Since Denice Seals became president and CEO of the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce in June 2008, a parade of international businesses have come to town.
Those include Nippon Shokken USA Inc., Norwegian conglomerate TOMRA Sorting Solutions, Bayer CropScience and Japanese rice bun producer Shinmei Co. Ltd.
Seals is quick to point out that West Sacramento’s growth as a food and agriculture business hub has been a team effort, with city officials and regional development and business leaders leading the charge.
Colleagues say Seals was a key player, which is why she will be missed when she retires from the chamber next week.
“We’ve grown the chamber, and we’ve done it with integrity,” she said during a phone interview this week. “The work we do every day matters. It’s important. We’ve worked with and had a partnership with the city. That makes my heart the happiest, a productive relationship with the city of West Sacramento.”
Chamber and city officials agree, noting that Seals helped foster an idyllic relationship between the two entities, especially in terms of pursuing business growth.
“She’s been a terrific partner for the City Council and our staff,” said Martin Tuttle, West Sacramento’s city manager. “She’s promoted a business-friendly environment, particularly in the area of food and agriculture. She has a great personality that attracts people from different parts of the community.”
Tuttle added that Seals’ efforts not only benefited large companies, but also small businesses and startups.
“She’s developed a great legacy,” said Jeb Burton, chamber board chairman and managing principal of The Burton Law Firm, which has offices in Sacramento and Roseville. “The chamber works closely with the city on business retention and business growth.
“We see each other as resources, and really, advocates for each other’s organizations.”
Chris White, a vice chairwoman of the chamber board, said Seals has been consistent throughout: “It’s always been, ‘What can we do to get this done?’ ”
Seals said she “works most effectively when I’m advocating.”
She said that’s part of the reason she left a 30-year career in the health care industry to take over the West Sacramento chamber’s top executive posts eight years ago: “I loved the people I worked with in health care, but it was in transition back then. It had become very adversarial.”
Seals, 62, said retirement will not alter her continued efforts teaching yoga. Other immediate plans: getting a puppy.
Last week, the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce board of directors named Verna Sulpizio as its new president and CEO. She most recently served as the executive director of the Florin Road Partnership.
Of that appointment, Seals said, “I’m as excited as anyone else. That woman is going to take this chamber to the next level.”