Big Easy Looks for a Model and Finds ... Miami?

Since the late 70s, Miami has endured hurricanes, homicides, and cocaine wars. The city is a survivor, to say the least. It also may be an example for another down and out metropolis, one with just as much character and potential: New Orleans.

According to a Big Easy business magazine, city leaders are looking to Miami as an economic development template on how to pull the crime-ridden, flood-ravaged area out of a major slump.

““Miami was smaller than New Orleans 25 years ago but it faced the same problems — crime, local corruption, a broken educational system,” said George Wentz, a New Orleans businessman. “What we did was look at how successful the Miami-Dade County area is today and ask: What did Miami do? How did they get their act together and move forward when New Orleans seems to have spiraled downward?”

Wentz and others have met with some Miami leaders, most notably, folks from the Beacon Council, according to New Orleans City Business.

Here’s what the magazine doesn’t say: Miami ranks as the third poorest city in the U.S., based on 2006 Census data. Yes, we know that those are statistics for the city only, and not the county, or the Beach, or Coral Gables. Still. Does New Orleans – a historically poor city itself – want to emulate the growing rich/poor gap we have here in the greater Miami area?

And, as they learn from our successes -- and failures – during our turnaround from the so called “cocaine cowboy” days, Miami leaders might look for a reciprocal lesson: what happens when a natural disaster devastates an already poor city? Just a thought. --Tamara Lush