What’s the expression.. shit for brains?

Check this out:

[Akron] Mayor Don Plusquellic has proposed leasing the city-owned sewage system to a private contractor for up to $200 million and using the money to finance college scholarships for Akron’s public high school graduates.

He said money for the scholarships would help students attend the University of Akron or a trade school in the city, and turning over the system to a contractor would include rate caps and service guarantees.

Plusquellic said the plan would address brain drain — a migration of talented students out of the city. About 18.6 percent of Akron residents are college graduates, compared with 27 percent nationwide, according to the Census Bureau’s estimates for 2006.

The city’s population also has dropped 9,140, or 4 percent, to 207,934 since 2000 because of a decline in the manufacturing industry.

Normally, I resist taking something that is publicly owned — like most sewage treatment plants — and privatizing it.  But I do care enough about brain drain and the northern industrial cities, that I’m just not sure what to think about this plan.

I do like the connection with the University of Akron.  There’s a lot to lose for a mayor when he or she steps up and proposes a partnership with an institution of higher education that dominates his or her city.  In Plusquellic’s case, it’s kind of a no-brainer.  The University of Akron is growing at a fast pace and becoming a more significant presence in the city year by year.  Partnering with the University and other smaller colleges in the area would be a smart move because of their reach into other communities in the region.  The city of Akron could soak up the talent of other smaller communities around it by utilizing its own education resources.  Akron could seize this opportunity and take the lead among other surrounding cities, such as Youngstown, Warren, and Canton.

The other thing I like about this is that it gets people off the manufacturing shtick.  Those living in Northeast Ohio can’t seem to take their focus off of years past because it’s so woven into the culture.  So many people made their living in factories that for many communities, it is hard to move forward and develop economies around industries that are foreign.  But this starts the process.  Akron invests in young people who are either from the community, educated in the community, or both, who can inject the area with positive ideas in addition to their money.

Unfortunately this plan does hurt the jobs of others.  And it’s understandable that people would be opposed to this idea on that basis if their jobs are the ones on the line.  But this is similar to any situation in which something needs to be taken away before rapid growth can ensue.  And I think this is one of those situations.

What do you think?

Advertisements