Access road played key role in decision

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2003

With so many areas in Alabama vying for a Hyundai supplier, some ask the question, &uot;Why did Lear Corporation choose Selma?&uot;

Wayne Vardaman has the answer.

Vardaman, president and CEO of the Selma & Dallas County Centre for Commerce, listed a number of reasons why companies such as Lear would choose Selma &045; including its strategic location, a new industrial access road and prepared sites at two industrial parks.

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Only 42.1 miles stand between the Montgomery Hyundai plant and the site at Craig Field Industrial park. That’s only about 40 minutes via U.S. Highway 80 East.

The industrial park also has buildings ranging in size from 35,000 to 100,000 square feet. Vardaman said that space could be used for almost anything, including warehouses, offices and work areas.

Speaking of the local work force, Vardaman said Lear will have the opportunity to employ people at competitive prices. Because of double-digit unemployment, Selma and Dallas County have a ready pool of people interested in working who may be more likely to keep any job they get because of its value, he added.

George Alford, business development specialist with South Dallas Industrial Park, pointed to a rail spur running through his park as another reason industry would want to locate in Dallas County. The spur, originally owned by CSX, was left intact when the company left the area. A grant from the federal Economic Development Administration enabled its completion.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. said Alabama’s Mercedes plant played a role in bringing more automotive industry to the state. &uot;When Mercedes came here,&uot; Perkins said, &uot;other automotive companies had to look at Alabama and ask, ‘Why did Mercedes come here?’&uot;

Shortly after Mercedes arrived in the state, Honda and Toyota also built automotive manufacturing plants in Alabama. Last year, Hyundai Motor Co. announced it would build a $1 billion plant in Hope Hull, just south of Montgomery.

Lear’s arrival has the potential to change the world’s perception of Selma, Perkins said.