Tuesday, March 31, 2009

IDEAcorps 2009 Brings Bright Minds to New Orleans Businesses

Written by Meghan Jones

Something amazing has been quietly happening in New Orleans recently. Unless you know where to look, or caught one of the television news or radio interviews, you may not have heard the good news. This week was the annual Idea Village IDEAcorps Challenge, where business students and corporate volunteers from all over the country pay their own way to New Orleans to spend their spring break helping local entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

This year's Challenge found 50 of our nation's top MBA students and corporate brains - from the likes of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, DePaul University and Google - paired up with six budding businesses centered around sustainable industries that will attract and retain 22-35 year olds in the Crescent City. After working with companies like Naked Pizza and Feelgoodz eco-friendly flip flops for the week, today is the day the student teams will present their ideas: the business models, marketing strategies and expansion plans that will hopefully make these companies a household name in the near future.
Free consultations with such educated, innovative thinkers are a dream come true for someone struggling to bring his business to fruition. But they can be traced back to two things omnipresent in New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina and a cocktail napkin.

According to Tim Williamson, president and co-founder of Idea Village, the organization was born in 2000, when a group of New Orleanians who had been spread out across the country came back home, "energized by experiences in thriving communities across the United States." In their adopted hometowns, these citizens realized that an entrepreneurial community was essential for leading and inspiring positive changes in a city. Small businesses could be just what New Orleans needed to re-energize and modernize itself. They decided to help.


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