Center for Planning Excellence
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|Founder||Elizabeth "Boo" Thomas|
|Slogan||A more livable Louisiana through visionary planning.|
The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) is a non-profit organization based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that coordinates urban and rural planning efforts in South Louisiana, United States, working in close cooperation with local governments and councils of governments. CPEX introduces practice models, innovative planning policies and technical assistance to individual communities who want to create and enact plans that deal with infrastructure needs, environmental issues and quality design for the built environment. CPEX also connects Louisiana communities with respected U.S. planning firms to help them realize their potential through inclusive planning processes and long-term visioning. CPEX works with communities on their processes from inception to implementation.
CPEX grew from the 1998 initiative called Plan Baton Rouge. Plan Baton Rouge began as a program to oversee and implement a master plan for redeveloping downtown Baton Rouge. The downtown plan demonstrated the benefits of applying smart growth principles and leveraging public investment to catalyze new private investment. In 2005, in partnership with a new Hope VI development, Plan Baton Rouge completed a neighborhood plan for Old South Baton Rouge, a historic but disinvested community located between downtown and Louisiana State University. The plan focuses on revitalizing existing housing and businesses and integrating mixed-income housing and multi-use development to the area. CPEX continues to oversee implementation of both efforts.
While working on the downtown and Old South Baton Rouge community plans, Plan Baton Rouge turned its attention toward parish issues by applying for the opportunity to receive an in-kind audit of East Baton Rouge Parish’s plan and related ordinances. In 2004, the Smart Growth Leadership Institute and University of Southern California, funded by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), selected Baton Rouge as one of nine cities in the nation to receive this service. The audit examined the Parish comprehensive plan, the Horizon Plan, to assess if this vision document promotes Smart Growth principles. The audit further assessed whether the legal ordinances contained in the Unified Development Code enable the parish to accomplish its Horizon Plan vision. With the recommendations of the audit, Baton Rouge is underway with revisions to the current codes to include new standards for development and new tools for encouraging Smart Growth.
In January 2006, Plan Baton Rouge transitioned into the non-profit planning agency CPEX. CPEX coordinates the Louisiana Recovery Authority's statewide recovery planning process called Louisiana Speaks: Our Voice, Our Plan, Our Future. This initiative involved teams of consultants working at neighborhood, parish, and regional scales across South Louisiana. The long term recovery plan produced from this effort is the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan.
While working on the Louisiana Speaks regional vision, CPEX also received a grant from the EPA's Smart Growth division. The grant is dedicated to helping Louisiana communities create and implement Smart Growth plans that will also support the regional vision. Under this grant, CPEX has allocated funding, staff support and other resources to Tangipahoa Parish and West Feliciana Parish as they work to develop comprehensive plans that will address issues unique to Louisiana's rural communities.