Baton Rouge ranks above national average for downtown jobs

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More exciting news for Louisiana's two biggest cities. A national report finds New Orleans and Baton Rouge have more people working in or around the cities' downtown areas---than most cities across the country.

Solid Ground Innovations and the Downtown Grocery Store are two new businesses in downtown Baton Rouge---businesses the owners could have opened in any part of the city. But Solid Ground Innovations owner Sevetri Wilson says she wanted to be based in one of the most productive areas of town.

"Honestly I think downtown is really becoming a place where new companies, where old companies can come together and work collaboratively in an open space," said Wilson.

Wilson's company and dozens of others that now call downtown home, or plan to in the near future, have helped Baton Rouge buck a national trend. The Brookings Institute's Metropolitan Policy Program reports between 2000 and 2010 in the nation's 100 largest cities, 34 percent of people work in a 3 to 10 mile range of downtown. Baton Rouge's numbers are closer to 54 percent.

"It's all about collaboration and partnerships and then having a great plan," Downtown Development director Davis Rhorer said. "Then work those plans and constantly update those plans to make them relevant to opportunities here."

Rhorer says national recognition like this only proves how much work has gone on the past few years to revitalize this area---hard work that's lured companies both big and small to a once quiet part of town.

"Now with downtown development district, what they're doing, with these movements of festivals down here," Wilson said. "I can definitely tell that the city is coming to life with downtown being a very focal point of that."

"I'm looking forward to downtown Baton Rouge to develop as much as possible" Michael Matroonejad said, co-owner of the Downtown Grocery Store. "A grocery store is needed for other things to things like that."

Matroonejad says the store should be open for business later this month. The downtown tower that will house IBM is set to be complete in 2015.

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