January 28, 2012 in The Ad Business
This week, Seizo and I went to an interesting seminar led by Marian Salzman, president of EURO PR. Marian has done a ton of work related to the talent pool – and talent drain – of Fairfield county. For those who don’t know, Fairfield is in the southwest corner of CT, on the doorstep of NYC. Many people commute into NY for work. There are also multiple ad agencies and corporations based here. For many years, however, the county has been perceived as a backwater where senior execs ‘retire’ on the job with soft assignments after busting their butts for years in NY.
Fact is, Fairfield is kicking it. But how do we nurture a climate that attracts top talent to live & work? It’s an arduous assignment akin to turning around the Queen Mary. In my opinion, some of the answer lies in working with universities to establish programs. However, there are already top-flight programs in NY at SVA, NYU, Pratt, Parsons, FIT, etc. What could we offer that they don’t have? To me, the private sector should drive the curriculum. The companies of Fairfield county – GE, Nielsen, Playtex, Xerox, Diageo, etc. – should be actively engaged to articulate the creative services (and training) they need in the years to come. Relying on colleges to blow the dust off their syllabi and mint a gaggle of grads every year is not the answer, no matter how high-tech the facility and how many $ are thrown at the problem. The students just end up in debt, and many then can’t get jobs, anyway.
I believe higher education should be free, with most of the costs footed by the private sector. This philosophy is not so radical — many universities were founded on the notion of free, like Stanford and my grad school alma mater, the City University of NY. CUNY was tuition-free until the fiscal crisis of the mid-70′s. Companies would be more than happy to pay for the training if it were developing their talent. And picture the lure for an 18-year old: you can move to Fairfield County, get a free college education, with a job at the end of the rainbow. It would be a fertile row in the field of a Creative Corridor.
At The Voice, we are building a model that combines work, education and even living quarters for an all-in-one environment. We are small, and I don’t claim to have the answer, but it’s our answer. I actively support the efforts of the talented and committed people behind the CT Creative Corridor initiative. I have uploaded Marian’s excellent report here. CTcreativecorridor_Book_FINAL