New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Announces Opening of Second Annual Morial Awards Nominations

Awards designed to recognize outstanding local businesses.


New Orleans, LA. – The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center announced this week the opening of their annual Morial Award nominations. The purpose of the awards is to recognize businesses, big and small, and promote the economic growth of the local small business community.

The Morial Awards were established in honor of former Mayor Ernest N. Morial and his legacy as a highly successful citizen, civil rights activist, and political pioneer. As the first Black mayor of New Orleans, from 1977-1986, Mayor Morial championed the Convention Center’s construction and saw it as the way to promote economic development for our city’s local and diverse small businesses.

Beginning in 2020, the Morial Awards take pride in honoring a small business and corporation that has proven to be innovative and aggressive in their growth strategy and economic impact. The selection panel is looking for exceptional contributions to the sustainability and growth of local communities and small businesses across the great state of Louisiana.

Airware Transportation and Logistics was recognized as the 2020 Small Business of the Year and Woodward Design+Build was recognized as the 2020 Corporation of the Year.

“Supporting local businesses is an important pillar of the work we do at the Convention Center,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President. “There are many deserving companies in our area, and it is an honor to recognize them for the outstanding work that they do.”

The Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority, (“Authority”) the governing body of the convention center, has been a champion of active involvement of Small Emerging Business Enterprises (“SEB’s”) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE’s) as a guiding principle for how business is conducted at the Convention Center. Recognizing businesses that actively align with that vision is key to continuing the progress that has been seen in recent years, as well as to honor the incredible legacy of Ernest N.  Morial.

“Recognizing local businesses who play an incredible role in our economy is an honor,” said Jerry Reyes, President of the Authority. “Local companies are the backbone of what makes our city special, and any opportunity to recognize them for their achievements is a key part of the Authority’s mission of the Convention Center’s mission and, particularly, the SEB committee.”

The Morial Award winners will receive a custom-sculpted work of art by New Orleans visual artist Sheleen Jones, who is renowned for using her craft to pay homage to the heroes of our city. The winners will also receive the Urban League of Louisiana’s full suite of capacity-building and training, technical assistance, and will have all expenses paid to attend the National Urban League annual convention.

“As we honor the legacy of our Convention Center’s namesake, we cherish the opportunity to review the impressive nominations submitted by our local businesses,” said Bonita Robertson, Chairperson of the Authority’s SEB/DBE Committee.   “In 2020, 28 companies were nominated; 25 small businesses and 3 corporations, each with an incredible story to tell. We look forward to learning more about each of our nominees this year and embarking on the challenge of determining the companies who will be selected as the Morial Award recipients.”

Applications for the Morial Awards will be open for six weeks, from June 14, 2021 to July 31, 2021. The finalists will be recognized at an event in October, following the selection panel’s review of all applications.

For information on submitting a nomination, visit


About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space, in an entirely contiguous hall, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center provides the largest single exhibit space in the country, features an award-winning staff, first class amenities, and is the sixth largest convention center in the nation. A leading contributor to the city’s robust tourism economy, the Convention Center’s event activity has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $5.7 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.