BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — One of the largest independent grocers in the state is moving to North Baton Rouge.

Rouses Market held a groundbreaking event to mark their first steps to making the store a reality.

It’s an oasis in the middle of a food desert. Community members said this is just what they needed in a place where it’s hard to reach fresh food.

“When I saw the tent, I wanted to go and see what’s going on, like is this for real and is this really happening,” said Baton Rouge resident Dr. Patricia Norwood.

She had to get a closer look at the Rouses’ groundbreaking. It’s a major new investment coming to North Baton Rouge, an area overlooked time after time.

“It’s going to be an uplift in the community because then they can come to the grocery store and get those the items that they need at a reasonable cost compared to these little, little corner stores,” said Norwood.

Rouses Market CEO Donny Rouse said it will be about 45,000 square feet reaching about 18 to 20 thousand customers weekly. It will be located off of Ardenwood and Florida Boulevard, an area considered a Food Desert.

“People are having to travel too far to get to the fresh foods, and we want to be right here in this part of the community,” he stated.

“More than 70,000 Baton Rouge residents live in Food Deserts,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon-Weston Broome.

“It’s going to have a huge economic impact, creating jobs and income opportunities for people who live, work, and play in this area,” added East Baton Rouge Parish Cleve Dunn Jr.

“You’re going to see this whole shopping center get redone and get rebranded, get new tenants. So just the whole area is going to grow,” said Rouse.

Norwood said this is the time when the community has to work together.

“We want them to stay, and I would tell the residents in this area, you know, be respectful,” said Norwood.

They are hoping this store becomes a gateway to the revitalization of the area. It’s not time to go shopping just yet. The project is slated to be completed next summer. Residents say they can’t wait to see it up and running.