BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– One new program is helping small businesses around the Plank Road area in Baton Rouge.

Build Baton Rouge along with TruFund and MetroMorphosis have been working together to help businesses in North Baton Rouge grow and redevelop. This is all a part of their new Advancing Cities Baton Rouge Business Development Program.

After surviving the toughest part of the pandemic Dee Dees Unique Boutique owner Deidre Brand said Plank Road area businesses are in need of some major upgrades.

Front sign of Dee Dees Uneek Boutique

“A lot of them look like they need financial help, maybe some grants, you know, something to help them to get back started. Then, I think more people come in his area to shop and spend money,” said Brand.” I just would love to see it prosper more, get more things to do, places to go, and have a better environment.”

Build Baton Rouge CEO Chris Tyson said their new program will help transform the urban community.

“That gives entrepreneurs real opportunities to access capital, access technical assistance, to grow their businesses, to contribute to the broader local and regional economy,” he explained.

This initiative goes hand-in-hand with the Mayor’s Plank Road Master Plan.

“A number of people in this community and the business sector, community leaders have asked for years for a structured and intentional approach to building up the economy and the neighborhoods of North Baton Rouge,” said Tyson.

Mom-and-pop shops are able to talk with business mentors from MetroMorphosis.

“I am learning as I go. So talking to somebody that knows more about business and all that kind of stuff would be helpful,” said Brand.

They can learn about resources and may even be provided with money to go toward growth.

“We have about $500,000 in the grant, that is in a revolving loan pool. And that means we want to make loans to businesses,” Tyson explained.

“A lot of people don’t know that there are resources like that available,” said Brand.

She added that this will not only help local businesses but also impact the community.

“The community will be revived. If they see more things opening in our own, it’ll help make better living conditions and make the area look better. Also, the more business open up, the more people could get more jobs. More business would also be able to give back to the community,” Brand expressed.

Build Baton Rouge and its partners are still accepting applications from businesses in or around Plank Road.