‘If you can dream it…’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 10, 2003

Selma property owners and business owners gathered at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center Tuesday to learn about several government programs and funding intended to help small companies succeed in the Black Belt.

About 65 people attended the one-day workshop, co-sponsored by the Selma Office of Planning and Development and the Downtown Selma Association.

Participants learned not only how to get government loans and tax incentives but also the best ways to create a small business from scratch.

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Speaker Bea Forniss of the Delta Regional Authority told the crowd that funding for her agency might be modest, but said she felt confident the federal-state partnership could help improve growth for the area.

Forniss said the DRA helps 240 counties in eight states obtain federal and state programs focused on business development, transportation improvements and job training services.

Under federal law, 75 percent of the funds goes towards distressed counties and areas of poverty. Federal law also designates a certain percentage be set aside for transportation and basic infrastructure improvements.

The last speaker of the workshop was David Barley of the Alabama Renewal Communities Program.

Barley discussed how the Renewal Communities Program provides federal tax incentives for businesses located or expanding into

economically distressed areas.

He said the program is designed not only to encourage new businesses but also to keep existing ones from relocating.

Elizabeth Driggers, executive director of the Office of Planning and Development, said she felt the workshop was a success.