Announcement a victory for Team Selma

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2003

As a crowd of 65 or so looked on Friday, the members of a slightly mysterious group of people known as Team Selma officially announced Lear Corporation’s decision to locate here.

One by one, state Sen. Hank Sanders, Mayor James Perkins Jr. and Wayne Vardaman, among others, took their place behind the podium at the Centre for Commerce as applause rang out.

But just who &045; or what &045; is Team Selma?

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Team Selma was instrumental in bringing Lear to Craig Field Industrial Park. Team members created the proposals and Powerpoint presentations in addition to showing industry representatives potential building sites.

Team Selma members include Dallas County Probate Judge Johnny Jones, Craig Airport Authority Chairman John Pilcher, Craig Field Industrial Park Executive Director Menzo Driskell, South Dallas Industrial Park business development specialist George Alford, Sanders, Perkins and Vardaman.

Perkins is aggressive and assertive with economic development, Vardaman said, and willing to do whatever it takes to bring industry to the area.

Pilcher, a local attorney, brings the legal angle to the table when dealing with industry.

Vardaman has 30 years of experience with industry. He said he knows what it’s like to represent a company and be looking for a business site.

Jones brings 30 years of experience with economic development to the team. &uot;He’s seen about everything you can see,&uot; Vardaman said.

Alford also has 30 years of experience with economic development and possesses knowledge ranging from rural development to recruiting industry.

As executive director of Craig Field, Driskell is landlord of a majority of the county’s most desirable industrial sites.

Sanders is a state senator and is instrumental in obtaining funding.

Together, team members pool their talents to ensure the community is properly positioned to bring industry in. The task is a formidable one.

For the members of Team Selma, the process of recruiting industry most often begins when the Alabama Development Office contacts Vardaman. A company usually contacts the ADO before making contact with local officials. ADO employees let Vardaman know what the company is looking for, which allows Team Selma the chance to prepare a presentation.

Sometimes, representatives keep their company’s identity a secret even after the initial onsite inspections. Secrecy, it seems, pervades the entire industrial recruitment process. One ill-timed leak, Vardaman insisted, could sink intricate negotiations that have been in the works for months.

It is not unusual for a deal to take a year to complete from start to finish.

If a company expresses interest, there follows a series of progressively more specific questions &045; including questions about area schools and cultural and recreational offerings. That’s where the individual members of Team Selma shine.