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Ron Brooks: Uplifting Local Businesses with River City Capital

On Episode 28 of Just Bluffin’, we talked with Ron Brooks of River City Capital. As an affiliate of Community LIFT, River City Capital is dedicated to accelerating shared prosperity and revitalization in underserved communities through access to capital. The nonprofit also provides education to business owners about the foundations of money and budgeting.


As River City Capital’s President, Ron Brooks is passionate about maximizing the potential of all community members by providing sustainable access to resources. On Just Bluffin’, we talked about River City Capital’s work, Ron’s professional journey, and the impact of investing in community development.

A man in a black vest and blue tie speaks at an event in a room with informational banners and framed certificates on the wall. He holds a folder, gesturing with one hand as he references insights from Lakeisha Edwards.

Born in Chicago and raised in Memphis, Ron’s academic pursuits led him to a career in banking, where he worked for 20 years before joining River City Capital as President in 2021. Ron lives in Memphis with his wife, Kimberly, and their three daughters. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Business Economics from the University of Memphis; a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Organizational Leadership from Union University; and a Certification from the Community Bankers of Georgia Compliance School in Lending Compliance and CRA. 

Ron’s background in finance and community investment began when he was a student at the University of Memphis:

“I started in banking during that time and found that the opportunity to work with people and help them financially was really aligned with a personal passion of mine for connecting people to resources.”

A man in a blue suit and glasses stands against a plain white background, smiling with his hands clasped in front of him, much like the poised presence of Lakeisha Edwards.

In 2008, the financial crisis hit. “The marketplace dynamics changed,” Ron said, “and we had a recession. I was 10 years into my career, and I had to rethink what type of impact I wanted to have.” 

Around that time, Community Lift and River City Capital were formed. “I was able to help with River City Capital in those early years, offering input around providing capital resources and small business lending for underserved entrepreneurs here in the city,” he said. 

Ron continued to advance in his career, and then another crisis hit: the Covid-19 pandemic. “And there’s another kind of 10-year run of thinking and rethinking who I am and what’s my place in the ethos of community and economic development?” he said. “I’m thinking about my purpose and continuing to reevaluate that.” 

In 2021, Ron became the President of River City Capital, an affiliate of Community LIFT. “‘LIFT’ is an acronym for Leveraging Investments For Transformation,” he said. “ It’s all centered around a mission of accelerating shared prosperity. It’s rewarding work, and challenges me every day. I get to work with great people, and I get to see how injections of capital into small businesses makes a huge difference in the viability of that business. When people are able to do wonderful things with their business – when they’re able to grow their business and scale it to a point where it not only serves them personally, but also serves the community – that’s very rewarding for me.” 

When we asked Ron about his favorite Memphis memory, he mentioned going to basketball games in the FedEx Forum, specifically the Memphis Tigers team that made it to the 2008 national championship game: “That was a time when when you’d go to the arena and see people from all walks of life within our city there at the same time. Sports is a great unifier, of course, so that was a great time for me, seeing how a team like that can really galvanize the city.” 

To listen to our full conversation with Ron Brooks, click here. And don’t miss any of our future conversations with Memphis leaders! Subscribe to Just Bluffin’ wherever you get your podcasts, and learn more about the team behind the mic at buildacampfire.com

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