Staff

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Wayne Ricks, Interim Director/Business Consultant 

Wayne Ricks began his journey as a Business Consultant at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center in January 2005. Recognized for his exceptional contributions, he was promoted to Senior Business Consultant in 2010, assuming additional responsibilities in guiding clients and mentoring colleagues. In 2024, Wayne was promoted to the role of Interim Director, where he leads strategic initiatives and oversees the center's operations on an interim basis, continuing his commitment to fostering growth in the Northshore region. His extensive expertise encompasses providing personalized consulting services, business modeling, and conducting comprehensive industry research. Wayne holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Master of Business Administration from Southeastern Louisiana University. He is also certified as a Certified Louisiana Economic Development Professional (CLED) and Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP)

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Melissa Laird, Business Administrator

Melissa Laird currently has served as Business Administrator for the Southeast Louisiana Business Center since January 2008. In her role, she oversees a variety of responsibilities, including budget oversight, proposal development, cost control & reduction, inventory management, procurement coordination, policy & procedure development, financial reporting, federal & state grant management, vendor & contract negotiations, leases, and regulatory compliance. 

Melissa brings with her 2 1/2 years of experience in public accounting and an additional 3 years in industry-based accounting, where she acquired skills consisting of tax preparation, payroll administration, cross-functional training, internal auditing, SEC, and SOX Reporting. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in Management from Southeastern Louisiana University.

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Eonna McCall, Administrative Assistant

Meet Eonna McCall, an accomplished Administrative Assistant with a Bachelor's degree in Health Studies Marketing and Management and a minor in Business Administration from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. As an Administrative Assistant, Eonna is responsible for providing administrative support to ensure efficient operation of the office. She is proficient in handling a wide range of administrative tasks such as managing schedules, coordinating meetings, preparing reports, and maintaining databases.  She is also skilled in handling confidential information and maintaining a high level of professionalism and confidentiality at all times.

Ms. McCall is a quick learner and has a keen eye for detail. She is always willing to go the extra mile to get the job done and is known for her positive attitude and can-do spirit. She has a talent for anticipating needs and finding solutions that streamline processes and increase productivity.


Aside from her professional achievements, Ms. McCall is also a Professional Photographer, traveler, and fitness enthusiast. She believes that a healthy mind and body are the keys to success in both personal and professional life. Eonna is passionate about making a positive impact in the world and is always looking for ways to help others.

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Christopher K. Coombs, Research Economist 

Chris Coombs joined the Business Research Center in 2023 after providing public service in higher education for more than 15 years as a Professor of Economics. With fields in Labor and Health Economics, Dr. Coombs has published articles in journals, proceedings, and chapters in books on many public policy issues, with an emphasis on Applied Research at the national and regional levels.