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[Editorial] Public Workers Help Land $130 Mil. Investment

[Editorial] Public Workers Help Land $130 Mil. Investment

Posted April. 28, 2008 09:16,   


Donghae in the eastern province of Gangwon is heavily dependent on agriculture and fisheries. The city has won the bid for the underwater cable factory from LS Cable. With an investment worth 130 billion won, the project is expected to create 700 jobs -- 200 at the factory and 500 at four to five subsidiaries to be set up in the region. New jobs in Donghae mean new jobs in the country, and represent economic growth and distribution at the same time.

Many provincial governments participated in the bid. For a month, public workers in Donghae worked hard to conclude negotiations with 70 landowners whose lands were included in the proposed factory site so that LS could promptly make its investment. To attract the investment, both Gangwon Province and Donghae shortened the administrative process spanning plan development and approval from the usual two years to three months. Because of this, LS can launch production as early as May next year. The cooperation between the region and the company is a good example of pursuing co-prosperity.

The Songjeong Industrial Complex, which covers 350,000 square kilometers and is where the factory will be built, had been designated a logistics center nine years ago. The plan was scrapped in 2004, however, due to lack of investment. Since few companies expressed interest in building factories in the complex afterwards, residents frequently complained that exercising their property rights was difficult. How things have changed since then. Public workers and residents have proven that a shift in mindset can make all the difference.

Cities designated as “innovative cities” nationwide should learn from Donghae’s success. The forced relocation of state-run enterprises by the central government initiated by former President Roh Moo-hyun can hardly bring success to regional development. When the new government raised the possibility of reviewing the “innovative city” project altogether, it invited a backlash from provincial governments. Many politicians have also preyed on the insecurity of provincial regions to their advantage. Regional development motivated solely by political intentions, however, has rarely succeeded in other nations.

Today, President Lee Myung-bak will host a meeting with business leaders on revitalizing the economy. The last thing people expect from the meeting is empty investment pledges from the executives to save the president’s face. The good news is that the top 30 domestic companies plan to invest 100 trillion won this year, up by more than 30 percent from last year. The government should further encourage more corporate investment by delivering on its promise of slashing regulations.