To the business leaders of Franklin County and surrounding area:

Congratulations on your ability to hire one of Oklahoma’s rising young stars to lead your economic development efforts. Young Jeff Seymour is an intelligent individual whose passion for improving and growing a community knows no limits. You are indeed fortunate to have recruited him to lead the Franklin County Development Council, and I hope you understand the talent you will soon have in your midst and representing your community.

I personally have seen Seymour in action during the past six years and know he is a highly capable economic and community developer, who will be focused, driven and responsive to the business needs in your area.  While any advice is worth what you pay for it, keep in mind that his success and your successes are tied together.

He and his lovely young bride will need your support and encouragement. They will need you to instantaneously embrace them and make them feel like a valuable part of your community, because they are just that, extremely valuable. They will flourish if you help them do so by imparting the wisdom you possess and by pointing out where the land mines are, that all communities most certainly have.

Communicate to them your vision of the future, help them understand the glories of your past and how the two are not separate, but help establish the sense of place you and they now call home. Show them both why Ottawa is the best location they could be, along with why they absolutely made the perfect choice for their own future and the future of so many just like them. For in them you can see what the possibility a brighter future for our nation could look like.

In your ability to recruit Seymour to your town, you have added to the list of resources you now have that can open the door to more investment, more job creation and job retention, and what most wish for their communities, more growth.

The single most important thing you can do to help your new economic developer is to show him that he is one of the best investments you have ever made for your community. Support him, encourage him and rally behind his efforts to grow your community, and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish together. Then you will be in the same category as those of us in Oklahoma and wonder how to keep him.

Congratulations, Ottawa, you certainly gained another asset to be proud of.

— Tim Burg, executive director, Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, Shawnee, Okla.