April Hawthorne, the new executive director of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District, said she wants to work with stakeholders to build a more vibrant city.
"A grocery store is definitely needed in the Baton Rouge north area. Our focus is to build relationships with our current businesses; I think that has been missing," she said.
Hawthorne, 45, was selected Monday to replace Jerry Jones Jr. as head of the economic development district. Jones stepped down as executive director in November to become director of economic development in the Houston suburb of Richmond, Texas.
Hawthorne said she looks forward to meeting with business owners in north Baton Rouge to get a better sense about what's working and what needs help. She remembers when the original legislation to create the district was drafted by state Sen. Regina Barrow and aims to align the goals with that vision.
"It was to build a better quality of life. She wanted it to be similar to the Downtown Development District board," she said.
Hawthorne is a native of Bay City, Michigan, but her family moved to Bogalusa when she was a child.
She earned a bachelor's degree in organizational communications from Southeastern Louisiana University and a master's degree in public administration from Southern University.
Hawthorne served as a legislative assistant to East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome when she was a member of the state Senate. Hawthorne spent five years as a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Planning and Zoning Commission. She is a residential Realtor with Keller Williams Red Stick Partners and is a member of the Greater Baton Rouge Board of Realtors' Governmental Relations Committee. She operated her own consulting firm for research and development work.
James Gilmore, chair of the economic development district board, said Hawthorne was picked because of her passion for north Baton Rouge and her ability to build business relationships. Gilmore had been serving as interim executive director since Jones left.
This story has been changed since it was first published to remove a quote incorrectly attributed to James Gilmore.