In the City of New Orleans, small businesses account for nearly a third of all companies, and over 40% of businesses are minority-owned. However, New Orleans has faced crippling business disruptions throughout the pandemic, with Black and Latino-owned businesses feeling the economic strains more acutely. And while 2021 was expected to be a rebound year for the city, the resurgence of the Delta variant and a catastrophic hurricane this past summer have continued to slow the city’s restoration of its business and cultural economy. With this context in mind, New Orleans recently formed the Office of Business and External Services (OBES) with the vision to create a city with more resilient businesses, stable jobs, and a vibrant economy in all neighborhoods in New Orleans.

To support building a healthy, equitable, and resilient economy post-pandemic that ensures small businesses can grow and develop, OBES is dedicated to reinventing the city’s relationships with their customers. FUSE will partner with the City of New Orleans to help eliminate barriers to permitting and licensing for local businesses in the city, particularly for women and minority-owned small businesses. The FUSE Executive Fellow will assess all existing customer touchpoints within the Office of Safety and Permits and outline a multi-year vision for how the Office will revamp and improve its customer services. This roadmap of innovative customer service solutions will serve as a model for other departments within OBES, ensuring more transparent, accessible, and accountable service delivery to residents and companies who do businesses in New Orleans.