North Baton Rouge development board pursuing partnerships, grants

    A board tasked with spurring investment in the economically underserved northern portion of Baton Rouge is reaching out to other nonprofits and applying for federal grants to grow its footprint and attract businesses to the area.

    At a meeting held Thursday evening, Rinaldi Jacobs, interim executive director of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District, updated board members about efforts to secure federal dollars and partner with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, among other things.

    “We want to be able to tap into the resources of the chamber and have a structured relationship with them,” Jacobs says.

    The Baton Rouge North Economic Development District board also will apply for federal grants ranging from $250,000 to several million dollars, Jacobs says.

    He’s also reaching out to officials at the Louisiana Tech Park, Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Southern University to expand the district’s network, gain resources and coordinate flood recovery efforts in north Baton Rouge.

    In December, voters approved a 2% hotel occupancy tax on hotels within the district to fund the board’s economic development activities. The tax is expected to generate around $261,000 per year, but that money will not start to become available until June. In the meantime, the board is searching for a permanent executive director, who will be paid between $55,000 to $100,000 annually.

    Jacobs, as well as the board chairman Ron Smith and board member Gary Chambers, also are serving on Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s transition committee on the revitalization of north Baton Rouge. That committee is set to deliver its policy recommendations to the mayor on Jan. 31.

    —Sam Karlin

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