The GNO, Inc. / Chevron Coastal Vitality Project (CVP) launched as a proactive response to mitigate the economic impact incurred on the regional workforce and business community by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster.

“The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has drastically affected the communities of the Gulf Coast, adversely impacting the livelihoods of its residents and devastating the fishing, restaurant, and tourism industries which provide jobs, revenues and local culture,” says Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Supporting the recovery of these local industries and communities is the mission of the Coastal Vitality Project.”

CVP will serve as an umbrella program, providing a broad set of services specifically tailored to businesses and communities impacted by the disaster.

“We hope our support through our contributions to our long standing community partner, GNO, Inc., will help carry out their important work during this difficult time of recovery,” said Warner Williams, Vice President of Chevron Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. “GNO, Inc. plays a vital role in this recovery through providing services that will benefit the economic vitality of the region where our employees work and live.”

GNO, Inc. will work with local economic development organizations, industry associations and community-based organizations, focusing on three areas of core deliverables:

1) Marketing the Sustainability and Vitality of the Southeast Louisiana Coast Brand

  • GNO, Inc. will execute a broad Economic Impact Study in order to inform where resources should be invested to mitigate damage
  • A regional marketing strategy and program will be implemented to promote the Gulf Coast as having the potential to support small business and job retention and creation in both indigenous industries such as fisheries and food enterprises, as well as in new emerging green industries
  • Further public relations efforts will focus on correcting damage to the Louisiana brand as a result of the spill

2) Supporting Regional Workforce Development

  • GNO, Inc. will conduct an regional jobs scan and create an online jobs bank, of available employment opportunities, accessible to the diverse populations impacted by the oil spill
  • Coordinating and collaborating with local chambers of commerce, government agencies, and economic development and community-based organizations, GNO, Inc. will also engage in job matching activities for recently unemployed workers as well as connect job seekers to existing workforce training opportunities
  • Additionally, a skills assessment of impacted populations will inform regional workforce training and development initiatives in response to the oil spill

3) Catalyze Small Business Capacity Building and Entrepreneurship

  • GNO, Inc. will help enable small business recovery and new business investments through a range of innovative solutions, including technical assistance to coastal businesses, including fisherman, seafood processors, wholesalers, and retailers negatively impacted by the oil-spill and damage to the coast
  • Further, GNO, Inc. will develop an inventory of local business assistance capacity to develop strategically-tailored financial and technical assistance products aimed at supporting existing and new businesses in capitalizing on new market forces and investment opportunities

To oversee CVP and a number of other innovative new initiatives, including GreenN.O., GNO, Inc. recently hired Robin A. Barnes as Executive Vice President for Programs. Barnes, formerly Senior Vice President of Seedco Financial Services, Inc., has over 25 years of community development, nonprofit management, lending and economic recovery experience. Building on her success in helping small businesses in Lower Manhattan recover after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Barnes moved from New York City to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to manage a $30 million regional small recovery initiative supporting 1,000 businesses in the fisheries, restaurant and arts and culture industries.

“The Coastal Vitality Project intends to complement, and not duplicate, other oil spill-related recovery assistance,” says Barnes. “To that end, we are pleased to announce that CVP is supporting the South Louisiana Economic Council and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board in their efforts to mitigate the impacts of the spill on local economies and on the seafood brand. In addition, by collaborating with community based organizations along the coast, we will strive to ensure that many of the challenges presented by this disaster, including language access and cultural competency, are properly acknowledged and addressed.”

The GNO, Inc. / Chevron Coastal Vitality Project is made possible by Chevron, with additional support from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Capital One, and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.

“Since Hurricane Katrina, the region has made significant gains that are now threatened by the economic effects of the Oil Spill, the potentially devastating moratorium and ecological damage to our vital wetlands,” says Hecht. “Chevron’s leadership today will help businesses and workers find new opportunities tomorrow, and ensure that the communities of our region remain vital.”