How to keep young professionals in Baton Rouge

young professionalsJulia-Claire Evans is a former “Business Report” writer who now lives in New Orleans and works as a communications officer for the Conservation for the National Wildlife Federation.

For the 40th anniversary edition of Business Report, we asked nine community leaders and young professionals how Baton Rouge can fulfill its potential as an economically thriving medium-sized city. Below is an excerpt from the essay by Julia-Claire Evans, the former writer of Business Reports, in which she discusses Baton Rouge’s difficulties attracting young talent:

If you’ve lived in Baton Rouge for a long time, chances are you know this city has a youth problem.

By a youth issue, I mean the city has a hard time attracting and retaining young professionals between the ages of 25 and 40, an issue also shared by organizations like the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

As a young professional and recent graduate of LSU, I am the only one in my group of friends who has stayed in Baton Rouge to work after graduating. The only others left here were either trying to go to graduate school and take a gap year, or were finishing fifth year of college. Now almost everyone I know has left town, and now I’m off to New Orleans too.

So what is it about Baton Rouge that makes young people want to leave? And what is it about places like New Orleans or Lafayette that makes them want to stay?

When I talk to my friends from New Orleans and Lafayette, many of them fall back on the word “culture.” New Orleans and Lafayette just have more of it, they say. But, I ask, Baton Rouge has music festivals, parades and fine dining, all essential to Louisiana culture, so what makes it different?

Read Evans’ full essay from the latest edition of Business Report. Send comments to [email protected]

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