by John Egan
March 03, 2017
If Baton Rouge and New Orleans ever really had a chilly relationship, the animosity between Louisiana’s two biggest cities has thawed since Hurricane Katrina.
In 2005, Katrina and the subsequent levee failures flooded about 80 percent of New Orleans, with 70 percent of homes in the city sustaining damage, according to The Data Center. Throughout Louisiana, nearly 1,000 people died as a result of Katrina.
Eighty miles to the northwest of New Orleans, Baton Rouge was unscathed by Katrina. Thus, thousands of New Orleans residents fled their hurricane-battered city and sought refuge in Baton Rouge. In the eyes of some, the disaster paved the way for the eventual transformation of the two cities from “frenemies” to partners.
“Hurricane Katrina made the communities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge realize that neither people nor water respects political boundaries,” says Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., an economic development organization.
Today, Hecht says, New Orleans and Baton Rouge are “practically and psychologically integrated.” They’re so integrated, in fact, that the New Orleans metro area, the Baton Rouge metro area and the four parishes of the Bayou Region have banded together to form what they tout as an economic juggernaut -- the 23-parish SoLA Super Region.
The nine parishes of the Baton Rouge area are part of the SoLA Super Region.
Together, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the Bayou Region collaborate on issues like economic development, education reform and transportation, according to Hecht.
Hecht says creation of the SoLA Super Region -- which he describes as a high-culture, low-cost place to do business -- was necessary to compete economically with the likes of Houston, TX, a megaregion with about 4 million more residents than SoLA. Why compete alone, Hecht asks, when you’re stronger as a unified force?
“Divided we fall, united we thrive,” he declares.
In the infographic below, learn more about the SoLA Super Region.
Top Photo: Travel Channel