Cooperation pays off

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On Tuesday morning, the room was filled with many whom you would expect for an economic development announcement in Franklin, including the mayor, city manager, council members and economic development staff. But it was those in attendance that you normally wouldn’t imagine who made the event not only memorable, but also indicative of why this community continues to move in a positive direction.

United States Congressman Randy Forbes and Virginia Delegate Rick Morris, both of whom have been staunch supporters of our region since taking office, certainly were a welcome addition to the festivities and increased the overall profile of the event. But it was the presence also of Southampton County officials, including at least four of seven supervisors and the county administrator, all of whom were there at the invitation of Franklin Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn, which best explains why this was the second such gathering in as many months.

Gathered for the official announcement that Love’s Truck Stops, a $16 billion company that employs over 10,000 people nationwide, was planning to invest $7 million and employ anywhere from 40 to 50 people in Franklin, one speaker after another talked in the most glowing terms possible. They commented that it was the cooperation among city, county and economic development officials that made possible this groundbreaking, much like the one for AMAC in Southampton County in March.

Not so long ago discussions about such cooperation and the results it could lead to were held in hushed tones behind closed doors. Naysayers, steeped in ancient grudges and faulty logic, loudly said the two localities – which were once united, but are now 50 years into a divorce most reasonable individuals admit was a mistake – could, and should, never work together.

The naysayers are hardly audible today.

Cooperation between city and county officials, with assistance from state and federal legislators, is a welcome sight and the key to continued economic growth and future prosperity. To see elected officials putting their own egos aside and recognizing the contributions of colleagues and neighbors that lead to joint success is evidence that it may just happen.