Author of Community Capitalism, Ron Kitchens, is in town. Yesterday he met with the Licking County Commissioners and some small groups before taking the stage at The Midland Theatre last night. Read the story here. Today he is taking a tour of our county and will speak to the Newark Rotary Club.
In one of the small group meetings he touched on the importance of having a strong education system. We discussed the upcoming levy of the Newark City Schools and he said: "you need to pass this levy not just for the kids, but for good jobs and the economy." He told a story about a company who said they will only locate in a community that has a strong K - 16 program. He also mentioned the fact that you have to stop all the negativity; it will drive away business opportunities.
If you think voting no on a school levy is only sending a message to the school board and administration, you are dead wrong. That message will be carried much further. It will be heard by existing employers and ones who were looking to possibly locate here. It will be heard by families who want to live here, but are unable to find work. It will be heard by the college students at COTC, OSU-N and Denison University, who we are now asking to stay in the community instead of moving out of town or even out of state. And yes, it will be heard by all the children in the school system when they no longer have the classes or courses offered by many other schools in Licking County and around the state. But ultimately, the message will be delivered back to you, by the declining value of your property.
Do I think that by voting yes on the levy that all of our problems will disappear? Absolutely not. There are other issues we need to deal with. But what I am confident of is this: if we continue to turn our backs on our schools and end up with the state taking over, economic development will be dead in this community. And we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
I would prefer to send a different message to everyone. One that says we value education; we are a thriving community; we support and encourage industry and are known as a great place to live, work and raise a family.
That should be our message.