Saturday, March 7, 2009


The Canton Repository yesterday reported on 16th District Congressman John Boccieri's airplane ride with President Obama on the president's recent trip to Columbus produced heartening news for all district constituents, but in particular for Stark Countians.

As readers of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) know, The Report is highly enthusiastic about getting Stark County on a high speed rail towards becoming Ohio's center for alternative energies (promoted vigorously by Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley) and high tech which is all ready underway at Stark State College of Technology (SSCT) in fuel cell research and product development.

The specific part of the Boccieri encounter with Obama as reported by Repository reporter Edd Pritchard that should jump out at Boccieri constituents is this:

Obama wants to see clean coal technology developed into a functional option within 10 years and is interested in investments in other alternative energy programs. Boccieri said the district already has a good start with alternative energy, citing the fuel-cell program at Stark State College of Technology, bio mass research in Wayne County and work in Medina County to develop hybrid plug-in batteries.

The 16th District is “so primed to be a benefactor with these new investments,” Boccieri said, noting the different research programs. It’s exciting to see how diversified energy can help the country grow, Boccieri said.

The Report believes that national, state, county officials and the SSCT Board of Trustees ought to take a looks at restructuring the mission of SSCT.

SSCT President John O'Donnell has articulated a goal of Stark State playing a key role in elevating the overall educational level of Stark Countians in terms of having associate degrees. Such is a worthy objective. However, it is not making "the highest and best use" of Stark's technical education infrastructure.

O'Donnell's goal should not be jettisoned, but re-arranged whereby the Kent Stark campus is converted into a community college with post two year degree connections to The University of Akron and Kent State University for motivated associate degree grantees to obtain their bachelors.

Back to Stark State.

Congressman Boccieri, the Stark County commissioners, the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly, Ohio Board of Regents chairman Eric Fingerhut and Governor Strickland have a grand opportunity with Stark State and its fuel cell program high tech base to use that effort as a building block to refashion SSCT into a high level Ohio technical university.

Programs of research and development that ought to be considered as additions include "cell engineering," "tissue engineering," and "robotics." These, according to Juan Enriquez (the founding director of the Harvard Business School Life Sciences Project), says that cell engineering, tissue engineering and robotics are the leading edge of 21st century ways to reboot an economy. (See the accompany video clip below in which Enriquez is shown making this very point at a Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference)

How will 16th Congressional voters assess the quality of John Boccier's work in Congress come November, 2010?

The Report believes it is whether or not he "seizes the day" on the opportunity he identifies in the Pritchard piece as currently existing as in no other time.

But he cannot and should not do it on his own. Boccieri needs to be the catalytic force to bring together all the stakeholders identified above plus others that undoubtedly are to be identified.

A huge stakeholder not identified above is the city of Canton. Were moves to be made to make SSCT a premier Ohio technical university, Canton will have to be revamped as a much high grade cultural center for the super-tech types that would be coming to Stark County. The mayor and all city officials as well as Stark County officials should start reading now Richard Florida's collection of books (CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF HIS BOOKS) on what and how Canton or any other city that is bent on reinventing itself needs to proceed.

You would think that a certain mayor who prides himself on his New York University Stern School of Business masters degree and who is mayor of a major Ohio City has already read these books. If he has, it isn't evident in his thinking. If he hasn't he should get on with it.

Here is a video clip of Enquiez (for the full presentation CLICK HERE):

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