Pitching it as an initiative he would tackle in a second term, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford yesterday proposed raising a $1 million fund from private donors to help local students pursue their education locally.
He said the idea would help stop "brain drain," the flight of promising young people because of a lack of opportunity. It also would encourage young people to consider enrolling at Toledo-area colleges instead of going out of town, he said.
"The most crucial thing is you get a higher-educated work force," Mr. Ford said at the news conference in his campaign headquarters on Adams Street. Mr. Ford faces former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner in the Nov. 8 general election.
Mr. Ford proposed that the city could help out in such ways as:
●Granting a city income-tax credit to help students pay off college debt, an idea he said he borrowed from former Democratic opponent Keith Wilkowski.
●Offering more internships in city agencies to help students earn money and develop relationships and experience in career fields. He said he would urge businesses to do the same. Mr. Ford said he would set up a foundation to collect the money and award it as grants to help students and their parents make up the difference in affording a college education.
As an example, he said that if the University of Toledo costs a student who lives at home about $8,000, and the student and his family can come up with $5,000, the foundation would grant the remaining $3,000. UT's tuition this year is $7,491, not including room and board.
Students would have to agree to stay in the Toledo area five years if they accept the grant.
Mr. Ford defended his record on brain drain during the last four years. He said his youth enterprise program was aimed at brain drain. That program raises private funds to help local teenagers get started in businesses, such as mowing lawns. And he cited his behind-the-scenes involvement with area colleges and universities.
Robert Reinbolt, a spokesman for Mr. Finkbeiner, said he was pleased to see some specific plans coming from the Ford campaign. "Anything that would keep our best and brightest in the Toledo area should be considered," he said.
Mr. Wilkowski, knocked out of contention for mayor in the Sept. 13 primary, said he was flattered that Mr. Ford adopted a version of one of his ideas.
The proposal contained in his "Five-Part Turnaround Plan for Toledo" was to grant 100 percent tax relief for one year to people making up to $100,000 who agree to live downtown for two years.
He said they had not discussed the plan.
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