Business is Booming in the Heart of Cenla

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Our rich culture, central location, cutting edge medical care, strong sense of community, innovative air park, and Red River make Alexandria/Pineville ideal places for commerce and entrepreneurs and investors are taking notice. Recently, several businesses have developed or expanded here in the heart of Central Louisiana. Perhaps most promising, this expansion has been seen across a variety of fields and industries. And while the corridor of Highway 28 West towards England Airpark serves as a particular hotbed of growth, it is by no means the only area boasting renewed investment.

 

The recent trend toward emphasizing primary care, preventative medicine and surge in urgent care centers aimed at alleviating some of the burden on already over-burdened emergency departments is apparent in Cenla.  Both CHRISTUS Health and Rapides Regional Medical Center have made significant investments in expanding their primary and urgent care capabilities on both sides of the Red River. Both health systems have multiple locations in the region, utilizing a network of primary care and emergency physicians to staff each location.  In addition to the urgent care facilities, both systems also boast primary care locations, aimed at maintaining good health, managing chronic conditions and preventative health.

 

Central Louisiana has long been a medical hub and physicians—new and established—continue to choose Cenla to open or expand their practices.  Dr. Rachel Dean is a board certified dermatologist who practiced for four years at a private dermatology clinic in Alexandria before creating Dean Dermatology & Skin Therapy, located on Parliament Drive in Alexandria. Dr. Dean and her staff treat patients of all ages in all areas of dermatology, including complex medical dermatology (including psoriasis and connective tissue disease), skin cancer detection and prevention, and cosmetic procedures, which help patients maintain natural hallmarks of youth.  Likewise, Dr. Ryan Rogenmoser, an Alexandria native and graduate of LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans chose Alexandria as the site of his practice.  At Alexandria Family Dental Care, located on Windermere Boulevard in Alexandria, Dr. Rogenmoser and Dr. John Moylan practice a wide range of dentistry, including preventative care, restorative dentistry,  and cosmetic dentistry.

 

The aforementioned corridor heading west out Coliseum Boulevard is in the midst of a period of rapid expansion.   CHRISTUS Physician Group and Beans & Cream joined Ray’s Pharmacy ahead of the relocation of Good People Kitchen on Versailles, just off of Highway 28 West. Good People Kitchen is dedicated to providing good food for good health.  The bright new locations boasts vibrant colors, the wide variety of delicious menu items made from whole foods, smoothies and salads that loyal customers have come to know and expect from GPK.  The new location also boasts a new bar, featuring beer, wine, signature cocktails and expanded hours. Just a couple of doors down from GPK is the Boutique at the Lakes, which features a wide array of clothing, home decor and gift options.  Whether shopping for yourself or for that special someone, the Boutique at the Lakes is sure to have something for everyone on your list. One of the latest developments in the area has been the opening of the latest edition to the Y-Not Stop family of convenience stores.  The new location is open 24/7 and features a great menu of freshly prepared food, a wide variety of convenience merchandise, and high quality Shell fuel.  The Alexandria store is St. Romain Oil’s twelfth Y-Not Stop location. “In addition to all of the obvious, we strive to be a great place to work by offering a great benefits package to our team members,” explains Amanda St. Romain, Marketing Director.

 

Continuing out Highway 28 West, the newly renovated Coliseum is now supported by an ever-expanding menu of culinary options. Louisiana-born Fatboy & Skinny’s expanded into Alexandria, offering it’s self-proclaimed “Best Burger Ever” which guests can enjoy in a seat yourself, fun atmosphere developed by Louisiana locals for Louisiana locals.  Continuing down the highway, Panda Express, the largest Asian restaurant chain in the country, opened its first Alexandria location on Highway 28.  So confident in the growth of the Alexandria market, the company opened its second location on South MacArthur just a matter of weeks later. Both locations offer the chain’s signature selection of dishes from the indulgent signature Orange Chicken to health-conscious options including steamed vegetables and Green Bean Chicken.  Panda Express is not the only major national chain to take notice.  Wendy’s chose the corridor as the site for its newest Alexandria location.  Just a stone’s throw from the first Panda Express is Alexandria’s newest haunt for delicious BBQ.  BubbaQue’s features a full menu of real pit BBQ in a quirky, unique, fun environment.  The chain boasts smoked pork, beef and chicken to go along with a variety of sides made fresh every day and a full array of signature BBQ sauces.  Jack’s recently debuted its Twenty 8 West Brewing Company and is now pouring Alexandria-inspired South Circle Ale and Coliseum Ale.

