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South Florissant Road turning into a path of prosperity

"I thought we were going to just be like every other city after a riot."

FERGUSON, Mo. — There are people and places around St. Louis that have faced great adversity. Ferguson is on the list. But the stretch along South Florissant road appears to be defying the odds.

“Try to keep going no matter what is thrown in our face,” said Rob Wiesen with Ferguson Brewing Company.

“This little town has been through a lot,” said Jerome Jenkins of Cathy’s Kitchen.

The people along the road have persevered.

“We are thriving,” said Cathy Jenkins, owner of Cathy’s Kitchen.

Some people may find her words surprising because of the area’s past.

“I thought we were going to be just like every other city after a riot. You know, total decay,” said Cathy.

But that has not been the case. The street is home to restaurants and even a brewery. Things are happening on South Florissant within walking distance of the Ferguson city hall and police station, where a few years ago there were days of civil unrest.

“We totally began to blossom after that,” Cathy told 5 On Your Side.

Businesses along the street refused to leave.

“I think that shows your strength when you stay and fight,” Cathy explained.

But the fight did not end with the unrest. The pandemic has been the latest test of their resilience.

“Never thought COVID would be worse than a riot but it was,” said Cathy.

While the pandemic may have slowed their progress, the area continued to build itself back up.

“It’s like the Phoenix,” add Cathy.

There are new businesses popping up. Cathy admits the process has taken a lot of determination.

“You gotta have faith that it’s possible, because you are seeing things around you that can make you feel like it’s going to be difficult, that it’s going to be hard,” she explained.

The community has helped in softening the hard times.

“They support us through thick and thin,” said Wiesen.

There is now a rebirth of sorts taking place on South Florissant Road.

“New buildings, new thoughts, new minds,” said Cathy.

The new development is helping to change the mindset some people may have about the span of roadway.

“It’s not nearly what they expected or what saw on TV,” said Wiesen.

“They’re always surprised when they get to Ferguson. They’re like, ‘Oh my God, it’s nothing like we thought,’” said Cathy.

There is a push to encourage more people to come to South Florissant Road and experience the staying power firsthand.

“I want to be the person to say, hey come,” said Jerome.

“I want people to see what we actually have to offer here, not just what the reputation that Ferguson might have,” added Wiesen.

If you would like to know more about the opportunities available in Ferguson, click here.

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