BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Plank Road Economic Development District Commission is making good on its promise to grow existing businesses and welcome new businesses in North Baton Rouge. On Friday, they held their first meeting.
“I think we deserve the same types of resources and assets that everybody else has,” said State Representative Edmund Jordan.
The Board of Commissioners of the Plank Road Business Economic Development District was created to bridge the gap by reinvesting in disinvested communities.
“There have been a lot of comments made by constituents regarding Plank Road and its current condition and what it looks like,” said Senator Regina Barrow.
Authored by Barrow in 2021, SB 227 established an economic development district, or EDD, along the Plank Road corridor. Barrow said in order to reimagine Plank Road the board needs to fully use its assets.
“As the airport is looking to do their extension, I think it’s really important that we are at the table with the conversations with them in terms of what that looks like for Plank Road,” said Barrow.
That includes reconsidering where the future Baton Rouge to New Orleans rail will be constructed. Barrow suggested near the airport instead of downtown Baton Rouge. State Representative Edmund Jordan echoed those sentiments as well.
“Every time I got to D.C., I love the metro system. When the architect put that train system together, he started in the areas that were the most disenfranchised. Someone asked him why he did that and he said, ‘Cause if we start in the best areas and do that, it will never get to the worst areas.’ I think we have to take some of that mentality and some of that concept,” said Jordan.
Board members said the EDD along the Plank Road corridor is critical to the success of Baton Rouge’s economy. The success of it will take some trial and error.
“You might ask me what our specific vision is, you know, I always think that these things are flexible. You’ve got to get into a model that actually works and you may have to tweak it along the way,” said Edmund.