JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Locals say it's an area that's fallen by the wayside - once an entertainment hub and economic generator, the area has fallen into a slump. It's why Jefferson Parish officials are offering business owners big chunks of cash to beautify their Fat City building fronts.
"In the long run, the potential for that area is incredible," said Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission President and CEO Jerry Bologna.
Yet, right now, Fat City has a long way to go.
"It was an entertainment district before, but I see it really as a walkable hub that can attract businesses, that can be a tech hub and attract young people to the area," said Bologna.
Bologna believes Fat City can reach its full potential, even surpass what it once was, with a little help.
It's why the commission is offering businesses up to $50,000 to fix up their storefronts.
"Make them more visually appealing and attract additional private investment into those areas," Bologna said.
The money comes from a federal program the parish hopes will breathe new life into Fat City and the stretch of Jefferson Highway from the New Orleans line to Deckbar.
"I think the hope there is that this is a catalyst for future development and it's going to encourage and spur that future development," said Bologna.
Oscar Chimal owns Los Jefes Mexican restaurant in the heart of Fat City.
"This area, right here, needs it a lot," said Chimal.
He agrees Fat City needs a facelift to include more restaurants and more family-friendly destinations.
"It's good that they're actually taking an initiative," Chimal said.
And Chimal plans to take full advantage of the parish's offer.
"Invest in our courtyard, in our parking, in the appearance of our building. It's going to go along way for us," he said.
Yet, Chimal believes it won't be enough to revamp Fat City, not unless other businesses buy into it, too.
"It should not be everybody on their own. We grow together as an area, the area builds itself up in the market here grows," Chimal explained.
It's why he's hoping other businesses follow suit.
"It's as important for me as it is for my neighbors," said Chimal.
Any businesses in Fats City and that stretch of Jefferson Highway are elligible to apply. What's more, they won't have to pay the money back as long as they comply with all requirements for three years.
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