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Commerce celebrated at annual dinner

The Selma & Dallas County Centre for Commerce held its annual meeting at the St. James Hotel Thursday night.

The evening was meant to encourage collaboration on economic issues. Phil Hardwick of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University spoke to community leaders about his impression of Selma.

“I learned there are only two kinds of people in the world,” Hardwick said. “Those that live in Selma, and those that want to live in Selma.”

Hardwick, who writes mystery novels, said he learned many things about Selma during his visit researching for a book. Hardwick discovered a burgeoning arts scene and a city that embraces its history, even if it might not always be pretty.

“A town is what you make it,” Hardwick said. “I think now’s the time to think about fundamentals.”

Hardwick said it is easy to get distracted by small problems and forget about the big issue – the city’s well being. He said the people in the room and people he met on the street are more than willing to work on problems the city faces, such as losing industry. Hardwick cautioned everyone to always look at both sides of an issue.

“Your knowledge about an issue is not complete until you understand why a person feels the way they do,” Hardwick said.

Centre for Commerce Chairman Allen Reeves said economic development is not an easy or quick process, particularly in the current economic climate. However, Reeves assured everyone in attendance that the Centre for Commerce is determined to bring industry and development to Selma.

“Unfortunately, it looks like 2009 is going to be a tough year, but we have to work for the future,” Reeves said. “We will push Selma ahead.”

Hardwick ended his speech with a story about a plane crash. In the story, the pilots of the plane became distracted by malfunctioning green lights and crashed, killing many people on board. Hardwick said growth is impossible if Selma becomes distracted by small problems and its people do not work together.

“Don’t forget to fly Selma, Ala.,” Hardwick said. “Don’t get distracted by little green lights.”