The Coastal Index: Tracking development of the water management cluster in Southeast Louisiana

Report by Nihal Shrinath, Allison Plyer
April 20, 2015

The Data Center   (New Orleans)

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Southeast Louisiana is situated to capture the economic opportunity of a lifetime—an opportunity that’s derived from a water management economy catalyzed by massive federal investment and augmented by state and local investments in coastal restoration, levees, and urban water innovations. Water management has the potential to be to Southeast Louisiana what software is to Austin, what biotech is to Boston, or what e-commerce is to Seattle.[i] A water management cluster—one that contains local companies large and small that compete, innovate, collaborate, and ultimately export knowledge to other regions all the while investing and growing jobs within Southeast Louisiana—is within reach. However, in order to become a nationally-recognized cluster built upon regional expertise, certain economic, social, and political factors must be aligned to propel the water management economy from a mere concentration of jobs into a vibrant economic cluster.

[i] Owen-Smith, J., & Powell, W. W. (2004). Knowledge networks as channels and conduits: The effects of spillovers in the Boston biotechnology community. Organization Science, 15(1), 5-21.