Porch and Parish The Podcast

Talking Economic Development with Adam Knapp, CEO of C100

March 25, 2024 Porch & Parish
Talking Economic Development with Adam Knapp, CEO of C100
Porch and Parish The Podcast
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Porch and Parish The Podcast
Talking Economic Development with Adam Knapp, CEO of C100
Mar 25, 2024
Porch & Parish

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Unlock the secrets of Louisiana's economic renaissance as we sit with Adam Knapp, a visionary in the state's push for progress. In a candid discussion, we peel back the layers of local economic strategies and the colorful food culture that not only feeds the body but also fuels the soul of this unique region. From the impact of gubernatorial decrees on parish power to the personal tales of Baton Rouge's culinary delights, prepare to embark on an auditory journey through the heart of Louisiana's transformative growth.

We wrap up with a forward-thinking analysis of the avenues and obstacles on Louisiana's path to economic success. Explore the strategic initiatives aimed at harnessing technology and innovation, and discover how community, quality of life, and authentic culture are the magnets drawing talent and investment to our beloved state. As the conversation winds down, you're left with a renewed understanding of the importance of individual action in crafting a vibrant economic future, where every citizen plays a pivotal role in sculpting a thriving Louisiana.

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Send us a Text Message.

Unlock the secrets of Louisiana's economic renaissance as we sit with Adam Knapp, a visionary in the state's push for progress. In a candid discussion, we peel back the layers of local economic strategies and the colorful food culture that not only feeds the body but also fuels the soul of this unique region. From the impact of gubernatorial decrees on parish power to the personal tales of Baton Rouge's culinary delights, prepare to embark on an auditory journey through the heart of Louisiana's transformative growth.

We wrap up with a forward-thinking analysis of the avenues and obstacles on Louisiana's path to economic success. Explore the strategic initiatives aimed at harnessing technology and innovation, and discover how community, quality of life, and authentic culture are the magnets drawing talent and investment to our beloved state. As the conversation winds down, you're left with a renewed understanding of the importance of individual action in crafting a vibrant economic future, where every citizen plays a pivotal role in sculpting a thriving Louisiana.

Support the Show.

Adam Knapp:

I'm Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Committee of 100. Keep listening to Portion Parish the podcast.

Mike Gennaro:

What's up, zachary? We're back with another exciting episode broadcasting from the press in downtown Zachary. Now to today's guest, adam Knapp, the CEO of the Committee of 100 for Economic Development. The Committee of 100 for Economic Development has a vision to serve as a catalyst for positive change in government, education and the economy to improve the quality of life for all people in Louisiana. It's on a mission to assist the state in attracting a retaining industry, thereby ensuring quality jobs for Louisianians through a three-part program which we'll learn more about today. We'll also hear C100's take on parish power over ITEP awards, which is now in question after the governor signed an executive order to remove job requirements for industrial tax breaks.

Mike Gennaro:

I'm Mike Genaro, publisher of Portion Parish. We bring you the best of Zachary in the development north region through candy conversations every Monday from our headquarters right here on Virginia Street. This is Portion Parish, the podcast. Stay tuned, we'll be right back with the lightning round. Greenwood Park is the largest park in the Brex system. The master plan vision for Greenwood Community Park in the Baton Rouge Zoo is focusing on creating a one-of-a-kind, world-class destination for the entire East Baton Rouge Parish and its visitors, stitching together Brex's most visited facility and largest park to transform park goers experiences. See what's coming for Greenwood Community Park in 2024 by going to brexorg. Backslash park improvements and we're back with the lightning round. All right, you said you just came from lunch, and a power lunch, I'm sure, in Baton Rouge. What is your favorite lunch spot in Baton Rouge?

Adam Knapp:

Good man? Tough question. I think I eat anywhere where somebody wants to go. That's new. I tend to try something new. Every meal just kind of gets sick in the same places if you go to too many. Yeah, I came from the vintage, which is right in downtown just because they have a really delicious panini that I'm craving right now. Yeah, I haven't had it in a while. Yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

You didn't get the bennett for lunch. Like a real Louisiana I should have.

Adam Knapp:

You know, just was missing this one sandwich.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, nice, nice. I think I'm going to be today. What about favorite nighttime craving spot?

Adam Knapp:

Golly. So my wife and I, we are always kind of where the kids, you know, crush on food. We tend to go where they want to go. And we live in mid-city, baton Rouge, so we go to Barracuda a lot.

Mike Gennaro:

I love that one I love that one.

Adam Knapp:

Just a fun, fun spot.

Mike Gennaro:

How much better could he get? Oh, it's a cool spot. Yeah. Talk about alfresca dining experience. Yeah, I'm not going to hit by cold weather or rain there, it's just great.

Adam Knapp:

It's a good setup, although I did get hit by rain there last Friday night and it was fine. Just you know, we just had an extra drink and waited out the rain. I love going to curbside down the road.

Mike Gennaro:

Our kids, we'll hit that all the time the places it's hard to even get a spot. It's so popular, it's very popular.

Adam Knapp:

But it's a delicious burger. And then we have dietary restrictions on pizza, so our go-to pizza spot has been Reginelli's lately.

Mike Gennaro:

I worked there for a stint in New Orleans at Reginelli's. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.

Adam Knapp:

There's a Detroit-style pizza that is so ridiculously good. So, like right now, those are my three go-tos for family dining.

