Baton Rouge is the capital city of Louisiana, and the second-largest city in the state. Situated on the eastern side of the Mississippi River and with bustling port (the 10th largest in the nation, in regards to how much cargo moves through it) and rich cultural history. It’s name comes from a sighting by French colonialists of a red pole said to have divided two neighboring Native American tribes’ hunting land (Le baton rouge translates literally as ‘the red stick’). Baton Rouge has also seen an influx in foreigners from Vietnam and Latin America; mixed with Cajun and Creole cultures from the past, this contributes to vibrant cultural districts all around the city. This ethnic diversity contributes to a diversity in cuisine, with some of the top-rated restaurants being steakhouses, Cajun restaurants, seafood, Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, etc., and has restaurant weeks to showcase the city’s alimentary offerings. Mardi Gras month is celebrated here as well, with many parades going through different city neighborhoods. The city experiences a humid, subtropical climate with fairly mild winters (though has seen snow the past three years) and summers with an average temperatures in the low 90s. While the area is prone to hurricanes and floods, the city has actually been built on bluffs, situating it a bit higher than it’s sea-level-and-below neighbor, New Orleans. Baton Rouge itself boasts a population of 229,553 people (as of the 2010 census), and it’s entire metropolitan area, referred to as the capital area, has over 800,000 people, and has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the past few decades, especially for recent college graduates and young professionals. Baton Rouge was ranked 64th out of 100 in the 100 Best Places to Live by US News & World Report, and one of the Top 10 Cities for Young Adults in 2010 by Portfolio Magazine.
Louisiana as a whole is attractive for companies looking to relocate because of the business-friendly tax code, access to major shipping routes both domestic and international, and what is seen as a generally hard-working and friendly population in Baton Rouge. The geographic location especially lends itself to being perfect for large industrial companies with interests in natural resource extraction because of the resource-rich land upon which Baton Rouge was founded. The petrochemical and natural resource extraction/energy sector started booming in the post-World War II era, during the 1950s and 1960s. This is also when the city saw the first large expansion of its metropolitan area, and eventually contributed to a great need for urbanization of the capital area in the 1990s and early 2000s. There are over 50,000 small businesses (less than 10 employees) in Baton Rouge, and over 400 businesses with over 250 employees, demonstrating the diversity in industry and employment opportunities to be found in Baton Rouge.
Manufacturing, Energy and Petrochemicals
Due to Baton Rouge’s desirable location as a port city on the Mississippi River, it is home to large industries in the energy and chemical sectors, as well as construction and other industrial services. These areas have the largest employment in the capital city area, with combined employment of around 48,000, despite the drop in oil prices in the past year or so. The reason for this is that the majority of the companies in this sector are so large and are in charge of so much of their supply chain, they have to employ people across a multitude of sectors. For example, chemical engineers may be necessary to produce desirable materials, but also so are land surveyors and safety inspectors, would be responsible for finding adequate places to build a new chemical plant and overseeing its adherence to safety procedures. Administrative professionals and lawyers are needed to oversee clerical office management and to ensure the company is operating within US law. The great news is that in this sector, there truly seems to be a job for everyone.
Educational and Library Services
This sector is not far behind either, however, as Baton Rouge is also home to several large universities, including the flagship campus of Louisiana State University. Each parish has it’s own K-12 school system, employing anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 teachers per school level (elementary, middle, and high school), not including substitute teachers and special education teachers. East Baton Rouge parish on it’s own has the second-largest K-12 public school system in the state of Louisiana. In terms of higher education, Louisiana State University employs the largest number of faculty, with Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University A&M just behind them. The Louisiana State Library is located in Baton Rouge, providing access to millions of genealogy records, census information, access to computers and the internet, and providing jobs for librarians and library technicians. The East Baton Rouge parish also operates it’s own public library system, as do each of the major universities in Baton Rouge. As of 2015, there were 19,420 people employed in the education and library fields.
Medical and Healthcare Services
Additionally, many of the higher education institutions have medical colleges and/or affiliated medical centers where students can complete internships or residencies. Our Lady of the Lake College, and a general medical center and a children’s medical center with the same names, are prime examples. Louisiana State University has an affiliated medical institute, as well as an expanding affiliated research center called the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Furthermore, Tulane University (seated in New Orleans) is looking to open up a satellite medical center in Baton Rouge, which would partner with the Baton Rouge Medical Center and Our Lady of the Lake, and would bring much greater access to medical services for the Baton Rouge capital area community. Other notable medical institutions include health insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. As of 2015, there were 22,620 people employed in the health sector.
