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Vision 2020 exceeds $1.25 million goal

Leaders of Vision 2020 &045; the quadrennial fund-raiser to support the budget of the Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority &045; gathered Tuesday afternoon at the Centre for Commerce to announce that the drive had exceeded its goal of $1.25 million

According to Steve Flanagan, manager of the Selma Division of Alagasco and co-chair of the campaign, said the goal had been substantially exceeded, though no figure was given. Some pledges are still out, he added.

Fran Pearce, campaign director, announced that pledges had been received from 140 to 150 &uot;investors&uot; &045; individuals and businesses who will pay out their pledges over the coming four years. The campaign was launched July 16.

Flanagan said that the largest contributors were the City of Selma and Dallas County, though pledge figures were not released.

Flanagan said that this once-every-four-year drive is the sole means of funding the EDA, which is responsible for attracting new business to the Selma area and increasing the level of employment. The EDA is part of the Centre for Commerce, located at 912 Selma Ave., which also includes the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Bureau.

Pearce was praised for her skillful and persistent work in securing pledges. Prior efforts had involved paid outside fund-raising firms. Pearce, who with her husband is owner of Pearce Catfish Farms, took the project on as a volunteer activity. She said that she had thoroughly enjoyed her work in the campaign and praised the staff who had assisted her. She also said that she had encountered some misinformation while making contacts and had done her best to set the record straight regarding concerns expressed.

Wayne Vardaman, CEO of the Centre for Commerce and director of the Economic Development authority, said very few negatives were received from potential donors.

And because of the strong support among individuals and business donors, Vardaman said he believes the usual shrinkage in payout over four years will be less this time around.

These pledges will be collected, he said.

Vardaman said he was also pleased that Pearce was able to bring in a new group of donors for this campaign.

Dr. McNair Ramsey, dean of development at Concordia College and campaign co-chair, said, &uot;We simply cannot say enough good about those who have given to the campaign to make this outcome possible.&uot;

Catesby Jones, president of Regions Bank and chair of the board of the EDA, expressed gratitude to Pearce and all staff at the Centre who assisted in the effort.

Flanagan, who has been involved in a number of community service activities for the past eight years, will start as manager of the Montgomery division of Alagasco on Nov. 1.