New Orleans is filled with people from all different walks of life, but our love for our city unites us. There are so many ways that each of us contributes to New Orleans and so many ways that tourism affects each of our lives. Recently we had a chance to sit down and get to know a hard-working, ambitious citizen in our community.
Cleveland Spears, III is president and founder of Spears Consulting Group, an award-winning marketing, public relations, and engagement firm in the New Orleans area. In addition to their marketing and PR work, they produce a series of events in the area through Social Renaissance, and right now they are preparing for the Millennial Awards on July 26. This awards ceremony, held at the Civic Theatre, honors and celebrates dynamic, young professionals in the New Orleans area who contribute to the community through public service, make significant strides in business sectors, and serve as cultural ambassadors. Spears talked with us about his work, as well as the the importance of innovation, entrepreneurship, and tourism in our city.
How long have you lived in New Orleans?
I have lived in New Orleans my entire life, 31 years.
Tell us about the varied work that you do.
Our firm is a marketing and public relations firm, and based on the wide array of clients we represent, we have an opportunity to touch and see a lot of different things. We’ve worked in healthcare, hospitality, utilities, transportation and so many other industries. We also host and produce a series of events under a brand called the Social Renaissance aimed at increasing diversity in the young professional social scene and allow those events to be fund-raisers for local charities.
What do you love most about your work?
I love everything about what we do. I love the fact that it changes and there is a new challenge everyday, I love that we get to be creative, I love helping people solve their unique business problems, and most importantly I love the people I work with everyday.
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate innovation and ambition in young New Orleanians?
Every time we celebrate and acknowledge the efforts and accomplishments of young New Orleanians it provides encouragement to someone else who is pondering taking a big leap of faith. It also shows the entire country that we embrace young ideas, young leaders and foster entrepreneurship and hopefully that will continue to attract young ambitious people to New Orleans. Lastly, it helps the brand that we have been creating as a destination for young, smart and entrepreneurial people.
Why is New Orleans such a great place for entrepreneurs?
New Orleans has a culture that embraces young entrepreneurs. Everyone is always looking for a way to help and support their efforts and hoping for their success. We also have a culture that allows entrepreneurs to work hard on their dreams, while still enjoying an amazing quality of life. There are also the technical aspects of New Orleans, such as our large pool of talent from our seven local colleges and universities, our low cost of living and our tax incentives.
How does our national (and international) reputation as being an innovative, entrepreneurial city benefit our community?
That national brand has continued to attract startups and companies from all over the world to set up shop in New Orleans. Economic developments like that helps the entire city — by creating jobs, increasing our tax base, and overall generating more dollars that can circulate through our community.
How does our thriving tourism industry affect entrepreneurship and the businesses community in our city?
Our thriving tourism industry provides so many opportunities throughout the overall economy — companies that service the tourism industry, companies that service those companies. Our economy is one large ecosystem and tourism is a major player in that ecosystem accounting for 78,000 jobs and more than $6 billion in annual spending.
What do you think New Orleans and the entrepreneur scene would be like without tourism?
It is hard to imagine New Orleans and our entrepreneur scene without tourism. Tourism is such a big part of our city, our economy and our culture. Entrepreneurs would have a smaller market to work in and fewer opportunities to pursue.
How important is innovation to New Orleans’ future?
Innovation is hugely important to the city’s ability to continue to grow and thrive. Major corporations and even large companies don’t just pick up and move often. Our growth lies in entrepreneurs taking risks, innovating, and creating the next big advancement in digital media, bio sciences, music, film, etc.
What would you like to see New Orleans accomplish in the future?
I would like to see New Orleans embrace more diversity. We are a diverse city, but I do not believe there is enough cross-pollination across racial lines and class lines. Additionally I want New Orleans to continue to grow, thrive and be an inspiration for the world of a great American come back story.
What do you love most about this city?
NEW ORLEANS WILL…
play in the Super Bowl in February of 2014. GEAUX Saints! WHO DAT!