It is important to remember that just days before Ida roared ashore the Metro Council thought it necessary to create a massive heap of gratuitous bureaucracy known as the Cortana Economic Development District, Business Report Executive Editor JR Ball writes in his new opinion piece.
It’s an impressive term, no doubt, but slice through the buzzwords and you discover it’s little more than another dedicated tax stream that principally helps a friend of the mayor and the politically connected Build Baton Rouge.
The district encircles the pending Amazon fulfillment center before jutting west along a narrow strip of Florida Boulevard past Bon Carré and BREC’s headquarters to the Baton Rouge Community College at North Foster Drive. Its north-south run is along Airline Highway from South Choctaw Drive to Goodwood Boulevard.
This now makes three economic development districts in north Baton Rouge, and 19 in the parish. Proponents say this new district is a good thing because a master plan is necessary to deal with the spate of anticipated redevelopment that will happen once Amazon rolls open its warehouse doors.
No one argues a master plan for an area predicted to be on the verge of a rebirth is a bad idea, Ball writes. But why the need for a dedicated funding stream? Simply bid out the project—in full view of the public—and pay for it with general fund dollars.
This is just another example of how our local government hands out manna from taxpayers to the politically well-connected in the name of economic development.