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Published: Friday, 9/1/2006

McNamara suggests fixes for brain drain

McNamara McNamara

Saying he was responding to a challenge from Mayor Carty Finkbeiner for ideas to combat brain drain, Toledo City Council candidate Joe McNamara yesterday proposed 10 of them.

At least one of them is an idea that the mayor has already rejected that Mr. Finkbeiner hire an economic development director and quit doing the job himself.

Mr. McNamara cited the continuing decline of Toledo population noted in the most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.

If we are to reverse this exodus of people and jobs from our city we re going to have to be creative, he said.

Mr. McNamara, an unendorsed Democrat, is one of four major candidates who have taken out petitions to run for an at-large council seat.

The seat is held by Lourdes Santiago, who is endorsed by the Lucas County Democratic Party and was appointed by council in May to replace former Democratic Councilman Bob McCloskey. McCloskey resigned to face state and federal bribery charges.

Also running for the seat are endorsed Republican David Schulz and unendorsed Democrat Bob Vasquez.

Mr. McNamara chose the University of Toledo to unveil his most recent campaign initiative, coinciding and blending with a rally and news conference organized by the campaign of U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, the Democratic candidate for governor of Ohio. His ideas included having Mr. Finkbeiner hire a cabinet-level director of economic development.

Previously, the mayor rejected Mr. McNamara s standing to raise the issue, saying his administration has created 905 jobs and retained 1,523 jobs in 2006.

Mr. McNamara also proposed tax breaks for recent graduates living and working in Toledo, a water bill credit for businesses that offer wireless Internet, and a Dorr Street Student Village, an idea hatched by Democratic Lucas County Commissioner candidate Ben Konop.

Mr. McNamara also suggested:

• Live-work communities for students in specific fields.

• A $1 million seed fund to support business start-ups and ventures by UT students and graduates.

• More hiring of college students and graduates as interns by local business and government.

• Study abroad in Toledo sister cities.

• A 20-member community development corps of students who would be paid a stipend and education tuition assistance to work in community projects.

• An annual Toledo Heritage Festival with marketing efforts to expatriate Toledoans.

Mr. McNamara s opponents said the focus of brain drain should be on job creation.

He s got the spaghetti approach he throws everything out to see what sticks, Mr. Schulz said. Anything that focuses on creating jobs and helping businesses is something I would certainly support.

Ms. Santiago rejected Mr. McNamara s call for a paid economic development director, saying it would be a waste of money because the city provided $170,000 this year to the Lucas County Improvement Corp. to provide countywide economic development.

Young people need jobs. Mr. McNamara s proposals are really creating more costs, she said.

Mr. Vasquez said, our young people want to come back here to work. I think it starts with a good-paying job.

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