Ryan Williams: Living his Passion on Marshall Street

When I look for my next story, I typically keep an eye out for visible signs of our city growing and changing – the people behind these visible changes are the ones leading the charge to improve Shreveport’s physical spaces (also called the ‘built environment’). Ryan Williams with Seedlinks LLC is doing just that – in March he relocated his business to Marshall Street and put a ton of work into fixing his building. When I talk to people like Ryan, I usually want to highlight the principles that he used in his project in order to inspire and educate. However, the more I talked with Ryan, his passion to see people empowered through habits of healthy thinking became the most important story that you, the reader, should hear.

Seedlinks LLC is a behavioral management company that provides a variety of mental health, crisis intervention, and family stability services. Beyond treatment, they also focus on prevention measures as well as increasing access to those who might not be able to reach these services. They pride themselves in the ability to respond to clients the same day help is needed.

Their logo is a tree signifying the growth and change we all experience in life. A tree has a very small beginning – it starts as just a seed, yet upon maturity grows into something much larger, providing nourishment and shade to those around it. Ryan’s business may be providing that fruit now, but the seeds and roots of that vision started long ago and took time to mature into the business we see today.

Ryan’s mother, Marilyn, was one of eight biological children born to Lewis and Henrietta Nicholson. These grandparents are on a painting in the main waiting room outside of Ryan’s office. After Marylin and her siblings grew up, Lewis and Henrietta still felt called to help more kids. So they started fostering – 14 kids to be exact!!! Showing honor to his grandparents in this room painted a poignant picture about the roots of his passion.

Fast forward to Ryan’s childhood – he grew up in the MLK neighborhood, which he says has shaped him to this day. Personally, I’ve heard many good things about this community and it was a good reinforcement to hear Ryan share about how this community impacted him – in his words, ‘The neighborhood made me’. He attributes his community’s strength to a variety of different characteristics, including how he learned as a child. If you don’t know, the MLK neighborhood, also referred to as Cooper Road, has all school levels and a college within one community: four elementary schools, Linear middle school, Green Oaks high school, and Southern University. This environment on Cooper Road gave Ryan a good vision of how important community and continuity is in a young life.

After getting his degree from Grambling State University, Ryan’s professional journey had a few stops before Seedlinks. He started out in the Air Force for 3-½ years, then worked in real estate, then the oilfield. A wide variety of life experience was built in those years; however, a shift occurred as he looked in a different direction for his career.

Like his grandparents, Ryan wanted to impact kids’ lives – so he went back to the classroom and started teaching. He wanted to help young kids grow up into strong men and women; as a teacher he enjoyed the work but realized he had some limitations for how he could help. Sure, he enjoyed teaching but his influence was limited to the actual coursework and classtime; omitted were the other issues in a young person’s personal life outside of school that affected all areas of life.

Two conversations led Ryan to start his own business: a conversation with his mom and a second with a young kid about mental health issues. It was thought these interactions that he decided to start Seedlinks Behavior management. His business started out small in 2016, with an emphasis on delivering professional care in a timely manner, and it has slowly grown into the business it is today. Now, he owns a 60-70 employee firm that serves over 700 clients. He’s been helping young people and adults at several locations including North Market and Grimmet, and most recently the business’s growth led him to his notable building on Marshall Street.

The new spot for Seedlinks has a lot more room for his growing business: it has private meeting rooms for clients, larger rooms for classes, an office for his wife and business partner, and future spaces for lease for other businesses.

After buying the building, he put over 200K in renovations into the structure. The building has a nice new paint job, and giant signs with the building number from Bossier Sign Company. Also improving the building’s curb appeal is some planters from SBC Remodelers, LLC, and updated fencing and plants. As someone who rides the new bike lanes on Marshall Street, I love the way the outside of the building complements its surroundings and improves the area.

My time at 1533 Marshall Street ended with some thoughts about this physical location: due to I-20, Marshall Street is one of the only slow speed, pedestrian entrances into downtown. It’s potential for mixed use, human-scale development is evident, so I asked Ryan plainly about what he thought about the area, and what opportunities it had. Initially, the location was a good draw due to the presence of other medical businesses like Brentwood hospital. However, its proximity to downtown and building stock made Ryan call it a ‘hidden gem’ and I wholeheartedly agree with him. He’d love to see a convenience store or some kind of eatery in the area, since currently people have to get in their cars to go somewhere instead of being able to walk. I’m hopeful for Shreveport because of this work that is being done by Seedlinks, both inside the building and out.