Sep 112017
 

Mayoral candidate Troy Henry gestures toward Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association president Mary Fanning Horaist (far left) during a meeting Thursday night. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The key to addressing New Orleans’ social problems is by focusing on the economy, and the best way to do that is an aggressive focus on attracting Fortune 500 companies to relocate to the city, mayoral candidate Troy Henry told an Uptown neighborhood group late last week — arguing that his background in business uniquely qualifies him for the job.

Addressing the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association, Henry described a career that led him from a Stanford University education to jobs at IBM and other major companies before his last run for mayor in 2010. Those positions in business, he said, make him the ideal person to begin a project of recruiting major new employers to New Orleans.

Specifically, Henry said he’ll select about 200 growing companies from the Fortune 1000 list and prepare aggressive pitches to them about why they should consider locating in New Orleans. If he can succeed with 8 to 10 percent of them, he said, that’s 16 to 20 major new employers for the city — a major shot in the arm to the economy, restoring it to its rightful place as a business leader alongside Houston, Atlanta and other major Southern population centers.

“I have a vision that we can grow like these other cities grow,” Henry said. “I don’t want to keep being a ‘settle-for’ city.”

Those companies, in turn, will generate their own industry of support companies, such as local law firms and others, who will also in turn increase their hiring, Henry said.

“The derivative effect of that is huge,” Henry said. “We don’t have that here because we’re declining. If you don’t know how to recruit businesses, if you don’t speak their language, you’ll miss the boat every time.”

Along the way, Henry said, he’ll reform City Hall to make it more business-friendly as well.

“Just try and get a permit. It’s a disaster,” Henry said. “We’re going to re-engineer the culture of government so it’s truly customer-service oriented. … This is fixable, but you need professionals managing other professionals running a professional organization.”

Henry’s pitch drew inquisitive interest from the association membership Thursday evening, as president Mary Fanning Horaist asked for more specifics about why New Orleans might be more attractive than nearby Baton Rouge. Henry replied that attracting jobs must be combined with more training, and promised to work with local schools to prepare a willing and able workforce. For example, he said, if he manages to recruit a large call center, many New Orleanians need more training in their telephone skills.

“We have a lot of citizens here that we’ve got to teach how to speak the King’s English,” Henry said.

The city can provide a short-term boost to the economy as well, simply by hiring people to fill the vacancies it has. He noted that “benign neglect” has left numerous unskilled jobs vacant at the Sewerage & Water Board.

“It doesn’t take much specialized training to teach somebody to get in a hole and fix something,” Henry said.

Association member Tiki McIntyre said that prospective employers are not going to want to bring their companies to the city if they feel unsafe, and right now she’s afraid to let teenage children walk the dog around the block. The problem, she said, is that there simply aren’t enough officers on the street.

“I don’t want to move,” McIntyre said. “I want you to keep me here.”

Henry acknowledged that police response times are still far too high — he noted friends in New Orleans East who had to wait 36 hours for a response to a home burglary call. But he questioned whether the problem was really a shortage of officers, noting other communities with similar-size police forces serving up to three times the population of New Orleans — with a response time in minutes.

Under Mayor Landrieu, Henry noted, the department’s budget has grown by a third, while the number of officers has decreased by a third.

Instead, Henry promised a full “root cause analysis” of the city’s lagging response times. Meanwhile, he said, he’ll focus the work of the department on the “baddest dudes,” those small core who commit the majority of gun crime like robberies and murders, putting so much pressure that they’ll want to move out of the city even if they elude arrest. Finally, he said, he’ll restore flexibility in the paid-detail system that allows police to choose which overtime shifts they work, helping pad their paychecks and increasing morale without the need for raises.

  • Phillip

    It is nice to see someone with an interest in bringing businesses to the city and not just conventions and football games. We can’t begin to tackle unemployment and crime without being able to bring money and well-paying jobs.

    There is still a lot of demand to live in the city, despite the crime, and anyone who has tried to build here knows it is a herculean effort with all of the permitting, fees, and boards. If we could simplify the process, that would go a long way to solving the housing shortage and lack of jobs.

  • Craig

    While I realize this article isn’t an endorsement, it’s a free and positive advertisement for a candidate that deserves much scrutiny (which wasn’t offered here).

    Troy Henry trumps up his business credentials but doesn’t seem to ever mention his time at Enron. Or how last time he ran for mayor, he took a page from Nagin and lied about his resume, claiming he was the president of United Water. When confronted about that lie, he lied that he’d ever claimed that even though one of his campaign brochures clearly listed his position at United Water as “President.”

    After his last failed bid, consider his local “entrepreneurial” activities, when he used his influence to remove a property from a public auction, allegedly purchased it at a tiny fraction of the fair market value (although Henry was never able to produce documentation proving he’d actually paid for it), attempted to demolish an historic property by neglect, lawyered up to avoid paying any of the blight fines that an average citizen would have been forced to pay, and ultimately thumbed his nose at an entire neighborhood to bring an unwanted strip mall into a residential block. And when it briefly looked like he might not get his way even while he disregarded the law, he called on his buddy Wendell to decry perceived racism against him.

    If that’s how Troy Henry operates as a citizen, I fear how bad it would be if he became mayor. Acting as if you’re above the law and operating under a cloud of deceit should be automatic disqualifiers for mayoral candidates.

    Yet due to the amount of his own money he’s dumping into his own campaign, and some residual sympathy he’s cashing in from his last failed candidacy (when he blamed the media for “racism” for his floundering campaign), he still has a chance to become mayor. I hope this city learned its lesson with Ray Nagin and says”NO” to this lying, self-victimizing cheat.