Mike Gennaro:

I love it. I love it. You know what. It speaks a lot to economic development, because if you're a restaurant and you survive in Louisiana, I mean you must have been pretty good. First of all, you got to get customer service right, one thing that we talk about a lot in Zachary. We're in this kind of Splinter School District area where you're not competing against a ton of other restaurants, but you've got the microscope on you every little thing.

Adam Knapp:

We actually did a research project at the Chamber on restaurants in the Baton Rouge area. This is so deep a side, so go with me. No, I like it. I like it because it's to try to put a number on how many more restaurant choices we have now than we had in the year 2000.

Adam Knapp:

Maybe not everybody's been around that long, but we thought it's pretty interesting. It was about a 20-year scope. The number of restaurants in the nine parish area not one community or another community, but if you look at the entire nine parishes of the metro area, the number of restaurants doubled in that period but the population did not double. It has been really a fascinating transformation of the choices of food that we have everywhere you go and interestingly, outside of urban Baton Rouge, the city itself, the rate of increase is much faster than inside the city itself just of more food choices being introduced across the entire spectrum of food choices. I say that only because it's fascinating how much more of a food culture we have now than 20 years ago and it speaks to a big question we thought about a lot, which is quality of life, for restaurants and food is a big part of how people choose to live in a place or stay in a place, and I think we've come a long way as a region in that one regard in the last 20 years.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, excellent. So you're almost having to draw more dollars out of, not almost you got to draw more dollars out of the existing population. And how do we do that?

Adam Knapp:

I think people eat out a lot more than they did 20 years ago. It's just become that. Plus, we have a lot more college students in the nine parish area than we did, you know, 20 years ago. We've seen a pretty substantial increase in just in the last decade. I think that the community is now in the neighborhood of around 60,000 college students two and four year kids across all of our institutions and they're all coming in and eating out and doing whatever.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, well, we don't give them kitchens and make them stay in the dorms. That's right.

Adam Knapp:

Like that's up from probably 35,000 kids 10 years ago.

Mike Gennaro:

It's big, big increase from 35,000 kids 10 years ago to what?

Adam Knapp:

It's in the neighborhood of 60,000 students today.

Mike Gennaro:

Just a big increase in overall higher education in the community, and so today I'm going to be referring back to the I guess I keep calling it splinter districts or your surrounding districts within the Baton Rouge metro area. Do you have metrics on how many college kids are focused outside of EBR proper?

Adam Knapp:

I don't know that we have. You could get it. I don't think we ever pulled those numbers, but yeah, that's a that's an interesting question is where do they actually live, commute in from what are their parents? And it's different. We do know that for a Fran U it's going to be looked different than it does for Southern and LSU. It's going to look different for BRCC and River Parishes Community College than it does for LSU and Southern, so it's it's definitely different based on the type of student that's enrolled at each institution.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, I can already tell them, and enjoy this interview today. I'm just going to pepper you with all these these economic facts I mean so just to introduce you to people again. I know we did this in the intro, but I mean you have a very rich career history. You were, you were at LED, amongst many others. I mean, can you just tell us how far you've come? Yeah, through economic development.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, so I moved to Louisiana. Moved back to Louisiana after growing up in Lake Charles, left to go work for a company called Accenture for a bit. After college, moved back to work in the foster administration in 2002 as a economic development policy advisor. Stayed on in that role with the Blanco administration in 2004, moved over to LED. During that period it was about a year with the Blanco governor's office and then moved to Louisiana economic development.

Adam Knapp:

And then Katrina hit and yeah, and Rita hit and then the state was trying to determine a way to set up long range recovery and over a weekend you know, of working in a kitchen we wrote out a executive order to create the Louisiana recovery authority and the guy that we're. This is how these things happen?

Adam Knapp:

How does this happen? So the guys who had set up and women who had set up the lower Manhattan development corporation from 9 11 had happened to be. They'd flown in to help us think about this. Yeah, and they actually helped draft something that looked very similar to what was set up after 9 11 for Louisiana, and that was the context or the construct that we used to create that executive order. So we looked around the dining table and we're like, all right, well, who's going to run this thing? Yeah, and and everybody said, well, you're going to be the blah, and you're going to be the blah, and you're going to be the blah. So we all kind of what administration was this?

Adam Knapp:

in. This is during the Blanco administration that the hurricanes hit, and so we all kind of tapped into that. So I did that for for a few years, and then the opportunity opened up to be a part of the Baton Rouge area chamber as their CEO, and so I put my name in the hat and get pulled, so fantastic that run for 15 years in regional and that's rare to go that?

Mike Gennaro:

that long it is, yeah, isn't it?

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, how to blast doing it. It's a great team, great organization, great funders and just made it fun. It was kind of new every year. Yeah kind of kept keep reinventing the work and focusing on kind of the next horizon of goals for the region and yeah, just had a blast doing it.

Mike Gennaro:

One of my my buddies, chris Ballatine, is kind of newer over at Brack but just graduated in the class of 2023 MBA, lsu MBA cohort with him. So wonderful people over there so turning. We're still in the lightning round. I tend to do this. It's like the deep aside could be the title of this podcast. That's right. But so what gets those creative juices flowing for new ideas? You know you're describing this moment at a kitchen table where something that arguably impacted everybody in Louisiana happen. You coffee drinker, or you know lots of coffee.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, I'm on a, I'm on a kick right now. I'm trying to do intermittent fasting, so anybody who's listening wants to give like tips, please send them in. But I've been doing a. Drink coffee when you're hungry which tends to lead to a lot of coffee.

