OUT TO LUNCH finds Baton Rouge Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel combining her hard news journalist skills and food background: conducting business over lunch. Baton Rouge has long had a storied history of politics being conducted over meals, now the Capital Region has an equivalent culinary home for business: Mansur’s. Each week Stephanie holds court over lunch at Mansur’s and invites members of the Baton Rouge business community to join her. You can also hear the show on WRKF 89.3FM.
Baton Rouge has a bustling economy and plenty of entrepreneurs with great ideas, but baton Rouge doesn’t have an ecosystem for entrepreneurs. Whether it’s a culture, a lack of capital, or a little of both, Stephanie's guests on Out to Lunch each have a unique perspective on what it will take to build a better ecosystem for entrepreneurs.
Byron Clayton is President and CEO of the Research Park Corporation, which created and operates the Louisiana Technology Park, a business incubator here in Baton Rouge that recently rebranded as Nexus. Byron comes from Cleveland Ohio, where he had extensive experience in the entrepreneurial sector. Since coming to Louisiana in early 2015, he’s been making some changes to the way business at the business incubator is done.
Louis Freeman ia president and CEO of Innovation Catalyst, a nonprofit venture development organization created by the RPC that Byron Clayton heads. Innovation Catalyst provides startup money to fledgling businesses through its nonprofit Catalyst Fund, and is looking for deals. Louis has a foot both in baton rouge and New Orleans and is working in both cities to help make deals happen and bring the two business communities closer at the same time.
Mark Drennen ia Senior Vice President of lobbying group Cornerstone Government Affairs. Mark has an impressive resume, having previously served as the head of New Orleans’ economic development organization, GNO Inc., before that as the Commissioner of Administration under Gov. Mike Foster, and prior to that as head of the esteemed Public Affairs Research Council. Mark has seen deals get done from various different perspectives and as a result has a unique insight into the way things work here in south Louisiana.
Thia conversation is an insightful look back at where Baton Rouge business has come from and more importantly the bright future ahead.