Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- Tiffany Jones is a new face on the business block in New Orleans East. Her party-planning business House of Occasions opened five months ago in a shopping center on Bullard Avenue.

'We thought New Orleans East was a great place for it,' Jones said.

On Saturday, though, Jones is promoting her new business at the first-ever New Orleans East business expo.

'Our motto is, 'Our business is your business.' So, we want to make sure that these businesses stay in business,' said Sheila Julien, ENONAC Economic Development Committee chair, which organized the expo.

Julien said for years after the storm, a lack of retail options in eastern New Orleans meant residents had to go spend their money elsewhere in the city or other nearby parishes.

'I was guilty of that,' Julien said. 'You know, if I needed to buy a dress or something, I would go to the shopping mall.'

But no longer, she said, having found places to buy closer to home. The commission is hoping the business expo will help expose customers to nearby options.

'People are realizing that we have a great deal of buying power in this community,' said Sylvia Scineaux-Richard, president of ENONAC. 'New Orleans East has not gotten back to where it should be, but we're moving at a fast pace, things are happening.'

Among them are the redevelopment of Methodist Hospital, which received a crucial, nearly $100 million federal loan two weeks ago, and the planned opening of a new Walmart off of I-10 and Bullard in late 2013.

Economic development that Jones hopes will help her business, too. 'I think it will happen. I think it will,' she said. 'Once people know that we're actually here.'

Right now about 70,000 people live in New Orleans East.

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