Adam Knapp:

So, yeah, so no, we, we, we're, we're definitely coffee drinking household. The I'd say the what gets juices flowing is really conversations, more than anything is talking to both people in Louisiana that that are thinking about problems or reading about problems, and then and then really a strong peer network of folks that do this kind of work around the country that are doing some really amazing things that you know get you excited to think about how that would look if we could do that kind of thing, whatever it is in Louisiana, yeah, and so a lot of the things we've tried have come from either conversations or, you know, a challenge that somebody is trying to solve or somebody we see as doing something really interesting in another state that we want to do that same thing in Louisiana.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah. Yeah, I find you know I'm 41 older I get the more empathy I tend to have. But I can point to specific moments in my life where that empathy developed more than gradually. Was there any moment that made you care about Louisiana and in such a way, to dedicate your life to solving problems? That's a great question.

Adam Knapp:

I think it's been kind of in our water as a family that we we had a kind of a civic minded attitude. Yeah, it's fear kind of to our, to our household growing up. So I'd say it's probably been there all the time. Yeah, developing in different ways. I was a nerd in high school and maybe I never lost that nerdy.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, shout out to your high school cohort there.

Adam Knapp:

Alfred and Barb High School in Lake Charles man.

Mike Gennaro:

Oh man. So yeah, we're winning some things and Barb is just legendary, and Zachary, because when Barb comes to town it's like get ready, it's gonna be a fierce. Oh man, yeah, did you play ball or anything?

Adam Knapp:

I was useless. No, I didn't. You're doing the stats. I thought about playing soccer, but it was not good enough to do it, and so no, no, no, no athlete in any way, like what team can you get on at Barb? That's kind of casual and nothing like, not like golf and the people who play golf are really good.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah doing it their whole life. Yeah, I played soccer. There's what would have been the one that I could have done, but everybody who I would have had to go up against to play soccer, you know it would have been a tough team to get on as a starter. So, yeah you know it would have been a tough cut for me. Yeah, that's awesome.

Mike Gennaro:

You're humble for saying that I appreciate it. Sorry. If you could pass anyone bill in Louisiana with no problem, what would it be and why? Oh man, I'm gonna get in trouble these.

Adam Knapp:

That's a tough question.

Mike Gennaro:

I mean, it can be like so, so no one's going to be where you're planned for a day, I don't know, something funny.

Adam Knapp:

I think there are some massive structural challenges that the state has, and I think if you spend any amount of time looking at it, you would. You would come at this to either want to do something related to education or wanting to do something related to tax policy, both of which are incredibly complicated, and there's no one bill you can pass effectively to suddenly pass. You know, it's like a magic wand, or it would have been done already. Yeah, it was that easy.

Adam Knapp:

I think one that people don't spend a lot of time thinking about is the complexity of the civil service system in Louisiana, and that is not going to be a sexy topic, but it's an incredibly expensive portion of the state budget to have, you know, the system of civil service in Louisiana. So I think there is a piece of a piece of this that the state has never really tried to think about, which is how to deal with the complexity of having civil service as an institution when it doesn't really exist in the private sector the way it exists in the public sector. Interesting and for reasons, but I think it's an important question that somebody would have to take a lot of time to figure out. Yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

I was a civil service worker You're bringing back memories of. I've had a lot of jobs in my life. One was working at New Orleans City Park, at the, at the range, at the driving range of all things, and then helping with the kids program for junior golfers. But for some reason, yeah, I had to take a civil service exam to get that job. Yeah, and I think that's what I like to talk about private versus public. That should have been a private thing, right.

Adam Knapp:

It seems like, and I think that the reason why I raise it is not to in any way, you know, try to say that civil servants are not doing incredibly important things for the state. It's just it does have an effect, I think, on motivations and willingness to try new things, and that can be challenging. Not that there aren't incredibly creative and thoughtful things happening with leadership of civil servants, but it sometimes also is dispiriting when it doesn't. Yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

I like this one because it points to economic development in Louisiana. Where do you vacation within Louisiana and where do you vacation with that?

Adam Knapp:

Mostly I vacation in Lake Charles Just because we happen to have a great place to be put up for free.

Adam Knapp:

So that does kind of get you back home to see the parents. No, we go to New Orleans quite a bit. Just you know when we can sneak away for a date night, try to run over there to spend time or just go to the museums or do whatever. It's just still is a blast to go and do that. We have taken day trips to Brobridge. We've taken day trips to go see the mounds at Poverty Point, which is a fascinating trip. I'm trying to think through how to get my kids to go kind of drive up to see Alexandria and Shreveport and kind of drive. So I'm kind of like I'll go anywhere in the state if it looks interesting. And of course we do love going up to St Francisville. My wife and I were married in St Francisville and so we go up there a few times a year.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, where were you married up there?

Adam Knapp:

So we married in the grounds at Rosedown and then at our reception at the Bluffs. Yeah, beautiful.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, awesome. Last one, I promise. Yeah, I like the lightning. It's casual. But one thing Zachary and Development North should focus on in the future. I kind of described what I mean by Development North. It's just like, what do we do with this region that is North and it kind of combines three parishes up here. It's a thing, right, it's kind of a it's a factor. What should we be focusing on to drive economic development?

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, I think what you have shown me kind of come into the porch is exactly the right approach. What I've been blown away by since going to work at the Committee of 100 now a little over four months ago, is the opportunity to drive around Louisiana, especially to smaller communities and passing through or getting a chance to visit.

Adam Knapp:

Some of the most amazing things that have changed since the last time I really spent time driving around the state has been kind of the rich redevelopment of smaller communities across the state that make the quality of life of the state so much, so much nicer.

