New Orleans may be the country’s most creative city


New Orleans tops a list of “Best Cities to Live in If You Work in a Creative Field.”

According to a study by personal finance site, SmartAsset, New Orleans is the best place in the country for creative professionals, beating 175 other major cities.

Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO, Inc., says the study showed New Orleans scoring high for both cost of living, and the number of resident creatives.

“First, it looked at cost of living. And, then it looked at the number of creative professionals per ten thousand workers. And, when you did that…New Orleans was below the average cost of living, but had a huge premium in the number of creatives per ten thousand workers.”

“So because of that, we came out at the top and they said that ‘New Orleans has emerged as a great place for all kinds of creatives’.”

Hecht says their definition of creative professional was broad.

SmartAsset recognized more than 28 professions…including architect, software programmers, musicians and painters as creatives…musicians, of course.

“The birthplace of jazz, New Orleans has long been considered one of the country’s best cities for musicians seeking inspiration and an audience,” says SmartAsset.

“But, while it remains one of the world’s top music cities, it has emerged as a great place for all kinds of creatives,” says the site.

In fact, going by total employment, the single largest creative profession in New Orleans is acting. There are 1,900 full time actors or actresses in New Orleans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“So, it really runs the gamut,” says Hecht. “From those that you would typically think about as being creative professionals, in that they’re in the creative arts…to those that are what you would call ‘brain workers’ and human capital workers.”

Hecht says he’s not surprised by the results of the study.

“Creativity happens to be one of the things that New Orleans was always good in. But, since Hurricane Katrina…as we’ve grown both the digital industry and the film industry…that’s when we really began to top out on creative professionals.”

So, does the city of New Orleans, itself, provide a creative environment?

“There’s no doubt,” Hecht says. “The reason that we tried to grow the technology and software community here is that we saw a place that was as culturally rich as anywhere in America, but at a 30 to  40 percent cost of living and cost of operating discount to a place like San Francisco or New York.”

“Our basic selling proposition to creative professionals and firms around the world is that there is no place with lower cost and higher culture, in combination, than the new New Orleans. And, it seems to be working.”

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