Christopher Gergen, CEO and co-founder of Forward Cities, presenting at the 2019 Statewide Economic Development Summit presented by Entergy
Christopher Gergen, CEO and co-founder of Forward Cities, presenting at the 2019 Statewide Economic Development Summit presented by Entergy

Each year, economic development practitioners, the business community, elected officials and thought leaders come together at the Statewide Economic Development Summit for discussions and presentations on building a stronger Louisiana economy. 

This year, the Statewide Economic Development Summit presented by Entergy was held on October 22-23 and featured presentations from local and national speakers. To highlight some of the topics and themes discussed, BRAC staff compiled a list of takeaways from the Summit presentations, check out the list below. 

  1. Emi Gilbert Henry, Senior Vice President of Investor Development: During Bruce Katz’s presentation, he said our leadership yields the best results when we change our mindset from one of “here to discuss” to “here to decide” on issues that impact our communities. 
  2. Jayson Newell, Regional Director of Business Development: Opportunity Zones are going to require multiple parties to make deals work (think public private partnerships), and more than likely, the first deals are going to require capital from the local community. 
  3. Russell Richardson, Senior Vice President of Business Development: Chris Schastok, senior vice president of CBRE, stressed that 90% of economic development projects come from existing businesses. 
  4. Liz Smith, Senior Vice President of Economic Development: CEO and Co-Founder of Forward Cities Christopher Gergen said, “There are three ‘super-centers’ of technology and innovation that will fuel 50% of the world economy in the future.” And it made me wonder if Louisiana will invest in innovation enough that our people will be a leader in that economy. 
  5. Adam Knapp, President and CEO: Currently in America, there is a labor market shortage due to a large retiring workforce and a record low unemployment rate. Because of this, access to talent is driving most major business location decisions. 
  6. Emi Gilbert Henry, Senior Vice President of Investor Development: “Investing in education is economic development,” said Bruce Katz, co-author of The New Localism. 
  7. Adam Knapp, President and CEO: Economic development practitioners don’t always think about how their communications are received by site selection consultants. Keep your emails short, impactful, make a valuable point, and include maps for those who don’t know where your place is. 
  8. Emily Stich, Director of Leadership Baton Rouge: Keep your venture capital money at home and invest locally. 
  9. Jayson Newell, Regional Director of Business Development: Business retention and expansion efforts are extremely vital. All business owners are trying to grow their business and are seeking tools to help. Organizations like LED and BRAC have resources at their disposal that can make a lasting impact on these business owners. 
  10. Adam Knapp, President and CEO: Bruce Katz discussed the era of national and state populism, saying everything is locked up in partisanship and no one has your community’s back. He stressed that communities must rally to drive and lead change from within, suggesting organizing local civic and business leadership as the greatest force for driving change. 

Written by Morgan Kastner

Morgan Kastner is the Marketing Manager for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. In her role, she manages writing organizational publications and materials, oversees BRAC’s social media and blog, and coordinates timelines for all internal marketing projects.