Baton Rouge, La. (May 26, 2021) – Today, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) released the following statement of strong opposition to Louisiana Senate Bill 205, which would break up East Baton Rouge’s award-winning park system (BREC) to carve out separate park systems in the towns of Central and Zachary:
“All of our benchmarking research comparing the Capital Region against peer metros points to the importance of quality of place for attracting and retaining business and talent, and we have been fortunate that one of our main assets that actually gives us a competitive advantage is our nationally recognized EBR park system. If passed, SB 205 would do unnecessary and significant harm to that asset. This bill is, consequently, bad for economic development, and for that reason we strongly oppose its passage.
“We have also been greatly troubled by the proposal lacking much basic business sense, in that it would balkanize resources rather than leverage them, and would increase costs by duplicating administrative overhead rather than capturing the efficiencies of economy of scale, as the current system does. SB 205 strikes us not as a solution to a pressing problem, but a solution in search of a problem. And the best response to such a proposal has always been to say: It if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“To members of the Legislature from outside the Baton Rouge Area being asked to pass this ‘local’ bill, we would ask you to consider the fact that the local community was not consulted prior to its introduction, and that surveys conducted by BREC with more than 1,200 residents after the bill was filed showed that 77 percent of respondents were either against the bill or did not know anything about it. The survey further yielded high ratings and satisfaction with BREC’s performance in building and maintaining parks across East Baton Rouge Parish (72.5 percent of respondents), while fewer than 10 percent of respondents gave BREC negative ratings.
“BRAC appreciates the bill proponents’ stated desire to establish even greater local control, but by a strong majority the local population appears to be pleased with the level of local control already in place. We beseech members of the state Legislature not to advance legislation that not only lacks local consensus in its favor, but is actually at odds with the prevailing local viewpoint. In short, we ask that this issue be truly allowed to remain local.”
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 more than 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.