The June 16 guest column "Eliminate these Programs and Balance the Budget," by Scott Hodge of the Heritage Foundation, clearly misrepresents the facts about the Economic Development Administration. As an economic development professional, I have worked with a great number of federal programs and I can confidently state that the EDA plays an invaluable role in our local economic development efforts.
As a federal agency, the EDA provides targeted and results-oriented assistance that empowers economically distressed communities to design and implement local strategies to deal with long-term economic needs....
In the six counties of the Lower Savannah Region, it has played a major role in providing financial assistance totaling nearly $39 million to local governments seeking to create and retain jobs. During the past seven years in Aiken County alone, EDA has provided $1.824 million, including $345,000 for infrastructure improvements at the Savannah River Research Campus and $1.25 million for the Cooperative Research Building. In addition, EDA is administering $4.5 million provided through the Department of Energy for a sewer line extension to the Sage Mill Industrial Park. Obviously, industries such as SKF cannot locate in Sage Mill or any other industrial park without adequate wastewater disposal.
Mr. Hodge is free to write and make statements which sells his books; however, I seriously doubt that he has ever discussed his views with any of the small, rural communities across this nation which have successfully attracted industry and jobs as a direct result of EDA assistance.
Eric P. Thompson, Aiken
(Editor's note: The writer is executive director of Lower Savannah Council of Governments.)