All that's proven is that Riley's passport is dog-eared from nearly eight years of face-to-face recruiting of international businesses. What's more, his batting average in these endeavors may not be Hall of Fame material, but it's close. He wins more than he loses.
Riley leaves Friday for a 13-day economic development excursion to Australia, Singapore and France, where he'll court magnates in the aerospace and shipbuilding industries. In other words, he's flying halfway around the world to recruit jobs-bearing industries to the state, and he's taking brochures about Alabama's extreme southern (shipbuilding) and northern (aerospace) locales with him — or so it would seem.
In lieu of a seat on the governor's plane, we're offering this potential script for Riley's spiel:
"Thank you, gentlemen, for allowing me and my staff to meet with you. Our state government and all Alabamians are delighted at the prospect of bringing your company to our state. If the conditions are right, I believe it could be a marriage that's profitable for both sides. There is a reason why Alabama's reputation with international businesses is rock solid.
"Alabama is a wonderful state, with low taxes, a low cost of living, wonderful Southern weather, and residents who value hard work and moral integrity. They are conservative in their beliefs, sound in their principles, and willing to open their doors to those who want to contribute to the state's well being.
"Other international companies that have opened operations in Alabama can tell you how successful their businesses have been. Automakers such as Mercedes and Honda are staples of the state's economy. Steelmaker Thyssen-Krupp is about to hire 1,000 workers for its new facility near Mobile. Success stories abound. You could be the next one."
Of course, this page wishes that somewhere in Riley's selling pitch to international industries would be a sentence or two about northeast Alabama. Granted, there's work to be done here — none more important than ending the ongoing and frustrating delays in the redevelopment of the former Fort McClellan. Opening McClellan's golden door of opportunity would give Riley something unique to tout when he courts businesses seeking worthwhile U.S. locales.
Riley's said this many times: This part of the state must get its house in order before he can help us sell what we have. Still, we yearn for the day when Riley's overseas discussions would include this passage:
"And gentlemen, let me tell you about northeast Alabama — it's close to my home and my heart. It's perfectly situated between Birmingham and Atlanta, well suited for interstate access. It has access to universities, community colleges and schools. It has a workforce ready to expand. The McClellan property contains a goldmine of options and available real estate. And the cost of living — and of doing business — is as profitable in the northeast part of the state as it is anywhere in Alabama."
That's a splendid sentiment, if only the governor would adopt it as his own.