Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp reiterated the organization’s plans to address racial disparities and economic inclusion in the Capital Region during a presentation to the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday.
While continuing to pursue previously announced steps to address racial disparities with coronavirus recovery, Knapp says the agency will also soon compile data on the coronavirus’s impact on black-owned or minority-owned businesses.
“What’s happening in the U.S. and metro Baton Rouge is an important reevaluation as a community as far as disparity between blacks and whites in our community and between black-owned businesses and white-owned businesses,” Knapp says.
He reviewed data released by BRAC on Friday that graded the Baton Rouge metro against 39 other Southern metros on a set of benchmarks looking at the area’s racial and economic disparities. The report notably ranked Baton Rouge among the lowest metros for several of the benchmarks and revealed that only 20% of local managers are non-white.
When you look at all of the cities studied by the indicators for economic inclusion plotted on a graph, Knapp says the data shows there’s a strong correlation between having inclusive opportunities for more people and propelling growth, attracting business and retaining talent.
“We have to make the space for these conversations [on race] that are difficult,” Knapp says. “We’ve seen an increased interest that local businesses want to be more intentional with these conversations.”