Posted March 10, 2007 02:15 pm - Updated March 10, 2007 02:22 pm

Richmond County's economic success will benefit entire region

If you listen carefully, you can still hear the echoes from Richmond County officials and business leaders slapping each other's backs. And why shouldn't they celebrate? Within a span of six months, they have lured call center facilities from not one, but two Fortune 500 companies: T-Mobile (you know who they are) and Automatic Data Processing, a business services outsourcing firm (ask your company CFO; he's heard of them). They certainly deserve attaboys, not just for attracting tens of millions of dollars to the county, but for creating at least 1,750 jobs for residents of the Augusta-Aiken metro area. That's right, I said METRO AREA. What? Did you think that only Richmond County residents would be offered jobs at these facilities? It's easy to lose sight of the fact -- especially in the Augusta-Aiken area -- that commerce has little regard for municipal, county and state lines. That's partly because officials tend to downplay the regional significance of the new businesses they attract. After all, they don't get points for creating a job in someone else's county. What they are judged by, and what allows them to keep their jobs, is what they can claim as a victory inside the boundaries of their political subdivision. It's short-sighted way thinking, but that's how it sometimes goes when you collect a guv'ment paycheck. Fortunately, the recent announcements in Richmond County were devoid of any "us vs. them" political overtones, at least publicly. Maybe it's a sign Richmond County politicos are moving past that parochial way of thinking. Hopefully it will catch on with neighboring officials as well. The private sector, for the most part, could care less where their customers reside. They understand that people from Columbia County drive to Richmond County to work at the Medical College of Georgia and University Hospital. They understand that people from Richmond County drive to Columbia County to work at Club Car and John Deere. They understand that people from Richmond and Columbia counties drive to Aiken County to work at Savannah River Site and the Bridgestone/Firestone plant. And they understand that people from all of the above counties drive to Burke County to work at Plant Vogtle. Drive through the employee parking lot of any major company in the area and you'll understand too. So the next time there's a news conference and a county official says "this new development is a win for (insert your county here)," just smile, nod and know that -- as corny as it sounds -- everybody is a winner. And next time you see a Richmond County official, slap em' on the back for creating jobs in their county, and others.