Will Schick: Galesburg needs more mobile professionals

From the Register-Mail:

You may not think of it this way, but Knox College is an exporter, and a darned good one. It turns out high-quality college degrees, which fetch about $120,000 apiece in today’s market. Counting those “sales” and other sources of revenue, Knox brings in about $40 million a year. Most of that is export income, because most Knox families are not from the area.

That $40 million goes a long way to explain why things aren’t worse than they are. It pays the salaries for about 375 employees, and Knox’s 1,300 students are also local consumers. Also, much of Galesburg’s tourist income is generated by Knox. In short, Knox College’s impact on Galesburg’s economy is huge.

So, here’s the question. How do we increase our local exports and put more people to work? Unfortunately, there is no way to add another prestigious old college, as nice as that would be. And let’s face it, most of the lost manufacturing jobs may never return, for all the big plans and trips to China.

Maybe it’s time to think about 21st century solutions, since we’re already 10 years into the new millennium. For starters, Google in Galesburg would be excellent, though by no means essential. (Knox students: a YouTube video would help the cause tremendously.) But it should be part of a grab bag of little ideas that don’t need a lot of capital investment. In other words, make no big plans, but also leave no stone unturned. Create jobs in small bunches, or even one at a time.