 

The restaurant explosion has not been confined to Highway 28.  Inspired by the craft brew scene in the Pacific Northwest, Huckleberry Brewing Company was born in the heart of Louisiana. Founded by an 8th generation Alexandrian, the HBC is as local as it gets. The company’s brews are available in several local restaurants and the taproom, located on Sterkx Road in Alexandria, is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Another truly local incarnation, Café Desoto is located on Desoto Street next to Tamp & Grind Coffee House in downtown Alexandria.  The restaurant features an eclectic menu of ethnic dishes made fresh every day. Each scratch-made dish is prepared from healthy, natural ingredients combined with a whole lot of local love.  Another local favorite, Mi Tierra Restaurante Mexicano, recently opened the doors on its Alexandria restaurant, located in the MacArthur Village Shopping Center.  Already well known for fresh Mexican cuisine and famous tamales at its Forest Hill location, Mi Tierra in Alexandria boasts a bright and inviting atmosphere, reminiscent of a well appointed courtyard

 

Just around the South Traffic Circle, the Copeland family of restaurants chose Alexandria as the site for its first Copeland’s Brass Pearl location on South MacArthur Drive.  The Brass Pearl concept seeks to embody a duality of the best of New Orleans dining.  Featuring both simple, upscale dining areas and a brassy prominent oyster bar, walking in the door of the Brass Pearl is like stepping into the Big Easy without having to leave town!  Most recently, the Brass Pearl has begun to expand its menu, adding some traditional Copeland favorites to its unique existing culinary offerings.

 

Also new to the South MacArthur area is the #1 rated sports bar in America, Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar.  Walk-On’s was founded by former LSU basketball walk-ons, based on a dream first conceptualized as a sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin while traveling back from an away game.  Though certainly never a walk-on himself, New Orleans Saints All-Pro and future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees joined the Walk-On’s team in 2015.  Walk-On’s offers dishes made from scratch from fresh ingredients in a lively environment, boasting views from every seat of flat screen TVs playing the latest sports.  Already established in Pineville, Huddle House expanded its offerings with a new location about midway between the Brass Pearl and Walk-On’s.  The 24-hour diner offers hot and fresh meals ranging from breakfast to dinner.

 

Another Louisiana original, CC’s Coffee House recently opened locations in both Alexandria and Pineville.  Born in New Orleans and serving Louisiana’s famous Community Coffee, CC’s offers a full line of hot, cold and blended beverages as well as baked sweets, savory offerings and delicious seasonal King Cakes. What goes better with hot coffee than cold ice cream? Cenla residents can now indulge their sweet tooth in a unique way at A La Mode Creamery. The converted school bus-turned-food truck offers a wide variety of rolled ice cream delights at various locations throughout the city and at special events.  Choose from their menu of specially created ice cream flavor and mix-in combinations or create your own!  Like them on Facebook to discover where you can catch up to this treat on the go!

 

This booming restaurant scene is supported by a Louisiana supply company that recently moved into the area.  Hilton’s Restaurant Supply has been family owned and operated in Lafayette for over 75 years. Earning a reputation for reliable, personalized service, and growing their massive inventory selection of commercial kitchen equipment, small wares, and disposables is their foundation. “We’ve been a part of local businesses’ growth for many years,” explain owners Valerie and Casey Rawlings. “Their success is our success.  That’s why we try to do our part to support our industry in local communities.”

 

Rose’s Express is owned by Variety Wholesalers, Inc., a family-owned business that began in 1922. Touting itself as the “best kept secret in retail”, Roses is committed to offering great quality items at tremendous savings, without the need for constant couponing or chasing down clearance sales. Rose’s recently opened its Alexandria location, and serves as an anchor store for the Westgate Shopping Center on MacArthur Drive.

 

Central Louisiana is poised for continued growth, and you can be a part of it! There has never been a better time to follow your dream of becoming a small business owner.  Cenla boasts a multitude of resources available to make that dream a reality, including the Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority, Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the Central Louisiana Business Incubator and the Cenla Chamber of Commerce. A great starting point, the Chamber provides tools for new and existing business owners, alike. One such resource is this month’s Women in Business Conference, presented by the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce. This year’s conference will feature two distinguished keynote speakers, Natalie Hurks, North America Fabric Go To Market Director, Procter and Gamble, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Jacquelyn Marks, Owner/Operator, CJM Investments, Lafayette. Working in predominately male industries, Hurks’ and Marks’ achievements are nationally notable. The Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Conference is designed to motivate, inform and inspire women who are—or are looking to become—leaders, advance their careers or become entrepreneurs. This year, the Chamber is pleased to announce a new conference partner, Central Louisiana Society for Human Resource Management (CLSHRM).  The event will also feature a Legislative Issues Forum with a panel composed of members of the Women’s Caucus of the Louisiana State Legislature.

 

From cutting edge medical care to well appointed shopping and delicious culinary offering, these are just a few of the wave of expanding commerce in our area.  All these great developments would be impossible without the support of the surrounding community.  We can do our part to continue to support the growing economy in our area by investing in and patronizing the businesses that choose to invest in our communities.  When we shop local, everybody wins!  With new construction underway across the area that will bring new educational opportunities to Downtown Alexandria, new jobs in the medical, service and corporate sectors, and even more delicious dining options from which to choose, business truly is booming in the heart of Cenla!