New Orleans: Home Is Where the Heart Is

by Region 6 Advocate Janea Jamison

The City of New Orleans, also known as the Big Easy, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage as the birthplace of jazz, art, and some of the finest cuisine in the world. The Big Easy is also a thriving hub for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The city’s vibrant economy is fueled by events such as Mardi Gras, second-line parades, and festivals. The Metairie-New Orleans Metropolitan area has over 154,811 small businesses, according to the Office of Advocacy’s (Advocacy) 2023 Small Business Profile. 

Recently, I spoke with small business owners that not only differ in demographics but also in employee size and the type of services they provide. While diverse, they shared a love for New Orleans and the importance of growing small businesses within the city limits.  

Zuri Nelson, a young entrepreneur born and raised in New Orleans, was introduced to business ownership at a young age as he watched his grandfather and father own small businesses. Nelson moved to Atlanta but decided to open his own business in New Orleans. When asked why, he replied, “There’s no place like home. I see the need and the potential to grow a business in the city.”  

Nelson also emphasized that his business, Botanicals NOLA, a minority-owned smoothie and juice bar, is important to address the health disparities in New Orleans. He stated, “People in the city need more healthy food options.” So, Nelson’s move back home to New Orleans was simple. He also recently opened Minted Lounge, an upscale indoor and outdoor lounge in the Marigny area.  

Although there’s much excitement with the expansion of his entrepreneurship portfolio, with all good things come some challenges. He was unfamiliar with Advocacy but excited to learn more about the federal regulatory process and how to engage proposed rules, such as the FDA food labeling rule and other challenging rules as a restaurateur.  

Engagement with small businesses with 20 or fewer employees is critical and speaks to Advocacy’s mission to educate, introduce, and ensure that the smallest of the small businesses have a participatory voice within the federal rulemaking process. I recently shared Advocacy’s mission with Candes Carter, founder and principal consultant of The Carter Experience (TCE), a local business servicing New Orleans.    

TCE is a woman- and minority-owned business consulting agency focusing on project management, fund development, facilitation & strategic planning that aid profit and non-profit entities. The small yet mighty firm has a team of five members. They service clients throughout New Orleans and other regions nationwide.  

Like Zuri, Carter has roots in New Orleans, but she was raised in the Midwest and initially began a career in the Illinois region. Her love for the city of New Orleans and her family brought her back and influenced her to foster clientele throughout the Metairie-New Orleans metropolitan area and beyond.  

Carter recalls the past few years as successful yet challenging, like other woman-owned entrepreneurs. Women make up 49.0 percent of workers and own 45.8 percent of businesses, and Racial minorities make up 38.7 percent of workers and own 30.3 percent of businesses. However, women-owned businesses still need help accessing business financing and resources. Although she is now happily a full-time entrepreneur, she shared concerns about current regulations connected to the Women Owned Small Business certifications and the challenges they impose on women-owned businesses within various stages of their entrepreneurship journey.  

For example, working at the business full-time during regular working hours is often a challenge for many women. She also expressed concerns about fully understanding proposed rules and regulations and the time it takes to implement such changes. “Time is money,” Carter shared, “and often small businesses simply don’t have the time, resources, or support to implement these changes.” Carter shared that she and her team of five consultants are excited to connect with Advocacy, as they have previously worked with the Small Business Administration. She now has a new voice to tackle additional issues or concerns.  

Because I am a Louisiana native, and I currently reside in New Orleans, it’s so exciting to see so many young, diverse businesses choosing the “Big Easy” to grow their business and pour back into the state’s economy while also providing services and resources to the community through their work.  

If you are a small business in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or New Mexico, email Janea Jamison at to inform her about your business’s regulatory burdens or concerns. Please feel free to contact our other regional advocates as well. 

Image of Botanicals NOLA
Botanicals NOLA storefront in New Orleans, Louisiana

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