Buoyed by a $25,000 private donation to his youth entrepreneurship program, Mayor Jack Ford yesterday hoped it might produce a famous Toledo capitalist like the one just named to President Bush's cabinet.
“My hope is that by tasting how to make money - how to fish - one of these youngsters will be the next John Snow of their generation,” Mr. Ford said.
Mr. Snow, chief executive officer of CSX Corp. and President Bush's nominee for treasury secretary, is a Toledo native and a 1962 graduate of the University of Toledo.
The donation from a Bowling Green-area philanthropist who wished to remain anonymous was prompted by an article in The Blade about the program, Mr. Ford said.
In 2002, 14 youths received loans of up to $700 each to buy lawn mowers. The youths earned about $9,300 and are repaying the loans, the mayor said.
Another 23 went through the mandatory business and safety classes but didn't go through with the loans.
Mr. Ford said the donation will allow 50 to 75 youths to enter the program. He said he hopes to include at least 200 youths during his four years as mayor.
He appealed for more contributions and said he has personally committed to donate $3,500. He said some of that money would come from his personal funds, but was not sure how the rest would be produced. He said Jay Black, Jr., the city's chief operating officer, will use his contacts from his former career as a banker to raise at least $20,000.
Mr. Ford said he was gratified that when he recently met Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry in Cleveland, Mr. Kerry greeted him by saying, “`Oh, Toledo - that's the city that's embracing young folk; I've heard about that.'”
Mr. Ford said he didn't know whether Senator Kerry had heard that independently or had been briefed seconds before they were introduced, but at least it was the impression he now has about Toledo, in case he is successful in his bid for the presidency in 2004.
On other occasions Mr. Ford also has used his office to raise private and community donations to supplement government funds. Most recently he accepted an anonymous gift of $100,000 toward the $1.1 million needed for an overhaul of Walbridge Park to make it what he calls a “destination park” with disabled-accessible playground equipment.
The mayor said he was satisfied with the modest first year's start of the lawn-mowing program. “We started slow on purpose. We've looked at how the program worked and what we can do to make it work better,” he said.
Mr. Ford appointed a group of business and university representatives to the new Entrepreneurial Advisory Council.
He said the program was being moved from the Youth Commission to the Department of Economic and Community Development.