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Full Agenda With his involvement on numerous boards and his long career, Marvin Selter is a familiar face to Valley businesspeople, and after five years as chairman of the Valley Economic Development Center, he leaves with a sense of accomplishment and plans to take on new challenges By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter Marvin Selter is the epitome of a busy man just reference the sheet that lists his various board positions, guest lectures and published articles. It’s all there, in black and white. When Selter steps down from his position of chairman of the board of the Valley Economic Development Center this month, he’ll still have plenty of things to do. For instance, as member of the Business Tax Advisory Committee, he will have an opportunity to help the City of Los Angeles implement long-overdue business tax reform. Then, he will also continue to help lead the L.A.-based biotech firm Cytrx Corp., where he is a board member. Last week, fellow board members elected Selter vice chairman of the board. Selter’s career in business spans more than four decades. After he arrived in California in 1963 from the East Coast, he pioneered the “employee leasing” business, and separately, established the first Internet-based medical insurance billing system. Both proved to be successful, and grew into large industries. After decades in business, Selter stepped into civic duty, serving on numerous boards, including a stint as chairman of the board of the influential Valley Industry and Commerce Association in the mid-1980s and as chairman of the board of California State University Northridge’s San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center. Perhaps his biggest test came in the late 1990s when, as a board member of the VEDC, he guided the organization through a conflict-of-interest scandal. The president of VEDC at that time, John Rooney, was accused of illegally accepting consulting fees. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing by VEDC and city audits, but both Rooney and David Honda, chairman of the board, resigned amid pressure from other board members. Selter implemented changes to prevent future problems by forming an advisory board and instituting other policies. Selter recently sat down to talk about his years leading the VEDC and his many other responsibilities. Question: Can you talk about your involvement with the VEDC and describe what progress the organization has made? Answer: I was elected to the board seven years ago and within the next two years there was a disagreement between the chairman and the president of the VEDC. As a result there was complete upheaval. Some of the board members that remained came to me to ask if I would become the chairman of the board and overcome the problem and revitalize the VEDC. Because of my business and civic background, I reluctantly agreed and I was elected as chairman of the board. We sat down with 15 or 18 members of the board and the first thing I did was talk to Roberto (Barragan, VEDC president). I was very fortunate to have Roberto there and the cadre in the VEDC which is basically still there after seven years. The first thing we did was reconstitute the board and set up the advisory board. They were basically civic and business leaders over the hill and in the Valley. The basic board began with just Valley people and now we have city people for diversity and advice. I set up a policy where the board set policy and management implemented policy, reporting to the board their policy and recommendations. We set up a strong liaison system between the boards, so neither operated in a vacuum by itself. It still continues. We also set up objectives for what we want VEDC to do especially because five years ago we had a downturn and that was rather serious and we felt it was important that we expand our roles in entrepreneurial training in workforce training. We also expanded our loan programs going from microloans to the SBA. Q: Were there any other changes you implemented at VEDC? A: We modernized the workforce without any terminations we made it much more efficient. We changed our basic systems. We also moved from cramped and unwieldy premises to the new building where we have about a one-third ownership. It was instrumental in putting together VICA and other Valley organizations together. When the State of California decided to get rid of its Small Business Development Center we were instrumental in getting the SBA to recognize CSUN as a lead center, and CSUN has done a magnificent job. We got local, state and federal recognition for our loan programs, our entrepreneurial training programs and welfare to work. We were successful in getting a bank in Pacoima and we’re on the threshold of getting a credit union established in Pacoima. Q: Can you talk about your involvement with the Business Tax Advisory Committee? A: I was appointed to BTAC by (former Councilman) Joel Wachs five years ago. When Wendy Greuel was appointed to the City Council, she kept my appointment. I’ve been on BTAC since its inception and my subcommittee is tax reformation. I believe the MBIA (MBIA MuniServices Co. was hired by the city of L.A. to propose changes for business tax reform) report was the perfect way to go for business tax. It contained two very important components including square footage, making the landlord a fiduciary and grabbing all of the outside vendors. The original proposal was a five percent reduction over five years, which meant at the end of five years you had a 25 percent of reduction of business taxes. Q: How far do you think BTAC has come along and will it finally see business tax reform through? A: BTAC has been extended six months and our main objective now is to see the changes put through. We now have a receptive city council and receptive mayor, and it makes sense. We’re now at a crossroads either we’re going to change the way we do business taxes in the city or we’re going to be the same old story. It’s time to bite the bullet. Q: What was your involvement with the Valley secession movement? A: I was probably one of the founders of what is now known as ValleyVOTE. The city was not receptive to the Valley at all, the Valley had no real representation. And so we were a stepchild that fed the kitty but didn’t get the equal amount of services. Things changed when Mayor Riordan came in and began realizing what the Valley really was. I knew that the Valley could be self-sufficient. But I came to the realization that we would be in competition with L.A. And to me it made more sense to have one large city working together and not compete, and rather work together. I think that basically is what we’re seeing. And the Valley started seeing more of a fair share of revenue and the charter changed. Q: Your business card says you’re president of CMS Inc., which stands for Consultants to Management. What do you do in that capacity? A: Let me go back. In 1972, I created what was known then as “employee leasing.” How employee leasing was unique is we became the sole employer of employees that were leased to clients. We were responsible for recruiting, payment of wages, benefits and identifying any legal liability. Also we established a retirement plan. Two years later it evolved into a defined contribution pension plan. Q: What other business ventures were you involved in? A: I was involved in broad-based management consulting, medical management consulting and medical computerized billing. In fact, my company was the first company to go online with computerized insurance billing with Medicare and MediCal. That was back in the 1970s. That grew and I sold the computer company. Our employee leasing company I grew to 32 states and thousands of employees. It was sold in 1996 to Goldman Sachs through one of their subsidiaries. Since that time, I’ve been involved in a lot of civic stuff. I spent most of my time on a number of university boards. Q: It seems you’ve accomplished so much in your career. What is there left to do? A: I would like to see that municipal elections coincide with state and federal elections. I’d like to work on that. The second thing I would like to see as a member of the Small Business Board is to reach back to international trade, export of our services and goods to get rid of our trade deficit. L.A. is the most important city on the West Coast but I think it can and should be the crown jewel of this country. We have the ports to accommodate that, we have the entrepreneurship to do this, we are one of the leaders in marketing and public relations. I want to give back to the community, when I came here in 1963 I didn’t know anyone. There are a lot of people along the way I have to thank. SNAPSHOT: Marvin R. Selter Title: Chairman of the Board, Valley Economic Development Center Born: Nov. 2, 1927 Education: Rutgers University, 1958, accounting and business administration major Career Turning Point: Arriving to California from the East Coast in 1963 Personal: Married, three children and six grandchildren Most Admired People: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

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