2017-04-27 / Editorial

College incentives can help our town

Both Gov. Gina Raimondo’s college tuition plan and the existing Wavemaker Fellowship are prime examples of the state trying to provide opportunities for Rhode Islanders to stay home and reverse the “brain drain” that’s hampered the state for decades.

The governor’s Rhode Island Promise proposal offers free tuition for two years the state’s public colleges. The fellowship program provides a tax credit to pay down college debt for those employed full-time at a local company in a STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — job.

As we continue to shift into a more tech-based world, employers are desperate for a skilled workforce that can provide 21st-century abilities. Reaching a critical mass of highly skilled workers could help smaller companies become larger ones in several fields, such as tech, healthcare, finance and green energy. Anything the state can do to goose that along and create an environment where the next generation can remain in the Ocean State is a plus.

That’s especially true here in Jamestown, where many are concerned about the island’s future if our young folks continue to leave. That problem would be curbed a bit if graduating college students had less debt, which would allow some to stay close to home if they desired. They could choose quality of life opposed to being forced to move because a job offered more money and paying off debt was an overwhelming factor.

Many Jamestown youth have a great sense of pride and affection for their community and would prefer to stay here if opportunities existed. They could be the next generation that helps sustain what we all have come to love about our island home.

The state’s efforts to take steps in that direction should be applauded and supported.

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