Benoit named Chairman of GNO, Inc.Mar 13th, 2012 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
Dale Benoit, local businessman and Co-Publisher of The Plaquemines Gazette and The St. Bernard Voice has been named Chairman of GNO, Inc., the economic development group representing the 10 parish region of Southeast Louisiana including Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes.
The announcement came Thursday at the organization’s annual meeting themed “Regionalism Restated” at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans. One of Benoit’s first duties was to announce to the crowd of nearly 1,000 business leaders that CEO and President Michael Hecht was extending his contract with the organization through 2015. “Michael is the face of economic development in our region and his continued leadership of our organization is a cornerstone in continuing to bring new jobs,” said Benoit.
Hecht told the crowd Thursday that GNO, Inc. helped bring more than 1,500 jobs to the New Orleans area over the last year. Video game developer Gameloft and General Electric both announced plans to establish software development offices in the city. NASA committed to constructing components for its new heavy-lift rocket at the Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans, a development that promises to add 500 jobs. A host of other companies, including Reily Foods and northshore manufacturer Bradken Industries, announced expansions of their facilities.
Speakers at the event, Hecht, Benoit and outgoing Chairman Leslie Jacobs all focused on how important regional cooperation is and how that has been a key element of the organization’s success.
“As a region, we have gone from decades of parochialism to a new spirit of regionalism that has allowed us to beat the best in the world for projects like GE Capital’s IT Center of Excellence – a project that partners from Plaquemines to Baton Rouge helped us win,” said Jacobs.
Benoit, who has been active for many years in various business and civic organizations said, “You’ll find more cooperation and interaction today in the business community, the political community and the civic community than I can remember in my lifetime. GNO Inc is uniquely qualified to keep these entities working together for the good of our region.”
Hecht pointed out to the crowd that by working together and marketing the combined assests, population and tax base of the entire region, we are more able to compete with cities like Houston and Atlanta for economic development wins and pointed to recent successes as proof. Both GE and Gameloft conducted extensive site searches before settling on New Orleans.
“The project itself with GE is exciting, but the fact that we survived a one-and-a-half-year vetting process (by that company) … is an extraordinary validation for us,” he said. “The reason why we’re staging one of the most remarkable comebacks is because of the cooperation of the region,” Hecht said.