If you are looking to start a business, particularly in high tech, Baton Rouge is a great place to come. Ranked at #9 on CNN Money's Best Place to Launch a Business in mid-sized metro areas, Baton Rouge offers a combination of young engineering talent, tax incentives, and quality of life that pulls in new entrepreneurs.
Between 2004-2007, the small business growth rate was 9.3%, as compared to 5.92% for other "Best Places." In 2007, this translated to 16,860 new small businesses with 1-49 employees. Much of the growth was in the technology sector, as engineering and construction firms settled in the state capital to work on post-Katrina restoration projects, some with Federal Go Zone funds. To further promote business, the State of Louisiana approved tax incentives of up to 40% for firms that do research and development in the state, as well as 35% of the state income tax for digital media companies.
Some of the new business were developed to provide services and housing to the increasing population. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Baton Rouge experienced a large population increase when displaced hurricane victims moved in. Some returned home but the region has retained an 11% population growth.
As the location of Louisiana State University, Southern University, and Baton Rouge Community College, Baton Rouge has a pool of educational talent. Some 28% of the population has bachelor's degrees, which make for an educated workforce. Average hourly wage for workers in the Baton Rouge area is $17.89, as compared to $18.35 in other "Best Places.
A key thing that attracts small business - and their customers - to Baton Rouge is the quality of life, marked by Louisiana cooking and a growing social nightlife scene. In an inviting business client, such amenities, coupled with a comfortable pace of life, make workers happy to stay put in Baton Rouge.
Well before Katrina, the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce embarked on The Campaign for a Greater Baton Rouge to promote the nine parishes in the region (Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana) as an economic unit. The group hoped to broaden the economic appeal of the area to more than the petrochemical industry. The recent accolades from CNN Money indicates that Baton Rouge is well on the way to becoming a more diversified
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