U.S. Rep. Bocchieri and President Giese Discuss Northeast Ohio Economic Reform

April 20, 2009

U. S. Representative John Bocchieri and President Giese discuss Ohio economic reformU.S. Rep. John Boccieri recognizes the need to transform the economy of northeast Ohio and Mount Union College would like to be part of the engineering team.

Boccieri, D-Alliance, kicked off the final day of his two-week tour through the 16th District Friday morning with a stop at Mount Union, where he was thanked by several students for his efforts to enhance the Pell Grant program. He also took a quick tour of the campus, viewing ongoing construction to improve the Timken Physical Education Building where plans call for a solar panel roof that will make it the largest of its kind in the state of Ohio and will come to fruition if state grants come through.

Much of the congressman's visit, however, was spent in a private meeting with Mount Union College President Richard F. Giese and other college officials.

According to Giese, the group touched on several topics, including the needs for the city of Alliance as well as those of higher education, but much of the discussion centered around the college's proposed engineering program and the $1.5 million appropriation Boccieri has requested in the 2010 federal budget to help get the program off the ground through the hiring of staff and acquisition of equipment.

The endeavor will include a partnership between Mount Union College and the Stark County Port Authority to develop new programs in both civil and mechanical engineering, providing the region with skilled engineers. The engineering program will be the first and only engineering program of its kind at a higher education institution in Stark County.

"I think it's important that the president is being very forward thinking about creating that public-private partnership," said Boccieri. "Mount Union is a private college, but creating a public partnership with the port authority demonstrates that forward thinking about what our needs are as a region. More engineering opportunities is certainly going to be a win-win for our region."

Boccieri said that once Mount Union's engineering program is in operation, he would like to see more partnerships between the college and local businesses.

"I made the suggestion during the meeting that once this new engineering wing gets built and they start doing some research there, that they team up with a local company like Sare Plastics that has patent after patent and innovative idea after innovative idea," explained Boccieri. "That kind of partnership would create great opportunities."

Sare Plastics was one of several sites in which Boccieri made visits during his tour to gather information to take back to Washington to help formulate policies and strategies to transform the district's economy and address its needs. He also visited Alliance Community Hospital, the Alliance Neighborhood Center and held a town hall meeting in Alliance.

"I think we're fortunate to have a representative who is interested in what's going on in Alliance," said Giese. "We're fortunate he's a resident of Alliance, and I'm hopeful and confident that he will be a strong advocate for both the city of Alliance and Mount Union College."

Overall, Boccieri deemed his tour through Alliance a success.

"I'm very impressed with what Mount Union is doing in terms of its investments in development and energy," said Boccieri. "I'm also impressed with our opportunities to forge successes down the line with our investments in energy and our investments in research and development," said Boccieri. "We have to transform our economy here in northeast Ohio and we can do it as long as we're all working together and forging these partnerships. We need to put dollars where we want these partnerships to be aligned."

Boccieri was to make additional stops at Walsh University, Westfield Belden Village Mall and in Medina on Friday before returning to Washington.

"It's time to go to work and make sure these appropriations get through for the next year," said Boccieri.

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