Propeller Receives $300,000 in EDA Funding to Support Water Startups

Propeller is one of four organizations in the Gulf South receiving $2.1 million to support innovation and entrepreneurship. The funding will go towards supporting Propeller startups tackling coastal and urban water issues throughout the region.

28 August 2015

NEW ORLEANS, LA (August 27, 2015) – Along with several other commitments, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced today a $300,000 grant to New Orleans-based incubator Propeller to support startups tackling coastal and urban water issues throughout the region. Propeller is among four organizations across the Gulf South to receive a total of $2.1 million in EDA grants. 

Today’s announcement comes at a pivotal moment for the City of New Orleans and the Gulf South, as Americans commemorate ten years since Hurricane Katrina and the levee failure.
“In the immediate aftermath of the storm, EDA invested nearly $10 million in seven projects across the region and in the years since have continued our support through infrastructure grants, planning grants, revolving loan fund capitalization, and more,” said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine. “With today’s commitment, EDA is continuing to do our part to support entrepreneurs who will drive economic growth in New Orleans and across the region.”

Over the past decade, a new hub for the city’s entrepreneurial renaissance has grown out of Broadmoor, a New Orleans neighborhood that was submerged under ten feet of standing water after Katrina. 

“A decade ago, our neighbors were told that they should not rebuild due to the magnitude of destruction,” stated Propeller Executive Director Andrea Chen.  “We have come back since the storm, but we aren’t confusing progress with success.  As we look ahead to the next decade, there is much more work to do.  We appreciate EDA’s critical support of social ventures that will positively impact this community, our city, and our nation.” 

This new grant will support Propeller’s 12-week fall accelerator for early-stage startups in water management. Ventures in this year’s cohort include Coastal Rewards, which directs credit card rewards to fund coastal restoration, and Connected Earth Sciences, a vessel-based device measuring real-time data on wetland water quality.  Across Southeast Louisiana, the water management industry is slated to employ thousands in relatively high-paying jobs with low-to-moderate levels of education and training, and experts project $50 billion will be spent on coastal restoration over the next 50 years.

The Economic Development Administration awarded funding based on the organizations’ alignment with their respective regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. The New Orleans Regional Planning Commission identified coastal restoration and water management as two of the most promising emerging clusters for workforce development and bringing the region’s economy to the global market.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
The Economic Development Administration marks 50 years of public service, leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

About Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation (
Propeller drives social, environmental, and economic impact in New Orleans by incubating ventures that have the potential to solve our city’s most pressing issues. Our vision is to build a critical mass of entrepreneurs tackling key challenges in our issue areas of Food Security, Water Management, Healthcare, and Education Equity in order to make significant change for underserved individuals.