Thanh Truong / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- The people living and working in New Orleans East say they're fighting to overcome perceptions. One is that the area is a desolate place.

One business owners says that perception is somewhat true.

'There are not enough people with discretionary income to come fully support the businesses,' said Gregory Jacobs.

Jacobs opened Tutti Fruit four months ago. The frozen yogurt spot is in the same plaza where Jacobs opened one of his three Subway stores, which are all located in New Orleans East.

While some may just see New Orleans East as a place to get good Vietnamese food, Jacobs sees a great business opportunity.

'After Katrina, there was nothing out here and you know me and wife sat down and said that the east will come back,' said Jacobs.

New Orleans Councilman James Gray said there are positive signs of a comeback. His district includes the east.

Gray points to improved satisfaction numbers with the New Orleans Police Department's service in the Seventh District. Those statistics were recently published in a survey from the New Orleans Crime Coalition. There's also construction of a new Wal-Mart and also a new hospital.

Gray admits recovery from Katrina is slower than most would like, but it's largely a function of numbers.

'We probably have 70,000 people out here in the east. We once had 100,000 out here, and that's part of the problem. There are thousands of homeowners that were once cutting grass here twice a week that are not here to cut the grass now,' said Gray.

Blight remains a persistent problem, not only in New Orleans East, but many sections of the city. The challenge, Gray said , is to attract more investors, which in turn attracts more people who will in theory buy and clean up neglected properties.

There is plenty of inventory.

'What we're trying to show is the beautiful homes and neighborhoods out here. We have something for everyone, every income level,' said Clifford Robinson.

Robinson runs, a website dedicated to the promotion of everything that is New Orleans East. It features the economic ties the Michoud Assembly Facility has had with the east, the large subdivisions sporting large houses and the latest construction of shops and businesses.

'We're basically building a brand new city and the folks need to see that,' said Robinson.

Robinson hopes people will visit the website. More importantly, he hopes they'll visit New Orleans East.

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