South Broad Business Coalition Rebuilding and Renewing a Community

SBBC Focuses on Economic Development

During this election season, there are many challenges this City will continue to face regardless of who is elected after the ballots have been cast. In this crucial election, it is important that in the end, the new mayor will work on behalf of all of the people regardless of race, class and zip code. 

Since 2009, the South Broad Business Coalition (SBBC), a network of 30 businesses founded by Kathleen Rhodes of Rhodes Funeral Home, has been at the forefront of improving the business corridor near S. Broad and Washington Avenue in the Broadmoor neighborhood. “The South Broad Business Coalition is a group of businesses that are concentrating on economic development and a good business atmosphere for our area. We meet quarterly to network and support one another in an attempt to make our community and businesses more successful” says Rhodes describing the goals of the group.

Candidate Forum and Question for the Next Mayor

On Thursday September 21, 2017, the coalition will hold a forum for mayoral candidates at the Rhodes Pavilion, located at 3933 Washington Ave. from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, moderated by former WDSU Anchor Camille Whitworth.  The forum will focus on issues that are important to both the local business community and neighborhood residents.

Speaking on some of the things she would like to see improved Rhodes says, “I would like to see the next administration helping to develop communities that haven’t received the same attention as others after Hurricane Katrina.” Continuing she says, speaking of quality of life issues, “We would like to see better streetscapes to change the look of the neutral grounds and more plants that would help beautify our neighborhood.”

In the “New” New Orleans, All Zip Codes Should Matter

Ms. Rhodes’ concerns echo what some residents feel; that the City’s priorities of which areas to develop or re-develop resources have not been equally distributed, although, there have been improvements in some areas. “Cleanup has been much better post Katrina; the Sanitation Department is much better and we commend them for the job they are doing and we want that to continue.”

As we look around some neighborhoods post Katrina; you see the seeds of gentrification being planted. While some may see this as a negative occurrence, Rhodes feels if urban renewal is done effectively it can benefit the entire community.  “What we are looking at as far as Washington and S. Broad, is that it becomes as important as St. Charles and S. Carrollton and when I say that I mean dollars are set aside for our streetscape, and that we have the kind of police presence and protection that other areas have. Additionally, we would like more neighborhood engagement and programs for our youth.”  Continuing, she said, “we want the Washington and South Broad Corridor to look like Oretha Castle Haley looks like right now which is an example of what is possible when urban renewal is done right when all the stakeholders in the community work together.”

A Better Community When People Work Together

While driving, walking or more recently biking through Broadmoor there are notable changes that Rhodes says are for the better and the South Broad Street Coalition is promoting these positive changes on its website and on social media. “We have a website for the organization; where we feature some the businesses on the website, we have a Facebook page that talks about the activities we have going on. And Propeller, a non-profit business incubator that’s located in the corridor has done an excellent job reaching out to the businesses in the coalition. They are a very good resource that helps businesses with marketing, website design and they have been a real critical part in our organization being re-energized.”

Rhodes speaks optimistically about the future of the corridor and says people working together from community, elected and business leaders is a key factor in continuing to make the area more attractive for people to come to live, work and shop. “After the mayoral forum, our next meeting will be October 19th at 5:30 at the Rhodes Pavilion, located on 3933 Washington Avenue; we want people to know that we are working on our vision for 2018, so once we get past the forum we will be formulating our 2018 vision that will be revealed at the beginning of the year. We also would like people to know we would like their input in our quarterly meetings that are open to the public.”

Kathleen Rhodes on SBBC and Rebuilding and Renewing a Community

As the oldest business in the South Broad Street Corridor since 1969, the Rhodes Family today is still going strong as a new generation carrier on the family’s legacy that began in the early 20th Century by the company’s founder, Duplain W. Rhodes Sr.  Today, they are at the forefront of a coalition whose aim is the rebuilding and renewal of a neighborhood that is home to businesses both old and new.  “In the corridor, there is economic activity present but we at Rhodes and the businesses that are part of SBBC would like to see it expanded because we know there is potential for greater investment and people coming from all over the City to support our businesses and activities that go on in the corridor. It would not be only good for our businesses and the neighborhood, but good for the entire City.” 

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