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New Orleans Community-Port Collaboration Pilot Project

In 2016, EPA selected the Port of New OrleansExit in collaboration with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ)Exitand the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED)Exitin New Orleans to receive EPA technical assistance and pilot a draft Community-Port Collaboration Toolkit. This pilot project was one of four pilots that were collectively known as the Near-Port Community Capacity Building Project. This page provides an overview of the pilot project. For more information, go to Case Study: New Orleans Pilot (PDF)(4 pp, 332 K, EPA-420-F-20-022, July 2020 About PDF).  

On this page:

Technical Assistance

Photo of kickoff meeting New Orleans near-port capacity building pilotKickoff Meeting of New Orleans Pilot Project

In April  2017, EPA convened a series of in-person Needs Assessment meetings involving the Port of New Orleans and near-port community organizations.  The Needs Assessment included the following.

  • A facilitated dialogue;
  • Joint tours of the port and near-port neighborhoods; and
  • A collaborative working session with community leaders and port representatives. 

Based on the participant needs and goals identified during the Needs Assessment, the EPA technical assistance provider developed a draft community-port collaboration plan to guide pilot support. However, reaching agreement on how to move forward with the pilot proved challenging. The Port of New Orleans ultimately withdrew from the pilot and eventually the community partners also decided to withdraw due to resource constraints and competing demands on staff. 



Despite ending early, the New Orleans pilot project resulted in several successful outcomes for the participants. The pilot:

  • Introduced community leaders to the Port of New Orleans' new community engagement staff and executive director;
  • Increased understanding of both the complex responsibilities for property ownership and maintenance and the negative impacts of unmaintained properties on near-port communities;
  • Helped bring about improvements at two properties affecting the near-port communities; and
  • Initiated direct communications to CSED from the Port of New Orleans about issues that impact community residents. 

Lessons Learned

The pilot resulted in the following set of insights that could be helpful to other ports communities:

  • Property maintenance improvements can be low-stakes and high-reward collaborations;
  • Have frank and transparent discussions to set realistic expectations among partners; and
  • Community resource constraints can hinder participation of near-port community partners.

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