There are twin economic and technological shifts taking place in the United States that are changing the geographical demographics of the workforce. That’s a fancy way of saying, folks are on the move and things are changing. The economic element of this change is the increasingly prohibitive cost of living in cities that have been essential to move to if you’ve had ambitions about building a serious career. Mainly, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
The technological element of the change is the internet. It turns out that with high-quality video communication, many of the kinds of jobs you could only get if you lived in an expensive city can now be done from anywhere. There’s no need to pay exorbitant rents in Silicon Valley, spend hours commuting in Los Angeles, or pay extraordinary sums for your kids’ education in New York, when you can live in a spacious house in Mid City New Orleans, send your kids to Ben Franklin, and go hear music at The Maple Leaf on the weekend.
Consequently, New Orleans, and other small cities around the country, are becoming home to a new population of fascinating, smart, creative, and interesting people. Not that those of us who are already here aren’t fascinating, smart, creative, and interesting ourselves, but it’s definitely to our benefit that we’re now able to count as neighbors people like Peter Ricchiuti’s guests on this edition of Out to Lunch.
Hiram Mechling is one of the country’s most highly regarded engineers in the field of wind power. Hiram is Vice President of a company called Wood Thilsted USA which specializes in green energy production – including wind power – and has offices and projects around the world, in Denmark, Japan, Taiwan and the UK.
Here in the US, we are trailing way behind other nations in the development of wind power. Although it’s well accepted worldwide that wind-generated power is a key component in moving away from fossil fuels, the Biden administration has only just started focusing on the development of major off-shore wind farms with the approval of the country’s first utility-scale off-shore wind energy project.
It’s called The Vineyard Wind Project and it’s located on the outer continental shelf, south of Massachusetts. The Senior Project Manager & Professional Engineer of Record on the Vineyard Wind Project, is Hiram Mechling.
Caroline Landry Farouki is a partner in an architecture and interior design company called Farouki Farouki. The two Faroukis are Caroline and her husband, Sabri.
The Faroukis were living in New York City when they decided if they were ever going to have a decent quality of life for themselves and their son, they’d have to make a change. That decision resulted in relocating to New Orleans. So now New Orleans is home to the Farouki family, and Farouki and Farouki with its nationwide clientele and international design and architecture projects.
We all agree that New Orleans is a great place live. We’d also have to agree that running a business here comes with challenges. But when it comes to work/life balance, the advantages of living here undoubtedly outweigh the difficulties. And as financial and technological opportunities make it more attractive for talented people and successful companies to locate here – and less necessary for talented locals to leave – we’re only going to see our business-base expand. It might be a bit premature to call this a renaissance but it wouldn’t be totally out of line to call Caroline Farouki and Hiram Mechling indicators of change.
Out to Lunch was recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza. Photos by Jill Lafleur. And you can meet other interesting business innovators over lunch in this conversation about recycling glass and Louisiana’s French language.