It was 37 years ago this month, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (theme from Rocky) was at the top of the charts and Jerry Stovall was coaching the LSU Tigers. It was also when we published the first monthly edition of Business Report featuring Louisiana entrepreneurs.
Much has changed in the world and our city—and how we live and work. All of us at Business Report were looking to make an impact on our hometown business community and put “business news on the front page.” We were committed to covering what was happening in business, who made it happen and why? We wanted to go behind the scenes and give you the whole story. And we stuck to local news believing what happens on Main Street is more important to your business, job and family than what happens on Wall Street. We still believe that.
As Baton Rouge has grown and evolved, we have too in order to serve our business community. Over the years we’ve embraced change, and you’ve seen it in our content, design, frequency and digital offerings from our website to the Daily Report e-newsletter, introduced more than 20 years ago—and now twice daily. As entrepreneurs, we were proud to take that risk and be the first business journal in our national association to introduce a daily e-newsletter. (It’s free at DailyReport.com and we encourage you to get it.)
I hope you agree that local media is important because Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter don’t produce local news about Baton Rouge. They simply post the news produced by local companies like ours, The Advocate, WBRZ, WAFB, WVLA, Fox-44 and numerous radio stations. (Social media sites add cat videos, selfies, photos of your favorite dishes and some “fake news” from Russia.) These behemoth companies don’t employ anyone here or pay state or local taxes, and they don’t support our local community and give anything back to nonprofits. We all do.
As our Capital Region continued to grow, we saw other needs in the market, prompting us to create 225 magazine to help residents “discover, experience and celebrate” our community.
We also acquired the inRegister magazine 11 years ago and just celebrated with the beautiful 30th anniversary edition that is a showcase for Baton Rouge lifestyle. This special edition would impress readers in any city in America.
In addition to the news we provide in various forms every day, week and month, we strive to connect people in our community—face to face—and honor achievement. That includes our Business Awards & Hall of Fame, Influential Women in Business, Top 100 Private Company CEOs, Forty under 40 and Best of 225 awards.
We sponsor many community events and have been a catalyst in starting many local events, including The Corporate Cup 5K, Sunday in the Park, Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week and The Fur Ball.
Greater Baton Rouge has been very supportive in our 37-year journey and we are grateful to you, our readers and advertisers. In the age of acquisitions, we are one of the few locally-owned media companies remaining. We are committed to our original purpose and mission while continuing to “give back” and support worthy causes that help our neighbors. When Baton Rouge prospers, we prosper.
Over the past 37 years, I have had the privilege of sharing with you on this page my opinions and where I stand on issues. We don’t always agree, but a civil debate is healthy. I have also had the pleasure of working with many talented, innovative and energetic people who have won many awards for our publications and helped build this company to make an impact. I am grateful to each one of them—and especially my partners, Julio and Sherry Melara, my family and wife, Teeta, who has been there since before Business Report began. God has blessed me, and I am grateful to Him every day.
So, as we begin our 38th year in the Capital Region, we want to say “thanks.” I learned long ago that success is a journey, not a destination. Some of you have traveled with us for all 37 years. Time does fly when you are having fun. And we all know change is constant. We are already planning for 2020 and new changes and innovations we will share soon. So, 37 years later, our economy is global and technology and the web have disrupted the way we all do business. It won’t stop. But it also creates opportunities for teams who aim high and commit to excellence. That is the journey we have chosen and will continue with your support.
Gov. Edwards, budgets and taxes
So what has changed in the budget numbers for Louisiana over the past five years?
The final budget under the Bobby Jindal administration for 2015-16 was $24.6 billion. The first budget under Gov. John Bel Edwards was $26.6 billion—and that depended on him raising taxes, something he clearly said in campaign debates that he would not do. (Keep in mind, he was a state legislator, but I guess he didn’t know the budget well enough.)
To raise taxes in 2016, he resorted to somewhat mean and ridiculous measures. For instance, do you remember the letter he sent out to 17,000 nursing home residents implying they could all be evicted? Seriously? That was cruel and should never have happened.
But just as ludicrous was when he said in a televised speech, “You can say farewell to college football.” Again, implying no tax increase, no football. Was he trying to be funny or just not telling the truth? (Fact is, LSU athletics gets no state funds and is financially self-sustaining.)
The governor did get his new taxes on business while also raising sales taxes to the highest in the nation—and our budget grew.
You may argue that was necessary, while others argue we have too many dedicated funds where, if unlocked, savings can be found. Since Edwards’ first budget, with the help of higher taxes, Medicaid expansion and stable oil prices, the Louisiana budget for 2019-20 is now $35 billion. That’s a 42.2% increase in four years and more than $10 billion higher than Jindal’s last budget.
Did you know that, and are you satisfied with how your money is being spent?