Mayor Ellis ushers in new pride for Monroe

Maggie Eubanks

For the past two years, the Ouachita River

has shimmered a little brighter and the city

has buzzed at a different frequency. This new

excitement is due to Monroe’s mayor, Friday

Ellis. During his short time in office, Ellis has

ushered in a new normal for the city of Monroe—

innovation and change.

But Ellis said he isn’t stopping with the

success he’s had in the past year. He and his

team are constantly looking for new ways to

improve Monroe, whether that be through

lowering poverty and crime or simply making

the city more beautiful.

One project Ellis focused on this year was

the pedestrian bridge on Martin Luther King

Highway. The overpass was recently painted

to celebrate the Carroll Bulldogs and honor

the significance the pedestrian bridge has to

the school. Ellis hopes that with simple projects

like this, the city will return to the shine

it once had.

Monroe has had a rough past with the city

seeming to dwindle day by day. From sidewalks

being buried by grass to buildings

sitting empty for years, there seemed to be

something falling apart in every corner. But

Ellis looks at these things and sees the opportunity

for growth. When he looks at Monroe,

he sees family. Most importantly, he sees


“I don’t know too many people that love

Monroe like I do and like my friends do,” Ellis

said. “I don’t let anybody talk trash about

Monroe because, in the end, you’re talking

trash about our people.”

Ellis isn’t taking out any of the good Monroe

has to offer. In fact, he’s celebrating it. He

is turning the city from a state of apathy to a

state of enthusiasm. He takes part of the city

that has sat vacant for years and makes it into

a work of art. One example of this is the recent

murals painted on the Ouachita Candy

Company building in Downtown Monroe.

“I felt like the city needed fresh eyes and a

fresh vision to really enhance the things that

we already have going on for us,” Ellis said.

“I saw budding businesses and sectors growing,

and they just needed support and a city

growing in the same direction.”

Through his experience as a business owner

in Monroe, Ellis began to see the need for a

game changer in the city.

“Most developing cities are in the top of

the ninth, and when I took office it felt like we

were just getting off the bus,” Ellis said.

If Monroe was just getting off the bus two

years ago, Ellis has put the city in line to win

the league in the next few years.

There aren’t many days that go by without

the City of Monroe announcing a new

plan or new development. Just weeks ago, Ellis

and ULM President Ron Berry unveiled

plans for the Biomedical Research and Innovation

Park in Monroe. Along with that, Ellis

and Sen. Bill Cassidy hosted members from

around the country to advocate for a passenger

rail line through Monroe.

Every step of the way, Ellis has the backing

of his team and the entire community of


“I don’t want this to be my plan,” Ellis said.

“I want this to be the community’s plan.”

But Ellis is not simply rallying the residents

of Monroe. He wants students at ULM to be a

part of his plan too.

“We value our university,” Ellis said. “We

understand what they mean from an education

standpoint and from an economic driver.

We are going to be the biggest cheerleaders

of ULM and Louisiana Delta Community


Ellis wants young professionals at the table

to make decisions with him. From his point of

view, the only way to keep young professionals

in the city is to have young professionals

on your team. And Ellis put his own words

into action.

From Street Director Nirali Patel to Communications

Director Mitchelli Martin, Ellis

surrounds himself with young ULM alumni

that love the city of Monroe and are ready to

see it thrive.

He understands that students want to

leave Monroe and make an impact in their

fields when they graduate, but Ellis believes

students can make the biggest impact here at


“When you’re young you want to go off

somewhere and move the needle,” Ellis said.

“But what I’ve learned is when you bloom

where you’re planted, and take your talents

and apply them at home, you can completely

bury the needle.”

The city needs talented and creative people

just like everywhere else. But Monroe is

home, and Ellis is making that point clear.

“Monroe is proud of you, we will cheer you

on from afar,” Ellis said. “But when it’s time

to come home, we’ve got your seat saved for


The historic city that once was a hub for

creatives is returning to its glamour with Ellis

in office.

He wants people to choose Monroe as a

place to live.

Friday Ellis is fostering a new culture that

will allow students and young professionals

to work alongside seasoned individuals to

create a city that generates revenue and pride

for the entire state.

Friday Ellis is fostering a new culture that

allows students and young professionals to

be a part of the conversation on how to make

the city a better place. He is working to create

a city that generates revenue and pride

for the entire state.

With Ellis at the helm, Monroe will lead the

way into a new and exciting future where the

city is only called by one name—home.