For the Baton Rouge Area to compete with its peer metropolitan areas, the region needs attractive, unique features and destinations that will add value to the “live, work, and play” aspect communities strive for to attract and retain talent.
To transform the Capital Region’s quality of place, which is the attractiveness of a community’s built and natural environment, the business community must do its part. Small, mid-sized and large companies can all take steps toward creating a strong quality of place within the Baton Rouge Area.
Local businesses Baton Rouge General, Parker’s Pharmacy and Elifin Realty have all established initiatives and best practices that center around quality of place. Find out what these quality of place superstars are doing to better their community and enhance the region’s business climate.
Baton Rouge General
Understanding that a strong quality of place means a better environment for patients and an overall healthier neighborhood, Baton Rouge General has established big and bold initiatives to advance the attractiveness of not only their hospital campuses, but also of surrounding neighborhoods.
Internally, Baton Rouge General ensures its hospital campuses are attractive, walkable, well landscaped, built-to-human scale, and are welcoming to visitors, physicians and patients. Externally, the organization founded the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance in 1991 to expand the hospital’s mission of restoring health to a neighborhood level. MCRA’s mission is to “develop and promote the growth and renewal of Mid City Baton Rouge by attracting new and retaining current residents and businesses.”
While creating a non-profit to explicitly focus on quality of place initiatives is not realistically possible for many businesses, Baton Rouge General CEO Edgardo Tenreiro has a little advice to help other organizations find the best way to get involved. He says, “Start in your own backyard. Identify public areas near you that can use some attention and start making small changes over time… Make your voice heard and use your influence on boards and committees to help develop a strong urban core with diverse, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods that celebrate our local history, architecture, landscape, climate and ecology.”
For some businesses, quality of place is personal. Parker’s Pharmacy owners Kyle and Orlando Palmer wanted to ensure that their storefronts added to the revitalization occurring in their neighborhood.
A major component of quality of place is blight elimination, which is where Parker’s Pharmacy focuses its efforts. Every morning, the team walks the premise of their building cleaning up any litter that was left or blown into their area. Kyle Palmer says, “we want companies to remember that the trash does not need to be ‘your’ trash to be picked up and thrown away. So, if you do see garbage, simply pick it up and dispose of it. We believe it is key to work as a team with our next-door businesses and express the passion to maintain a clean environment to each patron.”
With plans to lead community clean-ups, Parker’s Pharmacy wants to engage the community and help others understand that if all businesses and community members take pride in their area, then the area will see new economic opportunities.
Elifin Realty, a commercial real estate brokerage firm, directly sees the effects a community with a strong quality of place can have on buyers and sellers in the Baton Rouge Area. Elifin Realty President and CEO Mathew Labrode says, “Companies want to expand, and investors want to purchase properties in communities that are flourishing. When we have properties next to medians with cracked curbs and overgrown grass, broken sidewalks, and surrounded by a sea of litter, it does not help our ability to sell or lease the property to an attractive company.”
To combat this, Elifin Realty brought “plogging,” a Swedish fitness craze, to Baton Rouge. Plogging, or the act of picking up litter while jogging or walking, is a community activity that brings people together for a few hours of fitness and clean-up. Elifin Realty’s next plogging event is scheduled for August 23 and Laborde is setting a goal of at least 500 participants. To keep things interesting, Elifin Realty will give prizes to participants that bring in the “largest haul of trash” and the “most unique piece of trash plogged.”
Laborde’s final piece of advice to local businesses is to “recognize something that you see that could be better and work to make it so even if it falls outside of your core business.”
To learn more about quality of place, visit BRAC’s Areas of Focus page.