Talk about a teachable moment.
It looks like Chatham County government wants it both ways when it comes to defining what it means to be a local.
On the one hand, it’s a safe bet that Chatham officials look upon residents of Bryan and Effingham counties as “local” when it comes to their spending habits and their capabilities as a labor force. Both generate substantial amounts of tax revenue in Chatham County through the production and the consumption of goods and services.
Yet it seems Chatham County officials don’t want Bryan and Effingham residents to be considered “local” when it comes to hiring for government funded projects.
The issue made headlines Monday with news that Chatham officials are critical of the makeup of the workforce employed by contractors working on the expansion of the Chatham County detention center.
According to the story in Monday’s Savannah Morning News, of the 1,051 workers involved in the project, more than half are from outside the county – and most of those are from Bryan and Effingham counties.
Contractors involved in the project told the Morning News that they interpreted local to include Bryan and Effingham, but county officials say that’s not the case. They want more Chatham county residents hired, despite an apparent lack of enough qualified workers to fill the job.
In fairness, it’s not exactly wrong of Chatham officials to try and look out for Chatham residents. But it does send an interesting message to the thousands of Bryan and Effingham countians who routinely do business in Chatham County.
Usually, those who are such an important part of a community’s survival would be better appreciated.
In that regard, perhaps Chatham officials should change the welcome signs on Highways 17 and 21 to say this: Welcome to Chatham County. We’ll take your money, but leave the jobs to us.