Q&A: Economic development transparency

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From The Salem Leader:

Q: The county economic growth partnership wants its process to be more transparent.

It’s a private, non-profit entity, but are there any ramifications from the Open Door Law that the partnership needs to take into account as it develops a new policy on meetings, such as allowing the public to attend?

A: Unless the organization receives subsidies from county and/or local government units, the Open Door Law will not apply to it and officials can develop their own rules concerning the openness of board meetings.

The entity should be applauded for a decision to be more transparent. That attitude is rare in the arena of economic development.

They can develop a general rule of having board meetings open to the public, which can be dramatically impacted by the success or failure of the efforts to encourage growth.

That transparency can be balanced by rules that would spell out subjects that the board reserves the right to meet confidentially to discuss.

No one would expect the board to hold an open meeting where the name of a potential company would be made known against the wishes of that company when the result would be the elimination of a county as a site for a new facility.

Citizens understand the need for discretion when negotiations are under way, but they do have a vested interest in whether the growth partnership expends its resources in a responsible way.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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