Leaders Bringing Back Ideas from Greenville, SC to Enhance Economic Development in Baton Rouge


BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – What does Baton Rouge have to do with Greenville, South Carolina?

About 115 people went on a trip to the city to find out, as part of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s (BRAC) Regional Canvas Benchmarking Workshop last week.

Greenville has apparently earned a reputation as a great place to live, work, and play.

While local leaders came away with new ideas on how to revitalize Downtown Baton Rouge and ways to try and keep your children from moving to another state for a job. “The purpose is ideas. You know, to help a lot of community leaders get a lot of ideas about how a community drives change. And you get a lot of consensuses when you get everybody to the same place at the same time. And this is something that we do every few years, not often, but every few years to try and re-engage and re-energize leaders across the community with new ideas,” said Adam Knapp, President & CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

Greenville is a comparable size to Baton Rouge, although slightly larger.

The city has earned a reputation for being a great place to live and visit.

“They have a number of signature things that make their Downtown like the calling card of the whole metro area. I mean you had cities, two cities over, saying their population was growing because of the popularity of the downtown of Greenville. Just imagine if you saw Prairieville saying that they’re growing because the downtown of Baton Rouge as such a calling card for the city as a national destination. It’s just fascinating to see how it radiates out of its impact. They also have just a great running trail, to where every citizen can go on a walk or a bike and it connects multiple cities that stretch in one direction,” said Knapp.

Knapp says a top goal after this trip is to try and bring more retail shops to Downtown Baton Rouge,

and add more affordable places where people can live there.

“I think the other big thing around housing was just the need for a focus on affordability,” he said.

Here’s a comparison of the two metro areas:

“Well, it’s all connected to place. The downtown is a big anchor, to what they reflected to us I should say, is what makes their community popular for folks to stay, is that they feel like there’ s a lot of activity that draws in a single young professional for example or keeps them here. The second thing was I think, a lot of the intentionality around how they keep their residents there,” said Knapp.

The other top priority is to make Baton Rouge a place where college students want to stay, even after they graduate

“So, a lot of it is about internships. While they’re still students at all of their higher ed partners, trying to find ways that employers understand how to hire them into internships across the Greenville area.

That’s where we’re going to be continuing to push hard,” said Knapp.

There’s also a new revived discussion to create a new strategic plan when it comes to re-developing Downtown Baton Rouge.

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