Except for the hassle of crossing into Baton Rouge over the new bridge, reports from research and polling organizations indicate West Baton Rouge Parish is a nearly ideal place to live.
And even the bridge-crossing issue will be solved in time.
The state is in the process of studying routes for a new bridge south of Port Allen to relieve some of the pressure on the Wilkinson Bridge to make getting across the river easier.
A new highway connecting La. 1 to La. 415 will also ease the traffic problems on the approaches to the bridge.
Jamie Hanks has been the executive director of the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce for almost four years. She says the change over that time is dramatic.
“Driving down La. 1 looks like completely different that when I started,” she said.
Hanks said shopping centers have popped up all along the highway and big business and industry are growing at a rapid pace.
“Business expansions are at an all-time high,” she said.
The complexion of the parish on the whole has changed as well, according to Hanks.
“The parish dynamics have changed significantly with a lot of starter families relocating to neighborhoods here as well as business that cater to that age group,” she said. “That’s exciting.”
“We’ve also got a lot of industry coming in that are able to offer higher salaries so that’s increased our salary range over the last five years,” Hanks said.
“We have a lot of interest in West Baton Rouge right now,” she continued, and more business and industry on the way. “I would say that many are waiting on a new council to be sworn in.”
Hanks said she also expects three new projects if West Baton Rouge becomes the location of choice for those companies and the expansion of two others is also imminent—but not promised.
“It’s never a guarantee when it comes to the site selection process, although we’re going after them as hard as we can,” she said.
The constantly improving quality of life is another reason West Baton Rouge is becoming a popular place to live as well.
“You can get a great education for your child without sending them to a private or parochial school,” Hanks said, a fact Superintendent Wes Watts emphasized during a presentation he made to the Chamber of Commerce’s members last Wednesday.
More home for less money is another reason the parish is attracting young couples.
“All the brand new houses you can get here for significantly less that you can get a comparable home elsewhere,” Hanks said. “So for those two reasons alone, we’re attracting that age group, which is amazing.”
Hanks said all these factors tied together make her job exciting.
“I love my job and I love the team of women I work with and I love our board of directors,” she said. “I have an extremely good group of people I work with on the economic side which is where I spend the majority of my time.”