The Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region was formed in 1985 by the iconic chairman and CEO of Freeport McMoRan, Jim Bob Moffett. The core mission of the Business Council during its thirty-four years has been to improve the region’s business climate, enhancing the quality of life for the community, working to effect principled reform, and simply striving to make New Orleans a safer and better place to live, work, and raise a family. It consists of CEOs and owners of primarily the largest businesses and employers in the city and has ranged in total membership from a low of about twenty leaders in the early days to about seventy currently.

Immediately following the Katrina devastation and upheaval, the Business Council emerged with new leadership who were able to quickly return to the city, willing and able to pour heart and soul into saving a beloved city and home. The post-Katrina chairman of the Business Council, Jay Lapeyre (CEO of Laitram, LLC), accepted the immense challenge and became the leader of the dramatic reform effort that would positively impact the region for decades to come. Jay, along with the new Business Council leadership team, focused on the city’s core institutional failures, critical recovery issues, and, most important, he worked tirelessly to make the city a better place. The Business Council team, confronted with the need to handle at once the multiple urgent challenges and critical issues facing the community, pursued each issue with vigor and tenacity. Key business leaders stepped up and led task forces that attacked each critical reform and recovery issue. Massive work was urgently needed to protect the city from further flooding and levee collapse as future hurricane seasons fast approached; major overhaul was needed to reform the inept and nonaccountable levee board system; the public education system was broken as graduation rates plummeted and poverty rose; the criminal justice system was incapable of providing adequate public safety or fairness; and city government was failing to meet a requirement to deliver basic city services.



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