Our Views: For growth, smart policies

The good news is that New Orleans continues to get noticed nationally and internationally for its growth statistics — and we hope that trend continues. We see more and more people not just returning to the city, but moving in from elsewhere because of its bright future.

All such statistical lists, though, can be taken with a bit of salt: The high percentage of growth over the past five years is misleading.

As most of us closer to the action know, that is still part of the post-Katrina rebound after the storms of 2005 and levee failures that inundated most of the city.

A recent Forbes magazine story put New Orleans at No. 1 in growth because of the percentage increase, 28.2 percent since 2007. At No. 2 on the list was a suburb in California, Chula Vista, at 17.7 percent.

However, our Queen City of the Mississippi is hardly back, in the sense that New Orleans at about 370,000 residents is far from its peak population of 628,000 in 1960’s census.

What can keep the good trend going? Smart policies and good government in City Hall — the sort of constructive approach, generally, that we’ve seen in Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration. The city also needs smart investments from the state in higher education and transportation, although that money has been harder to come by in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration in the State Capitol.

Government, though, can get a lot leaner even as it gets more active in the city’s future. This era is an opportunity to revive a spirit of commerce that once made New Orleans a leader in the United States. Making New Orleans a better place to do business, particularly for small firms and start-ups, involves less the quantity of taxation than its administration: Louisiana is already one of the lowest-taxed jurisdictions for state and local government.

Where we can learn from more entrepreneurial places is how to make the burden of red tape easier for business.

This is an attitude that will make good policy across the state of Louisiana, not just in New Orleans.

And thus we can almost guarantee future good notices in Forbes and other business publications as a nice little bonus.