March 202316

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Announces Nominations Are Open for Annual Morial Awards

Awards Recognize Businesses for Economic Impact, Contributions to Growth of Small Businesses

Terri Hogan Dryer, Senior Managing Partner, NANO LLC receives the Small Business of the Year award from Convention Center President Michael J. Sawaya, Dr. Julie Morial, Judge Monique Morial, and Authority Chairman Jerry Reyes during the 2021 Morial Awards. For high-resolution images, click here.

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the Urban League of Louisiana announced last week that nominations are open for the 2022 Morial Awards. These prestigious awards recognize a small business and a corporation that have demonstrated innovation and economic impact over the course of the last year, as well as exceptional contributions to the sustainability and growth of communities and emerging enterprises across the state of Louisiana. Submissions are due by March 27 and the winners will be recognized at a ceremony on May 25, 2023.

“Small business growth in New Orleans is a central focus for the Convention Center,” said Jerry Reyes, Chairman, of Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. “These awards underscore our continued commitment to supporting local vendors while honoring the legacy of the Convention Center’s namesake, Mayor Ernest N. Morial. We look forward to recognizing this year’s winners for their achievements.”

The Morial Awards were established to celebrate Mayor Ernest N. Morial’s legacy as a civil rights activist and political pioneer. Becoming the first Black mayor of New Orleans in 1977, a position he held for two terms through 1986, Morial championed the Convention Center’s construction and positioned it to promote economic development, especially for local and diverse small businesses.

“The Urban League of Louisiana is committed to building generational wealth for underserved communities and increasing parity. That is why we are proud to partner with the Morial Convention Center to support small and diverse business growth in a highly competitive environment and to recognize businesses that share our commitment and who are overcoming obstacles and finding success,” said Judy Reese Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana.

Last year, architecture and interior design firm NANO, LLC took home the 2021 Small Business of the Year award. And the Corporate Internship Leadership Institute — a nonprofit organization that helps college students gain work experience through internships and other programs — was named Corporation of the Year.

The Convention Center works year-round to create opportunities to help Louisiana’s small and emerging businesses (SEB) and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) succeed. Through the Small and Emerging Business Program, the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority encourages the hiring of local vendors to provide goods and services at the Convention Center and is making it easier for these vendors to access new business opportunities through the SEBConnect app and through its website at Since the program launched in 2019, 1,300 certified vendors have registered and more than $40 million has been awarded to area SEBs and DEBs. In 2022, roughly one-third of all payments and contracts awarded were to SEBs and DEBs.

Applications are currently open for this year’s Morial Awards, and submissions are due on March 27 at 5:00 p.m. For applications and eligibility information, visit

About the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s (Authority) exclusive mission is to finance, construct and operate facilities in order to attract and conduct conventions, trade shows and other events that support and expand the economy of both the State of Louisiana and New Orleans Region. The Authority is composed of a 13-member board of commissioners, ten appointed by the Governor of Louisiana, and three appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans. Since 1985, event activity at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 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.

About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC)

New Orleans is Built to Host! With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space on one level, all under one roof, NOENMCC is the sixth largest Convention Center in the United States and provides the largest single exhibit space in the country. Our recent LEED Gold certification makes NOENMCC the largest LEED-certified project in Louisiana and the largest convention center project in the U.S. certified under LEED v4.1 Operations and Maintenance, as well as the first convention center in the world to be awarded initial certification under LEED Gold v4.1 O+MA. A leading contributor to the city’s robust tourism economy, NOENMCC event activity has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening.

About the Urban League

The mission of the Urban League of Louisiana is to assist African Americans and other communities seeking equity to secure economic self-reliance, parity, and civil rights. We implement our mission through programs in the areas of education and youth development, workforce and economic development, public policy, and advocacy initiatives.