The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) is a non-profit organization providing urban planning services to local governments and community groups.
CPEX works toward a vision for every community in Louisiana to excel through planning excellence. To this aim, CPEX provides best-practice planning models, innovative policy ideas, and technical assistance to individual communities that wish to create and enact master plans dealing with transportation and infrastructure needs, equitable housing opportunities, environmental issues, and quality design for the built environment. CPEX brings community members and leaders together and provides guidance as they work toward a shared vision for future growth and development.
CPEX began in 1998 when the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the City of Baton Rouge, and the State of Louisiana formed a partnership to fund a downtown master plan called Plan Baton Rouge. The office of Plan Baton Rouge, now known as CPEX, was created to implement the plan’s recommendations. Plan Baton Rouge has received national recognition for its success in focusing citizens and public agencies on a common goal and has become a central force in promoting better planning citywide.
By advocating inclusive planning processes and sound, sustainable land use, transportation, economic, and environmental policy at local, regional, and state levels, CPEX fills a gap in Louisiana as the single resource for communities to use to shape planning visions, decisions, practices, and policies. CPEX utilizes Smart Growth Principles as a consistent conceptual framework, while it addresses present and future planning needs, and provides support to communities as they progress through each phase of development (information gathering, policy, practice, and healthy sustainability).
CPEX applies its competencies across three lines of business, all in service of its mission. Years of conducting planning processes and performing outreach have led to a three-pronged approach that includes planning and implementation; policy and advocacy; and communication and outreach.
CPEX works with a variety of partners with missions that are in alignment with those of CPEX. By leveraging funds from multiple sources, CPEX maximizes the impact of every dollar spent in communities. Some of the organizations within Louisiana that CPEX has partnered with include the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, the Big River Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Policy Jury Association of Louisiana, City of New Orleans, and Baton Rouge Green. Additional partners include the Downtown Business Association, Ford Foundation, Neighborworks America, Smart Growth America, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
CPEX is engaged in several local, regional and statewide planning projects. CPEX managed the development of Louisiana Speaks, an initiative that lays out a path toward a more sustainable future for southern Louisiana following the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Louisiana Speaks combined the efforts of local, state and federal partners along with many experts, stakeholders and citizens into a comprehensive approach that will guide recovery and growth over the next 50 years to make Louisiana safer, stronger, and smarter in the future.
In response to sprawling, uncontrolled development incompatible with historic development patterns, the Louisiana Land Use Toolkit was created as a model development code (zoning and subdivision regulations) steeped in smart growth principles. The Louisiana Land Use Toolkit was born out of the groundbreaking Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan as an action item to facilitate sustainable development and guide improved future outcomes. The Toolkit was written so that local governments in Louisiana can download it, tailor it to meet their local conditions, and apply the results to guide future growth in a sustainable manner.
CPEX is also engaged in several local, community-based initiatives. Some examples include the Connect Coalition for Housing, Transportation and Jobs; Downtown Lake Charles Master Plan; City of Zachary Greenway Plan; Community Gardens Initiative; Business and Workforce Development Programs; and Commercial Façade Improvement Grant Program.