investments in actual numbers,” Cummings said. “I’ve not seen it this way in this city before.”
New Orleans also has a number of great business incentives such as the Enterprise Zone (EZ) program, the Restoration Tax Abatement program and the New Market Tax Credit. This includes a Jobs Program which offers a credit on any tax liability equal to 40% of an investment up to $250,000 in commercialization costs.
Major universities like Tulane, Loyola and University of NO with their combined 31,000 students bring a ready-made audience to any climbing facility. In addition to providing great membership potential, area colleges give gym owners a solid place to find employees. Current industrial properties rates are relatively low at $56/sq ft (office space at $95/sq ft) which should make it easier to move into this market.
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