Thursday, February 02, 2006

Economic Prosperity, The Easy Way

Some time ago, folks hereabouts were ecstatic when it was learned that I-73 would come through Martinsville and Henry County. We're saved! Through the miracles of modern transportation technology happy times would soon be here again.

But, did anyone ever look at the route the proposed I-73 was to take on it's journey from central Michigan to Charleston, SC? I doubt it. A simple mapquest query shows a perfectly acceptable route, on existing interstate highway, without a 75 mile detour north to Roanoke before turning south along the existing US 220 corridor into North Carolina. If one were to travel the new I-73 from Lansing Michigan to Charleston South Carolina he would add at least 3 hours to the trip as opposed to taking Mapquest's advice and following existing Interstate level highways.

Folks here in Henry County are still pushing for this white elephant, claiming great benefits to be had from having an Interstate highway pass through. To them I say, just go to Earl, Oklahoma and tell me how an interstate magically translates into prosperity. For that matter, let's ask Jerry. Did Interstate 77 remove enough traffic from US 52 to make tourism, the latest "holy Grail" of prosperity, a virtual impossibility in Bland?

I bring all this up to lead into this...
A bill aimed at creating the New College Institute will be presented this morning to members of the Health and Education Committee, according to State Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Ridgeway.

Reynolds said the presentation of Senate Bill 40 to the 14 committee members is slated to begin at 8 a.m. in Senate Room B.

SB 40 proposes establishing a new college in "the areas of Martinsville and Henry County" that is charged with expanding educational opportunities in the region by providing access to degree-granting programs, according to the bill.

Proposed programs include undergraduate, graduate and professional programs through partnerships with private and public institutions of higher education, public schools and the public and private sectors.

The new college also would seek "to diversify the region's economy by engaging the resources of other institutions of higher education, public and private bodies and organizations of the state and region and providing a site for the development of technology and trained workforce necessary for new economic enterprises to flourish," according to the bill.
I do agree, an institute for higher learning located here in Martinsville or Henry County would be a good thing. But please don't try to sell it as a vehicle for providing economic prosperity. Could it happen that way? Sure. Will it happen that way? Not without other planning and work that some here do not seem willing to commit to. Most of our local leaders are still looking for that "magical way" to prosperity.

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