People to Watch Class of 2014
JEFFERY JOHNSTON PHOTOGRAPH
Executive Director, French Market Corporation
Since 1791, New Orleans’ French Market District has stood as an architectural and cultural gem.
For Jon Smith, who has served as executive director since September 2013, the challenge each day is to honor this rich history while also growing the district as a modern commercial retail corridor.
“The thing that a lot of folks don’t realize about the French Market District is that, at the end of the day, we’re really just a Commercial Property Management company – one whose tenants generate over $40 million a year in retail sales,” Smith says.
He says one of the biggest issues lately has been with leadership. There have been three different directors just since 2010.
“We’ve had a bit of a patchwork quilt of different management ideas and practices,” says Smith. “My goal is to put together a system and operating plan that’s sustainable for decades to come.”
So what does the future hold for the city’s iconic market?
Two words: more food.
This fall New Orleans’ original open-air produce market will honor its roots with the long awaited return of a weekly farmer’s market. Home to what Smith likes to call “the original golden arches,” the French Market will also welcome local food artisans with open arms.
“The goal is to make the French Market’s open-air market a genuine food destination.”