Originally created 08/12/97

Put away `white flag'

Economic developers in our two-state area usually know what's going on around the region, but Augusta officials were completely surprised to learn last week that tiremaker Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., appears to be on the verge of locating a new $400 million plant in Aiken, bringing with it at least 800 jobs.

Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce acting president Thomas Kaleta diplomatically -- and correctly -- pointed out that if the deal goes through, all those new jobs in Aiken "will have a positive effect on the entire economy. Some people from Augusta and Columbia County will also be working at that facility."

Then Kaleta also commented, by way of explaining why Richmond and Columbia counties were never in the running, that "As a general rule, South Carolina will offer some incentives we can't ... That's a simple fact."

This sounds to us, and we imagine to many others, like Kaleta is waving a white flag when it comes to competing against the Palmetto State for new business and industry. That sentiment certainly isn't shared by the Georgia Department of Industry and Trade -- or the governor of this state.

After all, a second potential site for the plant which Bridgestone still hasn't ruled out is in Jackson County, northeast of Atlanta. If that Georgia county can be competitive, why not Richmond or Columbia?

Georgians should congratulate Aiken if the industrial plum goes there, but let's put the white flag away.


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