Florida’s Great Northwest Takes Home Win for “Go Beyond Our Beaches” Campaign at Florida Economic Development Conference.

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (October 14, 2021) – The Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC) announced the creation of the Melissa Medley Creativity Award, a memorial recognition established to honor the passion, talent, and inspiration Melissa displayed in the fields of marketing and economic development. FEDC leaders established the annual award to drive innovation and creativity in marketing by Florida economic development organizations to attract business and investment throughout the state.

Melissa began her professional career as the director of marketing for the Hattiesburg Clinic in 1986. She then founded her own firm, Success Marketing, in 1988 helping numerous companies succeed. At that time, she became affiliated with Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI) serving as regional vice-president, director of affiliate member services, and senior vice-president of marketing research. In 1998, she received the Lifetime Service Award from SMEI’s Hattiesburg affiliate.

In 2000, she received the Jack Criswell CSE Award for Outstanding Volunteerism, SMEI’s highest membership recognition. Melissa served as chair of SMEI from 2004-2005. She served as Chair of the SMEI Certification Governing Board from 2005-2010. 

Melissa served as chief marketing officer at the Mississippi Development Authority under Governor Haley Barbour and then at Enterprise Florida under Governor Rick Scott. At EFI, recognizing the state’s many assets she developed Florida’s first ever business brand. In 2015, Melissa joined with Gray Swoope and Griff Salmon to launch VisionFirst Advisors. At VisionFirst Advisors Melissa served principal as well as the director of the Aerospace Alliance where she promoted regional aerospace and aviation assets to grow the industry across the four-state region.

“Melissa was known for her creativity and passion for storytelling,” said Gray Swoope. “Her relationships with local economic developers fed her creativity, and we are thrilled that this award continues her legacy. Melissa would be truly honored by this award and the level of excellence displayed by each of the entries.”

Florida’s Great Northwest is the recipient of the first annual Melissa Medley Creativity Award for their Go Beyond Our Beaches organic marketing and public relations campaign. Go BeyondOur Beaches features six craft breweries from the 12-county region in multi-faceted outreach to site location consultants and social media, including promotion of the one-of-a-kind Triumph Gulf Coast incentive fund unique to this region.

Jennifer Taylor, FEDC Board Chair, stated, “Marketing is at the heart of what economic development organizations do every day. This campaign embodies the spirit of Melissa Medley in the unique packaging and gifting of NW Florida craft beer to enjoy while learning about the many competitive assets of the region. I applaud Florida’s Great Northwest for the broad reach of this campaign.”