Small business ownership in the Baton Rouge area has plummeted in recent years and this is simply unacceptable to mayoral candidate “E Eric” Guirard. Guirard, himself a small business owner, notes that the number of African American-owned small business has dropped to around 3% since its peak in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. White-owned small business ownership has fallen too. He has developed five pillars of focus that he will follow and implement if elected Mayor-President and business development is a key focus.
“Baton Rouge could become the Mecca of small business, business enterprise and entrepreneurism,” Guirard explained, “but we must streamline the process so a potential business owner is not so intimidated by the system that he is discouraged from opening a business. We need to modify the system so one can start a business in a day including permits, licensing and whatever else needs to be done.”
Reducing fees, regulations and taxes for the first year or two of operation; low entry requirements and even easier to follow guidelines for certain businesses (taxi, food service); and designated city employees to help the process would also aid in growth in this critical area. Area universities could also take an enhanced role in the growth of new business, he added. Guirard believes that established businesses need to do their part as well. “Business should be expected to be good parish partners, especially in regards to litter, clean up and appearance efforts of store fronts and surrounding areas,” he said.
An expanded airport would also make Baton Rouge a more attractive business hub. “There’s plenty of room for expansion. We cannot expect to attract or keep great businesses (See Abermarle) unless we, at a minimum, have the ability to offer enhanced travel options from the city,” he said.