Make waves by sharing positives of the community

Sometimes, it is a kick in the shin.

Before I finish this thought, let me share some of my recent week as the mayor of the best small town in America.

Recently, Home Products International Chief Executive Officer George Hamilton asked for a meeting with me and Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Jim Plump. During that meeting, he shared the company would be closing its operations here in Seymour, which would lead to around 130 employees out of work. Most of these employees have been with the company for many years.

As mayor, I don’t like losing a company, but even more, I hate what this means for the members of our community as they look for a new job. As I look at our area employment numbers from January, though, I am optimistic that finding a job won’t be as difficult with unemployment being at just under 2%.

HPI also has assured us it will work with both JCIDC and the city to host job fairs to try to help employees transition as the closing date approaches. I also was reminded how amazing our little part of the world is as the story hit The Tribune and we received an offer from a local church to be a host site for a job fair.

In the not-so-distant past, the Seymour Police Department hosted a weeklong FBI negotiator training attended by departments from around the region. Three of our own officers and one dispatcher participated, as well. One thing they were told during the course was they would more than likely use their new skills within the next week.

During my recent visit with them, I had a chance to watch firsthand as they checked up on an area resident. As I watched and even joined in the conversation, I couldn’t help but notice the compassion these young officers had for another member of our community. The compassion and connection were genuine and a refreshing reminder we have more in common than the differences the world wants us to focus on.

Congratulations to the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour on its recent 75th anniversary celebration. I enjoyed traveling down memory lane as I thought about my years of participation in my youth. I look forward to seeing what they can accomplish over the next 75 years.

Well, I guess it is time to get back to that kick in the shin. Someone commented to my wife about not seeing me for a few mornings at the gym. She said I just hadn’t been getting up and it was probably more of a mental block than anything else. His response was “It is because he cares.”

Sometimes, I carry the weight of the world or at least the world of Seymour on my shoulders. Some believe I don’t care, some believe I am not connected with the reality of what goes on here and some still believe I have accomplished all that I wanted to accomplish in my role.

When members of our community are facing life’s hardships, I do take it personally. I question if there is more we could have done. Sometimes, the answer is yes, but often, the answer is it is simply out of our control.

When the kicks in the shin keep coming, how is it I stay positive and moving forward? I focus on the positives. I look for the good happening right here in our city of 21,569 people. Those positives come in many ways sometimes we overlook, things like increased training opportunities for our public safety team, low unemployment numbers, choices in restaurants most towns our size don’t have.

Then after I focus on the positives, I try to share them with other members of our community. A few punches of the calculator and I realized if we each took a few minutes to share those positives with just two people, we could mathematically tell our positive story to the entire population of Seymour in just over 14 days. Then in around 16 days, we could tell the entire county.

I hope you will take a few minutes today and encourage a few friends and family members to tell the positive news of our community so maybe we see a wave of positivity for all.

This week, I want to leave you with a quote from late U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell: “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

Matt Nicholson is the mayor of Seymour. Send comments to [email protected]