SEDC, Seminole Community Leaders Learn to ‘Sell Seminole’

By Sam Holbrooks
Seminole Sentinel

April 25, 2017

With several community leaders from the SISD, hospital district, and the general public at City Hall on Monday, both the Seminole City Council and the Seminole Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) received special presentations from Melissa Woodall, Senior Vice President at Austin-based Johnson and Associates.

In two separate presentations, the SEDC received specifics on how to create and maintain a more effective Board of Directors, and the City Council got a more generalized pep talk on how community leaders can play an important role in marketing Seminole as a commodity to the outside world.

Woodall’s more comprehensive SEDC presentation began with the purposes, goals, and administrative duties of municipal Economic Development Boards. Woodall focused in on four basic arenas of development in the Seminole area in the fields of energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and medical, and how they fit into the SEDC mission statement.

Woodall went on to emphasize the policy-making role of ED boards, the importance of implementing rules and procedures, and fully supporting the Executive Director in following those.

Melissa Woodall, of EDC consulting firm Johnson and Associates, delivers a presentation to the Board of the Seminole EDC Monday night at City Hall. (Sentinel Photo/Sam Holbrooks)

Further instruction followed that concerned the utilization of resources, liabilities, and the responsibilities of individual board members, culled from diverse backgrounds in their service as ambassadors to the community.

“As an example (of diversity),” Woodall told the board, “you wouldn’t want four insurance salesmen on your Board.”

One of Woodall’s recommendations that drew the most inquiries from board members was the suggestion that, in the interests of integrity and accountability to the public, the services of an independent auditor should be contracted.

The auditor would focus solely on the SEDC, which essentially serves as a city department and as such, is normally a separate part of the wider annual citywide audit.

The board received instruction on how to recruit new board members from different backgrounds through the normal succession process. The presentation ended with the “Seven Principles of Sustainable Leadership”, including personal responsibility, vision purpose, being a catalyst, seeing potential opportunities, collaboration with the community, and balance (facing political realities), with a breakdown of how each fits into a broader picture.

A second part of the presentation focused on becoming an “exceptional” board, or one that follows all the basic organizational and procedural guidelines and takes them to a higher level of programs that are “cutting edge, in-demand, and modern”.

Woodall asked each member “why do you serve on this board”, and received a wide range of answers, many of them concerning quality of life issues, growth, and opportunity, and even specific projects. Each board member was asked to describe personal attributes that they bring to the table, and what in the SEDC Mission Statement motivates them.

Woodall ended her presentation by defining and describing the emerging new concept of “Servant Leadership.”
After a very brief recess, the SEDC Board left and was replaced by City Council members. Prior to the evening’s regular city business, Woodall took a different path and focused on “selling Seminole” in a variety of ways.

Returning to the city’s four main areas of interest: medical, manufacturing, agriculture, and energy, Woodall told attendees, “you have to define what you’re selling”.

Woodall adapted the “Twelve Sales Habits of Successful People” to the function of city leaders as ambassadors for the city. Her presentation to the Council ended with a six-point “game plan”, both for attracting new businesses, and for working with established businesses in the area.