As you’ve noticed in this week’s edition, we’ve published information about the recent trip to China by Chatham-Kent officials.
There are those who might believe that by doing so, we will have jeopardized 400 jobs which might come to our community.
Michael Burton, Chatham-Kent’s economic development director, made the number public in response to perceived negative comments on another newspaper’s web site.
If we believed providing this particular information at this time would jeopardize those jobs, we wouldn’t have done it. A news story doesn’t outweigh 400 jobs in a community that badly needs them.
The fact is, it didn’t take a Google master to find the information. Anyone interested from a competitive standpoint could easily discover what we did.
While we fully understand the non-disclosure agreements signed by the municipality, they don’t bind us.
We have an obligation to our readers to bring them information we believe they want and need to know.
Balancing the community’s right to know with the potential job repercussions is part of our job.
The fact that the Chinese company was proud enough of the visit to post it online gives some evidence that we aren’t wasting time and money abroad.
Too often the bottom line in economic development is that if what you did worked, it was a great idea; if it didn’t work, it wasn’t. The problem is that if you never try, you never succeed.
This doesn’t mean that officials get carte blanche to travel the world on the taxpayers’ dime.
It does mean that the economic development strategy set up by mayor and council needs to be followed through in an orderly manner.
At the end of this term, mayor Randy Hope will have had eight years to prove his theories on foreign investment trips.
At that point, voters will make the determination as to his success.