On numerous occasions over the past twelve months, I’ve spoken at length with members to address any number of COVID response or recovery related topics. Uncertain whether the ideas or resources we discussed proved helpful, today I’m believing the most important aspect of our conversations was the connection, cheerleading, and perhaps, simply the distraction from the daily challenge of life. It has been a very difficult year, and remains so, as the pandemic begins to subside leading to this call to action.
Recently, our community has been grieving the passing of Davis Rhorer, Executive Director of Baton Rouge Downtown Development District, and Frank LaTorre, former Executive Director of Providence Downtown Improvement District. Both Davis and Frank were bright lights of inspiration to many IDA members, their communities and their teams. Each left behind award-winning legacies and positioned their downtown districts for success. It makes the hardship of the past year even more real and emphasizes how disconnected we have become despite a new era of virtual meetings and video conferencing.
I fear there may be other colleagues we’ve unknowingly lost or who have worn so thin by the challenges of place management during the extended pandemic that they need a lift. Davis was an exceptional mentor and a visionary leader who looked for opportunities born from challenges. I recall fondly our discussions about the influx of New Orleans residents and businesses Baton Rouge accommodated during the Hurricane Katrina displacement. Frank was a consummate enthusiast whose warmth and humor immediately made you feel like “one of the family.” Honoring their leadership example, I’m asking each IDA member to phone a colleague or peer from outside your organization and see how they are doing. We are so close to getting past this difficult year. I know many of us will benefit from reaching out, making a connection, being a cheerleader or simply a bit of distraction. Let another IDA member know they are not alone.