Adam Knapp:

And it's really at the heart of our smaller communities across the state, I see kind of an emerging set of leaders who are younger in their communities, that are really deeply committed to the future of their communities, wanting to make them rich but also recognizing that a dense core of each of these communities is really what we identify with. And so to know that every downtown you know and like Zachary has really been focusing on, has a richness to it, a core to it, that to me is an incredibly strong selling point to one of our greatest state challenges, which is, you know, people choosing to stay here or move here right has a lot to do with quality of life and the quality of place and the ability to have a sense of home, and so every I would say like what, what has to happen for Zachary and everywhere else.

Adam Knapp:

So we keep pushing that from within each city, that each community, that they're building a sense of community and doing all those things that really build a rich atmosphere in the community, but also, like we're doing, we're sitting in this gorgeous building that we're, you know, reinvesting in the core and protecting and reinvesting and reinventing the original buildings of the community.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah yeah, a lot of it. It's trying to engage all people in Zachary. Back to the story of whatever we are right now remembering the history. You can't write over it, but somebody's power washing outside right now no, you always hope that doesn't happen, right, yeah, right right during the recording session. But we are getting ready for the art crawl today, which is super exciting the press, which we call this building because we're the press upstairs and the coffee part downstairs. We're featuring Courtney Johnson, a local artist, downstairs, and my old dad's gonna be singing, so he's good he's good, all right, all right.

Mike Gennaro:

So, in your role as we're out of the lightning round safely, I'm just going to kill off the lightning around in your role as CEO of the committee of 100 for economic development, what are some of your initiatives and how will they impact the community you serve? So softball starting yeah.

Adam Knapp:

So first thing is that we've been asking our members that question. A lot of folks will wonder what the heck is this thing?

Adam Knapp:

So, committee of 100 is started in the mid 90s, a series of executives who wanted to work together on issues. You know it's always been nonpartisan or bipartisan and a place where folks came together regardless of their their own personal political beliefs, that they wanted to work on some of the bigger structural challenges that face the state. And so in coming to the organization, I've been asking them you know you have an immense amount of collective impact, collective power as executives and presidents of institutions. You know how. How would you like me to carry us forward as an organization, me and the team? And so we've been.

Adam Knapp:

You know, by starting with that question, we've been listening a lot over the last four months to their perspectives. So three things really emerge from those conversations. One is a concern for the state's economic growth. Second is a major concern about the availability of workforce across the state and the alignment of the state to help businesses with their workforce needs. And then, third has been a realization that this organization has to have some internally focusing work to make sure it's built properly to succeed. And so that's not as sexy to the outside, but internally we've got to get our, get our house in order to successfully. So thing one and thing two. Thing one about economic development. Let me just hit this really high level the state of Louisiana. If we look back over the last eight years since 2016,. We've had one gubernatorial term since 2016, the entire south of the United States during that same period has grown on average by just about 10% in terms of job growth across the south. So take all the southern states their average growth is about 10% per year.

Mike Gennaro:

You say Over that 10, over that eight year window, over eight years.

Adam Knapp:

Okay, so that is so you're seeing on accumulative growth of 10% over that period. The fastest growing states were Florida and Texas. They grew closer to 17%. The slowest growing five states grew at more like 5%. Louisiana is the only state in the South during that eight years that lost jobs. So don't do this If you want to be honest about what's going on? Yeah.

Speaker 3:

This is not a political commentary, it's more of just a oh my gosh.

Adam Knapp:

We have to worry about this. Yeah, yeah.

Adam Knapp:

If you look at our website, c100laorg, there is a chart we've started putting out every month to show economic indicators for the state of Louisiana, workforce indicators, population indicators. So it's about six or eight slides, really high level, easy to read. But we're trying to track on there that number, not just in a eight year cycle, we actually put it out in a 12 year cycle so that it goes back, you know, across the last governorship into the governor before. But in that 12 year cycle you've got a business cycle or multiple business cycles that have occurred as well in the national economy. The nation grew, or I'd say the South during that 12 year period saw more like 27% growth over the course of that period. Louisiana grew at about 4%. So you can go back even further and it doesn't change the numbers dramatically.

Adam Knapp:

All of which is to say we have not been as focused as we have to be on making choices that drive long range economic growth across the state. In Louisiana the growth has been fastest in the capital region, the North Shore and New Orleans. Everywhere else over the last eight years has fewer jobs today than they did eight years ago, and so that to me is kind of a core principle of our organization is to try to unite ourselves behind a policy agenda across the board that thinks long range about how to position Louisiana for 10% growth 10 years from now. So the question we have is well, what are those things that we could be doing to drive that?

Mike Gennaro:

and we're going to that, yeah, okay. So first question that comes to mind from this kind of thinking Pareto principle, late 80s, 20 stuff, the capital region, north Shore and New Orleans does that make up about 80% of our population?

Adam Knapp:

Probably like 70, 60%, something like that, yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

Okay, and if you just isolate those, I mean, yes, care about the other regions, of course, but how are those three core regions doing?

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, not growing fast enough. I mean, the short answer is, if they have the largest population, that you would expect them to also have slightly slower percentage rates of growth, but still be pretty strong. If you look across the south, the metro regions of especially midsize and larger of the south tend to be anchors of growth. Yeah, and that's what we need to be seeing out of our midsize and largest cities in Louisiana is they're really driving the stage, propelling the stage growth as kind of anchors of the overall state economy. That has been true to some degree. It's definitely fluctuated a lot. The challenge is is the rate of growth is still nowhere near as fast as we would hope it would be If we wanted to see the state growing by, let's say, 10%. You know, in a 10 year window you're really going to need to see the metro regions growing faster than that.

