A few years ago there was a popular television show called “Deal or no deal” on NBC.
It produced a couple of millionaire contestants, sold millions in advertising, spawned online games and kept a cast and crew employed during the show’s four year run.
Chatham-Kent’s version has been running since Randy Hope was elected mayor in 2006 when he famously headed off to Korea to land a big deal even before he’d been formally sworn in.
Since then we’ve purchased a railroad, made foreign investment the number one priority of our economic development director and other staff members, opened an office in China, flown the Chinese flag at city hall, made lots of friends…
But made a deal? No.
The latest “here’s your sign” moment came in November when a delegation led by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne went to China and returned with more than $2 billion in “trade agreements” which aren’t exactly investments but look good on paper.
Some of those were even in the agricultural sector, something we’re kind of good at here.
With Chatham-Kent having a longstanding overseas presence, there must have been something for us, right?
So did we make a deal? No.
That isn’t to say there isn’t potential in China – just look at St. Clair College, which is having growing success with campuses abroad.
Local private firms are dealing successfully in China but the idea that the Chinese are going to drop a major plant in our laps is just fantasy.
It’s past the time for us to believe one word the mayor says about Chinese investment (at least in the sense of what he’s pursuing).
Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us.
Fool us for a decade? Shame on everyone including council that so far has lacked the gumption to stand up to his worship.
One of two things is happening with Chatham-Kent in China. Either we can’t make a deal or there is no deal to be made.
It’s the start of a new year. Let’s take the millions we’ve spent chasing the rainbow and put the money into helping the local businesses we have keep their doors open.
Come home Randy. There’s lots to be done here, trust us.