“What’s happening with ____________________?”
“I can’t say.”
“When is _______________________
coming to Mauldin?”
“I can’t say.”
“Will we ever get a _____________________
“I can’t say.”
The phrase, “I can’t say,” has become more ingrained as a part of my speech over the past four years, and although I wish I didn’t have to say it, it means that things are happening in Mauldin.
“Why can’t you tell me, though? I’ve heard X, Y, and Z.”
Here’s the honest to goodness truth. Sometimes I can’t say because I don’t know, and other times I can’t say because, well, I’m not allowed to say.
Elected officials often aren’t the first to know about a new project, business, or development planning to come to our area.
When business owners or site selectors are looking at Mauldin, they’ve usually studied who we are and what we offer before they make the first phone call.
They look at our location. They look at our demographics. They look at what incentives they can possibly receive to locate here. They search properties. They look at city departmental reports to see what kind of shape we’re in. By the time they flesh out their interest in Mauldin, they know more about the city than a lot of people who live here.
After they realize the potential economic benefits we have to offer, that’s when they contact City Hall – usually either City Administrator Trey Eubanks, Community Development Director Van Broad, or Business and Development Services Director Kim Hamel.
No matter which of those departments businesses call first, they all work together to provide interested developers and site selectors what they need to help showcase the city. Through this initial discussion process, very rarely are council members looped in. In those early stages, our staff are doing the job of selling Mauldin as THE place to locate or expand.
It’s only after a business decides in principle that Mauldin will be its new home that council members might be brought in to lend their voices. When it comes to businesses locating in Mauldin, we don’t pick favorites. We want to create an environment that encourages business establishment and growth, and we’re always glad to add an additional chorus with city staff about why Mauldin should be pick number one.
As we talk with those business owners and site selectors, we have to be very careful about what information and how much of it we share publicly. It’s not that we’re hoarding state secrets, its more along the lines of us respecting the wishes of business owners and developers who don’t want someone else making their announcement before they’re ready. Do you like it when someone tells your business before you’re ready to do it? Of course not.
That’s really the long and short of it. When you ask a council member or a city official about a rumor you’ve heard concerning a business coming to town or if you’re curious about what’s happening at a building under construction or renovation, don’t be surprised if that person is tight-lipped with the information. It has nothing to do with the public’s right to know. It’s about letting the person who wants to make his or her announcement in his or her own way and time.
Now, just the other day, I was talking with a site selector who told me about a new business she’s bringing to Mauldin. She told me this is a first-of-its-kind concept, that the people of Mauldin will really like it, and that city staff have been great to work with.
Do you want to know what it is? Sorry. I can’t say.
— Taft Matney serves in Seat 1 on Mauldin city Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.♦