BREW panel: What does the future of Baton Rouge look like?

    Increased downtown investment, minor league baseball and high school CEOs are a few glimpses into the future of Baton Rouge, according to a group of panelists Wednesday evening during Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week.

    Downtown, north Baton Rouge and LSU appear to be the areas of focus for entrepreneurial endeavors, panelists said.

    John O. Hearin, who developed The Heron Downtown, said the first tenants of the 142-unit downtown apartment complex are moving in today. And there are more projects in the works.

    “The ball is rolling,” Hearin said. “I have one or two more projects in me, but I have to play monopoly and find financing.”

    Joining the city this summer is the Baton Rouge Rougarou, the city’s first minor league baseball team. At the panel, team president Uri Geva said he’s excited about the opportunity for the team—which will play at Pete Goldsby Field—to re-energize a section of north Baton Rouge. He wants it to have the same effect on Baton Rouge as the Savannah Bananas team had on that Georgia town.

    Former Starmount Life Insurance president Deborah Sternberg, revealed she hopes to eventually scale the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge, which she co-founded, to 300 students per class. The program, now in its first year, currently has 26 students.

    Expect change in some longtime local businesses, said Laurie Aronson, president and CEO of Lipsey’s, the nation’s leading wholesale firearms distributor, and Haspel, a high-end men’s clothier.

    “We need to embrace change in a way our industry is not doing,” Aronson said of Lipsey’s. “There’s a fulfillment program we’re investing in and starting to work on with retailers.”

    As for Haspel, best known for popularizing the seersucker suit, Aronson said in January the company went online and became consumer-direct.

    On a broader scale, Charlie Davis, who serves as president of Moxey—a rebranded name for the existing Trade Authority network—said he plans to grow the small business community in his startup’s network.

    “Moxey is a marketplace to help small businesses grow,” Davis said. “We want to build an internationally recognized paper platform.”

    BREW’s Entrepreneurship Day wrapped yesterday and will end tonight with Get Louisiana Pitch Night, hosted by Cox Business, from 5 to 8 p.m. at The Water Campus.

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