Perkins: Selma heading in the right direction with jobs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Selma still has much work to be done, but it’s going in the right direction.

That was Mayor James Perkins Jr.’s message to a meeting of the Selma-Dallas County Veterans Transitional Home Tuesday evening.

As a crowd of about 20 people in the Dallas Academy Building listened, Perkins talked about the need to assist veterans and took questions from those present. Again and again the subject returned to jobs, and that led discussion to the Selma Works program.

“People say they’re on the cutting edge of things,” Perkins said. “Selma’s on the bleeding edge of things.”

The Selma Works program is a joint effort of Wallace Community College Selma President James M. Mitchell, State Sen. Hank Sanders and Perkins. It was created to prepare Selma’s workforce for upcoming jobs, such as those provided by Lear Corporation, a Hyundai supplier, and jobs left open when those currently employed move to new jobs.

Selma had been eligible for the Alabama Works program, but lost it after a change in the state’s administration. “Some people don’t have good employability skills,” Perkins said. “You can either ignore that or you can fix it.”

Selma Works is available at no cost to those who need it. Sanders found funds for it, and WCCS is providing in-kind services.

Participants will take an assessment of their career goals before entering the training program. The length of the training depends on the individual. “I’m hoping that the community will embrace this,” Perkins said. “We want people to go through the program to be better prepared.”

During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, one attendee asked how the CRS Development project would help the unemployed.

CRS Development is a group organized by Washington Redskins player Chris Samuels.

The group plans on building a subdivision composed of townhouses, single family homes, an assisted living facility and a community center.

Perkins referred back to the Selma Works program to answer the question.

“If you think about it, somebody’s got to build those houses. They’ll need dry-wallers, bricklayers, electricians,” he said.

Gaining certification from the program makes the job-hopeful more employable in the eyes of potential employers, he added.

“Are we getting it all done right now?” Perkins asked. “No, we’re not. We still have a long ways to go, but I’m convinced we’re going in the right direction.” People interested in the Selma Works program should call WCCS at 877-9393 to enroll.