BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge economic group worries if customers are too scared to shop after recent protests, small business could be the first to take a hit.
Racial divide is a term that was used often by members of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) on Thursday. The group held a news conference to address concerns about the local economy following the Alton Sterling shooting.
Attorney Preston Castille, a former economist with the U.S. Department of Labor, said one of the most pressing problems is an educational divide between black and white residents and it needs to be addressed now, by all.
"It's no more apparent than anywhere else than in our educational system," Castille said. "And the more that we can bring our community together, the more resources we can put into the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. I think that we will have a greater impact on our community."
BRAC CEO Adam Knapp voiced some concerns about the safety of local businesses that are near the sites of recent protests. He said security will be a top priority to make sure that customers feel safe and the local economy doesn't slow down.
"Everyone feels the impact of this in their offices," Knapp said. "In their retail spaces, and they are very much that they are taking care of first the security and safety of their people as well as the difficult conversations that come from an event like this."
BRAC officials said they are hopeful those difficult conversations will produce realistic policies in areas such as education and small businesses. They added that the diversity and inclusion committee, which began over a year ago, will be working on those issues.