Economic development director to leave post in August

By Judith Roberts

Ruston is on the hunt for a new economic development director. 

Phillip Smart, who took over the position in November 2021, is leaving for another position in Bienvile Parish.  

“This was a hard decision for me,” Smart said. “It was difficult and made through a lot of prayer and guidance.” 

Smart’s last day with the city will be Aug. 30, and he said he wants to help with a few projects that he hadn’t quite finished up yet. 

“I want to make sure some of the bigger projects are completed,” he said. “We’ve had a lot that has been completed in a short time. It’s amazing how things have worked in Ruston’s favor. We’ve seen inflation – we’ve had projects extended, but everything’s still a go, but we may have to wait.” 

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker said Smart’s departure is a loss, but candidates are already being interviewed for the position. 

“Phillip has done a great job for us, an exceptional job,” Walker said. “People get offers that are better than what they’ve got, and they’ve got to move. I told him at his age I’d take the offer in a New York minute. We hate to lose him, but that company will be better because he’s there. 

“We’re already in the process of interviewing and hopefully we’ll have something in place quickly.” 

Smart said this is a bittersweet moment for him. 

“The city of Ruston is in good hands with Mayor Walker,” he said. “Ruston is blueprinted for success, and I’m excited I got to be a part of it.” 

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