WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) — The antique Alley in West Monroe is experiencing a boom in businesses moving to the area. A growing number of entrepreneurs are interested in it and have been opening their businesses since 2018.
“So we actually grew during COVID. And I think like so many places; people realize that these few weeks that our doors have been closed downtown are the places that matter,” said Adrienne LaFrance-Wells, West Monroe Main Street Manager.
The number of businesses that came to the area was unusual during the pandemic. “80 total businesses in the downtown historic district here in West Monroe, and about 30 of them have been created in the last three years,” LaFrance-Wells said.
Over the past five years, $11 million has been invested in the downtown district to attract new business. “No one wanted to be here; it wasn’t fun or sexy or didn’t feel good at all. So I guess you know, me coming as a foreigner, I was kind of ignorant,” said Russell Moore, owner of Rumo’s Barber Shop.
He was very specific in the characteristics of the region where he wanted to move his business. There was one criterion which was imperative to him. “Where can I get foot traffic? And of all the places I looked, no place could answer that question better than Antique Alley,” Moore said.
Moore was a tenant, then after five years decided to buy a location downtown. He saw the potential of the region. “It had nothing to do with the city; Monroe versus West Monroe. It had nothing to do with it. He just got it. It was good. There were people here, and I honestly saw that it was affordable.
Although this is not the only reason for the move. There are also monetary reasons. “Was a National Register Historic District as well as the State’s Cultural District,” LaFrance-Wells said. “People have the option of having a 40% historic renovation tax credit.”
In the past, people did not go downtown. Now, the atmosphere and the tax incentives contribute to job creation and economic growth.
“People wanted to go somewhere else, to your malls, to your malls. But downtown is once again becoming the place where people celebrate these milestones.
Plus, there’s just something about a downtown.
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