As someone who grew up somewhere other than here, it’s forever amazing how Baton Rouge—a natural resource-rich capital city with the state’s flagship university and a high-potential health care sector—can’t get out of its own way long enough to even come close to capitalizing on its enormous possibilities.
No doubt, writes Business Report Executive Editor J.R. Ball in his new column, there is a Tiger Stadium full of reasons for this, but, ultimately, Baton Rouge is not all that it can be because we’ve made the very conscious choice not to be all that we can be.
Make no mistake, Baton Rouge is teeming with individuals chasing personal greatness. We’ve also got more than our fair share of entrepreneurs and small business owners working tirelessly to evolve and disrupt their companies in the quest for a better life for their families and employees. And, my goodness, few cities in America have more nonprofits running around trying to do good in their own little niche.
Yet—and it’s a big yet—when’s the last time these individuals, companies and nonprofits joined forces for anything? The answer would be whenever there’s a natural disaster, like the August 2016 flood when the whole of East Baton Rouge Parish came together for the greater good of rescue, survival and rebuilding.
And that’s a shame. Because, bluntly put, doing what we’ve been doing means Baton Rouge will never realize its potential to become an economically thriving and diverse city with a quality of life capable of attracting and retaining the talent necessary to compete in a world powered by knowledge, research and innovation. Our crisis isn’t one of life or death; it’s one of mediocrity.