Mike Gennaro:

Got it.

Adam Knapp:

Okay, carry the water for the rest of the state. The North Shore has grown by about 18%.

Mike Gennaro:

I was going to guess they were probably the leaders, yeah, yeah.

Adam Knapp:

So in terms of overall, now they're the smallest area of the state in terms of like a singular area.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, so it's good to see that that's happening. It just needs to be that all of our centers are growing and carrying as fast a growth rate. At varying times over the last decade, we've seen Lake Charles be high rates of growth. I think they're heading back in that direction yeah, laf, yet being high rates of growth depending on kind of what's happening in the energy industry. What I would say to your question, though, is and it's really been an eye opening for me to remember this, or re-understand this is that north of I-10, I really think that our leaders of the economy south of I-10 need to be paying a lot more attention to how to help strategically, alexandria, monroe and Shreveport, and generally north of I-10, to have faster rates of growth, because everything that happens should happen across the board, across the state that we have kind of anchors and opportunities of growth.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, the old Louisiana dividing line. I've witnessed this before when I don't know it was during Katrina, looking at some of the Senate bills around getting funding after my house blew down in New Orleans. It's like the folks in the north don't care so much about disaster recover. The folks in the south don't understand why the folks in the north don't care, but you know they're trying to pull everything down to the southern region, right, All the good quality of life, elements in industry, this and that.

Adam Knapp:

But I guess I would just point out like for those who haven't been back to Shreveport in a while I haven't been to Shreveport before Some incredible, incredible like anchor economic assets and their port in their and their Barstail Navy base, their force base, some amazing assets that we see these kind of driving opportunities of growth that have been developing up there in the healthcare economy of Shreveport you know just incredible stuff and how that continues to be a priority for everyone across the state. To see those opportunities I think is important yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

I need to get up there like for real. You know my kid runs cross country. You're gonna be sure. I'm sure there's some way to get up there, but for sure.

Adam Knapp:

You're gonna be shocked. It's a huge downtown and if I haven't been there in a while, you're like driving through it thinking, yeah, man, this is population huge, yeah, very large center. I'm not the I couldn't speak to their population.

Mike Gennaro:

I like, just being a commercial real estate guy, I like to look at interstate connectivity and populations and I can kind of guess how it's going to do. If the interstate's converge, you're in luck. If they don't, you got to get creative.

Mike Gennaro:

So let's turn to something kind of prickly here, and we're just thinking critically about this, not politically Turning to the ITEP topic, right? So Governor Jeff Langer recently signed an executive order. I wonder if that one happened at a kitchen table too, but some say it upends the standards and approval processes that have been in place for ITEP since 2016. His take and his exact words are this program is about capital investment, it's not about job creation. So, just taking this down for our local listeners and Zachary development north, itep is a source of industrial tax credits, right, for instance, gp. They benefit from certain property tax breaks in the tune of 2 million, right? And that's after a plant infrastructure investment of 42 million back in 2017.

Mike Gennaro:

I did a little research on this, but I'm going to need you to help me with some of the math here, because it seems like a moving target Dole out of tax credit here, lose 700 jobs, like we did in 2019 at GP, and then this will help gain some. So it's always this process of gaining and losing. How do you guys do this math?

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, I think so. Let's take that in two parts.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, please as many parts as you want. That's confusing.

Adam Knapp:

Let's talk about the actions of the changes to ITEP at a state level and then maybe talk a little bit about George Pacific more specifically. Sure, the view that the governor has is that the program changes that John Bell Edwards made as governor in 2016. Largely, he actually kept the tax policy intact and I think what we have to all realize is what John Bell Edwards did was reduce the value from a 100% abatement of property taxes for 10 years, and I'm simplifying with it. That's the core of what it was. That was being automatically approved by the board of commerce and industry almost wrote approvals and his critique was it has no local input and these are local property taxes and, as governor, I don't want to sign these exemptions from local property taxes without the locals having a say Largely.

Adam Knapp:

that remains intact in exactly the same fashion as was put in by the last administration, which is, I think, if you just step back and realize that, that's sort of shocking. I think if you had said or asked in 2017, 2018, the fear and uncertainty and frustration that was expressed across manufacturers in the state was that, hey, the next chance we get, we should really put this back to what it was.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, that did not happen, and so it's what's one is to realize. It was put in place and it was protected in local governments who began to receive 20% of the abatement. You know was was no longer abated. It was now tax revenue immediately to every community that had an expansion. That that provides revenue into the coffers of local governments and school systems immediately. So what we heard in a lot of the analysis from groups that were advocates for it is a lot of the math of what that has looked like across the state and it's been, it's been beneficial in general to local governments to have that boost of revenue. So let's let's start with realizing that tax policy that was put in place by a Democrat was kept by a Republican by and large. What the second big thing that that Landry did is he asked that the local governments simplify the approval process so that, instead of going through three or four approval steps, police jury, school board, right sheriff, all of it.

Adam Knapp:

The notion was there was a best practice practice in Calcashua Parish over in Lake Charles, where they all met as one, yeah. And Lake Charles simply said in our community, we're going to do it as one decision, as one body, yeah, and. And so they did that on their own. And so the state looked at that and said well, that actually works really well to streamline this local approval step. Why don't you, we just make that and create a council? Basically the way that this should happen in every parish. Yeah.

