BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Baton Rouge is home to many. The capital city is known for its Cajun and Creole cuisine, Mardi Gras celebrations, diverse culture, and music.

“An opportunity to bring in new ideas and spaces, new faces and energy to where we’re now focused as an organization to re-imagine Baton Rouge together,” said Laci Sherman, President of North Baton Rouge Chamber.

Data from the Baton Rouge Area Chamber shows the unemployment rate is 3.4%. That’s lower than the national average. In fact, the nine-parish region has added over 15,000 new jobs within the last year.

“The Baton Rouge economy is strong and we have seen jobs in the Baton Rouge metro area increase,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Baton Rouge.

According to Broome, there’s one group, in particular, that’s the driving force behind the “booming” economy.

For that reason, she started the Summer of Hope initiative to get people off the streets and into the classroom.

“Young professionals are a very strong part of the fabric of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish,” said Broome.

Broome said the goal is to keep workers post-training and development by creating a work-life balance for families.

“Our young people are well-educated here that they will get a good education and then when they get their education, that they don’t have to look elsewhere to be employed to start their career journey,” said Broome.

Sherman said business is based on relationships. 

The goal of the chamber is to provide a space for entrepreneurs to share, create, and develop local resources.

“Statistics actually show that small businesses, minority businesses, actually have a smaller network of resources versus these larger corporations,” said Sherman.

Mikayla Bates, the CEO of Chosen Financial is using her expertise to teach other business owners about leveraging income and expenses. 

“Helping others bridge that wealth gap while also making it a cool and comfortable conversation and something that’s exciting for them to reach their financial goals,” said Bates.

Bates, who’s also the Vice President of the North Baton Rouge Chamber, wants people to understand it’s not about how much money you make, but how to properly manage your finances. 

“We work ‘in’ our business a lot, but we don’t have the opportunity to work ‘on’ our business because we’re trying to make money. We’re trying to see clients. We’re trying to build and scale,” said Bates.

Bates said the backbone of a thriving community is unity amongst different groups.

“We also bring a diversified platform. So not just Black, but white, Asian, and Indian because the thing about it is, they have things that we don’t have access to, and we have things that they don’t have access to. So why not bring and marry those two ideas together to create a unified perspective,” said Bates.

The North Baton Rouge Chamber said they currently have 60 members and they’re projected to hit 90 by the end of this year.

North Baton Rouge Chamber said they are one of 35 chambers to sit on a national committee. The group plans to host a finance seminar in the fall. 

According to BRAC, they hope to partner with the Health District, Pennington, and other stakeholders in the future.