Mayor Sharon Weston Broome is asking the Metro Council to approve the city-parish entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement with a Jackson-based loan fund that would help increase access to fresh foods in traditionally underserved neighborhoods in the parish.
Hope Enterprise Corporation of the Mid-South will administer the program, making loans to supermarkets, grocery stores and other fresh food retailers that agree to locate in a low-to-moderate income area of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Broome has allocated $500,000 from 2018-2019 general funds for the program and plans to allocate an additional $250,000 next year. She’s also allocating $750,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the program, and the administration’s Healthy Baton Rouge initiative will also grant the corporation $300,000 to cover administrative costs of the program.
Kathy Saloy, vice president community economic development for Hope Enterprise, says the program is a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization and economic development.
“At the end of the day, the reason why you don’t have stores in lower income markets is because it can’t support a store,” Saloy says. “You have to bring in community development capital at a lower rate to invest in stores.”
The council will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.