Adam Knapp:

And so the second thing Landry did was say I want a single step at the local input process, not to get rid of local input, but simply to make it simple for this process to happen in a streamlined way. So that was the second thing that happened. So protect tax policy one. Two is simplify. And then three is this question about jobs. So how does a local government get a return on investment from a big industrial project? They're mainly going to make their money back not from the workers that are going to be added, but from the taxes to be paid on the property that's going to be taxed. And so what? We, I think, see him that what the governor did is to recognize that what he's giving the focus to the community is think about your return from the actual asset that's going to be taxed, and you want the asset to see an improvement because you're putting that capital asset in the ground and it's you can't really move that asset once it's put in the ground, and that's what pays dividends to communities for decades. Yeah, is the taxable asset that's in your community.

Adam Knapp:

Jobs come and go as modernization occurs. We see that across just about every sector that they would do more with less, and every time, technology makes things typically more efficient, and so what you are hoping that companies will do, especially manufacturers, is always be modernizing to become more competitive, but also to protect the long term position and viability of that company. Yeah, which I think brings us to Georgia Pacific. Georgia Pacific is in a is a pulp and paper company making a wide variety of you know, paper towels and toilet papers and laser paper, laser printer paper. You used to have all these products and their product mix. The competitiveness of making the product mix that they were making was no longer viable, and so what? What ultimately happened is that some portion of their product lines they determine were not really long term viable to make money in the way that they had hoped in the long run, so they ultimately made the tough business decision to say we had, we really had to shut that business down.

Adam Knapp:

It's really not productive for us as an investment anymore. What the community, with the state, has to worry about every time you have a company that is in a position of closure is you want to be making sure that that company is doing everything it can to protect its long term viability for the jobs that still remain. Yeah, and so the then the question becomes to the community leaders how do I make sure that I'm helping this company modernize its facilities? You do that by trying to encourage them to invest in their facilities. You do. How do you encourage them to invest in their facilities? You need to encourage them through tax policy. That's what I tap does.

Adam Knapp:

So I tap is there to try to say we need you to modernize your manufacturing equipment for the remaining jobs that you have.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, we definitely want to keep those as are important to our community and we don't want to lose all that tax revenue. Right, and so you got to keep them modernizing it. You get additional revenue off the what they do continue to upgrade and you protect the revenue that's coming from the payroll and the salaries and the sales taxes from the remaining employees. Yeah, so that's what, broadly speaking, I tap is trying to do is say, hey, manufacturers, we need you to keep investing in your physical assets because that's what's going to lead to job creation, it's going to protect the jobs that are here could lead to future jobs. But the return on investment from the tax program of I tap is really through that taxable asset, not from the sales taxes or property tax or payroll taxes from from from the jobs themselves. So the governor's statement this is not a jobs program, it's a capital investment program is a simple way to say, yeah, that that he's really trying to help manufacturers invest in their physical assets.

Mike Gennaro:

That's. That was nice man, that was really good. I mean, that's not to be patronizing at all, it's just like you just made. That makes sense to me, so I give you credit for that. And look, gp made really good on on. You know, if that's the goal in 2023, they invested 50 million back into catbacks. So I'm going to use a different example.

Adam Knapp:

If you look just north in St Francisville facility by hood industries hood industries that plant, that paper mill for those who know, it has been there for a very long time. I think I took a tour of their fairly early on when I took the job at Brack and early part of my career there so 09 or 2010 and man walking through it you could see it just looked like they hadn't invested in the place in a very long time Old. Look the processes, look equipment. Just looked very old. Yeah, whenever I whenever you walk through a facility like that as an economic developer, you start to get worried. This is going to shut at some point soon. Yeah, we're going to lose these jobs because these guys are not efficient and they're probably not competitive in the marketplace for whatever product they're making, and so you start to worry. They modernizing, so that was well before hood took it over.

Adam Knapp:

Hood came in and made a my numbers are going to be wrong, but like a 30 or 50 million dollar investment in that facility a few years ago and that really saves that as a manufacturer for West Phleetiana. Yeah, it's really incredible that they didn't really add much in terms of jobs, but what they did is they made sure that that community is going to have that asset there from a very long period of time, whether it's owned by hood or somebody else. Yeah, it's modern equipment installed on the ground. It's going to be hard to move. So you know that as long as there's a need for paper products, you know there's going to be somebody who wants to own that asset and make that product out of that facility and the community is going to continue to be able to have those taxable assets paying into the coffers for their school system and for their local governments. And so it has this kind of long term beneficial effect that that modernization, just like a GP, is the kind of stuff that you're hoping that companies are doing rather than shutting things down.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, I love it All right. Well, on that one, let's let's turn to tech a little bit. I always get excited about talking about this. Let's go to a quick break before we do that.

Speaker 3:

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Mike Gennaro:

All right, and we are back with Adam Knapp, president, ceo of C 100. We're going to talk a little bit about tech. So you know, when it comes to technology, it's AI probably gets most of the attention and we kind of forget about the other blocking and tackling type elements in tech. You know, but as it continues to advance, how do you see it shaping the future of economic development in Louisiana and what steps is C 100 taking to embrace and leverage these changes?

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, so boy, that's a big question. So I think I talked earlier about how we focus on growth as a state. Yeah, the organization, the entity in our state government whose job it is to think about the future of the state economy is Louisiana economic development LED. Led does not own or create any frame of long range economic planning to look at where the global trends, national trends or state trends are pointing like a Gartner report or something like that.

Adam Knapp:

Think about like imagining this is the economy that we predict is going to be there. How do we actually get to that future? Yeah, and we don't. We don't operate in that manner. We're not we're not the central planning kind of kind of got economy. We are a free enterprise economy.

