Baton Rouge Chamber endorses LAA project

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 2, 2005


Managing Editor

LAPLACE – The Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce announced this week their support of the Louisiana Airport Authority’s planned transportation center project near Donaldsonville.

“Of course, we’re very pleased with the support,” LAA executive director Glenda Jeansonne observed. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Jeansonne and members of the LAA commission are in Baton Rouge, attempting to round up support for their $3.7 million request for an amendment to the state budget, which would fund an environmental assessment and an additional $650,000 for administrative expenses, without which the LAA office would shut down this summer for lack of funds.

The Chamber stated in a press release that mMembers voted unanimously in support of the issue after hearing presentations from the Louisiana Airport Authority, Dr. Loren Scott and Associates and the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.

Scott told the Chamber the project, an intermodal development with port, airport, rail and highway components, the state could see the addition of 66,000 jobs, the creation of an additional $40 billion in new household earnings and $131 billion in new business sales for the region over the next 40 years.

The bulk of the $4.5 million would be allocated for environmental impact assessments necessary to confirm the viability of the proposed site.

“The request is a relatively small amount of funding to preserve the option for a potentially huge economic development project that, if successful, would benefit the entire capital region,” said Chamber President and CEO Stephen Moret.

Jeansonne was elated at the news of the business group’s support, and added, “We look forward to working with the Chamber throughout the region to further develop the project.”

Jeansonne continued, “I think the business community is behind this project because they see the opportunities.”

Baton Rouge Muncipal Airport director Anthony Marino was quoted as being upset at the Chamber endorsement, viewing the LAA project as competition.

However, Moret commented, “We will continue to support the growth plans of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport as we have done in the past. Most recently The Chamber worked with the airport, the city and the state to secure the ASA maintenance facility, resulting in new jobs for the region. At the same time we recognize that the LAA project may offer significant long-term growth for this region.”

And, Jeansonne added, “We feel this project is important to Baton Rouge, the region and the entire state. We’re not in competition – we’re bringing something new to the state.”

Meanwhile, Jeansonne said progress is being made in persuading state legislators to support the budget amendment for the LAA.

“We’re seeing a lot of support,” she said, “and it’s building daily.”