Awards established to honor Ernest N. Morial’s legacy championing the growth and sustainability of small businesses across the State of Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana — The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and Urban League of Louisiana announce the launch of the Ernest N. Morial Small Business of the Year Award and the Ernest N. Morial Corporation of the Year Award to honor the legacy of one of New Orleans’ most emblematic mayors, Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial.
Ernest N. Morial was a civil rights activist and political pioneer whose accomplished career encompassed many firsts including the first black mayor of New Orleans in 1977, a position he held for two terms, and the first African American U.S. Attorney in Louisiana. He also created the first office of Economic Development to coordinate the city’s efforts to retain and attract business and the first minority business enterprise counselor to assist small and minority-owned businesses.
The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (Authority), the governing body for the Convention Center, has made small and minority business opportunities a high priority. “The Authority has been a champion of more active involvement of SEB’s as a guiding principle for how business is done at the Convention Center,” said Melvin Rodrigue, Chairman of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. “Recognizing businesses that demonstrate active involvement in alignment with our vision is an appropriate way to continue the progress we have made in recent years.”
“Small business growth has been a central focus for the Convention Center,” said Michael J. Sawaya, President and General Manager of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. “We’ve made it our commitment to continue to support our local small business vendors and to honor the legacy of the Convention Center’s namesake, Ernest N. Morial. We want these awards to inspire businesses, big and small, to promote the economic growth of our small business community.”
Morial championed the city’s largest industry, tourism, while also encouraging businesses to invest in New Orleans. He advocated for the development of New Orleans’ riverfront convention center, later renamed after him in 1992, as a way to promote economic development.
“Our hope by creating these awards is to not only remember and honor the incredible legacy of Ernest Nathan Morial, but to recognize those businesses, big and small, who continue to fearlessly triumph and support small business growth in a highly competitive environment,” said Bonita Robertson, Small and Emerging Business (SEB) Committee Chair, Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. “Small business growth is directly reflective of the strength of our economy; we want small businesses to not just survive but thrive.”
The Ernest N. Morial Small Business of the Year Award and the Ernest N. Morial Corporation of the Year Award will recognize a small business and a corporation that continue to demonstrate innovative growth and economic impact, as well as, exceptional contributions to the sustainability and growth of local communities and small businesses across the state of Louisiana.
“The Urban League of Louisiana could not be more proud to partner with the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to support the Morial Awards,” said Judy Reese Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “An award that recognizes investments in the small business ecosystem to ensure its strength and vitality aligns perfectly with our work at the Urban League of Louisiana. Small businesses and corporations both, through their hiring and procurement practices, have a responsibility to practice equity and create opportunities that empower communities and change lives. When they are successful in this work, their efforts should indeed be applauded,” she said.
For eligibility criteria and nomination requirements for small businesses and corporations, visit www.morialaward.com. Submissions for these awards are due Friday, April 17th by 5 p.m. Nomination packages can be emailed to Rocsean Spencer, Small Business Program Director, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Confirmation emails will be sent upon receipt of nomination packages.
Elected officials and individuals or firms who are currently suspended or debarred by the Federal government cannot qualify for these awards.
Nominated businesses should have seen growth in the past three years, have an established history as a business with a firm foothold in the local community, and a demonstrated ability to face problems and adversity with effective methods and solutions. Nominated businesses should be able to show commitment to their local community through programs and events that bring about positive changes such as youth, workforce, economic, and education development as well as businesses that support or maintain programs that deal with diversity, advocacy, and inclusion.
Nominations will be reviewed by a selection committee consisting of Michael Sawaya, Bonita Robertson, Judy Reese Morse and a member of the Morial family. Award honorees will be named at the Urban League of Louisiana’s annual gala on June 27, 2020. More details to be announced at a later date.
Mrs. Sybil Morial, wife of the late Mayor Ernest N. Morial, addresses the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority at the February 19, 2020 board meeting.
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. The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center features an award-winning staff and first class amenities and is the sixth largest convention center in the nation. A consistent Top 10 host of the largest conventions and tradeshows in the nation annually, the Convention Center is also one of the city’s “Top Workplaces.” 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.
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, 10 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 Urban League of Louisiana
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. For more than 80 years, we have implemented our mission through programs in the areas of EDUCATION and YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, WORKFORCE and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, PUBLIC POLICY and ADVOCACY initiatives.