Adam Knapp:

But we do need some thoughtfulness to try to predict what's going to happen within certain industry sectors to know if we have the four position to be able to land some jobs in those opportunities that are coming with. That's AI or other things. So in the work we're doing at the capital this session, one of the big ideas we are encouraging is that they reorganize the structure of how LED functions.

Adam Knapp:

We've been funding a big project that we're in the middle of right now to look at five other faster growing states that have a very rich kind of technology industry. In those states, but they also just seem to be growing faster. In their state, economic development agencies are really thoughtfully run, and so we've been looking at South Carolina, north Carolina, virginia, ohio and Georgia as benchmark models to know they all. They all do it a little differently. Yeah, all of them have functions within their economic development organization that thinks about innovation, tech and entrepreneurship. Yeah, and so we are advising in this new reorganization of LED that there be a higher level role for innovation and kind of the guidance of where LED is operating.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, it has fluctuated a lot, so they had that in the era 20 years ago, and they had long range strategic thinking in the work of the organization 20 years ago has largely fallen by the wayside, and so we're hoping to see that re re invigorated, that they think more about kind of the strategy long run, and, hopefully, in a way that won't just be in this administration but in future administrations, that that will persist, that they keep thinking about how to make sure that the state is constantly thinking about the future of technology innovation. What we're going to see, though, is those things are going to accelerate faster and faster, as we all observe, with the changes that chat, gpt are presenting across almost every sector of the economy, and including in my kids schoolwork, so it's sort of in everything, and we see it. Almost every app is going to have some AI feature. I was on a Zoom this morning that was being alive, transcripted by you know, otter AI in the middle of the meeting and you could.

Adam Knapp:

You could watch it transcribe. Oh my gosh.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, it was super interesting, but like I think it does transcribe this podcast episode after, so I don't have to type it so good, but I think to that point.

Adam Knapp:

It's something that has to be constantly being planned for, thought about, evaluated, and then you pivot as you go. Yeah, because it means so much to every worker in the state, everybody who's worried about what this means to their jobs, but also the jobs that could be created that we want to make sure happen here if we position ourselves correctly.

Adam Knapp:

It's also that things like education programs at LSU have to pivot faster because they have to be ahead of the trend of workforce demand that you can already see in a lot of the research that the demand for data scientists is growing much more quickly than the demand necessarily for just any general tech degree. Yeah, so how you make sure that your institutions are staying ahead of those trends is the kind of thing that we hope will come from this kind of work that we're doing with legislation for LED this session. Perfect.

Mike Gennaro:

I love that you took it back to LSU because it's critical and you see a lot of talk about them becoming the cyber capital of the US and all the cyber security capital. But you know I want to take this down to the micro level here. You know creating a safe space for your creatives. You know you're a fellow assembly required guy too, so I love this. Creating a place where people would want to stay for quality of life and then work remotely in all of these. You know other places in the world and good crap, those jobs. These are important things. Another point I learned in my emerging tech certificate program over at LSU is he, who or she or they that gets the tech first keeps the tech and it's almost like an emergency. You can't ever fall behind and very far, or else it gets to that critical level of we might never really catch up into. You look at other emerging nations and everything America has the tech and so just keeping that position is important and then taking that back to Louisiana, we've got to get there quicker.

Adam Knapp:

So let me, let me break in a slightly different direction too. Yeah, please do when you think about what you were describing for assembly required and attracting and retaining talent and how to remain competitive for emerging capabilities.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, they are all connected. Yeah, and our ability to retain the types of talent who can go anywhere. But we want to make sure that as they emerge out of the institutions of, you know, lsu and southern etc. That they find this to be a place that they want to live and they're gonna. They're gonna spread on, settle all over the place, yes, but the communities have to be one that are vibrant, welcoming and engaging, and it's easy to make connections and friends and you don't find yourself in a place that is isolating or isolated, and you don't.

Adam Knapp:

And so what I love about assembly required is just an example for those who don't know it. It is a convening by a marketing company in the Baton Rouge area that just brings together folks who find out about it, kind of like-minded creatives who want to be connected to each other, and they are all having a common conversation about one topic at each gathering. And the notion of the name assembly required is that you know we're here not to just learn, we're here to do the work to actually make the place we want it to be in the different ways that it. But it's very much about the community at every gathering not about yourself, and I thought that was really fascinating.

Adam Knapp:

That's true about the, the place we are, not the people we are, and. I think that kind of convening is super valuable, not just in in that one example, but every community. Finding ways to bring together people who don't know each other around a common conversation that they all have an interest in. We see that through you know the faith community how do we see that in our civic frame is really kind of fun to do, yeah yeah, outside of just complaining.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, yeah, which also great is it's assembly required is very much a quick, don't bitch when you walk in here, come, come with, come with a positive attitude don't tell us who you are and don't bitch right like that.

Mike Gennaro:

We, and so I find it interesting that you know. You know I'm. I was humbled to even be placed next to you at a table, and I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable, but, like you have a nice brand in Louisiana and local and it was really cool. They just set everything aside and we're gonna put my g right by this guy and we're all gonna just put our heads together and solve some problems instead of complaining. And so a part of how Portion Parish was born you haven't heard this, I'm sure, but my listeners have it it came out of like all right, we have this thing called rants and raves for Zachary and it's just nothing but complaints and no solutions.

Adam Knapp:

It's less rave, it's oh, it's no rave, no one's raving.

