Jobs now and in the future

Published 7:02pm Monday, March 25, 2013

By Wayne Vardaman

Executive Director of the Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority.

Trained workers should have no trouble finding jobs in Dallas County.

At a recent Economic Development Authority board meeting, two industries reported job openings.

Jim Bruce, Riverdale Mill manager, reported that in the last two years, International Paper filled 234 job openings. In the upcoming five years, they expect to hire an additional 230 people with 50 jobs expected to be filled this year.

Due to quick promotion of workers, IP added theory training to on-the-job training. Workers not only learn what to do on the job, but are also taught the “why” behind what they do.

Gerald Worthington, president of Bush Hog, stated that Bush Hog is hiring welders and machine operators. Ten new workers were hired last month, and they are currently seeking 10 more experienced workers.

In addition, Globe Metallurgical is advertising for two salary positions; shipping clerk and storeroom clerk. These positions offer a benefit package, salary commensurate with qualifications and experience. Qualified applicants can mail to HR Manager, Globe Metallurgical, 2401 Old Montgomery Highway, Selma, AL 36703 or fax their resume to (334) 874-2086.

At the invitation of Gov. Robert Bentley, I attended the announcement on the capitol steps of the New & Expanding Industry Announcements report for 2012 and the state’s new website “Made in Alabama.”

I am very pleased Dallas County ranked high in the report with two new industry announcements last year. This put Dallas County in the top 40 percent for new jobs created in the entire state.

Eovations and Zilkha Biomass Energy created 150 new jobs and HL-A and Rayco Industrial expanded by 46 jobs for a grand total of 196 news jobs in Dallas County for 2012. The bulk of these jobs will be filled this year and the beginning of next year.

With the recent announcement that ALGIX will locate in Dallas County, we actually announced three new industries in a 12-month period.

ALGIX is a bio-resin production facility for aquatic biomass processing and compounding. The company will convert algae from local catfish ponds into bioplastic resin for packaging, agricultural, horticultural and industrial applications. ALGIX plans to employ 40 people when in full operation.

A trained workforce is extremely important. I chair the Workforce Development Committee for our region. This committee recommends training grants to the state committee for final approval. We recently recommended grant applications for Bush Hog, HL-A and International Paper.

In addition, I chair the Economic Development Association of Alabama Rural Committee. This committee is working hard to see that rural areas receive the same attention from the state as metropolitan areas.

The entire state was divided into regions in order to determine the needs and wants across the state. Alabama is a rural state with 52 out of 67 counties regarded as rural.

The EDA is also assisting Wallace Community College Selma to get an A&P Mechanics curriculum.

I visited the school at Enterprise Community College along with WCCS president Dr. James Mitchell earlier this year. Dr. Mitchell and his staff are working to bring this to fruition. This training program is essential as we seek to attract aviation companies to Craig Field.

The EDA is attempting to improve communications among local employers. I recently asked Connie Messer to spearhead the revival of a Human Resources group in Dallas County.

To conclude, our problem in Selma and Dallas County is not a lack of jobs, but a lack of skills to fit the available jobs. We will be working through Team Selma to address this disconnect.

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