What’s Going to Happen to Education, Real Estate, and Retail?

As Louisiana and parts of the rest of the country begin to re-open, there’s a question about the economy that everyone is asking: What’s going to happen to education, real estate, and retail? On this edition of Out to Lunch Louisiana we’re asking local experts in each of these areas to tell us.


With apologies for the medical metaphor, retail was already on life support before Covid-19 shut down practically every store in the country. If you weren’t an online shopper before all of this, you probably are now. So, now that we’ve all discovered how easy it is to order online and have everything show up at our door two days later, what happens to our mom and pop stores, our art galleries, and everything else that has typically relied on foot traffic?

In Lafayette, we’re in the process of finding out the answer to this question, as stores are beginning to re-open.

Anita Begnaud - Downtown Lafayette

Anita Begnaud – nurturing yet another comeback for Downtown Lafayette

Anita Begnaud is CEO of the Lafayette Downtown Development Authority. Anita, with Lafayette being one of the earliest parts of the state and the country to open back up, you’re a witness to history. What are you seeing in Downtown Lafayette?

Real Estate

One of the changes that has come with this health crisis, is the discovery many of us have made about working from home. At first it was something of a novelty. It felt like a long weekend. But now that we’ve mastered video meetings and found strategies for balancing work and family, we’ve discovered that not commuting has distinct advantages.

As businesses open up, many people who have unshackled themselves from the office are looking to continue the work-from-home habit. And from the employer side, if productivity stays the same and you don’t need office space, well, that’s a significant saving.

This might all sound great, but if even just 20% of us stayed home, and office space and everything that goes with it shrinks by 20% – like attendance at the food court and the nearby gym – what does that knock-on effect do to the economy? Let’s start with what it might do to the commercial real estate market…

Mathew Laborde - looking at an uncertain commercial real estate market

Mathew Laborde – looking at an uncertain commercial real estate market

Mathew Laborde, commercial real estate broker at Elifin Realty in Baton Rouge, looks into the future of working from home and has some insightful, evidence-based predictions.


If you’re in college or you have kids in school, over the past couple of months you’ve learned a new word. And a new skill. The word is, “Zoom.” And the skill is, “Distance Learning.”

Up until sometime in March 2020, if you wanted to get an education you had to get out of your house and go to a classroom. Now you just have to go to your computer – or even your phone – and click on “Join Zoom Meeting.” And there you are, with the same teacher, the same lesson, even the same kids in your class. And it’s all going on in the comfort of your own home. Why would you ever go back to a classroom again?

Loyola University New Orleans President, Tania Tetlow

Loyola University New Orleans President, Tania Tetlow – presiding over what might be a “reverse GI Bill”

Peter Ricchiuti puts this question to Tania Tetlow, President of Loyola University in New Orleans. Is the Zoom classroom revolution going to have a permanent effect on education? Or is it just a Covid convenience?

Tania Tetlow, Peter Ricchiuti, Christiaan Mader, Stephanie Riegel, Anita Begnaud, Mathew Laborde

Tania Tetlow, Peter Ricchiuti, Christiaan Mader, Stephanie Riegel, Anita Begnaud, Mathew Laborde

Photos by Jill Lafleur.  More analysis of the future of the Louisiana economy is here .