Arnold speaks directly to women and minorities about the opportunity that exists and how to capitalize on the moment.
Arnold Baker is the owner and founder of Baker Ready Mix and Building Materials, a 100 percent African American owned concrete producer and construction material supplier headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana since 2003. Baker Ready Mix operates three plants in the New Orleans area (two permanent locations and one portable), a fleet of approximately 20 mixer trucks and employs an average of 40 local drivers, technicians and industry professionals.
While Arnold was born into a military family, grew up on military bases, primarily attended military base schools, and moved every two to three years throughout Europe and the United States, New Orleans is his chosen home town where he has resided since 1992. He is married to Tracee Dundas, the producer of New Orleans Fashion Week and cohost of Fashion Fridays on WDSU Fox 8.
Arnold attended Texas State University on a football scholarship where he graduated with honors with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and several minors and concentrations. A week after graduating he was hired as an assistant marketing director in San Antonio, Texas by Simon Development Group, the nation’s largest regional mall developer. It is there that he began an industry award winning career of leading and assisting in the marketing, managing and redeveloping of urban retail development projects throughout the country. His mall experience included overseeing properties controlled by Homart Development Group and General Growth Properties, Inc., which inevitably brought him to take on what was being billed at the time as the toughest mall in the country, the Plaza Mall in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Within two years at the Plaza Mall, Arnold’s team developed and implemented programming that reduced total incidents (violent and theft) by 72% while securing a new department store, two existing department store renovations and leasing150,000 sq.ft. of new retail tenant space. This was in addition to creating an industry leading local hiring and business inclusion program (that included professional services, contractors and service providers), a local retail tenant development program (cart to store front), and a community center and in-mall charitable fundraising program that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the local schools, churches and scholarship funds. He believed the successes experienced at the mall were in part due to the community developing a vested interest in the mall’s continued success.
Accepting an invitation from the City of New Orleans, Arnold joined Mayor Marc Morial’s Executive Cabinet managing the Mayor’s Office of Small & Emerging Business Development. After a few months he was promoted to Deputy Assistant to the Mayor over Business Development and the following year ascended to become Assistant to the Mayor over Policy, Planning and Development. In addition to his daily business retention and development responsibilities, Arnold served as one of the City’s economic lobbyists, supported international trade development and was a member of the City’s special development project team. This team facilitated over $2 Billion in development projects ranging from the New Orleans Sports Arena and Ritz Carlton Hotel Project to the Convention Center Phase III Expansion and the American Can Mixed Use Development. His duties ranged from developing and managing customized local, minority and women business inclusion programing to assisting in the creation and implementation of mixed use/public private financing strategies.
Arnold became Managing Member of the Centergy Development Group, a federal construction project development consultancy and JAM Development group, a Wingate Inn hotel owner and development team. It was during this time that he started his concrete industry training for Baker Ready Mixed Concrete, and co-founded the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce. The vision of fostering black entrepreneurism and bringing more black owned businesses into the mainstream of America while working with the traditional business organizations to further the city, the region and the nation got him elected to Chair of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (120 chapters) in Washington DC where he still maintains a seat on the National Board.
Arnold is always looking for advanced and visionary pathways to progress the community. Currently he is proudly serving as a board member or commissioner on the New Orleans Board of Trade, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Louisiana Black Chamber of Commerce, Kate Middleton Elementary School, New Orleans Start Up Fund, and Bayou District Foundation. He has also had the honor of being a board member on many of the city’s great organizations ranging from the New Orleans Business Council and GNO Inc. to the New Orleans Public Belt Rail Road and the New Orleans Bureau of Governmental Research.