Our Views: Despite the pandemic’s challenges, a growing Baton Rouge economy in sight

The Advocate

The “help wanted” signs are showered on businesses’ windows this winter, a phenomenon that is relevant to the economies of most regions of the nation, but strikingly true in the nine parishes around Baton Rouge.

About 15,000 people are on unemployment and actively seeking work, but there are 44,000 openings in the region, analysts for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber reported Tuesday.

That’s a real barrier to the Baton Rouge economy getting back on its growing track. Before the pandemic, 413,000 people were at work in the region. October’s figure is bouncing back, to more than 397,000, but still short of a full employment recovery.https://0211688665ab89adbd2bc710222138eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Overall, though, BRAC found many reasons for optimism, including new job-creating industrial developments in Ascension, Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes. Those big developments, including a $4.5 billion investment in Ascension in a clean energy facility, underscore the potential of the region’s petrochemical economy to drive construction and permanent jobs.

A BRAC survey of business leaders from firms of all sizes found that two out of three expect their company will post higher revenues in 2022. Many also want to hire more workers.

“The bottom line is that the Baton Rouge area is well on its way to full economic recovery,” BRAC President Adam Knapp said. “We are experiencing dynamic economic growth.”

That’s not entirely new news, as Baton Rouge has been an economic bright spot in Louisiana’s economy for decades now, despite storms and recessions and drops in the price of oil.

But as the unique challenges of the pandemic economy are met by local businesses, the region’s leading business organization sees more good news ahead in the new year.

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