Monett Matters: Pride and Progress

Pride and Progress

Serena Anderson
Director of Community Development
City of Monett
sanderson@cityofmonett.com

What does a Director of Community Development do and why has the City of Monett created this role?

My initial focus is to learn about Monett through your eyes. To ask a lot of questions. I want to understand the history, the lifestyle, and what you need from your city. Without you, there is no Monett. We need you on the team.

Are you happy here? When you wake up in the morning are you feeling like you can go through your day and find the things you need to take care of your family, your home, or your business? Do you have to drive long distances to solve problems? Are you commuting out of town for work? Do you feel like there are great ways to spend your free time? Are you enjoying outdoor activities? I have so many questions.

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What does “Pride and Progress” mean to you? This is our city mantra. Where do you see exemplary representation of this in Monett? Where do you see opportunities to truly convert the challenges we face into fulfillment of this worthwhile phrase?

Another role of this position is to help the community understand the complexities of managing a city. I want you to know how hard city staff work for you. It is easy to be frustrated with what you want, and can’t seem to get, from your local government. But government is actually a network of departments, systems, and ultimately people. People who do amazing things, within a limited budget, confined by rules that may have existed for hundreds of years.

I ask you to join me on a journey toward understanding. We will talk about problems being addressed. Issues coming down the pike. We will discuss how the work is done, department by department. Story by story. You will hear from leadership, from managers, from the people you see out and about. After all, how can you support a system that you don’t understand?

In order to do more for you, we need to earn revenue. Simple as that. More revenue equals more investment into the community. So how is that accomplished? Community and economic development are the answers. We need to invite investment into our ecosystem. Recruit new businesses, while offering existing businesses opportunities to expand.

Businesses need staff. How will we find people to fill jobs? Where are the youth going after they graduate high school, and why? Creating housing is a huge part of the equation.

There are economic factors standing in our way. Many external factors. But there are many internal opportunities to move past these blockades.

Businesses need customers. Another key role of economic development is marketing the offerings here in Monett to surrounding and distant communities. We need to invite people to shop here, play here, to think of us as a destination. Do we have empty buildings that can become part of a thriving community?

Infrastructure is an elephant in the room. In order to improve our roads, our buildings, our parks, our utility systems, we need to invest in them. It’s a hard sell, infrastructure, but without it, none of the other goals can come together.

Change can be made, but mutual understanding and respect must be part of the recipe. You can help Monett make decisions about our future. We are about to embark on a voyage creating a vision and citywide plan for the coming years, and we need your help. In the upcoming weeks, you will be asked to give us your thoughts.

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So, why me? Who am I and why do I think I can help facilitate such enormous tasks? Let’s just get this out in the open right now. I am not from here. I promise you, I have no interest in turning “here” into “there”. I left “there” and came “here” intentionally. This is where I will spend the rest of my life, and that means I will be here to help.

You can choose to see me as an outsider, or a breath of fresh air with different perspectives. Your opinion will be based on how you perceive my intentions. But before you decide, I invite you to get to know me.

My career has spanned three states, six counties, and ten cities. I have served many functions: youth development, economic development, chambers of commerce, emergency preparedness, humane society, Boys & Girls Clubs, women’s self-defense, outdoor recreation, events, television production, art festivals, retail, housing, special events, fundraising, business development, real estate, property management, marketing, nonprofits, public relations. One thing I have never done, is work directly for the government, at any level. I have, however, collaboratively worked with government at all levels, during my career.

A seemingly bizarre hodgepodge. But it all comes down to this, I have been many places, done many things, and have wondered if there would come a time for me to settle down and use these varying experiences, to make a difference. That time is now. This is now my community. I have been an integral part of rehabilitating a downtown. I have been part of building long term strategy for cities. I'm an innovative thinker who has been known to help redefine boundaries.

Beyond that, I am a devoted wife. Mother of four adult children, with six beautiful grandchildren. I am a rescuer of animals. Photographer. Crafter. I have an eye on emergency preparedness. I am a C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team) trainer and a HAM radio operator (General). I can oftentimes be found working on some project around our property. In my spare time, I provide business consulting services.

I am thrilled to be part of this conversation, between the city and the community. I celebrate the willingness and desire of the City of Monett to embark upon this journey. Send me an email, if you feel so inclined. Let’s get started. Together. The future of Monett is at hand. Help us define the next generation of "Pride and Progress".