Whirlwind ends with announcement

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 15, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

In economic development terms, it was a whirlwind courtship.

Just three or four months ago, Centre For Commerce President Wayne Vardaman fielded a call from Hanil E-Hwa’s David Kim.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Working at a breakneck pace in economic development terms – because Hanil E-Hwa is scheduled to be online by October – Selma and Dallas County’s economic leaders rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

“It was down between us and another city,” Vardaman said. “We just worked harder and everything worked out perfect.”

Vardaman was effusive in his praise for Team Selma, local governments, his staff and individuals who stepped in like Attorney Alan Reeves and George and Kathy Needham.

“Things just worked for us,” he said. “It’s been the shortest project but it’s been far more intense.”

Hanil E-Hwa Company Ltd. President and CEO Dr. J.K. Koo said it wasn’t only the Americans under pressure.

“The process of locating our first U.S. facility has been lengthy and intense,” he said at Friday’s press conference.

In the end, Vardaman said Selma and Dallas County’s willingness to roll with the punches and focus on speed made a huge difference.

‘They asked us to do something and we did it (immediately),” Vardaman said. “We needed to outwork the other people, expect the unexpected and had a game plan for it.”

“That made a big difference for us,” Hanil E-Wha’s David Kim said. “(Plus) Good location, great people.”

Still, in the world of economic development, not everyone plays nicely.

Vardaman said Hanil E-Wha officials came in with an open mind and the ability to not believe all the negatives being tossed out by competitors.

“Economic development is very competitive,” Vardaman said.

Kim said Hanil E-Wha officials did not come into town with any preconceived notions.

“We kept our ears closed,” he said.

“They knew it was a very important historical city,” Vardaman said. “(They) looked at it from a business standpoint. It comes down to what makes the best business sense.”

In the end, Dallas County made the best business sense.

“Mainly, they had a great building,” Kim said. “Selma has been very willing to work with us.”