As it is the capital city of the state of Louisiana, both local governments of Baton Rouge and its surrounding parishes and the state government employed over 22,000 people as of 2013. This is partially attributed to the unique way Louisiana governorates are divided. Within the Baton Rouge capital area, there are 9 parishes, or counties, including East Baton Rouge and West Baton Rouge, as well as over 20 more small town and unincorporated villages around the capital area. By including these surrounding small towns and villages, it allows these residents access to a greater network of municipal and public services. These residents are also allowed to vote for the elected leader of Baton Rouge, who has the title “Mayor-President”, a title unique to this specific position. The Mayor-President works in tandem with the metropolitan council, the legislators of Baton Rouge, to set policy agendas and preside over the capital area budget. In 2008, the State of Louisiana moved all of the governmental functions and branches to a singular building in downtown Baton Rouge, to a complex known as Capitol Park, which also houses a wonderful state history museum.
Art and Design
There is a upward trend in the growth of these fields as well, especially in that of motion pictures, television and radio broadcasting, and the public relations and advertising fields that go along with these audiovisual careers. Most notably, in 2013, the motion picture industry is said to have brought over $90 million to the local economy, having had several films set up in the metropolitan area. There are notable art and cultural galleries in downtown Baton Rouge, including the Shaw Center for the Arts which includes restaurants, different gallery spaces to rotate exhibits, and a permanent art collection. Additionally, all across the city of Baton Rouge there are smaller art galleries, and two arts-centric districts that have special tax breaks for patrons, in order to encourage people (tourists and locals alike) to visit. Baton Rouge also has an up and coming theater industry, with well-known professional actors, recent graduates from and current students in the Louisiana State University master’s of fine arts program making up the Swine Palace theater company, as well as a ballet company, a smaller public theater, and a symphony orchestra.
Job market growth has averaged 2.5% each year between 2013-2015, almost double that from 2012. Many companies have eyed Baton Rouge as a potential expansion city, including IBM. The unemployment rate is 4.7%, about the same as the national average (as of Nov 2016, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics). Baton Rouge industries are expected to add around 8,000 jobs over the next two years, and job growth is expected to continue in industrial sectors through 2022, especially when you consider looking at the greater Baton Rouge metropolitan area as a whole. Despite flooding in the area in 2016, many local companies have stepped in to provide a massive relief and recovery effort, and this has actually contributed to a bit of an increase in construction-type jobs due to many residents’ need to rebuild their property that was damaged. Some recent reports have stated that the economy is stagnating a bit, but that is only because the supply of jobs is outpacing demand for them, which is a good thing for those graduating from a local university and looking to stick around for awhile. Many companies also have contracts with Baton Rouge schools and universities as a way of demonstrating their commitment to the local population.
Not surprisingly, the majority of top employers in the Baton Rouge capital area are in the manufacturing and energy/extractive industries. Many of the energy companies in Baton Rouge manage full supply chains of operations, and thus are looking to fill jobs along every step of the way. Health and health insurance, again not surprisingly, also employ significant numbers of greater Baton Rouge residents. Colleges and technical schools in the area have high-quality programs to train nurses, medical technicians, physicians, and everything in between.
Currently employs more than 5,000 Baton Rouge residents as both permanent employees and as contractors. They seek to hire directly from Baton Rouge-area and other Louisiana universities, and have positions ranging from operational and technical fields to degree-preferred positions in areas such as human resources, accounting, and engineering. According to their economic fact sheet put out at the end of 2016, their refinery and chemical plant in greater Baton Rouge are the first and second largest employers, respectively, in all of Louisiana. ExxonMobil gets involved with the local community as well through numerous volunteer efforts to get underrepresented populations involved in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) sector, philanthropic donations to schools and universities, and the local United Way chapter.
The Dow Chemical Company - Louisiana Group
The Louisiana Group of the Dow Chemical Company is one of the largest employers in West Baton Rouge and close-by town Iberville, with over 1,500 regular employees and 1,600 contractors. Their plants manufacture petrochemicals, including those that go into piping for automobiles, trucks, and LED lights. They contribute over $24 million state tax revenue, and are involved in the local communities as well, as their employees have logged over 20,000 volunteer hours and the company has contributed close to $1 million to charity every year. Additionally, they contributed immensely to help Baton Rouge residents recover after the floods of 2016. The Louisiana Group currently has 12 open positions.
