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What Will Baton Rouge Be When It Grows Up?

Jan 26, 2016

Baton Rouge Area Chamber CEO Adam Knapp
Credit Sue Lincoln

Baton Rouge is the state capital, the home of LSU football, a hub for the petrochemical industry. But what does Baton Rouge want to be when it grows up?

Baton Rouge Area Chamber CEO Adam Knapp says for the region to continue to grow, it’s got to grow up – and fast.

“We know that companies and talent are going to choose to live in a place that they find attractive, and they find contemporary to what they see around the rest of the country.”

Knapp says first impressions are often the ones that last longest, so finding out how outsiders view the capital region is the first step.

“The Baton Rouge area does not know what it wants to communicate, and it also does not know much about what the rest of the nation actually thinks about us.”

To that end, the chamber is commissioning surveys to find out what folks in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and seven other major cities think of Baton Rouge.

The next step is diversifying the economy by building on other assets already in place.

“Things like a medical school are a great example of diversification around assets,” Knapp says. “That’s something to leverage the investments we’ve made as a community, into things like Pennington and the new strategy around the health district, and things that we think can further strengthen the ties of our super region.”

Within the next five years, the Chamber wants that medical school up and running, focusing on clinical trials in conjunction with LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Knapp is quick to clarify, “Not to create something that would be in competition to the existing and great health science centers across Louisiana. We want to make sure that it fills a unique and new niche.”

BRAC’s CEO is also quick to acknowledge it won’t be easy.

“Right now, there’s some dark clouds over Baton Rouge, and we have to be honest about those; the state budget, the effect that has on LSU and universities around the community.”