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Economic Development

Jan. 10 - Start of construction at ‘Savannah Manufacturing Center’ highlighted at SEDA’s Annual Meeting

PHOTO:  (L to R)  SEDA President Trip Tollison, newly installed Chairman of the Board Kevin Jackson, and outgoing SEDA Chairman Stephen Green.  

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

January 10, 2018 - The Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) held its Annual Meeting Weds. Jan. 10, to a capacity crowd at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.

SEDA’s president Trip Tollison highlighted the accomplishments of 2017, including creation of 2,000 jobs, 18 expansion announcements, a new partnership with the Savannah College of Art & Design, and almost a half a billion in private investment in the region.

“This is one of the most exciting times this year. Savannah is very fortunate to have a very diverse economy. But we made a conscious decision years ago on the Board to create the next generation Crossroads, the Savannah Manufacturing Center, located on Old River Rd.  The focus is to attract advanced manufacturing and high-wage jobs, according to Tollison, who stated that construction will start at the end of January, including starting the entrance road.

Stephen S. Green is completing his term as Chairman of SEDA.  He spoke for a few minutes, thanking the staff, and thanking Chatham County Chairman Al Scott and Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach for their financial and political support.  And, he applauded SEDA’s new initiatives in the science and technology area, and the launch of the manufacturing center.

The new Chairman of SEDA for 2018 is Kevin Jackson, president and owner of Envirovac, who presented Green with a painting of the Savannah River from the organization.  

He spoke about SEDA’s primary goal, to “create decent jobs,  jobs where workers feel valued… none of us can succeed in isolation. We all have to work together.” 

He closed with saying that “I’m the least likely person that you’d ever expect to see on this podium … you either give in, give up or give it all you’ve got every day.”

Cathy Hill and Chad Barrow were recognized as SEDA Board Members whose terms ended at the end of 2017.   And Atty. Tom Gray, SEDA’s legal counsel and bond counsel for 40 years, was also recognized. He is stepping down from that role.  

Doup Lipp and “Disney U”

The keynote address was by Doug Lipp, former head of training at Disney University, now a business consultant and speaker, and author of “Disney U.” The proceeds of the sale of the book goes to the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

He spoke about how Disney’s training team creates “cultures of significance,” value-based cultures, and what sets companies apart.  

He believes that to create a successful company culture, there are three basics: hire the right people, train them properly, and then treat them properly.  “Many companies fail in at least one of these three areas,” he stated.

Since 1955, the Disney organization has a four-word mission:  safety, courtesy, show and capacity …  to create ‘the happiest place on earth.’ 

“What is the essence of what your employees know about your business?,” he asked the audience of the region’s business leaders.

“Our rides don’t break down and our employees never have a bad day,” he said, explaining the training program that sets high standards, and aims for ‘flawless execution, by training employees to always be ‘show ready.’

“How does your team respond when things ‘go sideways,’ he added, telling a story about an episode where a Disney employee worked effectively with a child on the autism spectrum. “Most of us do well when things are going well, but how does your team respond when things ‘go sideways?’ Has your company been trained sufficiently to deal with problems?




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