Cindy Fisher SELMA SUN
Behind the Deal: How Dallas County scored international aviation academy Aeropro 
January 31, 2023
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  • Resicum International has been in discussions to bring their subsidiary Aeropro to Craig Field for four years, but Craig’s new control tower, well-maintained hangar and Air Force base-sized runway sealed the deal, Resicum COO Rob Baird said. 

    “Being in Selma has been at the center of our plans,” Baird said. 

    Aeropro’s parent company, Resicum, is headquartered in Virginia. Aeropro operates out of the Gulf Shores airport, but Baird said it is too busy and too small for the growth they planned. 

    Selma is an ideal geographic location, being at the center of America, Baird said. And the hangars are excellent, he said. He said he toured hangers at airports across the Southeast and found the ones at Craig Field were the largest and were almost move-in ready. 

    “Craig airfield has done a really good job maintaining this hangar,” Baird said. “The runway is amazing. The town itself is amazing. I looked at every hanger from Florida to Texas to Kentucky. (No airport) in the South had anything like these hangars.” 

    Craig Field Airport and Industrial Park Executive Director Jim Corrigan said the hangar was built in the 1960s. Craig Field Industrial Board invested thousands of dollars into renovating it in 2010 and has maintained it well for other leasers over the years, so it was ready when a company like Aeropro came along. 

    Resicum has already made investments into the building, including updating the bathrooms and converting supply closets into classrooms.

    The Aeropro deal had a long flight path. The Virginia-based company said they started talking to  Dallas County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Wayne Vardaman four years ago as they were looking to expand their aviation academy for pilots and maintenance crew to a larger airport but in a regionally good spot. 

    Vardaman said the discussion became more focused in the last 18 months. It was support from Gov. Kay Ivey and Department of Commerce Director Greg Canfield that brought it in for a landing. Vardaman said he has tried to make deals to bring businesses in Craig for years, but previous state leaders were not helpful with incentives. The deal with Aeropro and Advance ATC wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the support of Ivey and Canfield, he said. 

    Vardaman said the EDA worked 2.5 years to get Advanced ATC to Craig, which was the result of a long relationship Vardaman had with Advanced COO Dan Cunningham. Cunningham wanted to use Craig Field for a project years ago to train Kuwaiti military. That deal crashed and burned, but the relationship between Vardaman and Cunningham continued. 

    ATC kept looking at Craig until the air traffic control tower and accompanying training academy was announced last summer, with the official opening in January.