Capital Region business community advocates for improved maintenance standards, community-oriented development, blight reduction
Baton Rouge, La. (July 12, 2016) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC), announced its engagement in “quality of place” initiatives today at its Regional Stakeholders Breakfast, as the result of a series of strategic planning meetings with business leaders and community partners. Creating a distinctive and appealing quality of place – a catch-all term for an area’s physical appearance, development, and sense of character – has been identified as among the region’s most needed but most overlooked issues, and one which has already been embraced at the national level as an important economic development tool for cities and states of all sizes.
Access to talent is a top consideration for companies considering relocation and for entrepreneurs looking to start businesses, and a region’s quality of place is critical to attracting and retaining that talent. At the same time, recent changes affecting the state’s business tax burden have made assets like quality of place even more important to the Capital Region’s economic competitiveness, and its ability to accommodate business expansion and attract outside companies.
“For far too long, we’ve accepted quality of place issues that don’t meet the expectations of our community,” said Lee Jenkins, Executive Manager at Performance Contractors and head of BRAC’s quality of place working group. “Overgrown areas, broken or nonexistent sidewalks, and blight issues not only affect quality of life for residents, they affect businesses who are looking to expand and recruit.” Tim Johnson, President of The TJC Group, added that “the success of downtown Baton Rouge in the last few years points to the importance of quality of place from an economic development perspective. This isn’t just an aesthetic issue, this is a business development issue.”
Enhanced coordination between private and public entities and increased public awareness will be vitally important to the success of this work. As a first step, residents and business owners within East Baton Rouge are highly encouraged to download and use the city-parish’s new 311 app, which uses geo-location software to immediately send maintenance reports and photos to public works staff. Based on initial meetings with stakeholders – incuding regional business leaders, the Downtown Development District, Keep Baton Rouge Beautiful, Baton Rouge Green, the Center for Planning Excellence, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, the LSU Museum of Art, public works and planning staff, and others – BRAC has identified a series of short-, medium-, and long-term initiatives to improve quality of place in the Capital Region:
- Promoting public awareness and education around quality of place, including evaluations of specific problem areas
- Fostering improved coordination and collaboration between major public and private quality of place stakeholders
- Ensuring that quality of place is embraced by the next mayor-president and their administration
- Adopting improved maintenance, landscaping, blight elimination, and land use and development policies
- Encouraging investment in streetscape improvements and better management of major regional assets
About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include nearly 1,500 small businesses, mid-sized firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at www.brac.org.