The Baton Rouge Area Chamber is pushing plans to make the capital region more attractive and appealing to businesses, entrepreneurs and job seekers by emphasizing “quality of place,” which includes improving maintenance, landscaping and eliminating blight.

Broken curbs, drainage ditches filled with trash and overgrown with weeds and derelict properties aren’t just eyesores, they also are barriers to economic development, said Lee Jenkins, vice president of Performance Contractors and head of BRAC’s quality of place working group.

“I have huge frustration with how we accept things in Baton Rouge in terms of what our city looks like. I think you are much more aware of these things when you have to show someone from outside,” Jenkins said. 

The issues become obvious if one has to drive a visitor in from the airport, and the route is based on which interstate exit might be less dirty, he said.

Jenkins spoke at the chamber’s Regional Stakeholders Breakfast. About 40 people attended.

Quality of place includes an area’s physical appearance, development and sense of character. Quality of place is one of the region’s most needed but overlooked issues.

Access to talent is the No. 1 issue for companies considering relocating. Entrepreneurs also look for a great place to live when deciding on a place to launch a business. A region’s quality of place is crucial to attracting that talent. College-educated 25- to 35-year-olds willing to move often choose the city before they begin looking for a job.

The chamber has identified short- and long-term initiatives that can improve the area’s quality of place, including:

-- Promoting public awareness and education around quality of place, including evaluations of problem areas.

-- Improving coordination and collaboration among public and private stakeholders.

-- Adopting improved maintenance, landscaping, blight elimination and land use and development policies.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr