The Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, created by Baton Rouge General Medical Center 20 years ago to improve the area around the Florida Boulevard hospital, is parting ways with its creator.
Bill Holman, president and chief executive officer of Baton Rouge General, and Sam Sanders, director of the alliance, told a luncheon crowd Thursday that the break is part of the original plan to one day have the nonprofit organization stand on its own.
Holman said the alliance is in better shape financially than it has ever been and the time is right for a move he equated to a child growing up and going out on his own.
Sanders concurred on the group’s financial situation, noting it owns the midcity building that serves as its headquarters and is now under renovation.
He said the alliance is finalizing an agreement with a national organization he would not name, that will help carry it into the future.
“We are actually moving ourselves into a position to partner with national organizations that do this kind of work,” he said. “That opens the door for funding we do not have access today, and we don’t lose the financial support of Baton Rouge General in doing this.”
Holman said he will still serve on the alliance’s board of directors, and that Baton Rouge General will undoubtedly contribute funds to the organization in its various efforts to improve the midcity area. He estimated the hospital has contributed more than $1 million to the alliance since it was created in 1991.
Sanders said this year’s budget is about $600,000, but that number has gone as high as $1 million in other years, depending on what projects it had going.
He said that while Baton Rouge General is the largest single source of income for the alliance, it’s not much more than 10 percent, adding that people often assume it is more.
The rest of the income, he said, comes from agreements with Chase Bank and Capital One, federal grants, contracts with the city-parish’s Office of Community Development and fee-for-service contracts.
Sanders said independence will help the redevelopment alliance be more “nimble,” and Holman noted the organization will be able to act more autonomously, without having to clear decisions and initiatives with Baton Rouge General.
Holman said the midcity area has made great strides since the hospital decided in the late 1980s to create an organization to do something about the area immediately around the hospital. He said the alliance’s scope, which includes grant programs, neighborhood clean-up efforts, economic development and homeownership classes, has grown to the point where it should be in control of its destiny.
With Future BR, the pending overhaul of the city-parish’s land use and development code, Sanders said the midcity alliance felt the time was right to make the move and discussed the issue with Baton Rouge General and former alliance directors Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas and Perry Franklin.
“This seems like perfect timing for us to put ourselves into that position,” he said. “It just feels right, really.”
Sanders said the alliance will refile its bylaws with the Secretary of State’s Office on Sept 30, the end of its fiscal year, to eliminate the affiliation with Baton Rouge General, making the separation official.
The alliance defines the midcity area as being bordered by Interstate 110 to the west, Interstate 10 and College Drive to the south, Foster Drive to the east and Choctaw Drive to the north.