Industrial parks the focus of Leadership tour

Published 10:39 pm Saturday, September 14, 2013

By Josh Bergeron

The Selma Times-Journal

Members of Leadership Selma-Dallas County Class XX were provided a tour of each of the county’s industrial parks Thursday, giving them, and others, a look at just how much industry is doing business in Dallas County.

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Leadership is a non-profit leadership development program that takes participants behind-the-scenes of everyday life in Selma. The program includes tours of local industry, the Dallas County Jail and classes on various topics.

The industrial tour allowed participants to view more than 3,000 total jobs at Craig Field, Selfield, South Dallas and Bell Road Industrial Parks.

International Paper Company’s Riverdale Mill is the largest employer in the county, with 733 employees.

Participants also got a rare look inside of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Selma staging area, located in the Selfield Park, during the tour.

“We usually don’t have the opportunity to go inside FEMA’s facility, so that was really special,” Economic Development Authority Executive Director Wayne Vardaman said.

FEMA’s facility is one of two mobile home units in America, site manager Randy Broome said. The other mobile home unit facility is located in Maryland.

The Selma site holds 1,600 mobile home units, ranging from one to three bedrooms.

In a natural disaster situation, the mobile homes are distributed to those in need, but don’t come back to the Selma facility because of transportation costs.

The facility also includes a large warehouse that contains hundreds of meals ready to eat.

Craig Field Airport and Industrial Complex, a 1,790-acre facility, may be the most unique industrial parks in the region because of its history.

It was previously a U.S. Air Force base, but closed in 1977. When occupied by the U.S. Air Force it contained two 8,000-foot runways. Vardaman said the runways are large enough to accommodate a Boeing 747, but only one runway is currently active.

Though he said Dallas County is always looking to draw-in more businesses, Vardaman said he is satisfied with industry in the county.

“If you look at a county of our size in this area, we have an above-average amount of industry and that’s something we are proud of,” Vardaman said.

Class XX’s 9-month course, began with Thursday’s tour. The class meets once each month, focusing on a different aspect of the community.