Fourteen years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, leaving more than 11,000 residents homeless and hundreds of businesses shuttered. Rebuilding has been a major focus since then: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 32,100 construction jobs in the city in July, an increase of about 2,200 from the month before the storm.
Construction is far from the only industry now growing in the Big Easy, though. For example, the hospitality and entertainment sectors have gotten a boost, thanks to the city's low cost of living and high rate of entrepreneurship. Further, investor groups like the NO/LA Angel Network are providing funding and mentorship to companies in biotech, food, education, and many others.
This year's Inc. 5000, an annual ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., shows that growing variety. Here are the top six New Orleans businesses on the list, ranked by their three-year revenue growth rate.
6. PRA Business Events New Orleans
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 4,470 | Three-year growth 66% | 2018 revenue $5.4M
This three-time Inc. 5000 company (previously known as AlliedPRA New Orleans) provides event production, logistical support, and hospitality services to conventions and corporate groups holding meetings in the city. In 1997, founder Jeff O'Hara created Crescent Hospitality, a small bed and breakfast management company, before acquiring PRA in 2002. The company grew to 75 employees as of the end of last year.
5. RED Group
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 3,998 | Three-year growth 81% | 2018 revenue $2.2M
Kyle Remont founded the RED Group in 2002 as an engineering firm that specializes in electrical projects. Its services include electrical engineering, industrial IT consulting, and control system integration. The company, which had 11 employees at the end of 2018, is making its Inc. 5000 debut this year.
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 2,322 | Three-year growth 173% | 2018 revenue $7.4M
Scott Wolfe founded Levelset--previously known as Zlien--in 2007 as a way to help contractors and suppliers get paid. The company, which makes payment software that allows for more streamlined transactions between property owners and construction personnel, grew to 143 employees at the end of 2018, and has attracted prominent investors like S3 Ventures and Altos Ventures.
3. Spears Consulting Group
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 1,815 | Three-year growth 224% | 2018 revenue $2.8M
Founded by New Orleans native Cleveland Spears III in 2008, Spears Consulting Group is making its first appearance on the Inc. 5000 list this year. The advertising and marketing company, which has 13 employees, helps customers with public relations, creative development, brand strategy, and event production.
2. Picardie Timber Frame
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 1,508 | Three-year growth 273% | 2018 revenue $2.7M
This woman-led construction firm, which launched in 2009, specializes in woodwork, historical restoration projects, and residential and commercial construction. It also focuses on sustainable business practices, giving excess wood to customers for firewood and donating wood shavings to stables for horse beds. Christina Worms, the company's CEO, has overseen the company's growth since 2012.
1.Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki
2019 Inc. 5000 rank No. 981 | Three-year growth 431% | 2018 revenue $4.6M
Lauren Checki co-founded this midsize law firm in 2011 and has grown it to 13 attorneys who handle cases ranging from family and environmental law to consumer protection and personal injury. This is the second consecutive year the law firm has appeared on the Inc. 5000.