Mike Gennaro:

Come on, let's be realistic. But just watching what that does and two businesses, it erodes the business's ability to even fight back for themselves. And so you know, we're here to engage, engage everybody. And that goes down to your disengaged youth that just don't know what to do with all this great energy that they have out there. So taking it, taking it to to this micro level, right. So, all right, let's kind of close this out so you can beat that commute back to Baton Rouge. So, um, looking ahead, I want you to talk emerging trends in economic development. Tell us about some of the best practices that you've learned out there, just in in your short time, uh, being at the helm, and what are you excited about for, just for your organization, that you can bring to Louisiana?

Adam Knapp:

yeah um three things.

Adam Knapp:

Uh, on that one, um, a lot of people who look from the outside in at at economic development. They probably mostly only hear about what gets written in the news about a new company comes in, makes some new commitment of investment gonna create x number of jobs and they got this amount of tax incentives. Yeah, um, in reality, the companies today make decisions on where they're going to make investments more about the availability of talent than anything else, and the availability of talent as a driving factor is very much changing how professionals in economic development are doing their work, and so, while you have to have a great building or a great site or great infrastructure in the logistics and supply chain to meet the needs of a company, your ability to help that company envision their team in that place is a huge part of a company deciding to make an investment decision that that's huge.

Mike Gennaro:

I just want to highlight that. So a company must envision its team in a place, and a place requires a story and and eat those, and it's just got to be, there's got to be a vibe right, yeah, the, the like, the people who are available to be potentially working in their company.

Adam Knapp:

They're not going to come mostly from elsewhere. They're going to come from there, yeah, um, or they're going to move to there, uh, after they find out about the openings, uh, from somewhere relatively nearby, right, yeah, and so they're going to want to envision that they're going to be able to position the culture of their company in the place where they're making an investment decision.

Mike Gennaro:

So I, so the quality of life.

Adam Knapp:

The first observation is is that how an economic developer helps the company think about talent and community and quality of life is is not a small part of the role, and that is that has changed quite a lot, yeah, in the last 10 to 20 years. Um, even even so that I think economic developers are having trouble probably keeping up with the pace of that change to be able to help understand and articulate how to how to help companies answer the questions they have about, about talent and quality of life. Yeah, the second big thing I think um, uh is is important is this trend of data transforming how economic development works. Communities really have to be really smart about who they are and who they aren't. The company's already know, uh, mostly, uh, if they're here or they're thinking about coming here, they know more about you than you know oftentimes, and so you, as you approach a company, if you come across as trying to to spend something or sell them something that really isn't real, it doesn't really work, and so what we've found is and this is basic, uh, but being a problem solver and and their challenges and being honest about what you can and can't help them solve, uh, as they're trying to think about whether they can invest in a community.

Adam Knapp:

Yeah, um is a much clearer approach and it's about relationships to the person who's making that decision. That, if it's a good fit for them, great. If it's not, we want to be here to be truthful as a partner with you about what we can help you with to make you successful. That goes a much longer way, um, from all of our experience, um, about helping, um, helping with that kind of development, yeah. So there's just two examples I think of of. I think not not only you asked about trends in economic development, yeah, but kind of learnings along the way, um, and then the third thing is what I said earlier I have been blown away at the pace at which communities in Louisiana are reinvesting in themselves and building community pride, and that is just. Yeah, it's joyful when you get a chance to step away from the, the rants that exist, to see that that joy that's out there in communities across the state yeah, yeah, I mean, I said this last last episode.

Mike Gennaro:

I'll say it again. Um, you know, kenny Nguyen, uh, if all I do is just evangelize what he comes up with or I mean he's going to the right conferences or something I don't know but and if, if all I do is evangelize the things that that you come in and say, and all these these minds that I've had I think this is episode 106 we're in Zachary, we're 20,000 people. Y'all look at at the wealth of ideas and talent that has come through this podcast alone and let's start to implement some of this stuff. Um, you know, if, if Kenny Nguyen, this one guy at a marketing agency, can do as much as he's done, it only takes one person to to kind of be the catalyst. So let's get out there.

Mike Gennaro:

Um hope to see everybody at the art crawl, uh, tonight, as we're recording and uh, you know this will air on Monday. Um, my last question, my seriously last question if you could define quality of life for me in a simple way that that somebody listening right now could implement, you know what? What suggestion or definition would you give? Quality of life, you know? Um?

Adam Knapp:

yeah, I uh. I don't know that I could do this, uh off the top of my head, but I'll take a stab at it. Um, to me it is a sense of welcoming, uh as a place that makes you curious to go experience the community, um with others yeah, perfect, I love it.

Mike Gennaro:

I love it. All. Right, y'all. Thank you so much for being here, adam. Um, that is it for this week's episode of Portion Paris, the podcast with Adam. Now. It's been a pleasure to have you here today, and you can reach c100's administrator at Kathy, at c100laorg. Any other contact info that you'd like to share, adam?

Mike Gennaro:

yeah, mine is uh Adam at c100laorg reach out if I can be felt, yeah, awesome and huge shout out to our community partners out there. Uh, like the city of Zachary, you know who stand with us in our mission to make Zachary a place where every resident feels heard and engaged, thanks to the generosity and support of all of our community partners out there. Um, you know the three t's that that I think make up quality of life out. Three super easy things that you can do to help pick up trash when you see it. Um, embrace an attitude of tolerance for diverse, diverse voices, to begin to engage everyone's talents in the community and just understand that those voices are the creative engines that will drive the future success of our economy. So see you next time, guys.

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