Move will free up $340K annually for City Parish to address other pressing EBR needs
BATON ROUGE, La. (January 24, 2023) — The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) announced today its plan to continue to lead economic development initiatives for East Baton Rouge (EBR) parish but, going forward, without accepting an annual appropriation from city-parish government to perform the work.
The BRAC Board of Directors voted to make this change at its January Board meeting and has discussed with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and her team its plans to continue to provide economic development services under a new partnership arrangement. This will allow the city-parish to use the financial resources from the professional services contract for critical priorities facing the parish. BRAC and the Mayor-President’s office have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that set forth the scope of this partnership, such that economic development services will continue.
Since 2007, BRAC’s 501(c)3 foundation, the Greater Baton Rouge Economic Partnership, has served as the contract economic development provider to the city-parish, and received annual appropriations to pay for those services under a professional services contract from the city-parish, subject to annual appropriation by the Metropolitan Council. The one-year contract in 2022 was valued at $339,500.
In fulfilling its duties under the contract, BRAC maintains staff to support the economic development work of the city-parish, invests annually in targeted economic development marketing, supports business intelligence and business retention and expansion services in EBR, and coordinates projects with other municipal, higher education, and district economic development partners like Baker, Central, and Zachary; the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District; the Downtown Development District; Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport; LSU and Southern University; Baton Rouge Community College; Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the Baton Rouge Health District; the Water Campus and Water Institute of the Gulf. In addition, BRAC staff brief Metro Council members quarterly, and the Mayor-President’s office monthly.
“This is a win-win for our investors and for the taxpayers. We will continue to provide all these services to the parish, but by fundraising for private support for these purposes,” said David Mullens, BRAC’s 2023 board chair and Capital One Market President and Section Manager for North & Southwest Louisiana. “Just like the city-parish goes through an annual budget process, so does BRAC, and we determined that the time is right to provide additional support to the city-parish by freeing up these dollars to use toward other pressing needs, such as economic development support, public safety, litter remediation, or redevelopment.”
“I thank BRAC for its continued partnership with my administration and service to East Baton Rouge Parish as our community’s economic development leader. Thanks to BRAC’s successful fundraising campaign, these City-Parish resources can be rededicated to other priorities, and we will develop a plan for the Metropolitan Council’s consideration at the appropriate time,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “Most recently BRAC and City-Parish partnered with Visit Baton Rouge for a jobs and public perception initiative, where City-Parish dedicated $1.8 million of American Rescue Plan funds for the program. We will continue to partner with BRAC on important economic initiatives going forward.”
No current employee of BRAC will be impacted under this plan, but to mitigate the effects of this decision on its own annual budget, BRAC will step up its investor development efforts to increase campaign investments from area businesses motivated by BRAC’s economic development mission.
“Like we do in the nine-parish area as a regional organization, we’re proud that BRAC will continue to provide its highly-ranked economic development services to East Baton Rouge going forward. BRAC is committed to helping existing companies continue to grow, small businesses to thrive, and attracting new investment” said Adam Knapp, BRAC President and CEO. “This will further strengthen our role in leading economic development in the nine-parish area.”
Since 2007, BRAC has shepherded major economic development project wins under its contract with East Baton Rouge, include the IBM’s Client Innovation Center, Electronic Arts QA/QC center at LSU, Amazon’s Cortana redevelopment, the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute to Pennington, Coca Cola Bottling’s location and recent expansion in north Baton Rouge near Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, ExxonMobil’s major new investments in its polypropylene growth project and BRRIC modernization, in addition to thousands of jobs from over a hundred business expansion projects during this period. Each year, BRAC has contracted for an independent, third-party economist such as LSU to determine whether the economic impact of projects secured each year have exceeded the city-parish appropriation value, validating a positive return on investment in tax revenues for the parish’s investment in economic development. BRAC was named one of the top 20 economic development organizations in the US by Site Selection magazine in 2022 for its outcomes for the prior 12 months.
About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) is an aggressively ambitious regional economic development organization with a bias for action. BRAC seeks to push Baton Rouge beyond the status quo, unleash its potential, and support a vibrant business community that believes the finish line does not exist. BRAC seeks to accelerate economic opportunity in the Baton Rouge Area, for everyone, through BRING IT! Baton Rouge, its five-year, regional strategic plan. Learn more about BRAC at brac.org.