With a turnover of £600m and a workforce of 800, Kent County Council has one of the biggest commercial trading organisations in local government. And if you believe the hype, it has - at least according to its website - "a long established track record of success."
It certainly brings in a lot of cash for the county council and as the quest for new markets continues it is apparently "undergoing a period of further evolutionary development."
But the county council's ventures into the business world have not always proved a success. This week, county councillors were told that a series of businesses were being wound up with a loss of £191,000.
The news that this was happening was presented as nothing more than a bit of tidying up, at least so far as a rather thin report presented to the cross-party communities cabinet meeting this week.
You got the impression that the council was rather keen not to to dwell too long on the history of these failed ventures. But the history of how they came about - or rather, how they nearly came about - bears some scrutiny.
Back in 2006, the council's then chief executive Peter Gilroy was keen that KCC explore openings to develop new trading ventures as a way of raising income. Among the ideas was to see if the authority could exploit its "historical and cultural assets".
This led to the creation of "Kent On Canvas", a limited company set up as an "art on demand" service, selling images of the county to the public. However, it turned out that the company was not trading in a way that was consistent with the law on council's arms-length companies.
Kent on Canvas duly became Kent Cultural Trading Ltd - a move, according to the council's report to "regularise the situation." KCC ploughed on, developing side-ventures aimed at ensuring "all possible value was extracted".
This saw five other ventures proposed - bizarrely, including one in which KCC intended to sell anti-bacterial cleaner to hospitals and another to sell "patient essentials" to people in hospital. Quite how these were linked to KCC's cultural assets is anyone's guess.
In fact, both these two never really got off the ground: in relation to the cleaning products, it was discovered that the money making opportunities had been "over-stated" while the "patient essentials" business was compromised by an investigation that discovered "a conflict of interest with a proposed partner."
Meanwhile, an auditors investigation led to the sacking of a senior official involved with Kent On Canvas for gross misconduct after the discovery that he had "misrepresented facts concerning ownership and directorship."
So far as the others were concerned, they fell foul of the downturn in the recession or needed a significant capital injection to get going.
This is not just about the financial losses. Council officers undoubtedly spent many hours investigating the possibilities of these companies , then investigating why they went wrong and then pondering what to do with them.
There are good reasons why local councils are constrained in what they can do in the business world. One is that they are not money-making operations but organisations whose primary purpose is to provide key services to residents.
Perhaps the time devoted to trying to disentangle this rather messy situation would have been better spent on that.
Meanwhile, another council - Thanet - continues to be in the spotlight over a secret deal that involved allowing a ferry company to defer paying port fees while it tried to secure new backers.
To say this is a bit of a mess is an under-statement but the council appears to think that it has done nothing wrong or indeed, has anything to account for - despite the fact that the deal went so spectacularly awry that it has left the council needing to cover a £3.3m black hole in its budget - among the measures is a £1m cut to the housing welfare budget.
The latest development involves a claim that in permitting the ferry company Transeuropa to defer its port fees, Thanet breached rules on state aid. The council denies this.
Trying to elicit information from the council is proving rather tricky.
I have lodged two requests to the council press office for answers to certain questions about the saga. On both occasions, the response has been to tell me that the council has determined the requests for information and comment should be treated as Freedom of Information requests rather than standard media inquiries.
Why? The council hasn't really explained but I think I know one reason: FOI requests don't have to be dealt with immediately and can be kicked into the long grass for up to 20 working days.
Either way, you get the distinct impression Thanet is rather anxious to discourage probing about an issue it deservedly is feeing a bit of heat about.
Not least because all but a select few councillors were told about, and indeed signed off on, the deal ensuring that while the debts racked up, no-one but those who had endorsed it had any idea what was going on.