The U.S. sparked the Post-World War recovery era in Europe following World War II. Known as the “Marshall Plan,” named for famous U.S. general George C. Marshall who was Secretary of State when the plan was launched, the $12 billion program helped European nations recover from the devastation that occurred in the war (1941-1945). The plan was proposed by Marshall in 1947 and was implemented in 1948.

Now we learn the state of Michigan has introduced its own Marshall Plan aimed at boosting the state’s talent pool The Michigan Plan was introduced in June 2018.

John Mans, superintendent of schools for Menominee Area Public Schools, surprised the school board a month ago that the state had approved the local school district for funding under the plan. The award is based on innovation, strengths of partnerships with businesses and how the applicant embraces the philosophies of competency-based learning for high demand, high wage careers.

Participation in a “Talent Consortium” is key to receiving a majority of the funding under the plan. Mans described a consortium as a collection of shareholders from industry, education and community organizations that band together in a partnership that identifies specific talent gaps, and develop innovative solutions to close the gap.

At the nudging of Steve Martin, who heads the Menominee County Intermediate School District, Mans drafted a “wish list” that was accepted by the state. The Menominee district wound up with a batch of equipment that would be too costly for the local district to purchase on its own. Some of the items included a $72,000 lathe, a $12,500 lathe, three milling machines that cost $27,000 and an assortment of other pricey machines and equipment.

Mans also had some other news for the school board that was related to the Marshall Plan. The local district will have to come up with 25% of the costs. He says the Menominee district is getting a bargain.

“We’ll have to come up with that; our match will come up to somewhere in the $40,000 range,” he said. “This is a little over $200,000 worth of equipment that we’re getting for $150,000 off, and we never planned to get it. Usually downstate people always get it.

Mans advised the school board that the school has sufficient space to accommodate all of the equipment coming in and the programs are in place for it to be used. He noted the electrical system will be able to handle all of the new equipment, noting the electrical panels will have to be upgraded. Once the school district learns when the awards will be finalized the board will have to work on revising the school budget.

The Michigan Marshall Plan may not be as generous as the original Marshall Plan was for European nations some 70-plus years ago, but on the surface it sounds like a good deal for the Menominee School District. It’s good to see local school districts and Menominee County intermediate School District working together to improve the educational system for public schools.