One of the nation’s leading economic development voices is returning to his hometown of Shreveport to give the keynote address at the LSU Shreveport spring graduation.
Ronnie L. Bryant, who successfully led development efforts in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Shreveport, started his own consulting firm (Ronnie L. Bryant LLC) in 2017 that specializes in executive coaching and training.
Bryant, a 1979 LSUS graduate with a bachelor in business management, will speak at the May 12 graduation ceremonies at Brookshire Grocery Arena in Bossier City.
“What I love about Ronnie is that he has a spirit and a credibility about him that is truly amazing, yet it’s representative of so many LSUS graduates,” said Chancellor Larry Clark, who taught Bryant in the College of Business in the late 1970s. “He was working a full-time job at AT&T and going to school at night, and he got his economic development start right here in at the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce after he graduated.
“He’s had an exceptional career and is recognized as one of the most outstanding leaders that’s ever worked in the field of economic development.”
While Bryant may have broken into the economic development field in Shreveport, his business background started much earlier with his grandfather.
“I was raised by two very engaged parents and maternal grandparents who shaped my pursuit of excellence,” Bryant said. “My grandfather was a business owner, and I wanted to be like him.
“After his death, my family sold the business, and I joined my father at Western Electric (AT&T) before eventually starting my economic development journey with the Shreveport chamber.”
The Bethune High School graduate served as the vice president of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce from 1989-1995.
His economic development journey took him to St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, where he received national recognition in the field.
Bryant earned the top industry ranking by Site Selection magazine, Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Charlotte Magazine. He received the American Economic Development Council’s Robert B. Cassell Leadership Award.
After serving as president and CEO of Charlotte Regional Partnership for 15 years, he started his consulting firm and wrote his first book, “Driving from the Backseat – Tips for Surviving as a Not-for-Profit CEO”, published in 2019.
“Throughout my economic development career, I was very engaged in professional development and mentoring,” Bryant said. “Upon retirement (from economic development), I knew I needed to be engaged with fellow practitioners and provide mentoring.
“I become a certified executive coach, wrote the book and continue to teach.”
Bryant’s consulting firm develops executive leadership skills and business acumen through training in organizational and strategic management, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and board development among other areas.
Bryant is also an accomplished academic in business as a former dean and faculty member for the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute among other teaching positions. He contributes to research and gives lectures around the world.
Bryant’s connection with Oklahoma students in particular fueled many of the mentoring relationships that sparked the creation of the consulting firm.
While not primarily involved in economic development anymore, Bryant continues to serve the Charlotte regional business community as a board director for American Leadership Forum, Aspire Community Capital, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, Charlotte City Club and Johnson C. Smith University.
Nationally, he’s a board member for The Bollinger Foundation, The Institute for Work and the Economy and the International Economic Development Council (past chairman) as well as a former board member of The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Pittsburgh Branch.
Passion and purpose have been key drivers for Bryant.
“Whatever aspect of business you pursue, have passion for it,” Bryant said. “Regardless of the obstacles you might encounter, if you focus on what you enjoy and understand how your pursuits impact others, you will find happiness.”