About 80 miles up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, Baton Rouge is the state capital, a petrochemical and manufacturing hub and home to Louisiana State University’s flagship campus. If New Orleans is the state’s vivacious, sometimes tipsy daughter, then Baton Rouge is its workhorse.
The city’s industrial, medical and public-sector focus served Baton Rouge well during the recession. Unemployment averaged 7.4% in 2010, its highest point during the downturn and a far cry from the average 9.6% unemployment rate the nation suffered that year.
Still, the recession was a wake-up call for many latent entrepreneurs, says Charles F. D’Agostino, executive director of the Louisiana Business & Technology Center (LBTC) at LSU, which is the state’s oldest business incubator. “The economic slowdown helped bring more visibility to entrepreneurship.”