Baker turns to social media to bring back business

Coca Sales
Coca Sales

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - A city struggling financially is turning to popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to help find a way out of a financial hole.

Leaders in Baker say they are tapping into their reserve fund but that will be depleted next year.

They are developing an economic marketing plan to bring back business.

Roger Cappe runs a business, Coca Sales, that was built in Baker 40 years ago. Employees in a large sewing room and machine shop make and test products you'd likely see strapped to big rigs on the road. Cappe said his business banks on Baker.

"We've got access to the airport, the Port of Baton Rouge, trucking and surface transportation. It's been really easy from Baker," Cappe said.

But it hasn't been that way for everyone. Mayor Harold Rideau refers to once-thriving businesses like the old Howard Brother's Furniture Store to make his point.

"There's land. There's retail stores that are in Baker that's empty," Rideau said.

The vacant properties have translated into depleting revenue for the city which is why the mayor said he is on the fast track to get business buzzing in Baker.

"We have a number of sites and that's what we're working on with the Baton Rouge Chamber to make these sites shovel ready. We need to attract young folks," Rideau said.

City of Baker Administrative Officer Darnell Waites said he's working on it.

"The city sits between two corridors, Highway 19 and Highway 61.  People drive by here every day so why can't you just stop and spend your money in Baker," Waites said.

"Shop Baker First" is the message, but Waites knows it's not that simple. That's why he said he's plugging the city into popular social media sites to spread the word.

"The biggest deal is to put that information out to Facebook and other means so they'll know what's going on," Waites said.

Cappe said he hopes the city's strategy will help others see what he and his family have already discovered.

"Baker's one of those best kept secrets, Cappe said.

The city plans to officially launch its economic development plan at a community meeting in August.

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