John Seymour announces retirement from the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber
After 30 years of service to our community, John Seymour will be retiring as president and chief executive officer of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, effective July 1, 2021.
Since joining the Chamber in 1991, Seymour’s positive impact on our community has been immeasurable. Through his role, he has focused on working with other partners and community leaders to identify and grow initiatives that make our community stronger for its businesses and its residents. The positive impact from these initiatives can be seen throughout our community, including riverfront and downtown redevelopment, pro-business public policy, transportation and infrastructure, workforce and education, residential recruitment, retail recruitment, community beautification, leadership development, small business networking and training events, and more.
“I am proudest of making the Chamber relevant in our community,” stated Seymour, “and of the many people and partners who came to the table and worked together on projects that made our community a great place to live and do business.”
In the early 1990s, Seymour and the Chamber worked with the City of Decatur and other local partners to develop Rhodes Ferry Park, beautifying our riverfront. In 2002, he and the Chamber partnered with the City of Decatur to commission a long-range community plan, Envision Decatur, that identified riverfront development and downtown redevelopment as critical initiatives. The Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority was formed out of this initiative and has resulted in more than $81 million of capital investment in our downtown over the past 10 years.
Other initiatives have focused on workforce development and education, where Seymour helped create Youth Leadership Morgan County and the Leader in Me program, a cooperative effort with Franklin Covey. Other programs he prioritized at the Chamber include Partners in Education and the Workforce Development Committee, which brings business and academic leaders together to identify and implement approaches that develop a strong local workforce.
Most recently, the Chamber played a lead role in finding ways to grow our population by forming a committee in 2017 to bring together local realtors, builders, developers, planners, and community leaders to eliminate barriers and promote residential growth. Since this committee was formed, plans for building more than 450 new homes and townhomes have been announced.
Seymour has been passionate about delivering on the Chamber’s role of building a positive environment for local businesses. In addition to providing a range of networking, educational, and awards events, the Chamber has prioritized public policy, lobbying for legislation at the state and federal level that will establish a more business-friendly environment in our community. These legislative priorities are set through active input from local business owners and leaders who come together each year to discuss legislative changes needed for more optimal business growth.
Throughout his career, Seymour has been recognized with numerous awards. He was the recipient of the 2nd annual Thompsonian Award presented by the Business Council of Alabama in 2014, and in 2016, this award was renamed the Thompson-Seymour Award. In 2017, at the Annual Martin Luther King Unity Breakfast, he received the Humanitarian Award presented by the Decatur Minority Development Association. He has received the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama’s prestigious Jamie Wallace Award presented to the state’s outstanding Executive and the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Award presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice.
While serving in his current role at the Chamber, Seymour has represented our community nationally as a speaker and panelist to share his Chamber leadership and community development expertise. He was invited to be in a national think tank of the Kettering Foundation for a published study on “Creating a Healthy Economy through Civic Involvement.” He has been a presenting speaker at the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives annual meetings in Cleveland, Sacramento, Montreal, and Milwaukee, and appeared with Dr. Stephen Covey as the convention opening program in Raleigh, N.C.
Under Seymor’s leadership, the Chamber has been recognized on numerous occasions, including an invitation from U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Choa to participate in The Summit of 21st Century Workforce and selection as a “Community of Excellence,” a pilot program for community development by The Tennessee Valley Authority and the Alabama Economic Development Partnership.
The Chamber’s annual budget has grown by 70 percent, and income from dues investments has increased by more than 60 percent during Seymour’s 30-year tenure. He currently manages seven staff members, approximately 900 members, and an annual budget of more than $1.2 million. Through the years, he has mentored numerous Chamber staff members, encouraging them to participate in leadership roles in our community and state.
Before coming to Morgan County to lead the Chamber in 1991, Seymour was president and CEO of the Natchez Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Association in Mississippi. While there, he participated with the Governor on international economic development missions to Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Canada. He also was chairman of the committee that led a successful bid campaign to host the Southern Governors Conference.
Seymour is a graduate of the Basic Economic Development Course at Georgia Tech and the Economic Development Institute and an advanced curriculum class on Far East Development at the University of Oklahoma. Other past leadership roles include serving as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (CCAA), serving on the board of directors of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), and serving as an active committee member of BCA’s Finance and Executive Committees. He is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and Leadership Alabama.
The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the Chamber has begun the process of identifying and recruiting a new president and CEO who can lead the Chamber while building on Seymour’s legacy.