Mar 162020
 

The Hot 8 Brass Band enters the stage at Tipitina’s on Dec. 19, 2019. Musicians are among the workers severely affected by the coronavirus-related closures.  (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

From the New Orleans Business Alliance

As a result of the current and anticipated local economic impact of COVID-19, the New Orleans Business Alliance, or NOLABA, has set up a dedicated relief fund to meet the needs of gig economy workers who have been directly affected via loss of income.

NOLABA is committing $100,000 to initiate the fund, with the goal of increasing its assets to a minimum of $500,000. The organization is also charging the New Orleans community to participate by encouraging business leaders, philanthropy and concerned residents to contribute here to increase the potential impact of this critical relief effort.

As of 2017, gig economy workers represent more than 8% of the workforce in Orleans Parish, including rideshare drivers, musicians, arena workers and festival production staff. As contract employees of often large corporations, gig economy workers tend to lack access to minimum wage, paid sick leave, overtime pay, and standard employee benefits — making them particularly susceptible to changes within the economy.

In New Orleans, many of these workers depend on the cultural calendar for reliable income. With the cancellations and postponements of many large local events on the horizon due to coronavirus, this community stands to lose out on millions of dollars of potential income, directly impacting their livelihoods and well-being.

The establishment of this relief fund will help ensure that these critical members of the community may continue to be active participants in the New Orleans economy, and rest assured that their families will be taken care of during this difficult time.

“At the Business Alliance, we know that New Orleans’ greatest asset is its people. Therefore, working to address the issues they face, particularly those that impair their economic opportunity and stability, has always been and remains our top priority,” said NOLABA President & CEO Quentin Messer Jr. “We recognize that this fund will only be part of the solution for most families, and will stand alongside Mayor Cantrell and the City Council to aggressively fight for additional resources as the federal response is solidified. To our neighbors throughout New Orleans, we see you, we support you, and we will get through this together.”

“The impact COVID-19 will have on all our people is going to be real, especially those who work in hospitality and in the gig economy,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “I want to thank the New Orleans Business Alliance for recognizing the dependence our gig-workers have on a cultural calendar that has shifted and for stepping up in a real way. I urge all organizations and businesses who can contribute to the relief fund to do so. Now more than ever, we need to stand with and continue to lift up our people any way we can.”

“Getting the virus under control is only the beginning – the lingering economic damage is only beginning to come into view. Prioritizing relief for our working people is essential. This is just one step in that fight to sustain and uplift our people through this crisis,” said Council President Helena Moreno.

“This pandemic is affecting communities across the globe, but especially here in New Orleans where our economy relies so heavily on large-scale events and tourism activities. What will set us apart, however, is how we choose to deal with and overcome the challenges we face as a result of COVID-19,” said Council Vice President Jason Williams. “As I’ve said before, our response to this crisis will dictate not only our physical health but our fiscal health, and I am immensely grateful to our partners at NOLABA for taking this first important stride toward recovery. Unlike anywhere else in the world, New Orleans has proven time and time again her unrelenting resiliency in the face of crisis, and we expect no different from this incident. In the meantime, this relief fund will provide critical assistance for workers and families to get back on their feet.

“This is at least one step by the business community to help those who are directly affected by the local spread of coronavirus,” said District A Councilmember Joe Giarrusso.

“We have a tremendous amount of our population that is going to be adversely affected and will not be able to work. I strongly encourage anyone who has any available resources or any resources that they can lend to this effort to please do so. Thank you to NOLABA for taking this initiative. We’re all in this together, and we will all get through this together,“ said District B Councilmember Jay H. Banks.

“During an unprecedented crisis, it’s critical we do not forget those workers who are the backbone of what makes New Orleans such a special and vibrant place,” said District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer. “I want to applaud NOLABA for setting up this fund, and my office will be supporting them in their efforts to disburse these monies in an equitable way to help mitigate the financial strain this pandemic will no doubt place on our local artists and musicians.”

“Our gig economy workers have played a huge part in shaping our city as we know it today, and I am extremely grateful to NOLABA for their responsiveness in addressing this urgent need. While we cannot entirely prevent the challenges, our people will face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, New Orleans can and will overcome this crisis, like so many others in our past. In the meantime, I remain committed to working with key partners like NOLABA to mitigate the negative impacts for our local business community and to ensure New Orleans’ economic outlook moving forward,” said District “D” Councilmember Jared Brossett.

“As the official economic development agency for the City, I am proud to see NOLABA step up to the plate to help the thousands of local workers being affected by the COVID19 event,” said District “E” Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen. “Our gig economy workers are the most vulnerable to the economic impact that this pandemic is having on the City of New Orleans, and our office will work with NOLABA to ensure that all of these workers are protected through a multi-agency effort.”

“During this challenging time for our city and our culture bearers who are deeply impacted by the loss of revenue amid the COVID-19 crisis, we sincerely thank NOLABA for stepping up and providing much-needed relief to the residents of New Orleans,” said Emily Madero, President and CEO of French Quarter Festivals, Inc. “The decision to postpone French Quarter Festival was a heavy one, particularly because of the impact we knew it would have on the artists, musicians, and hospitality workers that count on our cultural calendar for income. Through this grant, these critical members of our community will receive resources to help sustain them during this crisis. We implore other companies and organizations to contribute to this relief fund and support our gig economy workers who are on the front lines in providing both locals and visitors alike an authentic New Orleans experience.”

For additional information regarding the gig economy workers’ relief fund, or to apply, please visit www.nolaba.org/relief-fund/.

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