$3.4 Million Investment in Baton Rouge Health District Gateway Enhancements



November 16, 2023

For more information, contact Steven Ceulemans, 225-763-2818, Steven.Ceulemans@brhealthdistrict.com

BATON ROUGE – The U.S. Department of Commerce, via its Economic Development Administration (E.D.A.), announced a significant $4.4 million investment in Louisiana's infrastructure. This allocation is geared towards strengthening the areas recently affected by disasters. A significant portion will be directed to the Baton Rouge Health District, in collaboration with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, for vital enhancements.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo confirmed awarding a $2.72 million E.D.A. grant to the Baton Rouge Health District. The Baton Rouge Health District will direct this funding towards crucial infrastructure upgrades as part of the R.E.A.C.H. Gateway Infrastructure Enhancement Project (Regional Economic Acceleration through Coordinated Health Infrastructure). These upgrades, including improved signage and intersection enhancements, are essential for supporting business growth. Along with an additional $680,000 in local funds, provided in-part by both the City-Parish and the Health District, the total investment in the project reaches $3.4 million.

Steven Ceulemans, Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Health District, highlighted the project's significance: “The R.E.A.C.H. project is not just an investment in infrastructure, it's about creating a welcoming gateway to our district, enhancing its visual identity and resilience. This initiative is our largest federally funded project to date and is a key component in realizing our vision of Baton Rouge as a world-class health destination at the heart of a vibrant community.”

The Baton Rouge Health District, comprising a coalition of prominent health-related institutions, is at the forefront of the R.E.A.C.H. initiative within a significant 1,200-acre area in the heart of Baton Rouge. This initiative is focused on augmenting the healthcare district into a destination that is not only resilient to future challenges but also inclusive and conducive to economic growth and vitality.

Some illustrations of the envisioned types of streetscaping and wayfinding enhancements are provided. Primary gateway junctions to receive enhancement treatments include the I-10 interstate approach to Essen Blvd; I- 10 interstate approach to Bluebonnet Blvd; I-10 interstate approach to Ochsner-The Grove; Perkins Rd/Quail Dr; and Perkins Rd/Essen Blvd.

Mayor Broome expressed enthusiasm for the collaboration: “In partnership with the Baton Rouge Health District, my administration has allocated $350,000 of MOVEBR funds to the R.E.A.C.H. project. This strategic investment will not only beautify intersections but also prioritize pedestrian and bicycle safety. It’s a crucial step in fortifying the economic impact and resilience of the Health District,” said Mayor Broome.

Funded by the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023, these projects benefit from the E.D.A.'s additional $483 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance Program funds. These funds address recovery in areas declared major disaster zones in 2021 and 2022 due to events like Hurricanes Ian and Fiona.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo remarked, "E.D.A.'s role is pivotal in aiding communities to recover from natural disasters and adapt to climate changes. We're committed to supporting Baton Rouge and West Monroe in their mission to provide growth-supporting infrastructure."

About the Baton Rouge Health District
The Baton Rouge Health District is a coalition of healthcare organizations committed to establishing a world-class health destination in Baton Rouge. This non-profit organization works collaboratively with healthcare providers, government entities, and educators to stimulate healthcare and economic development in the region. Founding members of the Baton Rouge Health District include Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Ochsner Health, Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University and Woman's Hospital. For more information, visit Baton Rouge Health District.

About the Pennington Biomedical Research Center
The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. The Center architected the national “Obecity, USA” awareness and advocacy campaign to help solve the obesity epidemic by 2040. The Center conducts basic, clinical, and population research, and is affiliated with LSU.

The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 480 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and other support personnel. Pennington Biomedical a state-of-the-art research facility on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge.

For more information, see www.pbrc.edu.