Perkins upbeat after trip to Korea

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 27, 2002

That’s Mayor James Perkins Jr.’s assessment of the odds that Selma can land a major so-called tier one supplier for the $1 billion Hyundai automotive assembly plant being built in nearby Hope Hull.

Perkins just returned from a grueling nine-day &uot;marketing trip&uot; to South Korea that included 5 a.m. wake-up calls, countless shuttle trips by bus, train and plane, and nearly two dozen formal presentations intended to persuade prospective suppliers that Selma offers the best location in which to do business.

Selma was one of four Alabama cities represented on the trip, the others being Prattville, Opelika and Montgomery. The trip was sponsored by the Alabama Development Office, although each delegation picked up the tab for its own expenses. Unlike the other cities, Perkins made the trip alone.

Perkins said he toured seven tier one suppliers and made formal presentations to a total of 20 suppliers in the course of the trip.

Asked to describe what the suppliers were looking for in a host location, Perkins answered, &uot;First off, they’re looking for a community that wants the opportunity. They’re also looking for the kind of incentives that would help make their business successful. If we don’t get out and market ourselves, we don’t stand a very good chance.&uot;

Although all the presentations contain similar data – population figures, tax rates, employment estimates, cost of housing, number of schoos, etc. – in their jockeying for every available advantage, each city jealously guards the precise nature and details of its presentation.

He did venture the opinion that Selma’s presentation outclassed the competition. He also noted that a great deal of resources go into the development of the presentations. He declined to say specifically what Selma’s presentation includes, lest he give away any trade secrets.

This was Perkins’ first trip to Asia, and he termed South Korea &uot;an exciting nation with a fascinating culture.&uot;

He also described South Korea as being very technologically advanced. &uot;You saw people everywhere walking around with cell phones, taking pictures, sending e-mail. We saw a lot of just-in-time processes. I learned a lot,&uot; he said.