Jasper County's attitude toward the Lowcountry Economic Alliance grows more puzzling.
The county pulled out of the two-county group in May, citing its slow pace in getting reorganized, and joined a similar, established five-county organization. So far, so good.
But after pulling out, it objected to the alliance appointing new board members and lobbied against the group getting state funding aimed at regional alliances.
We agree the alliance probably shouldn't get the funding when it's down to one county and doesn't fit the "regional" moniker. But why does Jasper County care enough to lobby against it? Did it result in more money coming to the Southern Carolina Alliance or just hurt the Lowcountry Economic Alliance?
So instead of $671,000 in potential matching funds, the state awarded the Lowcountry Economic Alliance $87,500.
State Sen. Tom Davis' assessment of Jasper County efforts to knock down the funding is telling. Davis said the committee hammering out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget was influenced by Jasper County legislators' criticizing the Lowcountry Economic Alliance's support for the Savannah port dredging project. He also points out that Jasper County previously had supported the dredging project.
"My inference is that Jasper County reversed its position to attain a tactical advantage in the economic alliance funding negotiations (with Jasper County officials knowing full well that many legislators hate the idea of improvements to the Savannah port)," he wrote in a statement.
Now Jasper County officials say they want all mention of their county stripped from the alliance's new website. They say it confuses business prospects.
We suspect prospects of any note are smart enough to know whom they need to talk to.
The Lowcountry Economic Alliance has refused, and they're right to do so. Why not include information about Jasper County on its website? We doubt Jasper County hides its proximity to well-heeled Beaufort County when it's courting company executives. You don't get that beautiful beachfront lifestyle in Jasper County.
As long as the Lowcountry Economic Alliance doesn't purport to represent Jasper County in an official capacity, why not welcome the help?
Jasper County should be careful not to cut off its nose to spite its face.
Surely, economic development in this area can be done in an inclusive way even outside a formal arrangement. Jasper County should welcome Beaufort County-based efforts, as long as they're fair and accurate.