I recently reviewed the proposal by Gina Raimondo, Democratic candidate for governor, to develop a loan forgiveness plan for Rhode Island college graduates. This happens to be a topic that is very important to many in the small business community, and hopefully will help stem the tide of the “brain drain” from our state.
Also, as a parent of two college age children, I am keenly aware of the level of indebtedness our young people are accumulating. There is an urgency to not only help our children, but match their talents with the great companies in our state.
We all recognize the growing importance of earning an education, or learning a trade beyond a high school diploma. It is necessary for a person’s future success and for our state’s economic growth.
Raimondo’s proposal to work with our state’s employers to create a loan forgiveness program for students who put down roots in Rhode Island after graduating from one of our colleges or universities interests me as a small business person.
As a Rhode Island-based employer, Blackstone Caterers employs 10 college graduates from Rhode Island who needed student loans. They graduated from the University of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University and Providence College. While many of them have already repaid their loans, they all are happy to be able to find substantial work opportunities here in Rhode Island.
Blackstone Caterers is proud of our young and talented staff and even more proud that they chose to stay in Rhode Island, making our great state their home. I am sure there are Rhode Islanders who wish they had this same opportunity.
Additionally, my wife, Linda’s life work has been committed to helping college students navigate the financing of a college education. She has been working in higher education for more than 20 years in financial aid administration. She is currently a member of a Rhode Island board dedicated to keeping health care providers in the state through a loan repayment program. We are both committed to Rhode Island and helping our college graduates achieve success in finding meaningful, substantive employment in our state.
Blackstone Caterers would be happy to be a part of any future loan forgiveness program to help our kids pay back their student loans and stay in Rhode Island. Let’s help our kids get good jobs here in Rhode Island while they help our state grow.
John J. Edick