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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Economic Development: None of Our Business?

A nice piece from Arkansas on an endlessly controversial practice:

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is an agency that thrives on secrecy, so much so that big-name projects' real names aren't uttered until they're a done deal.

A Denmark windmill blade manufacturer's Little Rock plant was known around the office as "Project Zephyrus." When Hewlett-Packard Co. mulled a move to Conway for a new facility, proposals detailing the millions offered in state incentives simply referred to HP as "Project Sigma."

The secrecy, state officials say, is necessary to keep Arkansas in the hunt for major business projects. No company will come to the state if they fear that details of their internal operations will be splashed on the front pages of newspapers or lead the nightly local newscast.

Democracy and a free press, however, thrive on openness. So it's not anything new for the state's economic development arm and reporters to clash over access to information.

That rift appeared again in June as word leaked out of HP's decision to open a facility that will eventually employ 1,200 people in Conway. ArkansasBusiness.com was the first to report that HP was coming to Arkansas -- four days before the official news conference.

When the news got out, HP spokesmen and government officials from Gov. Mike Beebe on down declined on-the-record comment for the rest of the week.

Arkansas Economic Development Director Maria Haley appeared to criticize media for reporting on the development before it was announced, calling the leaks "extremely irresponsible."

More here.

1 comment:

pooja said...

Economic Development: None of Our Business?...
as far your business can affect the economic development..it is surely your business :)