Turner Industries, similar to CB&I, also works to support oil and gas companies with infrastructure, technology and construction services, as well as consulting expertise and outsourcing services. They’re based in Baton Rouge, and provide wide community support through grants, donations, and volunteer outreach through their program at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and have hosted job training programs for Baton Rouge area residents in the past. Furthermore, Turner Industries has partnered with Baton Rouge Community College and the Capital Area Technical College to provide jobs in skilled fields for graduates of welding, pipefitting, and electrician programs at these schools. Turner Industries has also been recognized with several prestigious awards, including those for workforce development, business ethics, and several national safety awards. Currently, they have several positions available in Baton Rouge.
Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center
Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center is one of Baton Rouge’s largest employers, with over 7,000 employees in the capital area. They are private and non-profit, and specialize in cardiovascular care, emergency services, oncology, and surgical procedures. In addition to their 800-bed facility at the main facility, they also have a network of local clinics, outpatient centers and their own children’s hospital. They are recipients of several awards including Hospital of the Year and ranked in US News and World Report in the Top 100 Hospitals in the nation, and ranked first in Baton Rouge. Currently, they have 372 positions available in the Baton Rouge capital area.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana is a non-profit health insurance company, and their corporate headquarters are located in Baton Rouge. They are an independent operator of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Inc., and are one of the largest providers of affordable health care in the capital area. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana was nominated as one of the best companies to work for by the Baton Rouge Business Report in 2014, with 94% of employees reporting being satisfied with their job. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana has been around for 80 years, working under the mission of improving the lives of all Louisianans. According to their website, they currently have 21 open positions.
Baton Rouge is quite a college-friendly city, with 20% of its population being made up of college students during the school year. Regardless of whether or not you attend Louisiana State University, chances are you will end up cheering, “Geaux Tigers!” at one of many football games at the Louisiana State University stadium. Colleges and universities range in size and in scope, from small, technical junior colleges with open admission to historically black colleges and universities (or HBCUs), large land grant colleges, and medium and large liberal arts universities. As of 2014, it’s reported that only about 31% of Baton Rouge residents have a university degree. The city and state are seeing about the same percentage (24%) of ‘millennials’, or those in their early 20s to mid 30s, relocating to the Baton Rouge capital area (it’s as high as 98% in the East Baton Rouge parish alone), as the affordability and livability rates are both high. According to recent census data, there are over 130,000 millennial-aged folks living in the Baton Rouge capital area. This is great information to have especially as industrial companies continue to expand and are looking to hire skilled employees. Consider staying in the area after graduation from a Baton Rouge-area school, and even consider putting down roots (homeowner rates among millennials right now in Baton Rouge are through the roof - about 47% of homeowners are millennials).
Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge flagship campus
Louisiana State University (Louisiana State University, familiarly) considers itself to be among the premiere research institute of the south. Louisiana State University offers 71 baccalaureate programs, and 71 master’s degree programs, and 47 doctoral programs. Looking at their undergraduate degree programs, they range widely from agriculture and agronomy to construction management, environmental resource management, international studies, business, and engineering. The total cost for domestic students is $21,668 for Louisiana residents and $38,344 for those coming from out of state. In the fall of 2016, they had over 26,000 students enrolled at the undergraduate level, and in the spring of 2014 saw a graduation rate of 69.1%.
Baton Rouge Community College
Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) is among the newer colleges in the state, opening in 1998. It opened in response to extremely high demand for higher education among non-traditional students as well as first-generation college students, those without economic opportunities to go elsewhere, along with traditional college students. BRCC offers associate’s degrees and certificate programs in fields ranging from refrigerator/HVAC technology, customer service, emergency management, nursing, and welding. BRCC charge $31.00 per credit hour, plus a $169.91 non-resident fee if you are from outside of the state of Louisiana.
Our Lady of the Lake
Our Lady of the Lake College is a college connected with the Our Lady of the Lake medical center in Baton Rouge. This college specializes in nursing and other natural science fields, and is private, Catholic, and non-profit. For those looking for an education in a community-minded environment, Our Lady of the Lake might be a great option, as they had over 3,800 students complete more than 68,000 hours of community service between the 2009 and 2014 school years. Courses range from $410 to $476.75 per course, depending on the type (humanities, professional, or phlebotomy). They have relatively small class sizes from 17-20 students per class.
Southern University Law Center
One of the professional education schools in Baton Rouge, the Southern University Law Center opened in Baton Rouge in 1947 to provide a safe space to get a law school education to African-Americans. They open their doors to students of all races and ethnicities, however. The cost for full-time students who are Louisiana residents is $32,481, and for out of state residents is $43,081, and they offer significant financial aid packages. Last year, the Southern University Law Center had an incoming class of 190 students.