Baton Rouge Area Chamber trip planned for Cincinnati to explore best practices

The Advocate

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber is Cincinnati-bound.

Area business, government and civic leaders will take a trip to Ohio May 20-22 to learn how the Cincinnati region addresses issues similar to those faced by the Baton Rouge area.

Liz Smith, BRAC senior vice president for economic competitiveness, said two things in particular that Cincinnati does very well drew the chamber’s interest: redevelopment and economic inclusion.

“They have some really interesting programs in terms of what their regional chamber of commerce is doing in a minority business accelerator and then some other sort of minority entrepreneurialism-focused accelerators throughout the community,” Smith said.

On the redevelopment side, Cincinnati has received national recognition for an area called Over-the-Rhine — a 2016 article on bore the headline “How Cincinnati Salvaged the Nation’s Most Dangerous Neighborhood.” BRAC was interested in seeing how that was accomplished, Smith said.

In October, the chamber did a fact-finding mission on Over-the-Rhine and found the possibilities intriguing, Smith said. BRAC is focused on increasing quality of place, a key initiative under the five-year strategic plan, and hopes to apply some of the same practices from Over-the-Rhine to the Baton Rouge area.

“The trip allows anyone from the region, especially the region’s current leaders, to explore best practices first-hand, have candid conversation with the change agents behind those best practices, and build stronger relationships with one another in the process,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC.

Session topics in Cincinnati will include quality of place and redevelopment; innovative workforce initiatives; diversity and inclusion in business; entrepreneurship and startups; and creative community investment.

Previous trips have led to Austin, Texas, 2003; Nashville, Tennessee, in 2004; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, in 2006; Portland, Oregon, in 2007; Richmond, Virginia, in 2009; Pittsburgh, in 2011; Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013; Tampa/Orlando, Florida, in 2013, and Greater Phoenix/Tucson, Arizona, in 2015.

BRAC named as chairpersons of the trip Cheri Ausberry,‎ director of community development and governmental relations with ‎Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, and Rex Cabaniss, planning and design director of WHLC Architecture.

The regional workshop is an effort by BRAC in conjunction with the Office of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. Registration is at

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